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11. Living Out Our New Identity in Christ (Genesis 33)

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Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was coming along with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants. He put the servants and their children in front, with Leah and her children behind them, and Rachel and Joseph behind them. But Jacob himself went on ahead of them, and he bowed toward the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, hugged his neck, and kissed him. Then they both wept. When Esau looked up and saw the women and the children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?” Jacob replied, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” The female servants came forward with their children and bowed down. Then Leah came forward with her children and they bowed down. Finally Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed down. Esau then asked, “What did you intend by sending all these herds to meet me?” Jacob replied, “To find favor in your sight, my lord.” But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what belongs to you.” “No, please take them,” Jacob said. “If I have found favor in your sight, accept my gift from my hand. Now that I have seen your face and you have accepted me, it is as if I have seen the face of God. Please take my present that was brought to you, for God has been generous to me and I have all I need.” When Jacob urged him, he took it. Then Esau said, “Let’s be on our way! I will go in front of you.” But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are young, and that I have to look after the sheep and cattle that are nursing their young. If they are driven too hard for even a single day, all the animals will die. Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. I will travel more slowly, at the pace of the herds and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.” So Esau said, “Let me leave some of my men with you.” “Why do that?” Jacob replied. “My lord has already been kind enough to me.” So that same day Esau made his way back to Seir. But Jacob traveled to Succoth where he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was called Succoth. After he left Paddan Aram, Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem in the land of Canaan, and he camped near the city. Then he purchased the portion of the field where he had pitched his tent; he bought it from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money. There he set up an altar and called it “The God of Israel is God.”

Genesis 33 (NET)

How can we live out our new identity in Christ?

In Genesis 32:22-32, Jacob wrestled with God, and after wrestling, God gave him a new name, Israel, which means “God commands,” “God prevails,” or “the one who prevails with God.” The changing of his name meant a change of character and destiny. Previously Jacob trusted in his wisdom and strength instead of God’s, but now he was to be marked by obeying God’s commands and relying on God’s strength instead of his own.

However, as we continue studying Jacob’s narrative, we certainly see growth, but we also see him continually fall back into old habits. He wasn’t the same old Jacob, but he didn’t always live like Israel either. In fact, it’s interesting to consider that when God gave Abraham a new name in Genesis 17, he is always called by that name in the Genesis narrative from that point on. But for Jacob, after being named Israel, the narrator, Moses, calls him Jacob twice more than Israel throughout his narrative (Gen 33-50).1 Since the Holy Spirit inspired every part of Scripture, we can have no doubt that this was intentional. Jacob, though experiencing God and being renamed, commonly didn’t live out his new identity. Arthur Pink said this: “It is one thing to be privileged with a special visitation from or manifestation of God to us, but it is quite another to live in the power of it.”2

Sadly, this is commonly true for us. As believers, we have been called children of God, saints, co-heirs with Christ, co-workers with God, and new creations. Scripture also teaches us that our old man, our old nature, died with Christ and that we are no longer slaves of sin but slaves of righteousness (Rom 6). However, many of us live as slaves of sin instead of slaves of righteousness and as sinners instead of saints. We look like Jacob instead of Israel.

How can we live out our new identity in Christ? As Jacob meets with Esau, it is clear that he is not the same man that he was, but at the same time, he is not who he should have been. As we consider Jacob’s struggle to live as Israel, we’ll learn more about how to live out our new identity in Christ.

Big Question: What can we learn about living out our identity in Christ, as we consider how Jacob struggled to live out his new name in Genesis 33?

To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Be Careful of Our Spiritual Weaknesses

Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was coming along with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants. He put the servants and their children in front, with Leah and her children behind them, and Rachel and Joseph behind them… Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. I will travel more slowly, at the pace of the herds and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.” So Esau said, “Let me leave some of my men with you.” “Why do that?” Jacob replied. “My lord has already been kind enough to me.” So that same day Esau made his way back to Seir. But Jacob traveled to Succoth where he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was called Succoth.

Genesis 33:1-2, 14-17

Even though God has changed our names and given us new identities, we still have certain propensities and weaknesses. Some of them are passed down generationally (Ex 20:5) and some of them come from our practice of certain sins. The more we practice a certain sin, the more vulnerable we are to fall back into it later on in life. With Jacob, one of his weaknesses was favoritism. As seen throughout his narrative, his parents played favorites between him and his brother, Esau, causing animosity between them. When Jacob married two women, he favored Rachel.

Though, Jacob had just wrestled with God and prevailed, he falls right back into the habit of favoritism when he sees Esau. He orders his family to line up based on rank/importance: first the servants and their children, then Leah and her children, and finally Rachel and her son, Joseph. If the servants and their children were attacked, the others could flee. Everybody in the family knew their rank. It probably re-opened a wound for Leah, who had struggled with being unloved throughout the marriage (Gen 29). In addition, all the children knew who Jacob’s favorite child was—it was Joseph.

Later, this seed sown in the children would bear fruit. In Genesis 37, Jacob would give Joseph a robe of many colors—again showing all the other children who his favorite was. This caused the other brothers to hate Joseph and sell him into slavery. Though Jacob was renamed and changed, favoritism was his default setting—like a computer program. He often fell back into it, with disastrous results.

However, this was not Jacob’s only negative default. He also was a deceiver. That’s actually what his name meant. After reconciling with his brother, Esau, he lies to him—saying that he would meet Esau in Seir—Esau’s home. However, when Esau goes south, Jacob goes north, towards Succoth. That was Jacob’s default setting. He lied both to get what he wanted and to protect himself. This was something passed down generationally. Abraham struggled with lying. He lied about his wife being his sister twice—both times leading to her being taken by powerful men. Isaac, Jacob’s father, also lied about his wife. Later, Jacob’s eleven sons would lie to him for years—saying that Joseph was killed by an animal, when they had really sold him into slavery.

If we are going to walk in our new nature and identity in Christ, we must recognize our spiritual weaknesses—the areas we are most prone to fall into sin. David’s weakness was women. Moses tended to take strong actions in his flesh. Early on, he killed an Egyptian—trusting in his own strength to deliver Israel. Later, when God told him to speak to a rock, so water would flow out, he was so frustrated with Israel, he hit the rock; and therefore, God judged him. He was prone to rely on his own strength. That was his default setting.

What is your weakness? If you are going to walk in your new identity, you must identify it and be careful of it. Is it complaining when things are difficult? Is it wanting to quit in the midst of adversity? Is it unforgiveness—cutting people off who have failed you? Whatever negative things you tend to practice when stressed, angry, or threatened is probably your default setting. If you’re going to walk in your new identity, you must be careful of your spiritual weaknesses.

Application Question: What are your spiritual weaknesses—the areas of sin, which you are particularly prone to fall into, especially in times of difficulty? How do you protect yourself from falling into those weaknesses?

To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Labor to Live at Peace with Others

But Jacob himself went on ahead of them, and he bowed toward the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, hugged his neck, and kissed him. Then they both wept… Esau then asked, “What did you intend by sending all these herds to meet me?” Jacob replied, “To find favor in your sight, my lord.” But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what belongs to you.” “No, please take them,” Jacob said. “If I have found favor in your sight, accept my gift from my hand. Now that I have seen your face and you have accepted me, it is as if I have seen the face of God. Please take my present that was brought to you, for God has been generous to me and I have all I need.” When Jacob urged him, he took it.

Genesis 33:3-4, 8-11

When Jacob sees Esau, he bows down seven times. As discovered from ancient Egyptian tablets, this was protocol for honoring a king.3 Jacob humbles himself as a servant before his brother. After embracing each other and weeping, Jacob insists that Esau take his luxurious gift of over 550 cattle. Even though Esau refused, it was important to Jacob for him to take the gift. In ancient times, it was known that one would not accept a gift from an enemy but only from a friend. Therefore, by accepting the gift, Esau would further confirm that their enmity was over and that he had favored Jacob.4

In verse 10, when Jacob said, “‘If I have found favor in your sight, accept my gift from my hand. Now that I have seen your face and you have accepted me, it is as if I have seen the face of God,” he was connecting his wrestling with God and seeing God’s face to seeing Esau’s face.5 When God blessed Jacob after their wrestling, Jacob and Esau’s restoration was a fruit of that.

Similarly, our relationship with others is also connected to our relationship with God. In Matthew 5:23-24, Christ said,

So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift.

For this reason, to be out of fellowship with others is to be out of fellowship with God. Our old nature is prone to discord and unforgiveness and our new nature is prone to peace (cf. Gal 5:19-23). Therefore, to live out our new identity in Christ, we must always seek to live at peace with others, as much as depends on us (Rom 12:18).

In order to seek restoration, Jacob humbles himself as a servant, when he bows seven times to Esau—honoring him as a king. He also offered restitution through his generous gift. We must do the same if we are going to live out our new natures in Christ.

Are there any relationships God is calling you to seek to restore? How is God calling you to humble yourself to pursue reconciliation?

Application Question: Are there any strained relationships in your life that God is calling you to seek to restore? What steps should be taken to restore relationships, as modeled in Jacob’s reconciliation with Esau?

To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Put Our Confidence in God’s Grace and Not Human Strength

When Esau looked up and saw the women and the children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?” Jacob replied, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” The female servants came forward with their children and bowed down. Then Leah came forward with her children and they bowed down. Finally Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed down. Esau then asked, “What did you intend by sending all these herds to meet me?” Jacob replied, “To find favor in your sight, my lord.” But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what belongs to you.” “No, please take them,” Jacob said. “If I have found favor in your sight, accept my gift from my hand. Now that I have seen your face and you have accepted me, it is as if I have seen the face of God. Please take my present that was brought to you, for God has been generous to me and I have all I need.” When Jacob urged him, he took it.

Genesis 33:5-11

Twice while talking with Esau, Jacob recognized God’s gracious provisions in his life. When Esau asked who all the people were with him, Jacob replied, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant” (v. 5). After Esau asked about all the herds that were sent to meet him, again Jacob replied by recognizing God’s grace. In verse 11, Jacob said, “Please take my present that was brought to you, for God has been generous to me and I have all I need.’”

Jacob recognized that all twelve of his children were gifts of God—only God had power over the womb, not him or his wives. He also recognized all his wealth came from God. It was not because of all his diligent labor—it was God’s grace. God made all of Laban’s flocks bear striped and dark colored offspring, which were Jacob’s according to his deal with Laban. Jacob’s confidence was in God’s grace and not in his strength or wisdom. This was a marked change for Jacob, who had depended on his ability to manipulate others throughout his life in order to get his way. Now, he realized that God was the giver of every good gift and that he needed to put his confidence in him.

Having confidence in God’s grace and not our strength is a mark of our new nature. In Philippians 3:3 (NIV), Paul said it this way, “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” The Judaizers, who invaded the Philippian congregation, relied on their works for salvation—specifically circumcision. However, true believers rely on God’s grace, as salvation comes through God and not our works. All religions declare something similar to the Judaizers—salvation comes from what we do and not what was done for us. Christianity, properly understood, teaches that salvation comes only by grace—God’s unmerited favor. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Therefore, those who are truly saved and made new in Christ put their confidence in God’s grace, even as Jacob did—not just for salvation but for all things. In Philippians 2:12-13, it says that God works in us to will and do of his good pleasure. All of our good works are simply manifestations of God’s grace. In 1 Corinthians 4:7, Paul said, “‘For who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not?” How can we boast, if God has given us everything—such as intelligence, health, gifts, and opportunities? All has come from God. It all represents God’s grace.

Since the world has not experienced God’s Spirit and true salvation, they find their identity and boast in their works—their wealth, accomplishments, resumes, and degrees. John calls this the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16 NIV). This often leads to judging those with less accomplishments or secular status. However, for those walking in the Spirit, it should not be that way. Our experience of grace should make us gracious towards others.

What do you boast in—your flesh, such as accomplishments and strengths, or God’s grace, his unmerited favor on your life? What you boast in shows where your confidence is. As “Jacob,” his confidence was in his strength and ability to manipulate others, but as “Israel,” his confidence was in God’s grace and his grace alone. Confidence in our flesh leads to pride or insecurity and misjudging others. Confidence in God’s grace leads to humility and the edification of others. Which identifies you? To live out our new identities in Christ, we must put our confidence in God’s grace and not our strength or others.

Application Question: Why are we so prone to boast in our achievements and successes and miss God’s hand in them? How can we grow in recognizing God’s grace and giving him thanks for it? In what ways do you struggle with a prideful/critical spirit?

To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Learn to Trust God

So that same day Esau made his way back to Seir. But Jacob traveled to Succoth where he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was called Succoth. After he left Paddan Aram, Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem in the land of Canaan, and he camped near the city.

Genesis 33:16-18

Jacob traveled to Succoth, the opposite direction of Esau’s home in Seir. Seir was south, and Succoth was northwest.6 Not only did Jacob deceive Esau, but also disobeyed God. When God called Jacob to leave his uncle’s house, he was supposed to return to the land of his fathers, Canaan (Gen 31:3). However, Succoth was outside of the promised land. We can surmise that Jacob stayed there for a few years, since he built a house and made shelters for his livestock. Afterward, he moved to Shechem, which was in the promised land.

Why did Jacob delay obedience? It seems that he still feared Esau. This is implied in Genesis 33:18 when the narrator said Jacob came “safely” to the city of Shechem. Even though Jacob and Esau reconciled, Jacob still didn’t trust him. He went the opposite direction out of fear. However, this fear really meant Jacob didn’t trust God. In Genesis 28:15, God promised to protect Jacob and bring him back from Haran to Canaan. In Genesis 31:3, God told Jacob to leave Haran and return to his fathers’ land and that God would be with him. And in Genesis 32:28, after wrestling with God, God said that he had prevailed with God and men; this prevailing with men referred, at least in part, to Esau. Though Jacob had many promises of God’s blessings and protection, he didn’t trust them wholly. This kept him from living out his identity as Israel—the one God commands.

Similarly, a lack of trust in God will keep us from living out our identity. It was when Eve doubted God that she fell away from him. If we don’t trust God’s promises to us, we will sin against him and miss his best as well. God promises that as we seek first his kingdom all things will be added unto us (Matt 6:33). He promises that as we acknowledge him in all our ways, God will direct our paths (Prov 3:6). He promises that as we confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, we’ll find healing (James 5:16). He promises if we practice generous giving, God will generously give to us (2 Cor 9:6-10). He promises that if we delight in his word and meditate on it day and night, he will prosper us (Ps 1:1-3). His promises to us are legion. However, because we don’t trust God and his promises, we often delay obedience and live in our old nature instead of our new one. Therefore, like Jacob, we delay in Succoth; like Israel, we wander in the wilderness; like Abraham, we run down to Egypt instead of living in the land of promise.

In what ways are you not trusting God and therefore delaying obedience? Many say to God, “One day, I will wholeheartedly follow you, one day I’ll give you all I have, but first I want to get married, first I have to take care of my career, first I want to have fun…” Obedience just keeps getting delayed, when we don’t fully trust God. Are you trusting God and therefore obeying, or doubting him and delaying?

Application Question: Are there any areas of delayed or partial obedience in your life? How is God calling you to remedy them? What are your fears that threaten your reception of God’s promises and keep you from obedience? How can we further develop our faith?

To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Be Bold Worshipers

Then he purchased the portion of the field where he had pitched his tent; he bought it from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money. There he set up an altar and called it “The God of Israel is God.”

