Archive for the 'Brokenness' Category

A Bruised Heart

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.

Isaiah 42:3 ESV

As Christians, we must realize that God is not mad at us. He is not angry with us when we struggle in seasons of depression. When the struggles of life, the emptiness of loss, and the hurt of rejection bruise our hearts, Christ is present to heal, restore, and love. Remember that the same prophet who said that my wound is grievous and incurable (Jer. 15:18) is the same prophet who said from the Lord, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). In this new year, we must remember that Christ is the balm of Gilead, the bright and morning star, the healer of our souls, our hope, our future and our mercy. He is not mad at us, but is longing to show us mercy in the midst of our sad faces and heavy hearts.

The sighs of a bruised heart carry in them a report, both of our affection to Christ, and of his care to us. The eyes of our souls cannot be towards him unless he has cast a gracious look upon us first. The least love we have to him is but a reflection of his love first shining upon us.

As Christ did, in his example to us, whatever he charges us to do, so he suffered in his own person whatever he calls us to suffer, so that he might the better learn to relieve and pity us in our sufferings. . . .

But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will succour us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of his displeasure which we may feel. He became not only a man but a curse, a man of sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; he was troubled, that we should not be desperately troubled; he became a curse, that we should not be accursed. Whatever may be wished for in an all-sufficient comforter is all to be found in Christ.

Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, 1630 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2008), 66.


Calvary Before Pentecost

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Die To Bring Forth Fruit

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

John 12:24 (KJV)

The Cross comes before the filling of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual death before resurrection life.  Repentance before the fruit of the Spirit. Cleansing from sin before anointing. Brokenness before blessing. Heart-change before Spirit-immersed ministry. Wilderness before exaltation. The Sinai Desert before the Promised Land.

Moses had his desert, Joseph his prison, Daniel his lion’s den, David his cave and Paul his Arabia. Before God could place these men in leadership, he had to transform their character. Before God can bless us, he must break us of our pride, self-will, and self-sufficiency. God uses our trials and tribulations to bring us to the end of ourselves. He is not punishing us, but loving us into holiness. God accepts us just as we are, but he loves us so much, he does not want to leave us as we are.

Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs. Brokenness makes us needy, less perfectionistic, patient with others, and open to God’s purposes. Brokenness makes our hearts available to the Holy Spirit.

Calvary ever comes before Pentecost. The reason why the Holy Spirit of God is not being evidence in so many of our lives and in so much of our ministry is not that there is a gift that we have been unfortunate to miss; it is not that there is a technique we have been unable to adopt: it is that there is a death we have been unwilling to die. Jesus tells the disciples that the pathway to glory lies through the seed going into the ground to a death, that the fruit may abound. And this is precisely the pattern which the New Testament declares in every book: the way to Pentecost lies through Calvary.

Eric J. Alexander, “The Source and Conditions of Blessing,Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 318.

Every one that gets to the throne must put his foot upon the thorn. The way to the crown is by the cross. We must taste the gall if we are to taste the glory. When justified by faith, God led them into tribulations also. When God brought Israel through the Red Sea, He led them into the wilderness; so, when God saves a soul, He tries it. He never gives faith without trying it. The way to Zion is through the Valley of Baca. You must go through the wilderness of Jordan if you are to come to the Land of Promise.

Andrew A. Bonar and R.M. McCheyne, Memoir and Remains of R.M. McCheyne, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 216.

The Valley of Vision

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009


The burden of the valley of vision (Isa. 22:1 KJV)

The valley of vision is the place of weakness, lowliness, and personal brokenness. In this scripture, the valley speaks of “life’s darker experiences” (Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 182), a sort of dark night of the soul. In the valley, we desperately reach out to Christ for help. In our neediness; we meet Christ, experience answered prayer, and are refreshed in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the valley, I come to know God by experience. As the ancient patriarch, Job announced, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). The valley is where we meet grace face-to-face and find that that God’s grace is greater than all our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:1-10).

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), xxiv.

HT: Tim Challies

Correction and Confrontation

Thursday, February 12th, 2009


The Speck and the Plank (Chapter Seven)

We continue in our study of The Calvary Road by Roy Hession with some reflections on personal correction and one-on-one confrontation in the Christian life.

