JACOB’S LADDER – September 30th, 1979
Pastor John will be reading from the Book of John and Genesis as he goes through the story of Jacob’s Ladder. Jacob was a man, the grandson of Abraham who inherited all of the rights and all of the family, social, cultural things that he needed to truly be God’s chosen man, but whose life was a total disaster as he sought for it in his own power. In this message Pastor John will be studying some of Jacob’s life, how it happened, and then some of the things that led to his conversion and experience with the Lord.
According to Pastor John the whole struggle from the story of Jacob’s ladder is who and what you are. Before the blessing of God can come and before the life change can come there is that face to face question with God, that personal encounter with Jesus of confessing.
I am Jacob. I am a cheat.”
The mercy of Jesus. He says unto him thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel a prince of God. According to Pastor John, this is the whole message. The promises of God were by God’s grace. They weren’t by human endeavor or assertion. All of Jacob’s scheming and ways to try and get his way, even by cheating brought him to that day that there was nothing there but a confrontation with God himself, a confession of who he was. When Jacob humbled himself, God spoke, and Jacob was changed.
This is what happens to the believer. This is what makes us the Israel of God. Our encounter with the Lord when we run out of our own ways and our own self, and we humble, confess who we are before him, and we hold to him with all of our strength.
God changed Jacob to Israel. That’s what you and I need. Not to come with our striving and our ways, but to come before him and grasp a hold of the Lord with all of our heart and confess who we are. We are nothing without him. We are dust and ashes. I am Jacob. Let him put his hand on you and let him change you. Let him make you the Israel of God, a child of the King.”
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Pastor John will be reading one of his favorite stories in the Bible. It is a preemptive to the story of Mary offering her sacrifice of the alabaster box full of ointment to Jesus. It is a story that has so touched Pastor John’s heart over the years that he wanted to share it with everyone that evening. It is a story about a lady that was considered a sinful lady and did something extraordinary to Jesus. It is the story of Jesus anointed by a sinful woman.
I’d like us to pray before we go into the Word that our eyes would be open and our hearts would be open, our ears, our spiritual hearing would be open. That we could see something beyond the ordinary here. And that we can see beyond our understanding up until now about the importance of sacrifice.”
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This is an amazing story that happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Pastor John believes this woman’s faith was sewn into Mary and this woman’s sacrifice was so astounding that when Mary sensed that desire to do something special for Jesus she simply followed suit and felt safe to do it.
Pastor John says one of the reasons it’s important that we understand sacrifice because it is going to cost us something to come into his presence with a certain kind of strength. It is also important that we understand the three kinds of sacrifice God calls for. The first is the sacrifice of praise. We need to make the commitment to offer continually the sacrifice of praise. The second is the sacrifice of righteousness. We should live so that our lives to please God by offering continually the sacrifice of righteousness. Thirdly, to communicate and give of our resources. We will offer continually the sacrifice of my resources.
Go through your Bible and you will find it all the way through that the men and women who made sacrifice, that made an alter before God and were willing to give to him, are the men and women that God used for great and mighty purposes.”
At this time in 1991 there were some things happening in the world that Pastor John thought would be important for everyone to realize. There was a tremendous amount of deception going on through books, writings, prophecy, and through tapes along with a lot of false doctrines and prophets that Jesus prophesied about. It is for these reasons that Pastor John wanted to lay some foundations on how to interpret the Bible.
Pastor John had come to a conclusion over the years that the Bible is its best interpreter. The Bible lays down guidelines for its interpretation very plainly that if we will follow those we will be safe. Pastor John finds most of the false doctrines, concepts, and ideas, even if they are not dangerous or harmful as far as our salvation is concerned, simply do not follow guidelines or order.
So all the way through when you read all of these kinds of things that go on that are written and you go to the Bible, you can’t find them. It becomes very disturbing to people like me, because I believe the condition the church is in, is directly the result of what it believes and the position it holds Jesus in.”
With this in mind, Pastor John wanted to give a brief outline of how to interpret the Bible. He gives sixteen rules for interpretation of the Bible. Pastor John believes that this scripture is very balanced in what it gives us. If he had a major observational rule that he would throw out to us it is that God is a God of balance, but He balances things by tension. Truths cause us to come into heavenly order by having these tensions of them. Only God can work those tensions out. It is becoming extremely important for those who believe in Jesus to understand then how to interpret scriptures.
Pastor John says that intention is the major key to reading your Bible or any book. We need to know what was the author trying to say. Not what you are trying to make it say, but what was the author trying to say. And behind what the author was trying to say, what was God trying to say through the author.
Now what I am saying all of this to you for is that I don’t believe any of the common theories today really have it figured out, cause I don’t think God has told us. And you can hold your theories and talk about things that are exciting, but don’t teach a theory as if it were truth. Teach it only as a theory… The best thing for us to do is focus on Jesus, focus on loving one another, and focus on accomplishing the things He has given us to do.”