Genesis 33:19-20

When Jacob purchased a field in Shechem, it was an act of faith. God had promised him and his descendants the land, and therefore, he not only returned to it, but also purchased land in it. Shechem was also the first place that Abraham went when entering the promised land (Gen 12:6). After purchasing property, Jacob built an altar there and called it, “The God of Israel is God.” Not only would this be a place of worship for his family, but it was also a declaration of monotheism to the surrounding pagans—declaring there was no other God. Jacob was a bold worshiper. His grandfather, Abraham, did the same thing when he came to Shechem. In Genesis 12:6-7, Abraham built an altar right next to the “tree of Moreh”—which means the “tree of teaching.” Canaanites would often build sanctuaries in trees. It was probably a place where pagan prophets taught. However, it didn’t matter to Abraham. He boldly proclaimed his God there, and Jacob did the same. The God of Israel is God!

Similarly, if we are going to live out our identity in Christ, we must be bold worshipers. This is much truer in the New Covenant than in the Old Covenant. In the Old, they were called to worship at the tabernacle and then the temple; however, in the New, God has made our bodies his temple. First Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Therefore, since we are God’s temple, we should worship at all times, as we are not limited by location. We should worship at church, at home, at work, and while at leisure. For the believer, every place must become an altar and opportunity to express our appreciation to God and tell others about him. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

In addition, it must be remembered that when Jacob made a nonaggression pact with Laban, he swore by “the God whom his father Isaac feared” (Gen 31:53). Now, he calls God, “the God of Israel.” His identity is now found in God and not just the God of his father. He is unashamed and bold. God blessed him while in Haran, protected him from Laban, and now protected him from Esau. God was his God, and he would boldly proclaim his glory.

Are you boldly worshiping God and proclaiming his glory? We need to do this both individually and corporately. In Matthew 18:20, Christ taught that when two or more are gathered in his name, he is in the midst. This means that though God is always with us, he is with us in a special way when gathered with other worshipers to honor God’s name. If we are going to live out our new identity as children of God, we must live a lifestyle of worship—seeking him individually through prayer and devotion, but also meeting with saints for prayer and praise, gathering in small groups and large groups for worship. In Acts 2, when Peter preached and 3,000 were saved, they immediately started gathering every day from house to house and at the temple court for worship. The new Christians gathered where all the Jews worshiped, even though they were persecutors of the faith. They were bold worshipers, like Abraham and Jacob.

Are you a bold worshiper? Are you sharing your faith, unashamedly, with others? In Romans 1:16, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

If you are a quiet worshiper, who never shares your faith, you might not be a worshiper at all. When people are truly excited about something, they tell people. They talk with excitement about the new movie they just saw or the new restaurant they recently dined at. They often tell all who will listen. They post on social media for all to see. When we are truly worshiping God, that’s how we are with our faith. Every place becomes the foundation of an altar.

Are you a bold worshiper? Are you living out your new identity as a worshiper of Christ? You are the temple of God and therefore every place you go should essentially become an altar. Thank you, Lord. Amen!

Application Question: How do you practice weekly worship, both individually and corporately? How is God calling you to grow in your worship of him? In what ways are you tempted to be quiet about your faith instead of sharing it? Are there any ways God is calling you to grow in your boldness?

Conclusion

After Jacob wrestled with God, God gave him a new name and identity; however, after receiving this great blessing, he often failed to live according to it. He fluctuated between being the deceiver, Jacob, and the one God commands, Israel. He wasn’t the same, but he wasn’t where he should have been. We often are like this as well. God calls us saints, but we often live as sinners. God calls us new creations in Christ, but we often live like our old selves. How can we live out our new identities in Christ?

  1. To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Be Careful of Our Spiritual Weaknesses
  2. To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Labor to Live at Peace with Others
  3. To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Put Our Confidence in God’s Grace and Not Human Strength
  4. To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Learn to Trust God
  5. To Live Out Our New Identity, We Must Be Bold Worshipers

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

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1 Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 824). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

2 Pink, Arthur W.. Gleanings in Genesis (p. 360). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.

3 Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible - Commentary - The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – Genesis II.

4 Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible - Commentary - The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – Genesis II.

5 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 405). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

6 Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (p. 62). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

12. Consequences of Neglecting God (Genesis 34)

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Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore to Jacob, went to meet the young women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area, saw her, he grabbed her, forced himself on her, and sexually assaulted her. Then he became very attached to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He fell in love with the young woman and spoke romantically to her. Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Acquire this young girl as my wife.” When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter Dinah, his sons were with the livestock in the field. So Jacob remained silent until they came in. Then Shechem’s father Hamor went to speak with Jacob about Dinah. Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the field when they heard the news. They were offended and very angry because Shechem had disgraced Israel by sexually assaulting Jacob’s daughter, a crime that should not be committed. But Hamor made this appeal to them: “My son Shechem is in love with your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. Intermarry with us. Let us marry your daughters, and take our daughters as wives for yourselves. You may live among us, and the land will be open to you. Live in it, travel freely in it, and acquire property in it.” Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your sight, and whatever you require of me I’ll give. You can make the bride price and the gift I must bring very expensive, and I’ll give whatever you ask of me. Just give me the young woman as my wife!” Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully when they spoke because Shechem had violated their sister Dinah. They said to them, “We cannot give our sister to a man who is not circumcised, for it would be a disgrace to us. We will give you our consent on this one condition: You must become like us by circumcising all your males. Then we will give you our daughters to marry, and we will take your daughters as wives for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. But if you do not agree to our terms by being circumcised, then we will take our sister and depart.” Their offer pleased Hamor and his son Shechem. The young man did not delay in doing what they asked because he wanted Jacob’s daughter Dinah badly. (Now he was more important than anyone in his father’s household.) So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, “These men are at peace with us. So let them live in the land and travel freely in it, for the land is wide enough for them. We will take their daughters for wives, and we will give them our daughters to marry. Only on this one condition will these men consent to live with us and become one people: They demand that every male among us be circumcised just as they are circumcised. If we do so, won’t their livestock, their property, and all their animals become ours? So let’s consent to their demand, so they will live among us.” All the men who assembled at the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem. Every male who assembled at the city gate was circumcised. In three days, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and went to the unsuspecting city and slaughtered every male. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and left. Jacob’s sons killed them and looted the city because their sister had been violated. They took their flocks, herds, and donkeys, as well as everything in the city and in the surrounding fields. They captured as plunder all their wealth, all their little ones, and their wives, including everything in the houses…

Genesis 34 (NET)

What are consequences of neglecting God?

Genesis 34 is one of the more tragic chapters in the Bible. In the narrative, Jacob’s only daughter Dinah was raped by a prince in the land of Shechem. After the assault, the young man (also named Shechem) realized that he loved Dinah and sent his father to arrange a marriage between the families. Jacob’s sons agreed on the condition that the men of Shechem circumcise themselves. Because of the potential to gain great wealth through the partnership, the men of the town agreed and went through with the procedure. On the third day after their circumcision, when the pain probably was the worst, two of Jacob’s sons murdered all the men in the town.

The story is tragic. Many might question, “Why is this story in the Bible?” and “What can we learn from it?” There are many things: For one, stories like this give evidence of the Divine authorship of Scripture. From a human perspective, adding this story makes no sense. If Moses, the author of Genesis, was simply trying to encourage Israel before they entered the promised land, this story would have been left out, as it displays the Jews in an unflattering light. Even the Canaanites look more righteous than Israel in this story. Human authors would not have added this story. But, since God is the ultimate author of Scripture, he doesn’t hide the flaws of his people. David had flaws. Moses had flaws. Abraham had flaws. Jacob had flaws, and the Israelites had flaws. In fact, this demonstrates that all are sinners—Jews and Gentiles. However, God can change flawed people and use them for his purposes, which he eventually does with Israel. In one sense, this chapter should give us all hope.

In addition, not only does this story demonstrate the Divine authorship of Scripture, but also shows us what happens when God is neglected. In the previous narrative, Jacob had worked for his uncle Laban for twenty years, and while working for him, he was cheated and abused. When Jacob fled from Laban, God rescued him. After God resolved that situation, Jacob sought reconciliation with his brother Esau; however, Esau responded with bringing 400 men to meet him. His response appears to be hostile. However, God delivered Jacob from that situation as well—bringing reconciliation.

After a long period of time living in the land of Succoth, Jacob finally brought his family to the land of Shechem in Genesis 33. While there, Jacob built an altar—declaring that the God of Israel was God (Gen 33:20). For twenty years of hostile service in Haran, God protected and prospered Jacob. When he was about to encounter his angry brother, God protected him again. But now in Shechem, Jacob was threatened by a much more difficult problem—ease and prosperity. Though his major struggles seemed to be over, his most difficult struggle appeared—maintaining faith in ease and prosperity. This is why Scripture says we should rejoice in various trials and tribulations, as they test our faith (Jam 1:2). It is much harder to be faithful to God in ease than in difficulty. And it appears that Jacob and his family began to neglect God in this season.

How can we tell that Jacob and his family neglected God?

In Genesis 35, after this terrible narrative, Jacob led his family in repentance. Consider what he says to his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes” (v. 2). While in Shechem and living in prosperity, his family had started worshiping pagan gods. In fact, Josephus, a Jewish historian, said that Dinah went into the city, not only to see the ladies, but also to go to a pagan festival.1 It appears that while neglecting God, Jacob’s family began to conform to the world and worship the idols of the world. This is exactly how Paul describes the pagan world in Romans 1:21-23:

For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

When the world denies the knowledge of God, as seen in creation or Scripture, people naturally find something to worship, even if it’s themselves. Humanity was made to worship God, and if we don’t worship him, we will worship something else. We don’t just see this in the world around us, but we see this in ourselves, as believers. When we’re neglecting God, he is replaced by some idol—something that gets most of our attention: social media, video games, career, money, relationships, etc.

In Romans 1:28, Paul adds: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.” When people neglect God, their thinking becomes depraved—leading to depraved actions. That’s just what we see in this chapter—the consequences of neglecting God, both among pagans and believers.

Something else that may imply the neglect of God in this narrative is the fact that this is one of the few chapters in the Bible where God is never mentioned.2 In the book of Esther, God is never mentioned either, but his sovereign and positive influence is seen throughout the pages. In Genesis 34, though God is not mentioned, we know he is present, but he seems to be present for judgment. He is handing people over to a “depraved mind” as they’ve neglected him—allowing them to commit sin and reap the terrible consequences of it.

This is the tragic story of society, as we see these consequences happening all around us and often in our own lives. In this story, a pagan rapes Dinah, and in return, the Israelites deceive and kill all the men in the city—committing a worse sin. Sadly, that often happens in our world as well, when believers neglect God. They neglect God—leading to being conformed to the world and often committing worse sins than the world, impacting society negatively. Though redeemed, believers still have a sinful nature that must be subdued by living in the Spirit (Gal 5:16-22).

As we study this narrative, we must be sober and aware that these unfortunate consequences of neglecting God can happen in our nations, communities, churches, and homes. Let us consider them and be warned, which, no doubt, is the narrator’s purpose in sharing this story.

Big Question: What are the consequences of neglecting God, as demonstrated in the Genesis 34 narrative?

Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore to Jacob, went to meet the young women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area, saw her, he grabbed her, forced himself on her, and sexually assaulted her. Then he became very attached to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He fell in love with the young woman and spoke romantically to her. Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Acquire this young girl as my wife.” When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter Dinah, his sons were with the livestock in the field. So Jacob remained silent until they came in. Then Shechem’s father Hamor went to speak with Jacob about Dinah. Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the field when they heard the news. They were offended and very angry because Shechem had disgraced Israel by sexually assaulting Jacob’s daughter, a crime that should not be committed. But Hamor made this appeal to them: “My son Shechem is in love with your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. Intermarry with us. Let us marry your daughters, and take our daughters as wives for yourselves. You may live among us, and the land will be open to you. Live in it, travel freely in it, and acquire property in it.” Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your sight, and whatever you require of me I’ll give. You can make the bride price and the gift I must bring very expensive, and I’ll give whatever you ask of me. Just give me the young woman as my wife!”

Genesis 34:1-12

As the story begins, Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, goes to the city to meet with the young ladies of the land and is raped by Shechem, the prince of the land. Most likely, Dinah was around fourteen to sixteen years old. In the ancient world, it was known that unaccompanied ladies were vulnerable to being assaulted by men. Henry Morris says, “Unattached young women were considered fair game in cities of the time, in which promiscuity was not only common but, in fact, a part of the very religious system itself.”3 This was particularly true of the Canaanites, who were corrupt and known for their sexual immorality (cf. Lev 18). Unaccompanied women were often violently taken by the leaders of the land. This happened twice with Abraham, as his wife was taken into Pharaoh’s and Abimelech’s harems (12:15; 20:2). Both times, aware of this tragic cultural reality, Abraham lied and said that she was his sister to protect himself from being killed because of her. Isaac, Jacob’s father, also lied about his wife, afraid someone would take her and kill him (Genesis 26:7). Why Dinah’s father or brothers are not with her is unclear.

But to further demonstrate the gravity of the gross immorality in Shechem, when Hamor, the prince’s father, approached Jacob about Dinah marrying his son, he doesn’t apologize or even mention the issue. It was as if it wasn’t a big deal. Maybe, Hamor thought, “Oh, boys will be boys!” This shows how acceptable the rape of a young lady was. In the ancient world, sexual immorality was a part of religious worship—people would have all types of gross sex to please the gods and seek prosperity. Therefore, sex wasn’t special, and it wasn’t necessarily to be preserved for one’s spouse—especially if one was a man.

This is what happens in a society that disregards God. In Romans 1:24-27, Paul describes this:

Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves…For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Sexual immorality and homosexuality are results of denying God. When God is denied, sexual immorality saturates society. We see this happening all around us. Sex is emphasized on TV, movies, music, and the Internet. It is used to sell all types of products. Pornography is one of the biggest industries in the world. Sex trafficking is a growing illegal industry. In the US, one out of six females are victims of an attempted or completed rape.4 Similarly, one out of four females on college campuses experience sexual assault.5 In addition, the acceptance of homosexuality has grown. It is commonly promoted on the TV, news, college campuses, and city parades. Even polygamy, having multiple marriage partners, is growing in acceptability. When God is neglected in a society, sexual immorality saturates it.

But this is not just a problem for society, it is also a problem for believers. When we are neglecting God, we will often find ourselves struggling with lustful thoughts and images—consequently, making us more prone to fall into sexual actions. In Genesis 38, Judah, Jacob’s son, will visit a prostitute. David, the king of Israel, will not only have many wives and concubines, but will also commit adultery (2 Sam 11). When God is neglected in our lives, often, lust will rear its ugly head in some form or another. We must be careful of this.

Because of this danger, Paul said, “Flee sexual immorality! ‘Every sin a person commits is outside of the body’—but the immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18). It’s so dangerous, we must run from it. Turn off the TV! Cut off the Internet! End the relationship! We must be zealous and brutal to stay pure in a world that is being increasingly sexualized.

Are you guarding yourself and others against sexual immorality?

Application Question: In what ways have you seen or experienced the growing promotion and acceptance of sexual immorality in society? How should Christians protect their minds and bodies from this very present danger?

When God Is Neglected, Parents Neglect Their Children

Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore to Jacob, went to meet the young women of the land… When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter Dinah, his sons were with the livestock in the field. So Jacob remained silent until they came in… Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully when they spoke because Shechem had violated their sister Dinah. They said to them, “We cannot give our sister to a man who is not circumcised, for it would be a disgrace to us. We will give you our consent on this one condition: You must become like us by circumcising all your males. Then we will give you our daughters to marry, and we will take your daughters as wives for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. But if you do not agree to our terms by being circumcised, then we will take our sister and depart.”

