Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Gospel, Freedom and Homeland Security

Chuck Vanderscheuren opened the service by welcoming us. As has been his custom this past several weeks he has given us an update on Brad and his family. They're doing well and Adventurous Christians on the Gunflint Trail is beginning to feel like home.

After the service we were invited to stay after the service and fellowship with us. Chuck also introduced Jeff Burton who will be delivering the message this morning.

The quartet ushered us into worship with the beautiful song "Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee" in its contemporary rendition. After a prayer consecrating the service to God they followed with "Give them all to Jesus, shattered dreams, wounded hearts and broken toys... and He will turn your sorrow into joys."

After several contemporary songs from the blue hymnbook and offering was taken as the quartet serenaded with a song about being led by the Master's hand.

Chuck invited us to share prayer requests and praises, and after a time of prayer he introduced the a guest speaker.

The Gospel, Freedom and Homeland Security

Jeff Burton began by saying he wants to go a different direction from the sermon title printed in the bulletin. The original message was going to be about the power of the Gospel to bring us freedom, but that freedom has to be guarded, by our own internal department of homeland security.

He quickly summarized the main points... Secure your borders, be alert to dangers, in certain situations don't travel alone, etc. Instead, his message today would be about what it really tales to move the world.

Today's replacement sermon began with an Archimedes quote: "Give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the world."

The actual quote was originally, "Give me a place to stand and a lever and I can move the world." This quote is used frequently in graduation speeches, which often use only one side of the equation or the other. "This institution has given you a lever," or "This institution has given you a place to stand."

For Christians, the place to stand is the foundation laid by the Word of God, and of primary importance in the equation.

This Archimedes Principle served to introduce the familiar story of Jacob, but Mr. Burton succeed in making it fresh by having us look at it from a new angle. Jacob and Esau were brothers trying to build their lives. Jacob, the younger of the two, was asking himself what his place would be in the grand scheme of things. "What does my life consist of? What am I going to achieve with my life?"

In Genesis 27:5 his mother Rebecca steps in and helps Jacob deceive his father in order to obtain "the blessing" of his father, which would normally go to the firstborn. She suggested that while Esau was off hunting, Jacob could dress in Esau's clothes and put a hairy fur on his skin in order to fool his father who had now lost much of his sight.

Has his mother given Jacob a lever or a place to stand? Burton answered, Jacob had been given a lever. It was a clever lever, an angle. But he did not have a firm place to stand. Truth is a foundation. Jacob didn't get the blessing via truth, and there were consequences. Esau vowed to kill him.

The net result is that because of his treachery Jacob has to go into exile. And he does what a lot of people do. He gives a reason for leaving, another lie. Instead of just being honest he says he's going to find a wife. He flees to live with a relative of his mother's named Laban.

The story is well known. He works hard for Laban, falls in love with Laban's daughter and bargains to marry her. But Laban's a schemer, too. Seven years Jacob must labor, and the daughter will be his. Unfortunately, Jacob is not the only clever one. Laban gets the young man drunk and sneaks the older daughter Leah into the tent with Jacob. Jacob is forced to work seven more years to marry the daughter he worked for in the first place.

When Jacob left home years earlier he stopped at a place called Bethel where he had a dream about the future. In the dream God told him that his descendants would be a blessing to the whole world. God promised, "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go and I will bring you back to the land."

Eventually, things got dicey with Laban, who had sons that were jealous of Jacob's successes in business. Jacob was between a rock and hard place. He could stay and be killed or go home and face Esau, risking the same outcome. Twenty years in the school of hard knocks taught him some important lessons. God tell him to go back home and that He would be with him. Jacob chooses to come back to his homeland with his wives and children.

On the return, the night before he gets home, Jacob was alone whereupon a man wrestled with him till daybreak. It's a famous passage and the implication is that he's wrestled with God. This time his encounter with God is not a dream. God dislocates his hip and for the rest of his life he walks with a limp as a reminded. He is also given a new name, Israel, because he "struggled with God and men and have overcome."

After this event Jacob, now Israel, takes a new approach to life. After being tricked multiple times Jacob grasps that it's time to change. He begins to tell the truth. He puts his scheming behind him. God has given him a place to stand and he knows God is with him. God has given Jacob a place to stand. Jacob goes back to clean up his past and God is with him.

The more you mature in your walk with Jesus, the more you will be wrestling with God. But here's a tip: you will always lose when you wrestle with God. But with God, in losing you win.

Jacob re-united with his brother and it was a beautiful reunion. As a summing up, Mr. Burton shared how Jacob went on to have another son, named Joseph, who never knew his father as a deceiver or a clever manipulator. Joseph lived a honest life, many insights can be gained from grasping the significance of this detail.

In our modern world there is a bias against foundations. Isaiah 33:6 states, "He will be the sure foundation for your times..."

In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus exhorts, “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock."

In another place Paul declares, "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Let's move the world.

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