PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
Throughout Scripture, we see people that obtained unique favor from God. This favor allowed them to prevail with God’s blessing and accomplish a special purpose in their generation. Divine favor is important to understand because it provides the recipient with access to partner with God in a special way! That’s what I want to discuss today. I want you to understand that God has favored you through Jesus Christ to partner with Him and achieve divine purposes.
Let’s read our text in Genesis 28.
It’s really important to have the right connections in life; being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right person. Like someone said: “It’s not who you know that’s important, it’s whom you know.” That’s right! Knowing the right person has advantages:
When an opportunity to advance arises we want to be associated with someone of position and power so they can influence of our chances.
We want a close, honest friend as our auto mechanic so we won’t get “taken.”
When we want to attend a concert we want connections with someone that can get us front row seats.
We want to know someone that lets us vacation in their beachfront condominium.
I’m unsure who or where those power-brokers are because most of us accomplish things the old-fashioned way. That is, we have to plow our way through life until we unearth God’s purposes! We stand in long lines and pay the full price. But guess what? From the beginning, God’s intention was more than just rugged individualism. Man was designed for partnership:
Our original partner was God Himself. He’s the ultimate power-broker!
That’s what marriage is about—man and woman participating in a cooperative relationship.
It’s what the Hebrew community was about—Prophets, Priests, and twelve tribes partnering for everyone’s welfare.
And God’s objective today aims at bringing people into special partnership with Him. That’s what Calvary discloses.
The ultimate intention of Christ’s sacrifice aims at bringing people into the closest possible relationship with God. That’s what Paul said in Ephesians 2:12: “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (13) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Jesus is always the key to our richest blessings! He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 10)10).
(Harbinger) Here’s the objective of today’s message. God desires to partner with people so they can manifest His purposes in the earth. And the Bible says this is possible if we would seek to “know Him.” Daniel 11:32 says: “the people who know their God will be strong and do exploits.” The NAS version puts it this way: It says the people that know their God would “display strength and take action.” This means a special relationship with God is available if we will seek to claim it! Look at men of Scripture that lived in partnership with God:
Noah’s partnership with God saved his family from the Flood and preserved the human race.
Abraham’s partnership with God also made a global impact. His faith secured the Promised Land for the Hebrew people and brought spiritual blessings to every nation.
Jacob’s partnership with God brought him multiplied wealth even while laboring with his conniving father-in-law.
Moses experienced “face to face” fellowship with God (Deut. 34:10). And he liberated two million Jews from Egypt!
And Joshua secured a military alliance with God that conquered the Canaanites and settled the Hebrew tribes in the Promised Land. Joshua’s partnership with God was so phenomenal, that without earthly assistance, the angels flattened Jericho’s impregnable walls!
(Transition) Wouldn’t you like to live this way? Wouldn’t you like to claim such a close posture with God that he dispatched angels to work in your behalf? Well, it is possible! You can claim partnership with God in a unique and powerful way! This is what I want to discuss in my first point. Partnership with God begins by discerning your spiritual birthright.
I. Discern Your Birthright
(Definition) Jewish birthrights were significant in Old Testament days. That is because firstborn son’s claimed the family’s preeminent privileges and inheritance. In fact, Deuteronomy discloses they were double-beneficiaries of family estates.
(Humor) As the firstborn in my family, I would have enjoyed an Old Testament birthright and its double privileges. But America doesn’t operate that way. Americans use Wills. And a Will is designed to operate this way: Upon the death of the maker of the Will, his/her estate is distributed to the duly appointed beneficiaries. That’s a simplified, idealistic policy for estate disbursement. But realistically, Americans operate another way: When parents die, with or without a Will, the children fuss, fume, and fight, over who gets what!
Do you know why families feud over inheritances? It’s because they have discerned the estate’s value. People don’t pay lawyers enormous sums of money to make certain worthless goods are distributed. Nobody wants to wrangle over trinkets that couldn’t be sold at a flea market. People argue and fight to possess items of value.
The reason people don’t secure more from God is because they haven’t properly evaluated Christ’s covenant. The Lord is willing to disburse it, but we must discern it! Jesus pointed out this when He said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
As I impress this point upon you today, I will repeatedly reference Jacob and Esau. That’s because the Holy Spirit highlights them in regard to claiming God’s blessings. You remember how the story of their lives began with a wrestling match within their mother’s womb. When Rebekah felt that prenatal disturbance she asked God what was happening. God told her two nations were struggling inside her and the younger would rule the older. God’s foreknowledge observed Esau’s disdain for his birthright and predetermined it for Jacob, the man of faith. Let me show you.
When Esau matured he became an outdoorsman and hunted game. One day, he returned home famished from a long, fruitless day of hunting. No doubt God had orchestrated Esau’s vain attempts just to test his character. When Esau smelled Jacob’s stew cooking over the fire, he asked for a bowl. That’s when Jacob asked Esau to buy his meal by signing over his birthright. And listen to Esau’s reply, “Look, I am about to die . . . What good is the birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32).