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and  with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but  do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matt 7:1-5 ESV).

Matthew 7:1-5 is one of the most misused, misunderstood, and misappropriated passages in the entire New Testament. These verses found in the heart of the Sermon of the Mount have been used to justify my right to sin, “you should not judge me” and my right to reject correction, “you have more faults than me,” and my right to be defensive, “you have no right to speak to me about my failings.” Yet, these unique verses which describe, “specks” and “planks” are God’s gift to not only bring personal revival to the offender, but also to the offended.

Now we all know what Jesus meant by the mote (speck) in the other person’s eye. It is some fault which we fancy we can discern in him; it may be an act he has done against us, or some attitude he adopts towards us. But what did the Lord Jesus mean by the beam (plank) in our eye? I suggest that the beam in our eye is simply our unloving reaction to the other man’s mote. Without doubt there is a wrong in the other person. But our reaction to that wrong is wrong too! The mote in him has provoked in us resentment, or coldness, or criticism, or bitterness, or evil speaking, or ill will – all of them variants of the basic ill, unlove. And that, says the Lord Jesus, is far, far worse than the tiny wrong (sometimes quite unconscious) that provoked it. A mote means in the Greek a little splinter, whereas a beam means a rafter. And the Lord Jesus means by this comparison to tell us that our unloving reaction to the other’s wrong is what a great rafter is to a little splinter! (pg. 81).

Jesus has allowed a fault of another to touch our sensitivities: we are offended, our hurt is real or imagined, and we long for some type of justice. We want the offender corrected, but as Hession stated, our reaction, in many instances, is many times worse than the original offence. God by his sovereignty is exposing a flesh pattern in my life: playing the martyr, sorrow for the victim, and pity for the wounded.

It is some fault which we fancy we can discern in him; it may be an act he has done against us, or some attitude he adopts towards us. But what did the Lord Jesus mean by the beam in our eye? I suggest that the beam in our eye is simply our unloving reaction to the other man’s mote. Without doubt there is a wrong in the other person. But our reaction to that wrong is wrong too! The mote in him has provoked in us resentment, or coldness, or criticism, or bitterness, or evil speaking, or ill will – all of them variants of the basic ill, unlove. And that, says the Lord Jesus, is far, far worse than the tiny wrong (sometimes quite unconscious) that provoked it (pg. 83).

So, what exactly is the plank in our eye?

The first beginning of a resentment is a beam, as is also the first flicker of an unkind thought, or the first suggestion of unloving criticism. Where that is so, it only distorts our vision and we shall never see our brother as he really is, beloved of God. If we speak to our brother with that in our hearts, it will only provoke him to adopt the same hard attitude to us . . . (pg. 84).

To help our brother or sister in Christ, we must first go the Cross with our offense and find the peace of Christ concerning that offense.

Very often bystanders will tell us, and sometimes our own hearts, that the sin we are confessing is not nearly so bad as the other’s wrong, which he is not yet confessing. But we have been to Calvary, indeed we are learning to live under the shadow of Calvary, and we have seen our sin there and we can no longer compare our sin with another’s (pg. 85).

We gain freedom from sin by taking our attitude to the Cross and then we gain a friend who now knows that we care about their needs and blind spots. Notice, the text does NOT say notice your faults and give up on correcting and confronting your brother or sister. The text does say, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5 ESV). After God deals with us, then we are equipped by the Holy Spirit to help others with their spiritual lives. The offenders will now be able to receive the correction that the Lord has been longing to give him or her, but God could not confront because of our bad attitude.

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored (Prov 13:18 NIV).

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself (Gal 6:1-2 NLT).

My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins (James 5:19-20 NLT).

The Only Way Out

Saturday, February 7th, 2009


Revival in the Home (Chapter Six)

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor 5:14-15 NIV).

As we continue walk down The Calvary Road with Roy Hession, chapter six takes us on the way home. Hession reminds us that holiness begins with how we treat our closest family members.

