Archive for February, 2013

Genesis 28:18–22 – TURNING A DREAM INTO DESTINY

Dream to Destiny

Dream to Destiny

Approaching the little Baptist Church near the station I can hear the voices that once drowned out the clatter of trains singing their praises again. The pump organ, now gone, for just a moment fills the room again with it’s sonorous tones as worship at full volume rises above the matters of the week. Mrs Young smiles as her head bobs above the music manuscripts, her strong vibrato voice somehow coaxing “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing” just one more time.

I am the ragged young man with long hair and a beard and no shoes who sits in the second front seat on Sunday mornings, and the man wearing a suit and tie always greets me at the door. There he is again, smiling and welcoming me in. I can see it, the photographs of remembrance still evoke the same emotions though the faces are fading in sepia.

We were a Church together with all the seemingly disparate parts meeting as one. We loved eachother. It will be a place I will always remember and return to, marked; a memorial in my mind. It is Jacob’s anointed stone and represents for many a stairway to heaven; access to God. It must be the very house of God; a place where dreams are transformed into destiny.

Nothing has changed for Jacob in Genesis 28, yet everything has changed. He is still running, still in a desert landscape, still propelled to leave home, still rejected by his brother, yet Jacob wants to preserve this moment, this milestone, this inspiring vision for his life, so he takes the stone he rested on, sets it upright as a memorial pillar, then anoints it with olive oil. It will represent that the dream he had of a stairway to heaven and the promises of God have been set apart for God’s purposes in his life. This is his first place of worship; the first place where he has made contact with God in a significant way. He names it Bethel; house of God; a place to meet with God and listen to Him speak. This must be the very house of God. A place where dreams are transformed into destiny.

Then Jacob makes this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me” (Genesis 28:20-22 NLT).

Jacob knows he needs God’s help, so he expresses it in terms of a covenant of commitment. He is saying in effect “Since you have promised these things then I’ll serve You. I commit my life to you”? As a covenant seal Jacob commits himself to paying a tithe. Tithing is a principle that unrolls gradually in the Bible, like a scroll. God doesn’t command him to do it. He isn’t planning to tithe regularly. This is the only recorded time that Jacob intends to tithe, a once-off offering that Jacob wants to make. It declares his trust and dependency upon God who provides and cares for him.

For once in his life Jacob is more concerned with giving rather than grabbing. Tithing won’t save him or ensure that God will bless him with material things. God has already promised to do this. Tithing is not a talisman against evil. For Jacob, it is an expression of his commitment to God, a response of his heart to God’s purposes for his life. My Pastor speaks about it as living the unlived life.

God invites me to respond to Him today; to commit my life to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, entrusting my life into His care; to meet with and listen to God and His purposes; to respond to Him with all my heart; to determine to live a life of generosity and recognise a place of personal worship as the house of God. That’s when God turns my dreams into destiny.

Pastor Ross

If this article has resonated with you, would you please pass it forward to those whose lives you think may also be touched by Words of Life. Thanks and may God bless you.

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it.

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Genesis 28:10-22 – WHEN ALL YOU HAVE LEFT IS A DREAM

DREAMS IN A DESERT

DREAMS IN A DESERT

All his plans and positioning, all his hopes and expectations, lie in pieces on the ground? His life is bankrupt and his past seems characterised by failure, despite his best intentions. Everything stripped away, a wasteland of worthlessness. An internalised desert. Lonely, afraid and anxious of the future, rejected and feeling sorry for himself. Out here under the expanse of the stars, the universe stretching out before him, Jacob feels so insignificant, unwanted, discouraged, defeated. All his efforts useless. Hopeless. He is helpless, his life a waste, a burden, an irrelevant rock in a wilderness of boulders.

Blessed by God with the rulership of his family, yet it is Jacob who is forced into exile; Esau who forfeits the blessing of God is left in the possession of everything! He is given free opportunity of leadership without a rival! It makes no sense!

He is following the trail of his grandfather Abraham. His father told him about the altar Abraham built at this site (Genesis 12:8), and Jacob deliberately finds it and chooses to stay here for the night. Perhaps God will protect him from Esau if he follows in the footsteps of Abraham. He sleeps on the altar that night with his head resting on one of the stones, like a living sacrifice. His father once lay precariously on an altar with his life in God’s hands. Alone in the wilderness of his own making, he is in a good place to hear God speak. God chose to bless Abraham here, and as Jacob sleeps, all other blessings and birthrights gained by deceptive means recede, as God speaks in His righteousness with the blessing He originally intended. Strange that it is often a wilderness that is the perfect place in which to hear God speak.

There is intense interest in heaven on this night about what is taking place on earth. In a dream, it seems as if the stones of the altar are being crafted by a master builder into a stairway, step upon step. Multitudes of angels move up and down on a stairway in the wilderness; toward Jacob and back again, “… mighty ones who carry out God’s plans, listening to His Word” (Psalms 103:20). “…servant spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Jacob is aware that his sin has separated him from his family and from being able to appropriate the blessings he had obtained by stealth. He needs a mediator to bridge the distance between him and God.