In one sentence, Esau exposed his character. Think about it. Have you known anyone to die by missing one meal? There is no way anybody can feel sorry for Esau because he wasn’t a victim. Jacob was certainly wrong for scheming, but Esau deliberately rejected God’s blessing that was promised through his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham! Both Jacob and Esau knew of the covenant blessings God had given to their grandfather, Abraham. But in one sentence Esau repudiated those grand promises. Hebrews 12:16 captures the moment when it says: “for a single meal [Esau] sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. (17) Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected.”
Esau knowingly traded the most significant covenant available for a measly bowl of stew. And in so doing, he deliberately repudiated that special relationship that belonged to firstborns. What discernment!
But Jacob was different. He wasn’t morally perfect, but he longed for God’s blessings. He was a discerning, God-conscious Believer that understood the import of Abraham’s promises and he determined to secure them. The difference is, Jacob connived for the blessing while Esau renounced the blessing. There was error on both counts, but Esau totally abandoned his faith and rejected Abraham’s covenant. When you turn to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament you discover a chapter-by-chapter warning from God:
Chapters 1 and 2 warn to acknowledge Christ lest one drifts from the blessings of salvation.
Chapters 3 and 4 warn Christians not to harden their hearts with unbelief and forfeit God’s promises.
Chapters 5 and 6 warn Believers to avoid the trap of backsliding.
Chapters 7 -10 command us not to forsake the new and better covenant that Christ has mediated.
Chapter 11 is fully devoted to urging Christians not to abandon Faith.
Chapter 12 commands us not to ignore the God’s majestic voice that shakes the heavens and the earth.
And chapter 13 reemphasizes the urgency of faith toward God.
Each of the 13 chapters of Hebrews instructs Christians, in one way or another, to maintain spiritual vigilance, press forward, and live a faith-filled life.
But now, let’s return to Jacob and Esau. As I mentioned, for many years, Jacob exhibited cunning and deceitful ways. Even though God had destined for him for blessing, he stirred the stew and fanned its aroma as a means of manipulating his brother to surrender his birthright. Jacob knew he could secure a special relationship with God if could claim Esau’s birthright. And his plan worked! But all this fleshly maneuvering was unnecessary! Jacob should have trusted God to fulfill His promises. Consequently, all his “sowing to the wind” caused him to “reap the whirlwind.”
I wonder, despite our divine election, if God hasn’t chosen Jacob to reveal a similar character flaw that plagues many Christians? It’s interesting that the Old Testament repeatedly refers to God’s elect as “Jacob’s portion.” That is, Believers are the spiritual sons and daughters of Jacob. And as “Jacob’s portion,” God wants us to beware of corrupt and salacious acts that might impugn our lives. He knew we would constantly war with “the flesh,” even when we wanted to claim God’s blessing.
But Christians don’t have to malign, undermine, or bake half-truths in order to secure favor from God. Remember, with or without Jacob’s chicanery, God promised Rebekah that Jacob would rise above his older brother. And it would be faith not craftiness that would secure this promise. Faith always claims the promises! John said it is “the victory that overcomes the world.” We don’t have to manipulate, or pull strings when we’re in partnership with God.
Do you know where the real temptation comes from when Christians are tempted to operate “in the flesh”? It’s when a friend or loved one suggests a manipulative scheme for us to employ. The scheme can even sound like it is the “spiritual” way to handle it and make certain the right thing occurs!
(Example) Just before Isaac’s death, when he was ready to pronounce his blessings upon his sons, Rebekah—Jacob’s mother—concocted a plan for Jacob to steal his brother’s birthright and hence claim a great blessing! Rebekah urged Jacob to pose as Esau and steal his father’s blessing. And it worked! But that only exacerbated the conflict between the brothers. It brought resentment and separation that lasted for many years. It’s never advantageous to practice wicked ways. It always festers into more problems!
Even Jesus endured this temptation. After a great day of working miracles in John 6, the crowd tried to lure Jesus into accepting his kingly crown (John 6:15). But Christ knew it wasn’t God’s will to accept his kingship by avoiding the Cross. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had already taught that special partnership with God and His blessings come through humility before God. He said, “Blessed are the humble; they shall inherit the earth” (MAT 5:7). Humbly accepting God’s will and ways always secure a divine inheritance!
Whenever you are tempted to behave contrary to God’s standard, never forget that you will face the law of sowing and reaping. Jacob thought he masterminded the art of deception until he encountered his father-in-law. Laban out‑smarted, out‑deceived, and out‑connived Jacob for fourteen years. Jacob found the woman of his dreams but Laban was a nightmare. But if you will accept partnership with God on God’s terms, you will understand that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” That’s something you can trust!
(Transition) Second, partnership with God often emerges through acts of devotion toward God.