How different is the experience of so many of us professing Christians in our homes – little irritations, frayed tempers, selfishness and resentments; and even where there is nothing very definitely wrong between us, just not that complete oneness and fellowship that ought to characterize Christians living together. All the things that come between us and others, come between us and God and spoil our fellowship with Him, so that our hearts are not overflowing with the divine life (pg. 71).

We can walk in the Spirit with people we don’t know, but we struggle with impatience, anger, bitterness, and even revenge with family members. Dependence on the Holy Spirit is needed in even greater measure for our fuses are shorter at home, our frustrations are greater at home, and our memories of hurt are deeper at home.

How do we stand up to those tests in our homes? So often we act in the very opposite way. We are often impatient with one another and even unkind in the way we answer back or react. How much envy, too, there can be in a home. A husband and wife can envy the other their gifts, even their spiritual progress. Parents may be envious of their children, and how often is there not bitter envy between brothers and sisters. Also “not behaving unseemly,” that is, courtesy, what about that? Courtesy is just love in little things, but it is in the little things that we trip up. We think we can “let up” at home (pg. 74).

God uses our home lives as a place of discipline to correct the weaknesses of character and selfishness of heart that outsiders cannot see (Heb. 12:7-11). Oswald Chambers reminds us that life away from home is always easier. That insight could expand why on some occasions, we avoid our families.

We sing, “There’s no place like home,” but the author of that song was far away from home when he wrote it. The description the Bible gives of home is that it is a place of discipline. Naturally we do not like what God makes; we prefer our friends to our God-made relations. We are undressed morally in our home life and are apt to be meaner there than anywhere else. If we have been captious and mean with our relations, we will always exhibit that spirit until we become new creatures in Christ Jesus. That is why it is easier to go somewhere else, much easier often to go as a missionary than to stay at home. God alters the thing that matters.

[Oswald Chambers, The Highest Good : Containing Also The Pilgrims Song Book and The Great Redemption (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1996), 10.]

Personal revival begins here: my repentance must be quick, my forgiveness must be greater, and my love must be fuller. My family must be and should be the first testimony of my renewed life in Christ. Revival is the life of Christ filling us and flowing through us (pg. 70). The only way out of this vicious pattern of hurt, anger and resentment is by depending on Christ to be himself in us. Call sin, “sin,” repent to family members, forgive quickly past offences, and love with the love of Christ: these godly choices bring renewal to families severed by hurt, envy, and jealousy.

As we bow the neck at the Cross, His self-forgetful love for the others, His long-suffering and forbearance flow into our hearts. The precious Blood cleanses us from the unlove and ill-will and the Holy Spirit fills us with the very nature of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13 is nothing less than the nature of Jesus, and it is all gift to us, for His nature is ours, if He is ours. This blessed process can happen every single time the beginnings of sin and unlove creep in, for the cleansing fountain of Blood is available to us all the time (pg. 76).

We must yield up our wills, rights, desires, and self-images to Christ. Brokenness is needed. Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs. God will direct us to lay down our lives for our families. We can go to Africa and lay down our lives for complete strangers, but can we yield our rights at home? Are we willing and ready to forgive our biological biological brothers and sisters right here at home? Going to Christ together as families for forgiveness will unite our families and bring God’s blessing.

But God will surely answer our prayer and bring the other to Calvary too. There we shall be one; there the middle wall of partition between us will be broken down; there we shall be able to walk in the light, in true transparency, with Jesus and with one another, loving each other with a pure heart fervently. Sin is almost the only thing we have in common with everyone else, and so at the feet of Jesus where sin is cleansed is the only place where we can be one. Real oneness conjures up for us the picture of two or more sinners together at Calvary (pg. 78).

The only way out for families struggling with disunity and resentment is knelling together before the Cross.

Prayer: Lord, come by your Holy Spirit and work in our hearts. May our Christian lives be as evident in our homes as our Christian committment is apparent to outsiders.

Brokenness: A Heart Yielded to God

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Brokenness is the Beginning of Personal Revival (Chapter One)

“My way or the highway” is what I say to myself since I do not have the audacity to say these stubborn words to God. My fallen nature wants to be first, go first, and to be thought of as first. My selfishness is my biggest problem: I want it my way. Everyone should center their lives around my needs and desires. What I want, what I need, and what I like: all my demands should be everyone’s concern.  However, Christ died to change my motivation from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness. Christ changed my heart and made me a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Cor 5:14-15 ESV).