At the top of the stairway stands the Lord, and He says, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.” (Genesis 28:13 NLT). Below stands Jacob. And even though Jacob is in a situation where he is feeling lost and lonely, regretting his past and afraid of the future, God reminds him that in the past He has been in relationship with his grandfather Abraham, and his father Isaac. He will also be with Jacob concerning his future. He says “Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:14,15 NLT)

He still offers such an invitation and promise. I hear His words when I am discouraged, lonely or a little apprehensive about my future; the still small voice of God saying “I am with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. You are blessed to be a blessing”.

The dream gives a picture of the reality. A bridge spanning the gulf between us and God. Years later this stairway is personified in Jesus Christ, the only way from earth to heaven, the one Mediator between man and God. 1 Timothy 2:5 (NLT) says “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.”

Jesus says in John 1:51 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the One who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

Without Christ I am earthbound. God, majestic, high and lifted up, unlimited, almighty, beckons me to connect with Him. Bringing heaven to earth, Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NLT).

Awestruck by this dream, Jacob responds, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he is also afraid and says, “What an awesome place this is! …the very gateway to heaven!” (Genesis 28:16-17).

And His invitation still reverberates in the rocky places and wildernesses of the hearts of countless souls through the ages to this day, this moment, as on the altar we are left with nothing but a dream and a promise. There before us the very gateway to heaven opens.

Pastor Ross

“If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras. You will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!” (You will do the impossible!) “The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honour them. I will reward them with a long life and give them My salvation.’” (Psalms 91:9-16 NLT)

If this article has resonated with you, would you please pass it forward to those whose lives you think may also be touched by Words of Life. Thanks and may God bless you.

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

Portal of paradise, passage to the King.

Keys of access open ancient paths to heaven’s Way.

The Gates of hell cannot endure; all locked doors

Shocked, shouldered open, fall! Angels sing!

Saviour, perfect and pierced. He endured to pay

For my sins and guilt! My spirit shouts, soars!

Forgiveness, freedom, faith; all found in Him.

 

All things full, foundational, firm, true,

Whatever the terror, trial, come what may,

His grace for grief’s wounds, anointed, pours.

His faithful touch heals, redeems, makes me new,

Restores.

© Pastor Ross

Genesis 28:10-22 – STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

STAIRWAY TO HEAVENNot for Sale!

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
Not for Sale!

Referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Stairway to Heaven”, released in 1971, quickly earned a place in songwriting history. It was composed by guitarist Jimmy Page from the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It begins as a slow acoustic folk song and builds up to include a high tempo hard rock section and ends with a the broken vocal “And she’s buying a Stairway to Heaven”. Is “Stairway to Heaven” speaking of buying and taking drugs, or reaching some other form of ecstasy? The meaning of the song has been speculated for years, but few realise that another writer wrote about a dream of a “Stairway to Heaven”, one that can’t be bought, earned or deserved, only experienced, and his story appears in an ancient book we call the Bible.

“USURPER,” or “GRABBER”! By Genesis 28 Jacob has so far lived up to the meaning of his name. He received this name by taking a firm grip on his twin brother Esau’s heel while they were being born. Later, he grabs his brother’s Birthright by swapping it for a pot of stew, but it is when he grabs Esau’s Blessing by deceptive impersonation years later that he finds himself “in the stew” (in trouble) the repercussions of which leave him no option but to leave home (Genesis 27). He desperately wants the blessings of God on his life but finds he can’t buy a stairway to heaven.

For forty miles (64 kms) he travels over the mountains, the first time away from home, retracing the steps of his grandfather Abraham. As a shepherd, he is accustomed to sleeping outdoors and chooses a suitable rock for a pillow, perhaps resting it under his neck like some African tribes do to dissuade irritating insects of the land from crawling into their ears at night.

In his dream, it seems as if the stones of the valley have become a stairway to heaven. There are angels “going up and down the stairway” which connect earth to heaven. “At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and He said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.’” (Genesis 28:13 NLT).

Years later Jesus refers to Himself as this stairway to heaven (John 1:51). Rock solid. Mankind below and God at the top of the stairs. Going up and down on this stairway of promise which joins earth to heaven are the angels of God, ascending and descending, serving God and His purposes, bringing heaven to earth. Access to eternal life. Acts 16:31 says “Believe in (trust in, rely on) the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” This is not a stairway to heaven that can be bought, earned, worked for, or deserved. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) reminds believers that “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” 

Jacob is so awestruck by this dream that he says, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he is also afraid and says, “What an awesome place this is! …the very gateway to heaven!” (Genesis 28:16-17). Faced with a choice to run from God and his purposes, instead He chooses to commit his life to serving God.

In the words of the song “Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelen’s sings,

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run

There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

Jacob tried doing things his own way and his plans ended up in a wilderness. It is often in the wilderness that God reveals Himself to me through Christ. The questions I find myself asking are “How will I respond to Him?” I cannot buy my way to heaven, but I can trust in Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and accept the eternal life he offers as a gift (Read John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16-17, Romans 6:23).

Pastor Ross