A Call to Worship

 Genesis 35:1-4 “1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. 2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: 3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

When we move from Genesis 34 to 35, we can imagine the atmosphere being like a person living on the streets to living in a mansion. The Lord opens a door that can only be opened with a special key. That key has two words written on it…Faith & Obedience. This key is available for anyone, no matter where you are at in your walk with the Lord. Whether we are on top of the mountain and everything in life is going great, or we are struggling with a trial or a difficult situation. The Lord has this key in His hand, just waiting for us to receive it!

Verse 1: For several years Jacob had lingered some 30 miles from Bethel and had paid dearly for his disobedience. But now the Lord spoke to him and told him to move to Bethel and settle down there. Jacob already knew that Bethel was God’s appointed place for him. (Gen. 31:13 “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out of this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred” (KJV)). But Jacob was slow to obey what he knew was the right way to go. We know from chapter 31 that God had instructed Jacob what to do and where to go. But like many of us, we all face times when we fail to follow the Lord’s instructions. We know the right thing to do, but we choose to disobey.

Verse 2: Jacob speaks to his entire household; he is so committed to the Lord’s will that he also instructs his servants as well. He tells them to put away the strange gods, be clean, and change your garments. Here is a great picture of salvation, (a) strange gods is our acknowledgement of sin, we are all sinners, (b) be clean is our repentance of our sins, and (c) change your garments is the rebirth into the family of God, putting on a new self. There is always room at the foot of the Cross. I am reminded that no matter where, what, or how we have stumbled in our walk, the Lord is always ready for us to turn back to Him. Jacob provides us with a great picture of the Lord’s mercy, patience, and love towards His children. I am thankful to have such a loving Father.

Verse 3: Jacob tells everyone that they are going to live in Bethel, build an altar and serve the one true God. After the incident in Schechem, Jacob seems committed, not only to act like a Christian, but he is admitting his need for God. I believe this is an important truth for Christians to remember, repentance is when we confess and turn away from sin.

Verse 4: Jacob must have preached a powerful message because they gave up their strange gods. Jacob buries their idols under an oak tree near Schechem. I am reminded of Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (KJV).

I have to wonder how many Christian households need someone to stand up and preach the same message Jacob preached or Joshua spoke to the nation of Israel. How many church pews will be empty because the family is too busy worshipping their worldly idols?

Our call to worship does not simply rest on an attendance record at a local church; it is our personal relationship with the Lord and extends out to our family and friends. Remember that Jacob had to begin with his own faith and obedience first, and then he followed the Lord’s will in sharing his faith with family and friends.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

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Through the Storm

Acts 27: 13-19 “13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. 16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: 17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. 18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; 19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship” (KJV).

The crew did not want to spend the winter months at Fair Haven and going against Paul’s warning they decided to set sail for Phoenix, a few hours away. As soon as they felt the south winds blow they left the port of Fair Haven.

Shortly after departing they were caught by a strong typhoon or hurricane force winds. The storm was so strong that they had to let the ship drift in the winds and tides. They had to undergird the ship, which is simply using chains or ropes to strengthen the ship. By the second day they began to lighten the ship, throwing unnecessary items overboard and by the third day they began throwing the ships tackling. Anything that was not essential went overboard. They must have been in real trouble.

Wrong decisions based upon wrong advice may often land us in troubled waters and stormy seas. Paul warned them not to sail during the winter months and specifically told them that this trip was going to be dangerous. But Julius listened to the ship’s crew.

It is easy to say “I told you so”, when someone does the opposite of what we tell them. But the problem wasn’t Julius’ failure to listen to Paul. When you think about it, Julius took the best advice he could have, after all Paul was not a ship’s captain or part of any ship’s crew. The problem we run into is when we don’t seek the Lord’s will first. We tend to listen to others or make decisions based on feelings and emotions, instead of entering into a time of prayer and study in order to seek the Lord’s will. Luke 22:42 “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”.

Now please do not misunderstand my thoughts here: good advice is and what others think is one way that the Lord uses in order to guide us down the right path. It is important to remember that we still need to seek the Father’s will in everything we do. Just be cautious about making decisions that affect your walk with the Lord.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

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Faith during Calamity

Faith & CalamityActs 26:1-3 “1Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: 2I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 3Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently” (KJV).

Paul had spent years sitting in prison, waiting for the Lord to open the door of opportunity. If anyone had the right to become hostile, angry, or aggressive it would be Paul. Having to sit in prison because of false accusations must have been challenging.

Notice that Paul’s initial response was to wait until he is given permission and the opportunity to speak. He reaches his hand out as a gesture of high respect towards Agrippa. Instead of moving directly into his opening defense, he takes the time to acknowledge Agrippa’s knowledge and intelligence.

Have you ever been treated poorly because of your faith in Christ? Have you ever had a difficult time witnessing to a friend or loved one, only to find them hostile towards your beliefs? It may be difficult to defend and share our faith when we are met by strong opposition. We may get frustrated and walk away from any future attempts to share or discuss our faith.

But maybe we need to consider the way we approach others. Maybe Paul gives us a great example of patience, love, and meekness. Sharing our faith and discussing our doctrinal beliefs might be well received if we take time and display the same loving, polite, and professional qualities that Paul showed Agrippa. Paul had to wait a couple of years in prison before he was able to plead his case.

Another reminder is that we operate according to the Lord’s timing, not ours… The Lord might be keeping one door closed and preparing to open another one…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

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