After my conversion, when I yielded my life to Christ at the foot of the Cross, the Holy Spirit changed my motivation. When my Lord Jesus Christ became God incarnate in human flesh (Phil. 2:3-11): my Lord became a servant, my Lord laid down his rights, my Lord did not retaliate, my Lord became my substitute, and my Lord took my punishment (Mark 10:45). Christ lives in me, therefore, he will live the same selfless life in me that he lived on earth (Col. 1:27). Christ has conquered the root of my selfishness, but self-centeredness can still pervade avenues of my thinking and control areas of my heart. Sanctification, Christian growth, is the Holy Spirit working through people, circumstances, and the Word to address the selfishness still resident in my life. Therefore, the Lord sovereignly puts me in places of weakness that I would depend solely on him (Heb. 12:5-11).

By nature we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.

[Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.]

The Lord works in my heart making it pliable and open to his will. Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs. When I yield my heart’s desires to him, a sweetness of the Holy Spirit begins to pervade my life.

The breaking of the alabaster box and the anointing of the Lord filled the house with the odor, with the sweetest odor (John 12:1-8). Everyone could smell it. Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else, immediately you scent the fragrance. There is a savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor of sweetness.

[Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, Penn.: CLC, 1985), 281.]

If I want an anointed ministry, then saying “yes” to the Resident Boss, the Holy Spirit, is a requirement.

Emptiness, yieldedness, brokenness-these are the conditions of the Spirit’s outflow.  Such was the path taken by the Prince of Life to set free the flood-tide of Pentecost.

[Lilias Trotter cited in They Knew Their God, Vol. 1 by E. Harvey and L. Hey (Shoals, Ind.: Kingsley Press, 1974). ]

In chapter one of The Calvary Road, Hession calls on us to yield everything to Christ:

If, however, we are to come into this right relationship with Him, the first thing we learn is that our wills must be broken to His will. To be broken is the beginning of Revival. It is painful, humiliating, but it is the only way. It is being “Not I, but Christ” (Gal 2:20), and a “C” is a bent “I.” The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory – that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words it is dying to self and self-attitudes.

[Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (Fort Washington, Penn,: Christian Literature Crusade, 1950), 21.]

The path to joy, fulfillment, and freedom in Christ is brokenness.

And whoever does not take his cross and  follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 10:38-39).

Lord, we pray, change our hearts and transform our lives that we might reflect the selflessness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saints Who Struggle Just Like Us

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Seeing Ourselves in Peter
‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’
Luke 22:31-32, KJV

For some strange reason, we seem to love people more when they are not too perfect.

In the presence of a faultless saint, the average one of us feels ill at ease. We are likely to be discouraged rather than inspired by the sight of a character too impeccable to be human. We draw more help from a man if we know that he is going through the fire along with the rest of us, and we may even take courage from the fact that he does not enjoy it any more than we do.

This may be the reason Christians have always felt a special affection for Simon Peter. We speak of Paul with solemn respect but of Peter with an understanding smile. When the doughty old fisherman is mentioned, the face of the ordinary struggling Christian lights up. Here is a man who is one of us, we say to ourselves. He had faults, but he conquered them and went on to become great in spite of them. He was no alabaster saint, faintly redolent of incense, gazing absently over our heads as we labor onward through the storm. He too knew the sting of the wind and the fury of the waves and, what is more to our comfort, he did not always acquit himself like a hero when he was in a tight spot. And that helps a lot when we are not doing too well ourselves.

Peter contained or has been accidentally associated with more contradictions than almost any other Bible character. He appeared to be a combination of courage and cowardice, reverence and disrespect, selfless devotion and dangerous self-love. Only Peter could solemnly swear that he would never desert Christ and then turn around and deny Him the first time he got in a tight place. Only Peter could fall at Jesus’ feet and acknowledge his own sinfulness and then rebuke his Lord for suggesting something with which he did not agree. The two natures that strove within him made him say and do things that appeared to be in direct contradiction to each other–and all within a matter of hours. Peter was a “rock,” yet he wavered, and so, I suppose, managed to become the only wavering rock in history. And he surely was the only man in the world who had faith enough to walk on water but not enough faith to continue to do so when the wind blew.