Genesis 34:1, 5, 13-17

In this narrative, one of the sad realities is the lack of parental involvement and leadership. As mentioned, it was common and accepted in that society for unaccompanied females to be sexually assaulted. In some areas, even unaccompanied men might be raped (cf. Gen 19, Judges 19)! Why was Jacob’s teenage daughter even allowed to go to the city by herself? Where were the parental boundaries?

In addition to this, after the rape, Jacob is quiet and uninvolved. He doesn’t charge Shechem with wrong and doesn’t even get involved with the negotiation. He allows his sons to handle it. To make this even worse, it is clear from the narrative that Dinah wasn’t at home with Jacob but was being held captive by this family (Gen 34:26). When his sons agreed to intermarry with the Hivites on the condition of circumcision, Jacob doesn’t say, “No.” This was a major spiritual failure on Jacob’s part. To intermarry with the Canaanites would have threatened God’s promise. Abraham wouldn’t allow Isaac to marry a Canaanite. Isaac wouldn’t allow Jacob to marry a Canaanite. This would have led to compromise and the Israelites further adopting the sins of that culture. Jacob fails his children practically and spiritually. Why was he so uninvolved?

With Dinah, Jacob is probably quiet because she wasn’t his priority. This is sad to say, but Jacob was known for playing favorites. He favored Rachel’s children over Leah’s. Also, because sons were favored over daughters during that period of time, Dinah might have been his least favorite. She was a child of Leah, and she wasn’t a boy. Maybe, Jacob doesn’t say anything because he knows that he is responsible. He didn’t protect her by loving her and establishing appropriate boundaries for her. This was a sad situation.

However, this situation is very common when God is neglected. When God is neglected, parents neglect their responsibilities to their children. (1) They don’t establish appropriate boundaries for them. Many of our kids are exposed to things they shouldn’t be exposed to on the Internet, TV, video games, books, music, etc. Many parents set no appropriate boundaries, which allows the enemy to tempt and influence them negatively. Some parents even say things like, “Well, I don’t want to shelter my kids and protect them from the world!” In Romans 16:19, Paul said, “But I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” We should prepare our children for the world by teaching them the truth about sin, what they will encounter in the world, and how they should respond. If we don’t do that, the world will expose them in a negative way—it will be done in a way that promotes evil and lures them into sin, instead of away from it. We must train our children to be wise and at the same time innocent. The world only plans to corrupt them and take away their innocence.

(2) In a society where people neglect God, not only will parents neglect their responsibilities by not setting appropriate boundaries, but they also will tend to not discipline their children at all. Often disciplining children will be looked down upon, as if left alone, children will naturally blossom into maturity and wisdom. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 19:18 (GNT) says, “Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don’t, you are helping them destroy themselves.” Without appropriate discipline, children will grow up wild and rebellious. When there is no discipline in the home, the children will disrespect and rebel against the parents. This leads to children disrespecting teachers, bosses, government leaders, and even God—creating increased dishonesty, crime, and anarchy in society.

Why do parents neglect their children, other than the fact they’re neglecting God? Some neglect their children simply because they were neglected as children, and therefore, they don’t know how to properly parent. Their father or mother wasn’t around or involved for whatever reasons. The sins of the parents show up in the children’s lives and therefore are repeated (cf. Ex 20:5). Another common reason parents neglect their children is simply for career purposes. In order to have a higher standard of living, kids are handed off to schools, coaches, and tutors for training. Often these people don’t have any Christian values at all. When a worldly environment gets our children for eight or more hours a day (especially if we include television, music, etc.), then the one or two hours a day with parents and one hour of church on Sunday won’t be very influential.

In this narrative, Jacob didn’t only fail Dinah, he also failed his sons, who committed unjust murders. They were right to seek justice; however, murdering a whole village of men for the sins of one was hardly just. Since Jacob did nothing, his sons reacted. Finally, when Jacob rebukes his sons, he only focuses on what they did to “him” (v. 30)—not God or others.

When God is neglected in a society or a home, parents typically neglect their responsibilities—to the demise of their children.

Application Question: In what ways have you witnessed this growing trend of parents neglecting their children by not loving them, disciplining them, and setting boundaries for them? Why is this happening? How should it be remedied?

When God Is Neglected, Religion Is Abused

Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully when they spoke because Shechem had violated their sister Dinah. They said to them, “We cannot give our sister to a man who is not circumcised, for it would be a disgrace to us. We will give you our consent on this one condition: You must become like us by circumcising all your males. Then we will give you our daughters to marry, and we will take your daughters as wives for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. But if you do not agree to our terms by being circumcised, then we will take our sister and depart.”

Genesis 34:13-17

In response to Hamor’s and Shechem’s offer, Jacob’s sons said that it would be disgraceful for Dinah to marry someone uncircumcised. Therefore, they promised to give consent if all the males of the city became circumcised. If they did that, then the two tribes could intermarry.

It is clear that Jacob’s sons had no plan to intermarry with these people. This deal was deceptive. But what makes this deception even worse is the fact that they used their sign of faith to secure the deal. In Genesis 17, God called Abraham to circumcise himself and the males in his household as a sign of faith. This was to be a perpetual sign of their covenant with God for generations. Therefore, by asking the men to circumcise themselves—they were asking them to participate in Israel’s religion. Most likely, they further explained the symbolic nature of circumcision. This is what made their act even more evil.

This is also common when God is neglected in our world today; religion becomes abused for selfish and evil reasons. (1) Sometimes religion is used for financial gain. In 1 Timothy 6:5, Paul warned Timothy about those who used godliness as “a way of making a profit.” Many churches and Christian organizations are just money-making businesses. Profit has eroded their sense of mission and integrity. (2) Religion is also used to control and abuse people—as often seen in cults. In 2 Timothy 3:5-6 (NIV), Paul describes abusive spiritual leaders:

having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires

With this abuse of religion, many will fall away from the church in droves. The false teaching, hunger for power and money, and manipulation of people will drive many away.

(3) Religion is also abused when it primarily focuses on people securing their “passions,” like lust or wealth, instead of holiness. In 2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV), Paul warns Timothy of this:

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Not only will the leaders neglect God and abuse the people, but also the people won’t want God and his Word. Religion will be used primarily to comfort people in sin and even encourage it, instead of to warn and challenge them to holiness. Congregations will find teachers who make them feel good by preaching myths. When God is neglected, the abuse of religion will be comprehensive—developing many false believers and false teachers.

When God was neglected in Shechem, religion was used for personal gain. The men agreed to circumcision, not because of faith, but to gain the wealth of Israel (v. 20-24). Religion was also abused for vengeance. Jacob’s sons murdered the men of the city after they were circumcised. Sadly, when God is neglected, religion will be abused—leading to tragic results in our societies as well.

Application Question: How have you seen or experienced the abuse of religion in the church and society in general? How should true believers seek to remain faithful in times like these?

When God Is Neglected, Violence Increases

In three days, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and went to the unsuspecting city and slaughtered every male. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and left. Jacob’s sons killed them and looted the city because their sister had been violated. They took their flocks, herds, and donkeys, as well as everything in the city and in the surrounding fields. They captured as plunder all their wealth, all their little ones, and their wives, including everything in the houses.

Genesis 34:25-29

While the Hivites were in pain from their circumcision, two of Jacob’s son’s, Simeon and Levi, murdered all the men of the village. Most likely, they had some servants help with this slaughter. After the murder, they also plundered the city and surrounding fields—taking the wealth, children, and women.

This is also common in society and church when God is neglected. Romans 1:28-32 says:

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

Paul says when people don’t acknowledge God, it leads to murder, hostility, insolence, ruthlessness, and even approval of such evils. Sadly, we live in societies where abortions happen more than live births. People declare the rights of parents to murder their children. Generations are being wiped out because of inconvenience. When Paul says “heartless” (Rom 1:31), it can also be translated “without natural affection” (KJV). It is normal for parents to love their children. However, when people neglect God, abortions become common place because love comes from God. Self-love is the default of our flesh, and when someone gets in the way of our comfort—hurting them is acceptable.

In a society where God is neglected, senseless violence becomes common—suicide, the murder of innocents in schools and businesses, genocide, war, etc. Even our entertainment will be violent, as people apart from God love violence. The video games, movies, and music will be filled with it. Artists who sing about their abuse of women, drug selling, and gang banging will go platinum and get movie deals. As the entertainment world promotes violence, our young people will become even more violent.

This is the world we live in, and sadly, these acts of violence will at times be seen amongst the church. When James writes the Hebrew Christians who were scattered because of persecution, he rebukes them for murdering one another. James 4:1-3 says,

Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.

Hatred and anger are seeds of murder; therefore, when Christians allow those emotions to foster, they lead to acts of violence. Husbands beat their wives. Children fight with their parents, and church members continually hurt one another—behaving worse than pagans. The sins of Jacob’s children did not draw pagans to God; it only further pushed them away. Like Paul said, “the name of God is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’’ (Rom 2:24). The people of Israel were no better than the world around them. In fact, they were probably worse.

Sadly, in many places, Christians don’t have great testimonies either. Instead of returning good for evil (Rom 12:21), they return eye for eye and tooth for tooth. Sometimes like Jacob’s sons, they go even farther than that—returning face for tooth and body for finger. Instead of justice, they seek vengeance—turning many away from Christ.

Application Question: How have you seen or experienced violence increasing in the world? Why is it so prevalent? In what ways have you seen or experienced it in the church?

When God Is Neglected, He Brings Discipline to Help Us Repent

In Genesis 35:1-3, we see that God uses this difficult event to turn Jacob and his family back to God. It says:

Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. Let us go up at once to Bethel. Then I will make an altar there to God, who responded to me in my time of distress and has been with me wherever I went.”

Often God has to do the same with us. He will use tragedy in a person’s life, family, or nation to draw people to repentance. Hebrews 12:5-6 and verse 8 says,

And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? “My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.” … But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons.

In what ways is God drawing you back to himself through discipline? God loves us too much to allow us to continue to neglect him and go our own way. When Jonah ran from God, God brought a storm in his life to turn him back (Jonah 1). When David committed adultery and murder, Scripture says God’s hand was heavy upon him until he repented (Psalm 32:3-5 ESV). When the Corinthian church was abusing the Lord’s Supper, God disciplined some with sickness, depression, and even death (1 Cor 11:28-30). God loved them too much to allow them to continue in sin.

God does the same with us. He uses discipline to help us repent and turn back to him. If we are without discipline, we are not true children of God.

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced strong discipline, including the consequences of sin, which turned you from sin back to God? How do you see God’s discipline operating in the church and society?

Application

Application Question: In understanding the consequences of neglecting God, how should we respond?

1. We must be careful of times of ease and prosperity.

It wasn’t when things were bad that Jacob’s family neglected God and committed treacherous acts; it was when things were good. It was after God delivered them from Laban and Esau. It was when they were prosperous and admired by others that they neglected God (cf. Gen 35:2)—leading to great sins. In the same way, when things are good, we tend to neglect God and fall into sin as well. Be careful of those times.

2. We must be spiritually disciplined.

A major fall away from God doesn’t happen at once. It happens gradually. It happens as we stop attending church faithfully, reading our Bibles, praying, and having Christian fellowship. Soon we find ourselves far away from God and his people, and doing things we never thought we would do again or worse. To stop this gradual fall, we must be faithful and disciplined. We must practice regular spiritual disciplines, have accountability, and put God first before everything.

3. We must be hopeful because God is greater than our broken situations.

Though God is never mentioned in this terrible narrative—hope in him is implied. God eventually takes this blasphemous and murderous family and makes them the twelve tribes of Israel. They become the authors and stewards of God’s Word. They build the tabernacle and temple and become witnesses to the pagan world. Jesus said salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22). God eventually uses these people greatly, and God can do the same with us. He can turn around our lives, churches, and nations. He can bring light out of darkness and beauty out of ugliness. He can take our thorns and make them our greatest boasts (2 Cor 12:7-9). Therefore, as we consider our dark and desperate situations, we must be hopeful. Our God is greater! Thank you, Lord.

Conclusion

After God delivers Jacob and his family from Laban and Esau and they arrive safely in Canaan, it seems they neglected God. In Genesis 35, we see that the family picked up many idols while dwelling in Canaan. God stopped being their priority and there were terrible consequences because of this. In addition, the Hivites, who were pagans, were already experiencing the results of not acknowledging the true God. Sadly, many of these consequences can be seen in our societies, churches, and individual lives. What are consequences of neglecting God? It is important to know them, so we can repent of them.

  1. When God Is Neglected, Sexual Immorality Saturates Society
  2. When God Is Neglected, Parents Neglect Their Children
  3. When God Is Neglected, Religion Is Abused
  4. When God Is Neglected, Violence Increases
  5. When God Is Neglected, He Brings Discipline to Help Us Repent

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

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Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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1 Bruce Goettsche’s sermon from Genesis 34, “When God Is Absent,” accessed 5/25/2018 from http://www.unionchurch.com/archive/101099.html

2 Guzik, D. (2013). Genesis (Ge 35:1). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

3 Guzik, D. (2013). Genesis (Ge 34:1–4). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

4 Accessed 5/25/2018 from https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence

5 Accessed 5/25/2018 from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-earp/1-in-4-women-how-the-late_b_8191448.html

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

13. Experiencing Revival in Our Lives and Communities (Genesis 35)

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Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. Let us go up at once to Bethel. Then I will make an altar there to God, who responded to me in my time of distress and has been with me wherever I went.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their possession and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob buried them under the oak near Shechem and they started on their journey. The surrounding cities were afraid of God, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. Jacob and all those who were with him arrived at Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. (Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; thus it was named Oak of Weeping.) God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan Aram and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will no longer be called Jacob; Israel will be your name.” So God named him Israel. Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation—even a company of nations—will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants! The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. To your descendants I will also give this land.” Then God went up from the place where he spoke with him. So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel. They traveled on from Bethel, and when Ephrath was still some distance away, Rachel went into labor—and her labor was hard. When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you are having another son.” With her dying breath, she named him Ben-Oni. But his father called him Benjamin instead. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a marker over her grave; it is the Marker of Rachel’s Grave to this day. Then Israel traveled on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. While Israel was living in that land, Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it. Jacob had twelve sons: The sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, as well as Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, were Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant, were Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan Aram. So Jacob came back to his father Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. Isaac lived to be 180 years old. Then Isaac breathed his last and joined his ancestors. He died an old man who had lived a full life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Genesis 35 (NET)

How can we experience revival in our lives and communities?

Genesis 35 comes right after the terrible story of Genesis 34. There Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped by the prince of Shechem. Then Jacob’s sons seek vengeance by killing all the men in Shechem. If someone was reading the Bible for the first time, he might ask, “God is going to bless all the nations through this family? The messiah is going to come through them?”

In Genesis 35, God immediately goes to work to further transform Jacob and his family into a people, God can use greatly. If Genesis 34 was a desert, Genesis 35 is an oasis. In Genesis 34, God is never mentioned. Throughout the narrative God is neglected by both Jacob’s family and the Hivites. But in Genesis 35, the name “God” is mentioned eleven times. It is also mentioned twelve more times in names like Israel, Bethel, and El Shaddai (Sovereign God or God Almighty).1 His name and influence saturate this chapter. Jacob and his family experience a revival in their lives—preparing them for greater works for God.

As we consider this chapter, it demonstrates how to experience revival in our lives and communities. Many of us can look back at times when we were more on fire for God, hungrier for his Word, and more passionate to serve him. But now, those times are simply distant memories. Similarly, many of our well-known churches, Christian universities and organizations are really just monuments of the past—times when God moved in special ways. How can we experience and maintain personal and corporate revival? We can discern this from the revival Jacob and his family experienced in Genesis 35.