II. Partnership with God Emerges through Acts of Devotion toward God
The Bible identifies several ways to express devotion. Making a vow is one significant way. When they’re made under the Spirit’s direction they bring profound blessing. I asked at the beginning of this message how many wanted to walk in God’s favor. This is how you can place yourself into the path of His blessing. Let God inspire you with a vow/commitment toward Him and fulfill it. That’s why Psalm 76:11 says: “Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them.” Scripture references vows 74 times, and they are ‘binding promises’ made for one of two reasons:
First, they’re made in response to God’s blessings. For example, when the storm was quelled after Jonah was thrown into the sea the mariners responded by: “offer[ing] vows and thanksgiving unto God” (Jonah 1:16).
Second, vows are made to God in order to procure His blessing. Let’s illustrate that:
(Illustration) Eddie, a longtime friend, related this story to me. When Betty, Eddie’s older sister, was a young child, she fell into convulsions and became semi-conscious. Nothing the doctors did could improve her condition. In desperation, Eddie’s father bent over Betty and prayed, “Lord, if you’ll heal Betty I’ll preach your Word.” Instantly, she opened her eyes and said, “I want Mamma!” Isn’t that ironic? Dad prays the prayer that snatches his daughter from the jaws of death, she wakes up, and the first person she asks for is Mamma! But Eddie’s dad made a vow and fulfilled it. And God blessed him! He went on to pastor for twenty-seven years and Betty later became a missionary.
(Example) Now let’s investigate a vow made in Scripture. Once again, it is Jacob that Genesis 28 shows enacting a vow as a means of securing God’s blessing. Jacob is traveling when he stops to spend the night in Bethel. During the night the Lord gave him a vision. After the vision Jacob said: “Lord, I’ve surely met you here. I’ve seen angels ascending and descending to Heaven. You have just promised to bless me and I want to agree with you. “I vow, that if indeed you bless me, I will give you a tenth of all of my increase.”” Consequently, God honored Jacob’s vow and blessed him many times over—even while working with his father‑in‑law Laban. Years later, an angel appeared to Jacob and reminded him how he gained a great measure of his prosperity. Genesis 31:11 says: “Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. (13) I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me.” In essence, the angel said: “Jacob, look at your wealth. You are blessed because of your courageous vow at Bethel. I accepted that vow and entered special partnership with you and gave you all you see.”
Perhaps the Holy Spirit is leading someone here to walk in special partnership with God. He may be prompting you to enter a special covenant-relationship with Him that includes a vow. If that’s the case God is trying to richly bless you.
(Example) Despite the abundance of Scripture on the issue, some people don’t believe in making vows. But they wouldn’t hesitate in purchasing a $75,000 automobile and financing it for 60 months! And this is nothing short of a vow! It was simply made with a lending institution.
Here’s the difference between secular and spiritual vows. That automobile vow incurs up to 60 months of indebtedness, and with interest too! But the good news is, while spiritual vows require a sacrificial act of faith from Believers, it also releases the supernatural blessing from Almighty God! It literally obligates God to the vow-maker. This is what Psalm 50:14‑15 means when it says, “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, (15) and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.
(Illustration) A Christian named R.G. Latournea knew the benefits of vows. In the middle of the 1930’s depression, his business endeavors profited him $35,000. That was good money for those lean days of the early twentieth century. Earlier that year, he had pledged $5,000 to his local church but estimated he could make $100,000 profit by foregoing the $5,000 vow and reinvesting the money. So he amended his commitment and said: “Lord, I am going to skip my $5,000 pledge this year because I have discovered that a reinvestment of that amount will produce $100,000. And Lord, when I give $10,000 tithes later, it will far exceed giving you $5,000 tithes now.” But rather than making $100,000 profit that next year he lost $100,000! Realizing his mistake, he repented and made another pledge. He said, “God, regardless of my $100,000 deficit, I will repay the $5,000 and give an addional $5,000.” Upon doing this, his business grew and prospered enough to absorb the $100,000 deficit and prospered another $100,000 besides that! Before dying in 1969, he contributed ninety percent of his income to God while keeping only ten percent. Latournea financed missions throughout the world and at one time his missionary foundation alone was worth $40 million. IT was largely due to his special partnership with God.
(Illustration) There’s one final illustration. Stanley Tam owned a silver reclamation business. He tithed from the beginning. After apparent failure he prayed: “God, I don’t understand. I’m a tither and it looks like I’ve failed.” Then he felt God speak to him: “Give me your silver reclamation business and you won’t fail. For have I not said in My Word ‘my God shall supply all your needs’?” Upon that encounter with God, he surrendered his business to God and it immediately prospered. Later he told his wife that giving ten percent to God wasn’t enough. Thus, he increased his giving by committing fifty percent of the company’s stocks to the Lord’s work. But God’s blessings upon his labors continued to grow! He later increased his giving to sixty percent and only accepted 40% for personal usage. Ultimately, he accepted a company salary and gave 100% of the profits to God!
You see, there is untold blessing for those that dare to enter special partnership with the Lord. What about you? Is God offering the opportunity of partnership with Him? Let God into your life in a more dynamic way and He will prove to be more than you expected!