Word Alive! Bible Study ©2023
Fall /Early Winter Series:
God Never Gives Up On You!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tues., 7 & 14 Nov. 2023 Lesson 3, Parts 1 & 2
Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up On You © 2023
Quiet Time: Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up, Pages 13-30
Alone But Not Forgotten – Our faith in God is calibrated to such a degree, that even when life takes a sharp turn; a deep dive; a slight change; or seem to reach rock bottom, we are not forgotten. The assurance we have in God’s presence is not one we can orchestrate. The reliability of God’s ever-presence is within His divine character. There are times, such as in the life of Jacob, a person could initiate an action or create some harm, for which the consequences are severe. A person may find themselves in a state of distance, or exile; that leaves them frightened and living on the edge of panic and shame. Although God intended to fulfill the promise given to Abraham, through his grandson Jacob (Israel); Jacob’s theft of his brother Esau’s inheritance, was not sanctioned by God. Esau’s anger toward his brother Jacob, grew more intrenched as time ensued; until Esau made it clear he was going “to kill” his brother. Their mother Rebekah, knew the only option for Jacob was to leave their home in Beersheba, and travel over 600 miles to Haran (modern-day Turkey; also, parts of Iraq). (Read, Genesis 27:41-45, NIV). Despite his family’s wealth, Jacob took only a staff and a skin pouch with water and a little food. He was now alone; no family, no friends, no persons to assist him. Jacob was alone. In his book, “God Never Gives Up On You,” Max Lucado offers this observation: “Had [Jacob]] lived today, he would have been raised in a mansion, pampered by his servants, and educated in the finest schools. He had everything he needed. And then, from one moment to the next, he had nothing. He ran for his life, suddenly and utterly alone.” There are at least two things, Jacob did not do after he had harmed his brother: He did not confess his sins; nor ask God for forgiveness; he showed no remorse for his wrong; and, he refused to apologize to his brother and his father. These omissions drove Jacob into exile; as much as his mother’s directing him to leave the homestead – assuming things would “blow over” and Jacob later would be reunited with her at home. Jacob was on the run for 20 years. During that period, Rebekah died, and never saw her son again. The Scripture teaches us, whatever our circumstance, God does not give up on us. This is especially true when we repent. Within the first two days of Jacob’s flight to exile, he rested at a place called Luz. He had travelled under 50 miles within 48 hours. Resting his head on a hard stone, he fell asleep with exhaustion and fear. He was alone. It was in that lonely place, God met Jacob. He discovered a heavenly vision of angels, ascending and descending a ladder or stairway to heaven, Jacob heard God speaking to him about the promises he had made to Abraham; and to his destiny. (Read, Genesis 28:10-12; 16-19, NIV). Jacob honored God’s presence; consecrating the stone with oil, he called the place Beth-El.
Alone But Not Forgotten, Part 2, - Jacob’s decision to bless the place he attempted to rest after an arduous journey from Beersheba, was described in the Hebrew language as one of “awe and astonishment.” This was a vision Jacob could not have contrived; nor exploit for personal gain. The late Dr. R. C. Sproule often said, “Awareness of the holiness of God, will not allow you to remain completely unchanged.” (Paraphrase). Jacob would indeed have many other trials in his life, but in that dark; lonesome place, He became acquainted with the Presence. Whoever we are, and whatever we do in life; we can neither change, nor manipulate the Divine character of God being faithful. There are times we will experience trials, which will make us more mature Christians; and will glorify God. Even our paucity in faith, could never prevent God from being faithful toward us. (Read, 2 Timothy 2:11-13, NLT). In following Jacob’s life, we will discern that many of his trials were related to consequences attributed to his behavior. It is mostly our unconfessed sins that contribute to some of our difficult moments. It is of note that Jacob made a vow to serve God responsibly, after God delivered on what he had promised. Many years later, Jacob’s sincerity to God matured, such that we do not here language that reminds us of bargaining (Read, Genesis 28:13-15; 20-21, NLT). God is the ultimate arbiter of character. There are persons who spend a lifetime harming others and feel justified in doing so. Jacob’s deception was part of his drive to always succeed and have the last word. However, the grace of God can outlast our occasional transgressions. While sin is never excusable, we all owe our love and loyalty to a God who welcomes us back to Him over and again. Max Lucado offers this insight about Jacob: “Jacob was not given a lamb, but he was given heaven’s comfort. The message of the vision could not be clearer: when we are at our lowest. God is watching over us from the highest. Between us stretches a conduit of grace upon which messengers carry out his will.” It can be noted that the place Jacob had the encounter with God was near a town called Luz. The term Luz, is believed to be a description of tht place as a rugged place; associated with a bone in the human spine. Jacob was indeed in a rough place in his life, and had a rocky relationship with his brother Esau. God changed the name of the place Beth-El, which means the “house” or “sanctuary” of God. God can take our rough and hardened places and turn these into a sanctuary to worship Him; and to direct our attention to the God who is our Savior. When Jacob finally reached his uncle’s home, he had every expectation that life would be without difficulty, But Jacob was unaware that he and his uncle, Laban, had very similar personalities. Each would try on occasion, to deceive the other. What we have in us, will follow us, whether good or undesirable. A change in venue, does not mean an automatic change in habits or character. This is why we must seek daily to be transformed into the best; God would have us to become. Jacob travelled the longest distance in his life; only to be under the custodial care of a relative who was just like him. It was during the years Jacob spent in Paddan Aram, developing his new family; he realized what it was like to deceive others. We hear this in Jacob’s anger toward Laban (Read, Gen. 31:36-38; 40-42, NLT).
Key Idea: What We Believe!
“God’s grace never quits.” – Max Lucado
Genesis 27:41-45, NIV “Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. When your brother is no longer angry with you, and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
Genesis 28:10-12;16-19 NIV “Jacob left Bathsheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it… When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz."
2 Timothy 2:13, NIV
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; can’t disown Himself.”
2 Timothy 2:11-13, NLT
“This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will deny us. If we are unfaithful. He remains faithful. For he cannot deny who He is.”
Genesis 28:13-15;20-21, NLT
“At the top of the staircase, stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord , the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions – to the west and to the east – to the north and to 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… Then Jacob made 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 31:36-38; 40-42,NLT“Then Jacob became very angry and he challenged Laban. “What is my crime?” he demanded. “What have I done wrong to make you chase after me as though I were a criminal? You have rummaged through every thing I own. Now show me what you found that belongs to you… For twenty years I have been with you caring for your flocks. In all that time your sheep and goats never miscarried. I never used a single ram of yours for food…Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house. I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father had not been on my side…you would have sent me away empty handed.”