Big Question: What principles about experiencing revival can be discerned from Genesis 35?

To Experience Revival, We Must Recognize Our Desperate Need for God

Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you.

Genesis 35:1-2

In order for Jacob and his family to experience revival, God needed to shake them. He needed to shake them by revealing how bad their spiritual lives had become. Typically, a fall doesn’t happen at once. It’s gradual as small compromises begin to manifest in our lives—leading to larger ones. As displayed in this chapter, Jacob’s family had begun to gather idols (Gen 35:4). When Jacob initially moved to Shechem, he erected an altar named “the God of Israel is God” (Gen 33:20). However, idolatry eventually became a stronghold in his family—eroding their morals and spirituality. They worshiped God and the gods of the nations. In many ways, they were just like the world. Therefore, God allowed them to experience tragedy to show them how far they had fallen and remind them of their deep need for him.

The tragedy was meant to break them. Dinah had been defiled, the men of the city had been murdered, and now they were in fear of the other nations coming after them (Gen 34:30). The revelation was meant to reveal their need to get right with God. Through all this, they should have recognized, they were sinful before God and just as ungodly, if not worse than, the world around them. They were broken and therefore right where God needed them to be, so he could move in their lives in a special way and change them. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he delivers those who are discouraged.” Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”

Other than through trials, God often helps us recognize our great need for him by giving us a special revelation of himself. With Isaiah, he saw God high and lifted up, and in response, he confessed his sins and those of his people (Is 6). Seeing God’s light, showed him the darkness in his heart and the darkness around him. Similarly, it’s interesting to consider that right after God called Jacob to return to Bethel, Jacob immediately told his people to get rid of their idols, even though God never mentioned them. Like Isaiah, when Jacob experienced God, he saw his sin and the sin around him. Through both his family trial and his revelation of God, Jacob knew his and his family’s great need for God and therefore was ready for revival.

In understanding this, we can tell why many of us aren’t experiencing revival. We don’t see our need for it. We don’t recognize how broken and sinful we are. We don’t recognize our need for God’s Word, prayer, Christian fellowship, and repentance. This is why we often lack a desire for these things and neglect them. Therefore, God has to help us see our need—either through a trial, special revelation, or both.

Are you recognizing your desperate need for God? Are you ready to experience personal revival?

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced revival after a trial or special revelation of God? How can we keep a recognition of our desperate need for God, even when not experiencing trials or special revelations? How can we grow spiritually even in mundane times?

To Experience Revival, We Must Hear and Respond to God’s Word

Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” … and they started on their journey. The surrounding cities were afraid of God, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

Genesis 35:1, 5

As mentioned, in Jacob’s brokenness, God spoke to him. He called him to return to Bethel, where God initially appeared to Jacob when he fled Esau (Gen 28), and build an altar there. After Jacob’s family left Shechem, the fear of God fell on the surrounding peoples, as God protected Jacob’s family. Psalm 34:7 says, “The Lord’s angel camps around the Lord’s loyal followers and delivers them.” As they were obedient, God delivered them.

In the same way, revival cannot happen apart from our hearing and responding to God’s Word. Consider the following verses: Psalm 19:7 (ESV) says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” James 1:25 says, “But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does.”

When we hear and obey God’s Word, God blesses us. There is no revival apart from God’s Word. Therefore, if we are going to experience revival, we must give great attention to reading Scripture, listening to it, memorizing it, and obeying it. Because many neglect God’s Word, they never experience revival. It bores them. They would rather watch TV, play video games, listen to music, hang out with friends, or a host of other things—anything but spending time in the Bible. Therefore, revival tarries.

In Nehemiah 8, when Israel experienced a great revival, it began with them listening to the Word of God read and preached from dawn till noon—six hours! And the whole time they heard it, they stood. When they meditated on God’s Word and honored it, the Lord brought a great revival. They cried, repented, and committed to following God’s laws. Revivals throughout history have followed the same pattern. They were marked by a deep reverence for God’s Word. Sadly, in most churches today, if the preacher goes over thirty minutes, people start fidgeting, falling asleep, or getting angry. We don’t honor God’s Word corporately or individually, and therefore, revival tarries.

Instead of protecting us, as seen with God’s terror falling on the surrounding peoples, God often intentionally allows threats in our lives—meant to shake us and turn us to his Word. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I used to stray off, but now I keep your instructions.”

Are you devoted to God’s Word? How is God calling you to study it, listen to it, meditate on it, and obey it more? This is a step towards revival that can’t be missed.

Application Question: In what ways is revival attached to studying, obeying, and honoring God’s Word? How have you experienced revival in times when you were most devoted to Scripture? How is God calling you back to a special devotion to Scripture?

To Experience Revival, We Must Remove All Spiritual Hindrances

So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes… So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their possession and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob buried them under the oak near Shechem

Genesis 35:2, 4

After God told Jacob to return to Bethel and before departing, Jacob immediately called his family to repent. They were to get rid of their foreign gods, purify themselves, and change their clothes. What gods was Jacob referring to? When Rachel left Haran, she stole her father’s idols (Gen 31:19). It seems that Jacob never took them from her. She was syncretic—worshiping Yahweh and other gods. Over time, this, no doubt, spread throughout Jacob’s household and especially to Rachel’s children and servants. Probably, when Jacob’s sons raided Shechem—taking their goods—they probably also took the idols. They even were carrying special earrings, which represented the various gods and were used for divine protection.2

Though Jacob was aware of all this, it seems he never previously commanded his family and servants to get rid of them. He just allowed idolatry to exist in his home. The people of Israel had started to look like the pagans surrounding them. When Jacob calls his household to purify themselves and change their clothes, these acts were symbolic of a change of character (cf. Eph 4:22-24, Jude 23). When they purified themselves, they probably washed their bodies. Jacob’s household was to start anew.

We must do the same. To experience revival, we must get rid of all spiritual hindrances in our lives. We must get rid of any idols. Idols aren’t necessarily tiny figurine gods that we worship. Idols are anything that draw our focus and attention away from God. Anything we put our trust in over him. Sometimes they can be pleasures like entertainment, a hobby, or sports. Sometimes they can be people like friends, family, or a dating relationship. Sometimes they can be things like a job, car, or money.

In order to experience revival, everything must be in its proper place—under God. God uses our jobs to provide for us. But we must never look at our job as our Provider. God is the one who gave us the job, and he is the one who will lead us to a new one when it’s time. He is the one who provides for our future—giving direction and meeting our present and future needs. That’s why we can seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things will be added to us (Matt 6:33). As long as we are doing God’s will, we will experience God’s provisions.

There is always a danger of idolizing our gifts instead of the Giver of every good gift (Jam 1:17). For this reason, we must guard our hearts (Prov 4:23). Like the rich man, sometimes we need to give away certain things, as their influence is too strong on us (Matt 19). At other times, we simply must give less time to those things and not be engrossed in them (1 Cor 7:31). At all times, God must be first.

First Peter 2:1-2 says, “So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation.” We must rid ourselves of all evil, so we can “yearn”—meaning hunger for the things of God. Many of us lack hunger for the things of God because we are clinging to things that are sinful and worldly.

What are your spiritual hindrances? What keeps you from hungering for the things of God—his Word, prayer, church, worship, and serving—and experiencing revival?

Application Question: What are the idols in your life—areas of undue influence or pleasure that threaten and hinder your relationship with God? How is God calling you to bury your idols, wash your body, and change your clothes in order to re-focus on him?

To Experience Revival, We Must Practice the Discipline of Worship

He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother… So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel… Jacob set up a marker over her grave; it is the Marker of Rachel’s Grave to this day.

Genesis 35:7, 14-15, 20

When Jacob returned to Bethel, he built an altar in obedience to God’s command. He called it El Bethel, which means “God of Bethel” (v. 7). The Israelites had many sacred places. They were sacred because of something God had done at those places—Mount Sinai, Jerusalem, the Jordan River, Bethel, etc. However, Jacob, who seems to have grown in maturity, is not as concerned with the place of experiencing God, but with God himself. That’s why he renamed it, “God of Bethel.” Both the altar and the renaming of the place represented Jacob’s worship—his desire to honor God. Though he had just experienced tragic events and was despised and threatened by the pagans around him, Jacob worshiped the living God in the midst of his difficulties.

While at Bethel, God spoke to him again (v. 10-12). After hearing the Divine message, Jacob set up a sacred pillar and poured a drink offering and oil on it (v. 14). He consecrated it as a place of worship. Immediately after, “Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel” (v. 15). Since he had previously named the area Bethel (Gen 28:19), this probably was a public declaration. Everybody else needed to know that this was the “house of God.” Later, after Jacob’s wife Rachel died, he also put a pillar over her tomb (v. 20). Though the NET calls the pillar a “marker” (v. 20), it’s the same Hebrew word used in verse 14. Thus, the NIV and ESV translate it “pillar.” No doubt, it was a memorial of Rachel, but it also was a place of honor for God. (1) Jacob worshiped when he got to Bethel, as he built an altar. (2) He worshiped after God spoke to him, as he built a pillar and consecrated it. (3) Then he worshiped again, as he built another pillar right over Rachel’s grave. Even, potentially, Jacob’s greatest trial could not stop him from worship.

Similarly, if we are going to experience revival and sustain it, we also must constantly worship God. The opposite of worship could be said to be complaining or being bitter. Bitterness can destroy revival or hinder it from taking place, both in our lives and others. Hebrews 12:15 (ESV) says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Likewise, 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” When we’re not giving thanks to God in our various circumstances, but instead complaining, we miss God’s grace and quench his Spirit. We quench the joy, peace, patience, and perseverance, he can give us.

If we are going to experience revival, we must learn to live a life of worship. Like Job, in the midst of trials, we must cry out, “The Lord gives and he takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 paraphrase). Like Jacob, we must build altars and pillars everywhere, even in the midst of threats and tragedies.

Application Question: Why is worship so important for revival?

  1. Worship reminds us of the greatness of God and how everything else, even our trials, are minute in comparison. This is why Christ taught us to begin our prayers, not with our problems, but with petitions for God’s name to be hallowed (Matt 6:9)—to be worshiped. Worship helps remind us that God is greater than our problems and that he is sovereign over them.
  2. Worship silences the competing voices around us—worry, anxiety, criticism, etc. When we worship, these voices get quieter and the Lord’s voice gets louder. We need to hear our Lord’s voice at all times, but especially during trials.
  3. Worship builds our faith. It breeds courage, forgiveness, and peace, as we trust in our Father.

Are you worshiping God despite your circumstances? Worship is an integral step to experiencing revival, individually and corporately.

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced God’s peace and strength, as you worshiped in the midst of your circumstances? How is God calling you to grow in public and private worship?

To Experience Revival, We Must Remember Past Times of Special Grace

He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother… God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan Aram and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will no longer be called Jacob; Israel will be your name.” So God named him Israel. Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation—even a company of nations—will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants! The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. To your descendants I will also give this land.” Then God went up from the place where he spoke with him. So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel.

Genesis 35:7, 9-15

It’s interesting to consider that at Bethel, God doesn’t say many new things to Jacob; he reminds him mostly of old things. When God speaks, he again calls Jacob, “Israel” (v. 10). He repeats promises already given to him—that he would become a nation and the land of Canaan would be given to him (v. 11-12). The only new things seem to be the fact that God uses the name El Shaddai, “Sovereign God” or “God Almighty” and that God mentions that kings will come from him (v. 11). When speaking to Abraham in Genesis 17, God also used the name El Shaddai and mentioned that kings would come through his line. God was re-confirming his covenant with Jacob, while adding a little more information.

When we experience revival, God often does the same with us. Many times, we think that we need new revelation to experience revival or change in our lives. However, this is seldom the case. Often, we just need a fresh revelation of what we already know—who God is, what he has promised us, and who he says we are. We need to remember that God is sovereign—in control of all our circumstances (Eph 1:11), that he is loving (1 John 4:8), and that he works all things for our good (Rom 8:28). To revive us, God often has to take us back to our Bethel experiences—times of renewal when he spoke to us through the Word, prayer, worship, and godly brothers and sisters.

Therefore, to experience revival, we also need to continually return to Bethel. Pastor Bruce Goettsche said it this way:

We need to learn to think differently. If we were as good at remembering the good times in our life as we are replaying the hurts, we would be so much better off. We are prone to nurse a grudge and forget a kindness. We dwell on a failure but dismiss a victory. And as a result, things get distorted. When our spiritual lives begin to feel stale and unfruitful, we need to take a trip back to Bethel,

-- remember the day you met Christ and how your life changed because of Him

-- recount the circumstances and people that God used to lead you to His grace

-- re-read a book that stirred your soul

-- compare who you are (by God’s grace) with who you used to be

-- walk through the church and remember special times you have had in the various rooms

-- review some of your favorite passages of scripture

-- recall the spiritual teachers and leaders that have impacted you (I like to let my eyes browse over the books on my shelves and think of the way God has used these authors to teach and mold me).

Looking back . . . gaining perspective is only one step in the process but it is a valuable step and an important step.3

The first time God met with Jacob at Bethel (Gen 28), he was preparing him for twenty difficult years of working for Laban. When God wrestled with Jacob and originally named him Israel (Gen 32), he was strengthening him to meet Esau. Now, in his second stint at Bethel (Gen 35), God was encouraging Jacob as he faced the threat of the pagans and future traumatic events which happened shortly after, like the death of Rachel.

How is God calling you to return to Bethel? How is God calling you to remind yourself of who God is, what his promises are, and who he says you are?

This is one of the reasons why the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are so important. Baptism is a visual reminder of what has happened to us spiritually at salvation. It’s one of the Bethel altars, we should always return to. When we went under the water, it pictured our dying to sin in Christ. When we rose out of the water, it pictured our rising with him from the dead to live new lives—righteous lives. Similarly, the practice of the Lord’s Supper is a continual reminder of Christ’s death and therefore our forgiveness of sins and his future coming. These are just some of the ways we return to Bethel and experience revival in our hearts.

Application Question: What are some significant Bethel experiences that you need to remind yourself of for encouragement, strength, and revival? How do you remind yourself of them? Is there a discipline or practice that you employ?

To Experience Revival, We Must Respond in Faith to Our Trials

(Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; thus it was named Oak of Weeping.) … They traveled on from Bethel, and when Ephrath was still some distance away, Rachel went into labor—and her labor was hard. When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you are having another son.” With her dying breath, she named him Ben-Oni. But his father called him Benjamin instead… Then Israel traveled on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. While Israel was living in that land, Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it… So Jacob came back to his father Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. Isaac lived to be 180 years old. Then Isaac breathed his last and joined his ancestors. He died an old man who had lived a full life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Genesis 35:8, 16-18, 21-22, 27-29

Trials are both a catalyst for revival in our lives and, at the same time, potentially a detriment to revival. God uses trials to help us grow and know him more. But, Satan uses them to draw us away from God. As with Job, Satan uses trials to tempt us to curse God. Similarly, after Jacob’s Bethel experience, trials came with the potential of continuing to ignite the flames of revival or extinguish them. Jacob faced many new trials: (1) First, Rebekah’s nurse, Deborah, died (v. 8). In Scripture, she was never mentioned by name before this text. When Rebekah left Haran to marry Isaac, Genesis 24:59 says her “female attendant” went with her, which was probably Deborah. She was probably around 150 years old.4 She had nursed Jacob, and at some point, probably after Rebekah’s death, came to live with Jacob and helped care for his children. Obviously, she was dearly loved, as she was buried under a tree, which they named “Oak of Weeping.” (2) Then, Jacob experienced the death of Rachel (v. 18), who was his favorite wife. He worked fourteen years to attain her. She died while giving birth to Jacob’s twelfth son, Benjamin.