A. W. Tozer, We Travel an Appointed Way (Harrisburg, Penn.:Christian Publications, 1988).
Prayer: Lord, may I learn from my failures the lessons You seek to teach me.

The Inward Content of Revival

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Revival Begins on the Inside of Each of Us (Preface)

Over the next several weeks, I will be blogging my thoughts on the book, The Calvary Road, written by noted speaker and author, Roy Hession. The Calvary Road was written over fifty years ago, but the book’s sales never diminish. Why the lasting impact? Hession speaks to the great need of every believer’s heart–personal revival. Sin darkens my spirit. My selfishness steals away my joy in God and stifles my on-going experience of the presence of the Lord. I need healing, restoration, forgiveness, and renewal. Hession’s book brings me to the foot of the Cross, where Christ’s blood is ready and available for cleansing and heart-change.

I read Hession’s book many years ago (July 1979 to be exact) at Crystal Springs Institute, the training school for Agape Force ministries, Lindale, Texas. However, I have been asked to read the book again. Bishop Chuck Jones, Diocesan Bishop, Central Gulf States Diocese, C.E.C., has directed the presbyters and deacons of our diocese to read The Calvary Road as preparation for our up-coming clergy Lenten retreat. The retreat is scheduled for the first week of March, so I thought I would get started reading Hession’s book now.  I am excited about what God will do in my heart, as well as, the change that the Holy Spirit will bring in all our clergy’s lives.

I begin this series with Hession’s definition of revival. Hession’s definition is important because we often confuse revival with excitement, falling out, dramatic healings, and/or powerful worship. All these outward manifestations can and do occur during a genuine revival, but these outward signs are not necessarily a sign of revival. Revival is personal heart change: confession, repentance, joy, Spirit-baptism, and gospel-driven evangelism. Revival is the restoration of God’s glory in his church. Revival is the manifested presence of the kingdom of God in and among his people actively bringing the lost to salvation and the lukewarm to renewed passionate devotion in Christ.

The outward forms of such revivals do, of course, differ considerably, but the inward and permanent content of them all is always the same: a new experience of conviction of sin among the saints; a new vision of the Cross of Jesus and of redemption; a new willingness on man’s part for brokenness, repentance, confession, and restitution; a joyful experience of the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse fully from sin and restore and heal all that that sin has lost and broken; a new entering into the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His power to do His own work through His people; and a new gathering in of the lost ones to Jesus.

[Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (Fort Washington, Penn., Christian Literature Crusade, 1950), 11.]

John Piper has a similar definition of revival that is also helpful:

Revival is the sovereign work of God to awaken his people with fresh intensity to the truth and glory of God, the ugliness of sin, the horror of hell, the preciousness of Christ’s atoning work, the wonder of salvation by grace through faith, the urgency of holiness and witness, and the sweetness of worship with God’s people.

[John Piper, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Sisters, Ore: Multnomah Books, 1997), 111.]

Dear Lord,

We ask that you would change our hearts: convict us of our sins, forgive our many transgressions, and renew your Holy Spirit in us. We beg you to use The Calvary Road to bring us into personal revival.


“Our Sins Are Many–But His Mercies Are More”

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Christ is Greater Than Our Discouragement

I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience, will humble you—but not discourage you.

For if our Physician is almighty—our disease cannot be desperate. Our sins are many—but His mercies are more. Our sins are great—but His righteousness is greater. When our sins prevail, remember that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost!

It is better to be admiring the compassion and fullness of grace which is in our Savior—than to dwell and pore too much upon our own poverty and vileness.

John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth: 2007)

HT: Of First Importance

The Life of Jacob & The Law of Consequence

Saturday, October 25th, 2008


How God Uses Difficult Authority to Transform Our Character

Gen. 28:16-29:29

(Fulfilling the Your Ministry to the Full Series)


 ‘I’m in David’s situation, and I am in agony. What do I do when the kingdom I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how? Just what does a man do in the middle of a knife-throwing contest?’

