Founding Father - SMH

Founding Fathers - SMH
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
January 28th, 2018
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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Fathers of Christianity – SMH
Genesis 39-47

Historical Importance
A couple of weeks ago, we began reading about Abraham… And Abraham is really where our faith starts to get re-organized.  It’s Abraham’s descendants who are the Israelites, who God declares as his people… and it all starts with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12:1 

Go out from your land,
your relatives,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
2 I will make you into a great nation,

If look at the big picture of what is happening with people’s faith at this time, its at this time that other religions starting to pop up and grow.  Hinduism would be getting it’s start as well as Greek mythology.  So, this is when God began to organize and separate out those who believe in Him and he did this through Abraham. And this is why our reading this week is important to the history of our faith.

As a side note:
There are 7 major faiths in the world and I tend to categorize them into 3 categories.  The 7 major faiths are Atheism, Agnostic, Buddhism, Hindu, Islam, Judaism, and Christian.  And the three categories are No god, multiple gods and One God (these are also the Abrahamic faiths).

Now, what strikes me as curious is that the further away from the Abrahamic faiths (and Christianity) the less it becomes about God and the more it becomes about man.  What I mean by this is that Christians (even the Jewish faith and Muslim faith) says it is all about God.  God first.  God’s will is supreme. 

Now at the complete opposite side of the spectrum is Atheism and Agnostics.  And their lives are all about them.  It has to be.  And I don’t mean that in a sinister way.  But what I mean is… if I didn’t believe in God (i.e. if I were an atheist or agnostic), then my motivation for what I do every day, would be different.  It would have to be about self-preservation.  It would have to be about living the best for me life that I can.  But since I am a Christian and God is my God and Jesus is my savior, that it is all about living a life that is best for God’s will.

So, we have two opposite ends of the spectrum and in the middle, you have these other faiths, Buddhism and Hindu, where gods are important, but it’s also about self-enlightenment.  It’s about a god and its about me. 

And I think when we see it in these terms, we can begin to understand how the shift from a global faith in 1 God, turned into what it is today.  It is because, people wanted it to be all about them all the time (it’s in our nature…it’s called sin nature)…and so their faith began to shift from being a faith being solely about God, to faith being solely about them. 

Spiritually important. 
The title of Today’s message is Founding Fathers -SMH.  And SMH means shakes my head.  And the reason I titled it this way is because Jacob is one of the founding fathers of our faith.  His sons literally became the 12 tribes of Israel.  But when you read the story of Jacob, you just have to sit there and shake your head in disbelief of all the mistakes he made. 

Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the things that Jacob did, that if we had been God, we would have disqualified him from being a father of our faith:

1.  Genesis 25 - Jacob takes advantage of his brother and very underhandedly get’s him to sell his birthright.

2. Genesis 27 - Jacob stole his brother’s blessing through a major deception and plot hatched by his mother. 

Jacob’s life is truly defined by deception.  And not only his, when he tries to marry Laban’s daughter Rachel. He worked for Laban for 7 years and Laban promised him Rachel, but when it came to wedding day suddenly Laban pulled the ole bait and switch, and he married Leah.  So, then he had to work another 7 years for Rachel. 

Now back to Jacob’s mistakes:
3. He mistreated Leah because he loved Rachel and didn’t love Leah.

4. He loved one of his sons (Joseph) more than he loved his other sons.

So, when you begin to look at Jacob’s life, a founding father of our faith, and you see everything he did, you just have to sit there and shake your head…in disbelief.

How could God possibly use this man in his great plan?

We can’t mess up his plan
The reason God can use Jacob in His plan is because we cannot mess up God’s plan.  We have to stop thinking that highly of ourselves. 

Look in Genesis 28:13-14
“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. 14 Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring."

God’s plan was going to happen in spite of Jacob’s screwed up life.  Jesus still came, Jesus still conquered death… And Noah didn’t screw that up, Abraham’s life didn’t mess it up, Jacob’s life, Joseph’s brothers, Moses (the murderer), David (the Cheater)… nobody… derailed God’s plan.  And you and me, we wont either. 

This means when it comes to serving God or when it comes to telling people about Jesus, or when it comes volunteering in the church.  We aren’t going to mess up God’s plan.  So, we can no longer use that as an excuse to not do what God calls us to do.  Don’t get me wrong, we will mess up, but our mistakes wont derail God’s plans

This brings us to our second point.

God uses people with messy lives 
God uses people no matter how screwed up our lives are.  This is a point I love to make when talking about Abraham, Isaac, and all of those guys.  While these men had great faith, they also had great screw ups.  And sometimes the only difference between us and them is they had great faith. I mean let’s face it, we are all screw ups in one way or another when it comes to God and his righteousness. So, the only thing that might be different is our faith and guess what, we can have great faith in common too. 

The way we have great faith, is that we first of all give our lives to Christ and I don’t mean just asking him to save you.  I mean really really really giving him your life.  Giving him complete control to change you, to rehabilitate you, to change your daily focus from you to Him… And if we do, then no matter how messy your life is, God can and Will use you.  In fact, it almost seems that the messier your life, the more He will use you. 

God’s work, Our Mess
God Can still use us, while we are still living in our mess.  When God does call us and begin to do his work through us, our lives will still be messy.  And when we add more mess to our lives, it doesn’t mean He will stop his work.  This is represented in our reading this week, when Jacob wrestled with God. 

 Genesis 32:28 says
“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”

We will struggle with God.  There is no doubt in my mind.  Maybe God will call us to do something we don’t want to do, and we will wrestle with Him over it.  Maybe he says, I want you to volunteer.  Maybe he says, I want you to swallow your pride. Maybe he says I want you to forgive. Maybe he says I want you to give. Maybe he says I want you to teach.

And we say…BUT GOOOOOOOD  I don’t wanna… It’s too hard. I’m too scared. I’m too tired. I don’t have time. I don’t want to.

And here is the thing…when we struggle with God, even if we ultimately prevail and end up doing what He is calling us to do,just like Jacob, we walk away with a limp.  It’s so much easier to just say yes to God. 

Have you ever said no to God because you thought you could mess up His plan or because your life is too messy?  It’s time to say yes to God, despite our mess.

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