(3) Next, after Rachel died, Jacob experienced betrayal, as his oldest son, Reuben, had sexual relations with Rachel’s handmaid, Bilhah (v. 22)—who was also Jacob’s concubine. Why did Reuben do this? We can only speculate. Possibly, since Rachel was always Jacob’s favored wife, Reuben hoped to remove a potential rival to Jacob’s affection for his mother Leah. By sleeping with Bilhah, Jacob would have despised her and may have been more inclined toward Leah, who was always desperate for his affections (Gen 29). Another potential reason was that Reuben was trying to claim his right of firstborn. “Near-Eastern custom held that the possession of the concubines of a man’s father or vanquished enemies validated succession.”5 This is why Absalom, the son of David, publicly laid with his father’s concubines, after taking the kingdom from him (2 Sam 16:22). Like the prodigal son, Reuben was trying to claim his inheritance then and not later (Luke 15). (4) Finally, Jacob experienced the death of Isaac, his father (v. 29). Both Jacob and Esau buried him after he lived to 180 years old. All of these negative experiences were opportunities for revival or threats to it in Jacob’s life.

How does Jacob respond to these trials? Did he respond in faith or with a lack of faith? It seems that he responded faithfully. We see this in several ways: After Rachel’s death, as mentioned, Jacob builds a pillar, which seemed to be a memorial for her but also a way to worship God (v. 20). Also, he renames their child Benjamin—”son of my right hand”—instead of keeping the name Benoni—”son of my sorrows” (v. 18). Jacob refused to see his son in a negative light. He saw Benjamin as his strength, which the right hand represented. Also, there are further hints that Jacob responded in faith. The fact that the narrator uses the name “Israel” right after Rachel’s death in verse 18 and also after Reuben’s betrayal in verse 22, seems to imply that Jacob was living according to his new name—”God commands”—in the midst of these tragedies. Though he doesn’t seem to judge Reuben immediately, at his death, he does eventually remove the right of the firstborn from him and gives it to Joseph’s sons (Gen 49:3-4). First Chronicles 5:1 says, “The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn—(Now he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph, Israel’s son.”

Experiencing revival doesn’t necessarily remove trials from our lives; as with Jacob, trials tend to follow revivals. Often it is right after a wonderful experience at church or going to a retreat that a major temptation will confront us. This is why youth often experience great highs during a retreat and really low, lows after. Temptations often follow periods of revival. It was right after Christ’s baptism and the Holy Spirit falling on him, that he was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Also, it was right after the Mount of Transfiguration that Christ confronted the demon in the boy and his disciples’ failure to cast him out (Matt 17). Though revivals don’t guarantee the removal of trials, if properly used, they do provide strength to confront them. After Jacob’s revival, he confronted four strong tests. In them, he responded as Israel and not as Jacob. By doing this, he continued to stoke the fires of revival in his life, instead of allowing them to be blown out.

How are you responding to your trials? They represent both opportunities and threats for revival. Are you confronting them with faith or with doubt, with joy or with bitterness, in the Spirit or in the flesh? Are you confronting them as Israel or as Jacob? May the Lord give us grace to confront them as Israel—with faith, joy, and in the power of the Spirit.

Application Question: What are your current trials, which God is aiming to use for your good and Satan for your bad? How is God calling you to respond to them in faith, like Israel, and not in the flesh, like Jacob?

Conclusion

How can we experience revival in our lives and our communities?

  1. To Experience Revival, We Must Recognize Our Desperate Need for God
  2. To Experience Revival, We Must Hear and Respond to God’s Word
  3. To Experience Revival, We Must Remove All Spiritual Hindrances
  4. To Experience Revival, We Must Practice the Discipline of Worship
  5. To Experience Revival, We Must Remember Past Times of Special Grace
  6. To Experience Revival, We Must Respond in Faith to Our Trials

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.


1 Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 836). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

2 Getz, Gene. Men of Character: Jacob (Kindle Locations 3604-3607). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

3 Pastor Bruce Goettsche’s sermon on Genesis 35, accessed June 1, 2018, from http://www.unionchurch.com/archive/101799.html

4 Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (pp. 839–840). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

5 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (pp. 424–425). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

Appendix 1: Study Group Tips

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Leading a small group using the Bible Teacher’s Guide can be done in various ways. One format is the “study group” model, where each member prepares and shares in the teaching. This appendix will cover tips for facilitating a weekly study group.

  1. Each week the members of the study group read through a selected chapter of the guide, answer the reflection questions (see Appendix 2), and come prepared to share in the group.
  2. Prior to each meeting, a different member is selected to lead the group and share his answer to Question 1 of the reflection questions, which is a short summary of the chapter read. This section of the gathering could last from five to fifteen minutes. This way, each member can develop his ability to teach and will be motivated to study harder during the week. Or, each week the same person could share the summary.
  3. After the summary has been given, the leader for that week facilitates discussion of the remaining reflection questions and selected questions from the chapter.
  4. After discussion, the group shares prayer requests and members pray for one another.

The strength of the study group is that the members are required to prepare their responses before the meeting, allowing for easier discussion. Another is that each member has the opportunity to further develop his ministry skills through teaching. These are distinct advantages.

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Appendix 2: Reflection Questions

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Writing is one of the best ways to learn. In class, we take notes and write papers, and all these methods are used to help us learn and retain the material. The same is true with the Word of God. Obviously, all of the authors of Scripture were writers. This helped them better learn the Scriptures and also enabled them to more effectively teach it. In studying God’s Word with the Bible Teacher’s Guide, take time to write so you can similarly grow both in your learning and teaching.

  1. How would you summarize the main points of the text/chapter? Write a brief summary.
  2. What stood out to you most in the reading? Did any of the contents trigger any memories or experiences? If so, please share them.
  3. What follow–up questions do you have about the reading? Are there parts you do not fully agree with?
  4. What applications did you take from the reading, and how do you plan to implement them in your life?
  5. Write several goals: As a result of my time studying God’s Word, I aspire to . . .
  6. What are some practical ways to pray as a result of studying the text? Spend some time in prayer.

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Appendix 3: Walking the Romans Road

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How can a person be saved? From what is he saved? How can someone have eternal life? Scripture teaches that after death each person will spend eternity either in heaven or hell. How can a person go to heaven?

Paul said this to Timothy:

You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14-15

One of the reasons God gave us Scripture is to make us wise for salvation. This means that without it nobody can know how to be saved.

Well then, how can a people be saved and what are they being saved from? A common method of sharing the good news of salvation is through the Romans Road. One of the great themes, not only of the Bible, but specifically of the book of Romans is salvation. In Romans, the author, Paul, clearly details the steps we must take in order to be saved.

How can we be saved? What steps must we take?

Step One: We Must Accept that We Are Sinners

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What does it mean to sin? The word sin means “to miss the mark.” The mark we missed is looking like God. When God created mankind in the Genesis narrative, he created man in the “image of God” (1:27). The “image of God” means many things, but probably, most importantly it means we were made to be holy just as he is holy. Man was made moral. We were meant to reflect God’s holiness in every way: the way we think, the way we talk, and the way we act. And any time we miss the mark in these areas, we commit sin.

Furthermore, we do not only sin when we commit a sinful act such as: lying, stealing, or cheating. Again, we sin anytime we have a wrong heart motive. The greatest commandments in Scripture are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:36-40, paraphrase). Whenever we don’t love God supremely and love others as ourselves, we sin and fall short of the glory of God. For this reason, man is always in a state of sinning. Sadly, even if our actions are good, our heart is bad. I have never loved God with my whole heart, mind, and soul and neither has anybody else. Therefore, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). We have all missed the mark of God’s holiness and we must accept this.

What’s the next step?

Step Two: We Must Understand We Are Under the Judgment of God

Why are we under the judgment of God? It is because of our sins. Scripture teaches God is not only a loving God, but he is a just God. And his justice requires judgment for each of our sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the payoff of sin is death.”

A wage is something we earn. Every time we sin, we earn the wage of death. What is death? Death really means separation. In physical death, the body is separated from the spirit, but in spiritual death, man is separated from God. Man currently lives in a state of spiritual death (cf. Eph 2:1-3). We do not love God, obey him, or know him as we should. Therefore, man is in a state of death.

Moreover, one day at our physical death, if we have not been saved, we will spend eternity separated from God in a very real hell. In hell, we will pay the wage for each of our sins. Therefore, in hell people will experience various degrees of punishment (cf. Lk 12:47-48). This places man in a very dangerous predicament—unholy and therefore under the judgment of God.

How should we respond to this? This leads us to our third step.

Step Three: We Must Recognize God Has Invited All to Accept His Free Gift of Salvation

Romans 6:23 does not stop at the wages of sin being death. It says, “For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because God loved everybody on the earth, he offered the free gift of eternal life, which anyone can receive through Jesus Christ.

Because it is a gift, it cannot be earned. We cannot work for it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Going to church, being baptized, giving to the poor, or doing any other righteous work does not save. Salvation is a gift that must be received from God. It is a gift that has been prepared by his effort alone.

How do we receive this free gift?

Step Four: We Must Believe Jesus Christ Died for Our Sins and Rose from the Dead

If we are going to receive this free gift, we must believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Because God loved us, cared for us, and didn’t want us to be separated from him eternally, he sent his Son to die for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Similarly, John 3:16 says, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God so loved us that he gave his only Son for our sins.

Jesus Christ was a real, historical person who lived 2,000 years ago. He was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life. He was put to death by the Romans and the Jews. And he rose again on the third day. In his death, he took our sins and God’s wrath for them and gave us his perfect righteousness so we could be accepted by God. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” God did all this so we could be saved from his wrath.

Christ’s death satisfied the just anger of God over our sins. When God saw Jesus on the cross, he saw us and our sins and therefore judged Jesus. And now, when God sees those who are saved, he sees his righteous Son and accepts us. In salvation, we have become the righteousness of God.

If we are going to be saved, if we are going to receive this free gift of salvation, we must believe in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for our sins (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5, Rom 10:9-10). Do you believe?

Step Five: We Must Confess Christ as Lord of Our Lives

Romans 10:9-10 says,

Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Not only must we believe, but we must confess Christ as Lord of our lives. It is one thing to believe in Christ but another to follow Christ. Simple belief does not save. Christ must be our Lord. James said this: “…Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear” (James 2:19), but the demons are not saved—Christ is not their Lord.

Another aspect of making Christ Lord is repentance. Repentance really means a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. Before we met Christ, we were living our own life and following our own sinful desires. But when we get saved, our mind and direction change. We start to follow Christ as Lord.

How do we make this commitment to the lordship of Christ so we can be saved? Paul said we must confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord” as we believe in him. Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you admit that you are a sinner and understand you are under God’s wrath because of them; if you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, and rose from the dead for your salvation; if you are ready to turn from your sin and cling to Christ as Lord, you can be saved.

If this is your heart, then you can pray this prayer and commit to following Christ as your Lord.

Dear heavenly Father, I confess I am a sinner and have fallen short of your glory, what you made me for. I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and rose from the dead so I can have eternal life. I am turning away from my sin and accepting you as my Lord and Savior. Come into my life and change me. Thank you for your gift of salvation.

Scripture teaches that if you truly accepted Christ as your Lord, then you are a new creation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” God has forgiven your sins (1 John 1:9), he has given you his Holy Spirit (Rom 8:15), and he is going to disciple you and make you into the image of his Son (cf. Rom 8:29). He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5), and he will complete the work he has begun in your life (Phil 1:6). In heaven, angels and saints are rejoicing because of your commitment to Christ (Lk 15:7).

Praise God for his great salvation! May God keep you in his hand, empower you through the Holy Spirit, train you through mature believers, and use you to build his kingdom! “He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this” (1 Thess 5:24). God bless you!

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

In Praise Of God

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The psalmists praised the Lord for many things. The psalmist in Psalm 111 praises God for his eternal actions:

The works of his hand are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.

They are steadfast forever and ever,
done in faithfulness and uprightness.

He provided redemption for his people;
He ordained his covenant forever –
holy and awesome is his name. (Ps. 111:7-9)1

As Futato remarks, “Praise the Lord for who he is: Glorious and majestic, gracious and merciful, just and good. Praise the Lord for what he has done. He has provided the full ransom and the instruction needed to live a life of purpose and significance.”2 Thus, the Lord’s word is praised and shown to be basic to the believer’s life:

Your word, O LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you establish the earth and it endures. (Ps. 119:89-90; cf. Ps 111:9).

The psalmist, King David, points out that the Lord has “granted him eternal blessings” and “made him glad with the joy of the Lord’s presence” and that because he “trusts in the Lord” and therefore, the unfailing love of the Most High will not be shaken” (Ps. 21:6-7). Furthermore,

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Ps. 16:11; cf. Ecc. 12:5b).

The Old Testament passages find even greater fulfillment in the life of Jesus, as attested in the book of John. There Jesus tells his disciples:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one (Jn 10:27-30; cf. Jn. 12:49-50).

It is of great interest to note that Jesus declares his oneness with God the Father. As Kostenberger observes: ”For Jesus to be one with the Father yet distinct from him amounts to a claim to deity (cf. John 1:1-2) … Jesus’ unity with the Father later constitutes the basis on which Jesus prays that his followers likewise will be unified (John 17:22)”.3

Granted the assurance of this fact, today’s believers are challenged to live in harmony and unity with fellow believers. Even so, John has spoken of Jesus’ assurance that “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; for he crossed over from death to life” (Jn. 5:24; cf. vv. 39-40). Yes, Jesus is the ultimate source of mankind’s eternal life. As Jesus told Nicodemus, the Pharisee, “Everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn. 3:15-16). The singular importance of this fact lies behind the Apostle John’s further teaching that, “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him (Jn. 3:35-36). As Jesus said elsewhere, “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40; cf. Jn 17:1-2). As Kostenberger remarks “Precisely because the believer’s future raising up by Jesus is a certainty, it can be said that they have eternal life already in the here and now.”4 So it is that the true believer is assured of eternal life with the Lord (cf. Jude 1-2). Thus, Jude goes on to say:

Dear Friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 20-21).

May each of us, then, who are genuine believers wait expectantly, enjoying intimate fellowship with the Lord. As I have pointed out elsewhere, as Christ’s followers, believers should be faithful in all things, even such matters as the course of their daily tasks and contacts. This should be their constant, consistent goal and desire throughout their lives. … May each believer be ever faithful to the end, mindful of the resurrected, risen Christ’s charge to the church in Smyrna: “Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life itself” (Rev 2:10).5

As the hymn write says:

True-hearted, whole-hearted, faithful and loyal,
King of our lives by the grace we will be.6


1 All scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms”, in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Il., Tyndale House, 2009), VII:353.

3 Andreas J. Kostenberger, “John” in Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 312.

4 IBID, 212.

5 Richard D. Patterson, “Faithful to the End”, (Bible.Org, 2015).

6 Frances R. Havergal, “True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted”.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Devotionals

The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 31 Spring 2019

Spring 2019 Edition

A ministry of…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 519-620-2375

Part I: Strengthening Expository Preaching

“Strengthening Illustrations”

A. Why Illustrate?

1. Because The Bible Is Full Of Illustrations

Since God has chosen to communicate a large portion of his Word to us in stories, surely this should guide preachers in their communication of the Word. God undoubtedly used stories to communicate his truth because they are a powerful medium to which human beings respond and which they understand. To not use stories in preaching is to miss a significant communications methodology that God has used and endorsed, and to fail to communicate the truth in relevant, illuminative ways.