The answer is, ‘You get stabbed to death.’

‘What is the necessity of that? Or the good of it?’

You have your eyes on the wrong King Saul. As long as you look at your king, you will blame him, and him alone, for your present difficulty. Be careful, for God has His eyes fastened sharply on another King Saul. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is looking at another King Saul. One just as bad–or worse.

God is looking at the King Saul in you.

Gene Edwards, The Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness (Augusta, ME: Christian Books, 1980), 21.

Life Lesson: God allows a Saul in your life in order to kill the Saul in you.

Proposition: What is the law of consequence and how does God use authority to transform our character? How does God make me into a man or woman of God?

Fallen Condition Focus: God sovereignly uses circumstances to deal with our selfish selves.

 Exposition of Gen. 28:16-29:29

1. Heart for God Forsaken (Gen. 28:17). At Bethel, continuous communion with God is rejected. Jacob is not ready to make Yahweh, the God of his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac, his sovereign Lord and Ruler.Jacob still wants to run the show. Jacob sidesteps the opportunity of having God as his the constant, conscious companion.

Definition: Communion issharing in the presence of God: speaking and being spoken to by Him. Communion is participating in the life of God: an encounter that is loving, grace-filled, and life changing. Psa. 23

2. Heart of Manipulation Exposed (Gen. 28:20). Bargaining with God betrays Jacob’s manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy character. Jacob’s heart is not yet consecrated to God and his purposes.

Definition: Consecration isthe abandonment of my life without reserve to the loving purposes of God. A conviction held deep within my being that my life is God’s. I do not reserve from Christ’s Lordship any rights, gifts, possessions, relationships, or privileges.

The whole man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants us all, and He will not rest until He gets us all. No part of the man will do.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1984), 107.

3. Heart Problem Disciplined (Gen. 29:5). Jacob is excited about finally meeting his family at Paddam-Aram. Little does Jacob know that he has finally met his match in Laban. God allows a Laban in Jacob’s life in order to kill the Laban in Jacob: a twenty-year school of discipline (Gen. 31:41).

Definition: Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs.

By nature, we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.

Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.

4. Heart Trust Betrayed (Gen. 29:22). Jacob reaps what he sows (Gal. 6:7). Laban’s wedding deception mirrors Jacob’s own deception of Isaac (Col. 3:25).

Definition: Consequences are the result of my actions. Sinful choices will revisit me as others do to me what I have done to others. No one sees my selfish actions. I am not caught. I pretend to myself that everything is okay. However, God is all seeing and all knowing, he makes sure that I am penalized for my selfish acts. The Lord makes certain that selfish actions are exposed.

Be not misled: you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature (Gal. 6:7, NLT).

For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality (Col. 3:25, ESV).

Jacob receives at his wedding the consequences for the deceptive actions of stealing Esau’s ancestral blessing (Gen. 27:1-38): he pretended to be Esau and Leah pretends to be Rachel, his bride. Jacob deceptively wears Esau’s clothing and Leah wears Rachel wedding dress. Jacob, the younger, steals Esau, the older brother’s blessing. Leah, the older, marries Jacob instead her younger sister, Rachel. Jacob exiles himself as he flees Esau’s wrath, and now, Jacob will live twenty years as a de facto slave to his father-in-law, Laban, as dowry payment for the two sisters.

5. Heart Plan Delayed (29:30). Jacob will not return home in matter of days as Rebekah reasoned (Gen. 27:44). God has a plan that plan involves molding Jacob’s character and defeating his fleshly pattern of manipulation, deception, and lying.

Application: What do I do if I find myself living in a cycle of sowing and reaping, reaping and sowing? Repent at the foot of the Cross. If I repent, God takes the sin I committed, uses that painful failure, and transforms that situation for his glory and my good. It is not God’s will that I sin. However, if I repent of my selfishness and pride, God can use my self-imposed disaster for my good.

By faith, the law of consequence is nailed to the Cross and the cycle of endless retribution ends.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmedthe spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Col2:13-15, NLT).

Conclusion: God places in authority people who have the same weaknesses in their lives that I have in mine. He uses their weaknesses to put to death the same sinfulness in me.