2. Because Illustrations Go Hand-In-Hand With “Explanation” And “Application”

Illustrations help us explain and apply the truth in relevant, clear, understandable ways. Thus, when you preach truth in its application to real life situations, you should be able to illustrate it!

Some preachers think that you leave the application of the Word to the Holy Spirit alone to make it clear and relevant to life. While it is true that only the Holy Spirit can make the Word so clear and convicting that a person’s life is changed, nonetheless let’s not forget that the Holy Spirit uses the medium of preaching to make the Word relevant and applicable to life and He has given us the biblical precedent of illustrations to make those applications live.

We must not only tell our people what to do, but give examples of how to do it, or how someone else’s life was impacted through the Word.

3. Because Illustrations Help Overcome The “So What?” Hump

Illustrations get the preacher past the threshold of the audience’s attention and into their minds, hearts, wills, and consciences. Illustrations can often show a listener why they need this sermon; why it applies to them.

Illustrations can be a very helpful tool in getting past people’s “what-does-this-have-to-do-with me” objections because they are non-threatening, non-adversarial. They do not incite people’s objections. They are arms length, third party examples.

B. Some Purposes And Types Of Illustrations

1. Some Purposes Of Illustrations

a) To clarify the truth

b) To simplify the truth

c) To picture the truth

d) To concretize the truth (i.e. make the truth tangible, visible, real)

e) To emphasize the truth

f) To provide additional authority for the message

g) To express the truth in a different way

2. Some Types And Sources Of Illustrations

a) Biblical narratives, statements, and proverbs often make the best illustrations.

But a word of warning: Be careful in using Bible stories as illustrations. Bible stories were given to make a point, not to supply a source of illustrations for subsequent preachers. While it is alright to use biblical stories to illustrate a point, generally it is better to quote the Bible for its authority and teaching rather than to illustrate a point (though I would not be dogmatic on this).

b) Church history, biography, testimony.

c) Secular history, literature, information.

d) Allegory, parable, fable, story.

e) Anecdote, quotation, statistics.

f) Personal experience, contemporary testimony. The best illustrations are often a “slice-of-life” - an experience, whether yours or someone else’s. These experiences make good illustrations because…

  • everyone can identify with them
  • they are “real”
  • they are relevant and contemporary
  • they need no interpretation to apply to people’s lives

“Slice-of-life” illustrations require that you be observant about…

  • people’s hurts, wants, needs, relationships, occupations, hardships
  • contemporary news items that speak to people’s hearts and consciences
  • what people say, think, and do
  • how people speak, think, act, and react
  • how you react, think, speak, and act (so that you identify with others within yourself). Without always speaking about yourself, typically, what happens to you, and how you act is representative of almost everyone else.

g) Literary devices such as figures of speech (similes, metaphors, contrasts and comparisons), word pictures, word plays.

h) Object lessons like visual aids and presentations.

i) Contemporary news, slogans, statements, events. You can find these sources of illustrations as you read newspapers and magazines, or listen to the radio or TV – secular broadcast media know more than anyone else what people want, where they hurt, how they live.

j) General life observations, experiences.

k) Examples from nature – e.g. a moth changing into a butterfly might be an illustration of the transformation of the Christian.

C. The Placement Of Illustrations

1. Where To Place Them In The Flow Of The Sermon

Decide where in your sermon you would get the most benefit from an illustration and / or where it is most needed. You don’t need illustrations for every point of your sermon.

The strategic location of illustrations has much more impact than how many you have.

However, there are some obvious places where you need an illustration:

a) The introduction. A well-chosen illustration gets attention, raises interest, introduces the subject, and identifies the need.

b) Major points. I don’t feel obligated to have an illustration for every main point. In fact that may not be possible or desirable or necessary. But somewhere in the body of your sermon you need to illustrate what you are speaking on, if for no other reason than to give a break from the teaching of the sermon - i.e. to give mental relief for the audience.

c) The conclusion. If you can find a suitable illustration for the conclusion it will make it more powerful and more memorable. Again, this may not always be possible, desirable, or necessary.

Here are some questions to help you think through the placement, number, and type of illustrations [These question derived from Ramesh Richard, Preparing Expository Sermons (Baker), 126]:

a) Is an illustration necessary to clarify or explain a point or section of the sermon?

b) Would an illustration answer the audience’s implicit questions: “how, why, when”?

c) Would an illustration make the point more credible, believable, acceptable?

d) What kind of illustration would introduce the audience to the possible implications and applications of the point?

2. How To Place Them In The Flow Of The Sermon

The illustration has more connectedness and impact when you move in the following order:

a) Make the point.

b) Transition to the illustration. It is most helpful to smooth into your illustration by means of a transitionary statement – such as: “I discovered the reality of this recently when…” or some such statement.

c) Illustrate the point.

d) Possibly, transition to the audience by applying it, or exhorting them to respond to the illustration, although this is not necessary.

e) Restate the point or carry on with the development of the point, or transition to the next point.

D. Twenty Do’s And Don’ts Of Illustrations

1. Don’t use the same type of illustration all the time

E.g. sports which generally appeal mainly to men and only some men.

2. Don’t use your own family as illustrations

As a general rule, leave your family out of your sermons . They have enough exposure as it is. Though they will generally give you their permission to use a personal illustration, they often don’t think about the consequences or implications, so leave them out.

3. Don’t use anyone in your congregation, unless it is to compliment them and only then with their permission.

4. Don’t ever use anything confidential, even if it is couched in non-personal language. The person will see himself or herself in the story and you will lost your credibility with that person.

5. Always give brief credit for your sources

You lose impact if citing the source takes away from attention to the illustration or becomes boring. Generally, I record in my sermon notes the details of the source, but in preaching I only give the author’s name or the name of the source (e.g. newspaper).

If you don’t know the source (or, if you don’t want to spell it out), simply say: “Someone said” or “I read somewhere”, so that you give credit where it is due and you don’t try to make it look like your own.

Illustrations in the public domain generally need no acknowledgement as to their source.

6. Don’t use the same illustration twice with the same audience

You run the risk of boring your audience if you repeat illustrations.

7. Don’t use an illustration that dominates the point it illustrates

Make sure every illustration serves the truth and doesn’t dominate it. Explanation and application of the truth are the central focus of our preaching – that is what the Holy Spirit can take and use to change lives. We are preachers first and foremost, not story-tellers

You want people to remember the truth through the illustration. They will certainly remember illustrations; just make sure they remember what they illustrate.

8. Don’t twist an illustration to make it fit just because it is a good illustration

Good illustrations are powerful and preachers have the tendency to want to use them. This leads to the tendency to use them incorrectly and inappropriately. It is one thing to adjust an illustration of a general nature (like “the story of the little boy who…”) to fit the story, but no illustration should be twisted to fit your sermon.

9. Learn to communicate illustrations well

This is a learned art. Watch the reaction of your audience to determine its effect.

10. Place your illustrations strategically for the most impact

The most strategic placements are at the beginning and the end – at the beginning to generate attention; at the end to drive the point home and cause them to remember what you said.

11. Keep your illustrations short

Long illustrations tend to lose focus on what is being illustrated. Long illustrations have to be right the first time (no second chance – once you’re into it you’re into it) and have the intended impact or else you lose your audience, you come out looking bad, and you waste valuable time.

On the other hand, if a short illustration doesn’t have the impact you want, you can move on without any great embarrassment or loss of time. Also, short illustrations are easier to remember and easier to deliver without notes. Illustrations delivered without notes have the greatest impact.

12. Make sure your illustrations are accurate in detail and authorship

If you are not accurate, you lose credibility. Historical data must be accurate. Literary quotations (e.g. poems) must be accurate. Statistical data must be accurate.

13. Make sure your illustrations suit your audience

Take into account cultural issues like figures of speech, social practices, historical relevance, humour etc. This becomes very important when speaking to audiences in a different culture than your own (e.g. overseas).

Universal illustrations have to do with life’s experiences, nature, history, and things like that.

14. Don’t use too many illustrations

If you load your sermon with illustrations your audience will get tired of them and they will conclude that you did not prepare well. At most, an illustration for each major point is usually enough.

15. Don’t use illustrations that are not credible

Test every illustration: “Is this likely…believable…logical…realistic?” If not, don’t use it (even if it’s true) or you will destroy your credibility.

16. Be very careful with the use of humor

Humour should only be used if it is natural – i.e. not jokes! If an illustration or experience is funny and it suits your biblical topic, then use it. That’s different from a joke, which is a made-up scenario. Remember, funny incidents that the audience doesn’t find funny only detract from the effectiveness of your message, so be careful. Don’t use any humour that could be construed as off color or inappropriate (such as anything that could be construed as a racial slur).

17. Don’t refer to yourself repeatedly

People usually love their pastor but enough is enough. They want to hear more than just what happened in your life (when you were young, as you grew up, incidents in you previous church etc.). I would recommend that you stay away from references to your previous church. If you talk about it, then your audience can legitimately conclude that you will talk about them to others as well. It’s not professional nor necessary nor appropriate.

18. Don’t be too graphic

We are there to draw attention to God and his truth not to graphic illustrations. Generally, graphic language or illustrations turn people off.

19. Don’t use worn out illustrations

Stories that every preacher tells are a no-no. Be original. That takes work and research, but it’s worth it.

20. Make sure your illustrations illustrate the point

Sometimes you can listen to a preacher’s illustration and say: “What did that have to do with the subject?” Like humour, an illustration must be intuitively obvious as to what it means and how it illustrates and connects with the point you are trying to make. You should not have to explain it or, again like humour, it falls flat.

Part II. Transformational Leadership

“The Profile of a Christian Leader”

What does a Christian leader look like? Who is he in his person, character, abilities, attitudes, lifestyle, spirituality etc.? Clearly, the starting point is the spiritual qualifications for a church leader set out in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Tit. 1:5-9. But this is only the starting point, it seems to me. This is by no means an exhaustive list, which, if a man meets, he is necessarily qualified to be a church leader. I don't think Paul intended this to be some sort of checklist that we use without any other standards or requirements. This list says nothing about character traits like humility, courage, or wisdom, but surely these are also important aspects of a church leader’s profile. Nor does it say anything about the gift of leadership (Rom. 12:8), but surely an elder must be gifted as a leader.

So, what other aspects of character and personality or ability do you think a church leader must have? I think, apart from Paul’s criteria in 1 Tim. 3, that there are embedded in Scripture certain inalienable character and personality traits that are necessary for church leaders. I think these are best understood by dividing them into three categories:

A. Those intangible character traits that enable them to consistently make good decisions.

B. Those personality traits that impact those they lead by inspiring them to follow and obey.

C. Those “success” traits that drive the leader to achieve results, such as self-discipline, perseverance, endurance.

A. Character Traits

These traits enable leaders to consistently make good decisions. The top five on my list are: wisdom, integrity, humility, courage, and vision.

1. Wisdom

Wisdom stands at the top of my list. This is the umbrella trait under which all the others are subsumed. The question is: “What is wisdom?” Here’s my formula: Wisdom = knowledge + experience + maturity.

a) Knowledge. Knowledge is our acquaintance with facts, truths, principles etc. Knowledge is connected with learning. Special knowledge comes from our specific areas of expertise and learning, whether academic or on-the-job.

b) Experience. You cannot be wise without experience. After all, wisdom is earned and learned through life experience. Life’s school of experiential adversity knocks wisdom into you.

While experience connotes “age”, some people gain experience faster than others by virtue of their exposure to life experiences and their openness to learning from those experiences, be it at home, school, work, or society.

You could probably say that experience is where we put knowledge to work, as in an apprenticeship. After all, isn't the entirety of life, to some degree, an apprenticeship?

c) Maturity. The apostle Paul wrote: “We speak wisdom among those who are mature (1 Cor. 2:6). What is maturity? Maturity is something that is hard to define but you know it when you see it. Or, to put it another way, you know immaturity when you see it.

Maturity is acting like an adult not a child - e.g. no temper tantrums when you don’t get your own way or when things go wrong. Controlling your emotions.

Physical maturity is easy to recognize. It occurs without us doing anything. We simply reach a stage where we stop growing, cutting teeth and we look like an adult.

Emotional and psychological maturity occurs at different times for different people. Some older people never reach maturity. At 60 or 70 years old, they may still be immature in their behaviour, reactions, attitudes, and speech, while some younger people may be quite mature in those areas.

Maturity has to do with self-control, choices, how we express emotions. It’s an awareness of who we are, how we relate to others.

Maturity has to do with enduring short-term pain in order to achieve long-term gain. Immature people don’t see things that way. They want immediate self-satisfaction.

Maturity is making your word your bond. Consistency. Dependability.

Sadly, wisdom is the one trait that seems to be so lacking in church leaders today. But that’s what our churches desperately need in leadership. Note the following:

  • Solomon did not ask God for riches but for wisdom (1 Kings 3:9).
  • Jesus grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom” (Lk. 2:40) ... and he increased in wisdom and stature (2:52).
  • The leaders of Acts 6 were seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3).
  • The apostle Paul prays “… that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9).
  • Speaking of Christ, Paul says, In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
  • We are exhorted to walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time” (Col. 4:5).

Wise people usually consult others, evaluate self-performance, and engage in reflection. Wise people welcome challenging dialogue that stimulates their thinking and opinions. Wise people don't want “yes-men” around them, but people who have initiative and independent thinking.

2. Integrity

What is integrity? Integrity is sometimes defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles. Integrity is manifested in…

a) Impartiality. This means never making decisions to please people but to please God (Eph. 6:6-7; Col. 3:22-23). Doing what is right, regardless of the cost. This means never being caught in a conflict of interest. This means never favouring one person over another, regardless of who is involved. This may mean turning down someone’s kind intent so that you are not beholden to that person.

b) Transparency. Openness. No hidden agenda regardless of the consequences. This doesn’t mean that you tell everything you know necessarily (wisdom and confidentiality may dictate otherwise), but it does mean not hiding behind a veneer, being true to who you are.

c) Righteousness. Uprightness in one’s dealings.

d) Sincerity. Not being phoney. No ulterior motives. Not being hypocritical. Not putting on a pretense.

e) Honesty. Truthfulness, frankness. Freedom from deceit or guile.

f) Credibility. Acting in a way that people trust you and believe you.

g) Moral purity. This is part of personal integrity. “Pay close attention to yourself” (1 Tim. 4:16). Why? Because you cannot lead others to faith, or teach people the truth, or lead the people of God in worship, or intercede on behalf of others, unless your own life is upright and morally clean.

A Christian leader must have integrity. Your whole life must hold together – no gaps, no inconsistencies; just a unified whole.

3. Humility

What is humility? Humility is …

a) Meekness. Meekness is “not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think” (Rom. 12:3) – i.e. not arrogant. Meekness is “esteeming others better than yourself” (Phil. 2:3). Meekness is the attitude that says, “He must increase but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30). Meekness is the attitude that says, “I am the least of the apostles and do not deserve to be called an apostle” (1 Cor. 15:9; cf. Eph. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:15).

b) Fallibility. Fallibility is knowing and admitting that you don’t know everything. You can and do make mistakes. You don’t have all the answers.

c) Gentleness. Not bullying others to get your own way.

d) Servanthood. Not a celebrity expecting adulation from others but a person who serves others.

e) Self-consciousness. The willingness to acknowledge your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

Humility is the opposite of pride. It’s easy to become proud in ministry, particularly if there are outward signs of success in worldly terms (e. g. increase in church attendance or a new church building). Preaching, in particular, can generate pride. People’s affirmation of your preaching can go to your head.

The minute we begin to think it has anything to do with us (our credit; our merit) we are in trouble. Remember: “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). “Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6). When it’s time, He will exalt you – not yourself.

4. Courage

What is courage? Courage is not “in-your-face” boldness, not rudeness, not outspokenness. Rather, courage is doing what is right regardless of others’ opinions, despite opposition, consequences, criticism, failure, or discouragement. Courage is having a conviction as to a right course of action and carrying it out. Courage is standing for truth. Courage is confidence that, with God’s help, “we can do it”.

Remember: “God has not given us the spirit of fear…” (2 Tim. 1:7). Martin Luther, on his journey to Worms to face interrogation about his teachings, said: “You can expect from me everything, save fear or recantation. I shall not flee, much less recant.” That is courage.

Christian leadership isn’t easy. It takes courage.

It takes courage to make tough decisions - to do what is right regardless of the consequences.

Clear, good decision-making made in dependence on God is the hallmark of a good spiritual leader, like…

  • Abraham during the crisis of Sodom and the rescue of Lot (Gen. 14:14f.)
  • Moses when he decided to give up Egypt’s pleasures and power (Heb. 11:23-28)
  • Paul in the storm (Acts 27)

Every time you face a crossroad in decision-making, you will be an example of either courage or cowardice. David and Daniel were men of courage. Jonah and Gideon were men of cowardice.

It takes courage to deal with difficult situations - to face obstacles, attacks, personal criticism and opposition (from people; from Satan etc.). It takes courage to preach when you’ve been soundly criticized during the week (cf. Jer. 1:17-19). Criticism is one of the worst enemies to wear you down. It amplifies your insecurities, takes your eyes off the task at hand and onto yourself, depletes your energy and enthusiasm, makes you defensive, and isolates you.

That’s why negative, destructive criticism (judgementalism), I believe, is a tool of Satan. I believe in the biblical concepts of rebuke, exhortation, and confrontation (2 Tim. 4:2), but destructive criticism has no place among the people of God. Criticism is usually negative, destructive – it’s about what people don’t want or don’t like, not about what is honouring to God or beneficial to his people. Criticism can distort your view of ministry and of the people you minister to.

It takes courage to persevere in times of spiritual discouragement - to stay the course when discouragement sets in, when you think you’re a failure, when you work hard but it seems no one is listening or responding.

Remember: Three times God told Joshua to be strong and of good courage. Why? Because he knew the temptations and tests that Joshua would face might be discouraging to him and in which he might be tempted to take the easy way out.

5. Vision

What is vision? Vision is not a “head-in-the-clouds” dream world; it’s not your own aspirations. Vision is …

a) Seeing what’s possible.

b) “Seeing the invisible” as Moses did (Heb. 11:27) and the patriarchs, who saw the promises afar off, even though they themselves did not receive them (Heb. 11:13).

c) Setting realistic and achievable goals and direction.

d) A sense of optimism: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13) – i.e. the things that I am able to do and will do, I do through the strength that Christ supplies.

B. Personality Traits

By personality traits I means those personal characteristics that influence the people you lead. This is the ability to inspire others to follow and obey. This is sometimes referred to as the “power of personhood”. You can’t learn this. You either have it or you don’t. It is charisma – not artificial or superficial, but genuine and internal.

C. Success Traits

Success traits are those characteristics that drive a leader to achieve results. These include traits like self-discipline, perseverance, endurance. Pressing on despite discouragement because you can see the goal. Encouraging those on your team to go on. This comes from the internal drive to make a difference in your life. This is about motivation.

Conclusions

These five character traits determine whether a leader will make consistently good decisions, impact those he leads in a powerful way, and drive him to accomplish goals.

Part III. Sermon Outlines

To listen to the audio version of these sermons in English, click on these links: Link 1 - Jn. 20:19-21; Link 2 - Jn. 20:21-23; Link 3 - Jn. 20:24-31

Title: I’ve Just Seen Jesus

Theme: The shock and reality of the resurrection

Point #3: Jesus’ resurrection turns fear into courage (19-23)

(See the Winter 2019 version of this journal for points #1 and #2)

1. The resurrected Jesus alleviates our fears (19-20)

a) He alleviates our fears by what he says (19)

b) He alleviates our fears by what he does (20)

2. The resurrected Jesus activates our courage (21-23)

a) He activates our courage to continue his work (21)

b) He activates our courage to speak with authority (22-23)

Point #4: Jesus’ resurrection turns unbelief into faith (24-29)

1. Unbelief is not convinced by second-hand testimony (24-25a)

2. Unbelief requires concrete proof (25b-28)

a) Concrete proof is what Jesus says (26)

b) Concrete proof is what Jesus has done (27a)

3. Concrete proof demands a verdict (27b-29)

a) Belief is proven by a great confession of faith (28)

b) Faith is honoured by a great blessing from Jesus (29)

i) It’s good to see and believe (29a)

ii) It’s better to believe before seeing (29b)

Conclusions (30-31)

Related Topics: Pastors

La Revue Internet Des Pasteurs, Fre Ed 31, Edition du printemps 2019

Edition Printemps 2018

Un ministère de…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 519-620-2375

Partie I: Renforçant La Predication En Expose

“Renforçant les Illustrations”

A. Pourquoi Illustrer?

1. Parce Que La Bible Est Pleine d’Illustrations

Puisque Dieu a choisi de nous communiquer une grande partie de sa Parole à travers des récits, ceci devrait sûrement guider les prédicateurs dans leur communication de la Parole. Dieu a sans doute utilisé des récits pour communiquer sa vérité, car ils constituent un moyen puissant auquel les êtres humains répondent et qu'ils comprennent. Ne pas utiliser les récits dans la prédication, c'est rater une importante méthodologie de communication que Dieu a utilisée et approuvée et ne pas communiquer la vérité de manière pertinente et éclairante.

2. Parce Que Les Illustrations Vont De Pair Avec «Explication» Et «Application»

Les illustrations nous aident à expliquer et à appliquer la vérité de manière pertinente, claire et compréhensible. Ainsi, lorsque vous prêchez la vérité dans son application à des situations de la vie réelle, vous devriez pouvoir l'illustrer!

Certains prédicateurs pensent que vous laissez l'application de la Parole au Saint-Esprit seul pour la rendre claire et pertinente pour la vie. S'il est vrai que le Saint-Esprit seul peut rendre la Parole si claire et convaincante et que la vie d'une personne est changée, n'oublions pas néanmoins que le Saint-Esprit utilise le moyen de la prédication pour rendre la Parole pertinente et applicable à la vie et il nous a donné le précédent biblique des illustrations pour rendre vivantes ces applications.

Nous devons non seulement dire à nos gens quoi faire, mais donner des exemples sur comment faire ou la manière dont la vie de quelqu'un a été influencée par la Parole.

3. Parce Que Les Illustrations Aident A Surmonter La Bosse «Et Alors?

Les illustrations amènent le prédicateur à franchir le seuil de l’attention du public et dans son esprit, son cœur, sa volonté et sa conscience. Les illustrations peuvent souvent montrer à un auditeur pourquoi il a besoin de ce sermon; pourquoi cela s'applique à eux.

Les illustrations peuvent être un outil très utile pour éviter les objections des gens telles ‘en quoi cela m’est utile ?’’, car ils ne sont pas menaçants, ne sont pas contradictoires. Ils ne suscitent pas les objections des gens. Ils sont indépendants, des exemples de tiers.

B. Quelques Objectifs Et Types Des Illustrations

1. Quelques Objectifs Des Illustrations

a) Clarifier la vérité

b) Simplifier la vérité

c) Imaginer la vérité

d) Concrétiser la vérité (c'est-à-dire rendre la vérité tangible, visible, réelle)

e) Mettre l’accent sur la vérité

f) Fournir une autorité supplémentaire pour le message

g) Exprimer la vérité d'une manière différente

2. Quelques Types Et Sources D'illustrations

a) Les récits bibliques, les déclarations et les proverbes forment souvent les meilleures illustrations.

Mais un mot d'avertissement: soyez prudent lorsque vous utilisez des histoires bibliques comme illustrations. Des récits bibliques ont été donnés pour souligner un point, non pour fournir une source d’illustrations aux d’autres prédicateurs. Bien qu'il soit correct d'utiliser des récits bibliques pour illustrer un point, il est généralement préférable de citer la Bible pour son autorité et son enseignement plutôt que pour illustrer un point (bien que je ne sois pas dogmatique à ce sujet).

b) Histoire de l'Église, biographie, témoignage.

c) Histoire seculaire, littérature, information.

d) Allégorie, parabole, fable, histoire.

e) Anecdote, citation, statistiques.

f) Expérience personnelle, témoignage contemporain. Les meilleures illustrations sont souvent une "tranche de vie" - une expérience, que ce soit la vôtre ou celle de quelqu'un d'autre. Ces expériences font de bonnes illustrations car…

  • • tout le monde peut s'identifier à elles
  • • elles sont réelles"
  • • elles sont pertinentes et contemporaines
  • • elles n’ont pas besoin d’interprétation pour s’appliquer à la vie des gens

Les illustrations «tranches de vie» exigent que vous soyez attentif à…

  • • aux blessures des gens, leurs désirs, besoins, relations, occupations, leurs difficultés
  • • articles d’actualité contemporains qui parlent au cœur et à la conscience des gens
  • • ce que les gens disent, pensent et font
  • • comment les gens parlent, pensent, agissent et réagissent
  • • comment vous réagissez, pensez, parlez et agissez (afin de vous identifier avec les autres au-dedans de vous vous). Sans toujours parler de vous, généralement, ce qui vous arrive et votre comportement, cela est représentatif de presque tout le monde.

g) Des dispositifs littéraires tels que des figures de style (comparaisons, métaphores, contrastes et comparaisons), des images de mots, des jeux de mots.

h) Des leçons d'objets comme des aides visuelles et des présentations.

i) Nouvelles contemporaines, slogans, déclarations, événements. Vous pouvez trouver ces sources d'illustrations en lisant des journaux et des magazines, ou en écoutant la radio ou la télévision. Les médias audiovisuels séculaires savent mieux que quiconque ce que les gens veulent, où ils ont mal, comment ils vivent.

j) Observations de la vie en général, expériences.

k) Exemples tirés de la nature - p. ex. un insecte qui se transforme en papillon pourrait être une bonne illustration de la transformation du chrétien.

C. L’emplacement Des Illustrations

1. Où Les Placer Dans Le Flot Du Sermon

Décidez où, dans votre sermon, vous tirerez pourrai mieux profiter d'une illustration et / ou de l'endroit où vous en avez le plus besoin. Vous n’avez pas besoin d’illustrations pour chaque point de votre sermon.

L’emplacement stratégique des illustrations a beaucoup plus d’impact que le nombre que vous avez.

Cependant, il y a des endroits évidents où vous avez besoin d'une illustration:

a) L'introduction. Une illustration bien choisie attire l'attention, suscite l'intérêt, introduit le sujet et identifie le besoin.

b) Points Principaux. Je ne me sens pas obligé d’avoir une illustration pour chaque point principal. En fait, cela peut ne pas être possible, souhaitable ou nécessaire. Mais quelque part dans le sermon, vous devez illustrer votre propos, ne serait-ce que pour donner une pause par rapport à l’enseignement du sermon, c’est-à-dire pour soulager mentalement le public.

c) La conclusion. Si vous pouvez trouver une illustration appropriée pour la conclusion, cela la rendra plus puissante et plus mémorable. Encore une fois, cela peut ne pas être toujours possible, souhaitable ou nécessaire.

Voici quelques questions pour vous aider à réfléchir à l'emplacement, au nombre et au type d'illustrations [Ces questions proviennent de Ramesh Richard, Préparer des sermons d'expositions (Baker), 126]:

a) Une illustration est-elle nécessaire pour clarifier ou expliquer un point ou une section du sermon?

b) Une illustration répondrait-elle aux questions implicites de l’audience: "comment, pourquoi, quand"?

c) Une illustration rendrait-elle le point plus crédible, plus croyable, plus acceptable?

d) Quel type d'illustration présenterait à l’audience les implications et les applications possibles du point?

2. Comment Les Placer Dans Le Flot Du Sermon

L'illustration a plus de connectivité et d'impact lorsque vous avancez dans l'ordre suivant:

a) Faire le point.

b) La transition à l'illustration. Il est très utile d’assouplir votre illustration au moyen d’une déclaration transitoire, telle que: «J’ai récemment découvert la réalité de cela quand…» ou une telle déclaration.

c) Illustrer le point.

d) Éventuellement, faites une transition vers l’audience en l'appliquant ou en l'exhortant à réagir à l'illustration, bien que cela ne soit pas nécessaire.

e) Reformulez le point ou continuez avec le développement du point ou passez au point suivant.

D. Vingt Elements Permis Et Interdits Des Illustrations

1. N'utilisez pas le même type d'illustration tout le temps

Par exemple les sports qui attirent généralement surtout des hommes et seulement quelques hommes.

2. N'utilisez pas votre propre famille comme illustration

En règle générale, laissez votre famille hors de vos sermons. Ils ont assez d'exposition comme il en est ainsi. Bien qu’on vous autorise généralement à utiliser une illustration personnelle, ils ne pensent souvent pas aux conséquences ni aux implications, donc laissez-les de côté.

3. N'utilisez personne dans votre congrégation, à moins que ce ne soit pour l’encourager et ce seulement avec leur permission.

4. N'utilisez jamais quelque chose de confidentiel, même s'il est exprimé dans un langage non personnel. La personne se verra dans l'histoire et tu perdras ta crédibilité auprès de cette personne.

5. Toujours donner un bref crédit pour vos sources

Vous perdez tout impact si en citant citer la source, cela détourne l'attention de l'illustration ou devient ennuyeux. En règle générale, j’enregistre dans mon sermon les détails de la source, mais dans la prédication, je ne donne que le nom de l’auteur ou le nom de la source (par exemple, un journal).

Si vous ne connaissez pas la source (ou, si vous ne voulez pas l'énoncer), dites simplement: “Quelqu'un a dit” ou “J'ai lu quelque part”, afin que vous donniez crédit à l'endroit où il faut et n'essayez pas de le faire comme votre propre citation.

Les illustrations du domaine public ne nécessitent généralement pas de mention de leur source.

6. N’utiliser pas la même illustration deux fois avec la même audience

Vous risquez d’ennuyer votre public si vous répétez les illustrations.

7. N’utilisez une illustration qui domine le point qu’elle illustre

Assurez-vous que chaque illustration sert à la vérité et ne la domine pas. L'explication et l'application de la vérité sont au centre de notre prédication - c'est ce que le Saint-Esprit peut prendre et utiliser pour changer des vies. Nous sommes avant tout des prédicateurs, pas des conteurs.

Vous voulez que les gens se souviennent de la vérité à travers l'illustration. Ils se souviendront certainement des illustrations; assurez-vous simplement qu'ils se souviennent de ce qu'on illustre.

8. Ne tordez pas une illustration pour l’adapter simplement parce que c’est une bonne illustration.

Les bonnes illustrations sont puissantes et les prédicateurs ont tendance à vouloir les utiliser. Cela conduit à la tendance à les utiliser de manière incorrecte et inappropriée. C'est une chose que d'adapter une illustration de nature générale (comme «l'histoire du petit garçon qui…») à celle-ci, mais aucune illustration ne doit être tordue pour correspondre à votre sermon.

9. Apprenez à bien communiquer les illustrations

C'est un art appris. Regardez la réaction de votre public pour déterminer son effet.

10. Placez vos illustrations de manière stratégique pour un impact maximum

Les placements les plus stratégiques sont au début et à la fin - au début pour attirer l'attention; à la fin de mener le point à la maison et les amener à se rappeler ce que vous avez dit.

11. Gardez vos illustrations courtes

Les longues illustrations ont tendance à perdre de vue ce qui est illustré. Les longues illustrations doivent être justes du premier coup (pas de deuxième chance - lorsque vous y êtes, vous y êtes) et vous avez l’impact voulu, autrement vous perdez votre audience, vous vous sentez mal et vous perdez un temps précieux.

D’une autre manière, si une courte illustration n’a pas l’impact que vous souhaitez, vous pouvez passer à autre chose sans gêne ni perte de temps. En outre, les illustrations courtes sont plus faciles à mémoriser et à livrer sans notes. Les illustrations données sans notes ont le plus grand impact.

12. Assurez-vous que vos illustrations sont précises dans les détails et selon l’auteur.

Si vous n'êtes pas précis, vous perdez votre crédibilité. Les données historiques doivent être précises. Les citations littéraires (par exemple, les poèmes) doivent être précises. Les données statistiques doivent être précises.

13. Assurez-vous que vos illustrations conviennent à votre audience

Tenez compte des questions culturelles telles que les chiffres, les pratiques sociales, la pertinence historique, l’humour, etc. Cela devient très important lorsque vous vous adressez à une audience de culture différente de la vôtre (par exemple à l’étranger).

Les illustrations universelles sont liées aux expériences de la vie, la nature, l’histoire, et des choses semblables.

14. N’utilisez trop d’illustrations

Si vous chargez votre sermon avec des illustrations, votre auditoire en aura assez et conclura que vous ne vous êtes pas bien préparé. Tout au plus, une illustration pour chaque point majeur est généralement suffisante.

15. N’utilisez d’illustrations qui ne sont pas crédibles

Testez chaque illustration: «Est-ce possible… crédible… logique… réaliste?» Sinon, ne l'utilisez pas (même si c'est vrai) ou vous détruirez votre crédibilité.

16. Soyez très prudent avec l'utilisation de l'humour

L’humour ne doit être utilisé que s’il est naturel - c’est-à-dire sans blagues! Si une illustration ou une expérience est amusante et qu'elle convient à votre thème biblique, utilisez-la. C’est différent d’une blague, qui est un scénario inventé. N'oubliez pas que des incidents amusants que le public ne trouve pas amusants ne font que nuire à l'efficacité de votre message. Soyez donc prudents. N’utilisez pas d’humour qui pourrait être interprété comme étant de mauvaise couleur ou inapproprié (comme tout ce qui pourrait être interprété comme une insulte raciale).

17. Ne vous référez pas à vous-même de façon repétitif

Les gens aiment généralement leur pasteur, mais trop c'est trop. Ils veulent entendre plus que ce qui s'est passé dans votre vie (quand vous étiez jeune, comme vous avez grandi, des incidents dans votre église précédente, etc.). Je vous recommande de rester à l'écart des références à votre ancienne église. Si vous en parlez, votre auditoire peut légitimement conclure que vous parlerez d’eux également à d'autres. Ce n’est ni professionnel, ni nécessaire, ni approprié.

18. Ne soyez pas trop graphique

Nous sommes là pour attirer l'attention sur Dieu et sa vérité et non sur des illustrations graphiques. Généralement, le langage graphique ou les illustrations dissuadent les gens.

19. Ne pas utiliser d’illustrations usées

Les histoires que chaque prédicateur raconte sont un non-non. Soyez original. Cela prend du travail et de la recherche, mais cela en vaut la peine.

20. Assurez-vous que vos illustrations illustrent bien le sujet.

Quelque fois, vous pouvez écouter l'illustration d'un prédicateur et dire: «Qu'est-ce que cela a à voir avec le thème?». Comme pour l'humour, une illustration doit être intuitivement évidente quant à sa signification, à la manière dont elle illustre et correspond au but recherché. Vous ne devriez pas avoir à l'expliquer ou, encore une fois, comme l'humour, ça tombe à plat.

Partie II. Le Leadership Transformationel

“Le Profile D’un Leader Christian”

A quoi ressemble un leader chrétien? Qui est-il dans sa personne, son caractère, ses capacités, ses attitudes, son style de vie, sa spiritualité, etc.? Clairement, le point de départ est constitué par les qualifications spirituelles d’un dirigeant d’église énoncées dans 1 Tim. 3: 1-7 et Tit. 1: 5-9. Mais cela n’est que le point de départ, me semble-t-il. Il ne s’agit nullement d’une liste exhaustive que, si un homme en possède, est nécessairement qualifiée pour diriger l’église. Je ne pense pas que Paul ait voulu que ce soit une sorte de liste de contrôle que nous utilisons sans autre norme ou exigence. Cette liste ne dit rien sur les traits de caractère comme l’humilité, le courage ou la sagesse, mais c’est sûrement aussi des aspects importants du profil d’un dirigeant d’église. Cela ne dit rien non plus sur le don du leadership (Romains 12: 8), mais il est certain qu'un ancien doit être doué en tant que dirigeant.

Alors, quels autres aspects du caractère et de la personnalité ou de la capacité pensez-vous qu'un dirigeant d'église doit avoir? Je pense que, hormis les critères de Paul dans 1 Tim. 3, il existe dans les Écritures certains traits de caractère et de personnalité inaliénables nécessaires aux dirigeants d'église. Je pense que ceux-ci sont mieux compris en les regroupant en trois catégories:

A. Ces traits de caractère intangibles qui leur permettent de prendre systématiquement de bonnes décisions.

B. Ces traits de personnalité qui ont un impact sur ceux qu’ils dirigent en les incitant à suivre et à obéir.

C. Ces caractéristiques de «succès» qui poussent le dirigeant à atteindre des résultats tels que l’autodiscipline, la persévérance et l’endurance.

A. Traits De Caractere

Ces caractéristiques permettent aux dirigeants de prendre systématiquement de bonnes décisions. Les cinq premiers sur ma liste sont: la sagesse, l’intégrité, l’humilité, le courage et la vision.

1. La Sagesse

La sagesse est au sommet de ma liste. C'est le trait d'union sous lequel tous les autres sont englobés. La question est: "Qu'est-ce que la sagesse?" Voici ma formule: Sagesse = connaissance + expérience + maturité.

a) La Connaissance. La connaissance est notre connaissance des faits, des vérités, des principes, etc. La connaissance est liée à l'apprentissage. Des connaissances particulières proviennent de nos domaines d’expertise et d’apprentissage, qu’ils soient académiques ou professionnels.

b) Expérience. Vous ne pouvez pas être sage sans expérience. Après tout, la sagesse est acquise et apprise à travers l'expérience de la vie. L’école de la vie faite d’adversité expérientielle vous apprend la sagesse.

Tandis que l'expérience évoque «l'âge», certaines personnes acquièrent de l'expérience plus rapidement que d'autres en raison de leur exposition aux expériences de la vie et de leur volonté d'apprendre de ces expériences, que ce soit à la maison, à l'école, au travail ou dans la société.

Vous pourriez probablement dire que c'est dans cette expérience que nous mettons les connaissances à profit, comme dans un apprentissage. Après tout, l’entièreté de la vie n’est-elle pas, dans une certaine mesure, un apprentissage?

c) La Maturité. L'apôtre Paul a écrit: “Nous parlons avec sagesse parmi ceux qui sont mûrs” (1 Cor. 2: 6). Qu'est-ce que la maturité? La maturité est quelque chose qui est difficile à définir mais vous le savez quand vous le voyez. Ou, pour le dire autrement, vous connaissez l'immaturité quand vous la voyez.

La maturité agit comme un adulte et non un enfant - par exemple pas de crise de colère quand vous ne vous retrouvez pas ou quand les choses tournent mal. Contrôlez vos émotions.

La maturité physique est facile à reconnaître. Cela se produit sans que nous fassions quoi que ce soit. Nous arrivons simplement à un stade où nous arrêtons de grandir, l’effet des dents et nous ressemblons à un adulte.

La maturité émotionnelle et psychologique se produit à différents moments pour différentes personnes. Certaines personnes âgées n'atteignent jamais la maturité. À 60 ou 70 ans, ils peuvent encore être immatures dans leur comportement, leurs réactions, leurs attitudes et leur langage, alors que certains jeunes peuvent être assez matures dans ces domaines.

La maturité est liée au contrôle de soi, aux choix, à la manière dont nous exprimons les émotions. C’est une prise de conscience de qui nous sommes, de nos relations avec les autres.

La maturité a à voir avec l’endurance de douleur à court terme afin de réaliser un gain à long terme. Les personnes immatures ne voient pas les choses de cette façon. Ils veulent une satisfaction personnelle immédiate.

La maturité fait de votre parole votre lien. Cohérence. Fiabilité.

Malheureusement, la sagesse est le seul trait qui semble faire tellement défaut chez les dirigeants d'église aujourd'hui. Mais c’est ce dont nos églises ont désespérément besoin en matière de leadership. Notez les points suivants:

  • Salomon n'a pas demandé de richesses à Dieu, mais de sagesse (1 Rois 3: 9).
  • Jésus "a grandi et est devenu fort d'esprit, plein de sagesse" (Luc 2:40) ... et "il a grandi en sagesse et en stature" (2:52).
  • Les leaders dans Actes 6 étaient «sept hommes de bonne réputation, pleins du Saint-Esprit et de la sagesse» (Actes 6: 3).
  • L'apôtre Paul prie «…afin que vous soyez rempli de la connaissance de sa volonté en toute sagesse et intelligence spirituelle» (Col. 1: 9).
  • En parlant de Christ, Paul dit: «En qui sont cachés tous les trésors de la sagesse et de la connaissance» (Colossiens 2: 3).
  • Nous sommes exhortés à “marcher avec sagesse vers ceux qui sont dehors, rachetant le temps” (Col. 4: 5).

Les personnes sages consultent généralement les autres, évaluent leur performance et engagent une réflexion. Les sages accueillent favorablement un dialogue stimulant qui stimule leur pensée et leurs opinions. Les sages ne veulent pas de «oui-monsieurs» autour d'eux, mais de gens qui ont l'esprit d'initiative et la pensée indépendante.

2. L‘Integrite

Qu'est-ce que l'intégrité? L'intégrité est parfois définie comme l'adhésion à des principes moraux et éthiques. L'intégrité se manifeste dans…

a) Impartialité. Cela signifie ne jamais prendre de décisions pour plaire aux gens mais pour plaire à Dieu (Éph. 6: 6-7; Col. 3: 22-23). Faire ce qui est juste, peu importe le coût. Cela signifie ne jamais être pris dans un conflit d'intérêts. Cela signifie ne jamais favoriser une personne par rapport à une autre, peu importe qui est impliqué. Cela peut signifier refuser l’intention de quelqu'un pour ne pas être redevable à lui.

b) La Transparence. Ouverture. Aucun agenda caché quelles que soient les conséquences. Cela ne veut pas dire que vous dites tout ce que vous savez nécessairement (la sagesse et la confidentialité peuvent s’imposer autrement), mais cela veut dire que vous ne devez pas vous cacher derrière une apparence, mais que vous êtes fidèle à votre personnalité.

c) La Justice. La droiture dans ses opérations.

d) sincérité. Ne pas être faux. Pas d'arrière-pensées. Ne pas être hypocrite. Ne pas faire semblant.

e) honnêteté. Vérité, franchise. Sans tromperie ni de ruse.

f) Crédibilité. Agir de manière à ce que les gens vous fassent confiance et vous croient.

g) La Pureté morale. Cela fait partie de l'intégrité personnelle. «Faites très attention à vous» (1 Tim. 4:16). Pourquoi? Parce que vous ne pouvez pas amener les autres à la foi, ni enseigner la vérité aux gens, ni amener le peuple de Dieu dans un culte, ou intercéder pour le compte d'autrui, à moins que votre vie ne soit juste et moralement pure.

Un leader chrétien doit avoir l’intégrité. Toute votre vie doit se convenir - pas de lacunes, pas d'incohérences; juste un tout unifié.

3. L’humilite

Qu’est-ce que l’humilité? L’humilité c’est…

a) La Douceur. La douceur, c’est « de ne pas avoir une trop haute opinion de soi-même» (Rom. 12: 3) - c’est-à-dire non arrogant. La douceur, c'est «estimer les autres mieux que soi» (Phil. 2: 3). La douceur est l'attitude qui dit: «Il faut qu’Il croisse et que je diminue» (Jn. 3:30). La douceur est l'attitude qui dit: "Je suis le moindre des apôtres et je ne mérite pas d'être appelé apôtre" (1 Cor. 15: 9; cf. Eph. 3: 8; 1 Tim. 1:15).

b) La Faillibilité. La faillibilité est de savoir et d’admettre que vous ne savez pas tout. Vous pouvez et faites des erreurs. Vous n’avez pas toutes les réponses.

c) La Douceur. Ne pas brimer les autres pour votre propre bien.

d) La Servitude. Pas une célébrité qui attend l'adulation des autres, mais une personne qui sert les autres.

e) La conscience de soi. La volonté de reconnaître vos faiblesses ainsi que vos forces.

L'humilité est le contraire de l'orgueil. Il est facile de devenir fier dans le ministère, surtout s’il y a des signes extérieurs de succès en termes matériels (p. Ex. Augmentation de la fréquentation de l’église ou construction d’une nouvelle église). La prédication, en particulier, peut générer de l’orgueil. L’appréciation de votre prédication par les gens peut aller à votre esprit.

Dès que nous pensons que cela a quelque chose à voir avec nous (notre crédit; notre mérite), nous avons des problèmes. Rappelez-vous: «Dieu résiste aux orgueilleux mais Il fait grâce aux humbles» (Jaq. 4: 6; 1 Pierre 5: 5). “Humiliez-vous donc sous la main toute puissante de Dieu, afin qu'il vous élève au moment convenable” (1 Pierre 5: 6). Quand le moment sera venu, il vous exaltera - pas vous-même.

4. Courage

Qu'est-ce que le courage? Le courage n'est pas de l'audace, ni de la grossièreté, ni du franc-parler. Le courage consiste à faire ce qui est juste quelles que soient les opinions des autres, malgré les oppositions, les conséquences, les critiques, les échecs ou le découragement. Le courage consiste à avoir une conviction quant à la marche à suivre et à la mener à bien. Le courage est debout pour la vérité. Le courage est la certitude qu’avec l’aide de Dieu, «nous pouvons le faire».

Rappelez-vous: «Dieu ne nous a pas donné l'esprit de peur…» (2 Tim. 1: 7). Martin Luther, lors de son voyage à Worms pour faire face à un interrogatoire sur ses enseignements, a déclaré: «Vous pouvez tout attendre de moi, sauf la peur ou la rétractation. Je ne vais pas fuir, encore moins me rétracter.» C'est du courage.

Le leadership chrétien n’est pas facile. Ça demande le courage.

Il faut du courage pour prendre des décisions difficiles - faire ce qui est juste quelles que soient les conséquences.

Une prise de décision claire, fondée sur Dieu, est la marque d'un bon leader spirituel, comme…

  • Abraham pendant la crise de Sodome et le sauvetage de Lot (Genèse 14: 14.)
  • Moïse quand il a décidé d’abandonner les plaisirs et le pouvoir de l’Égypte (Hébreux 11: 23-28)
  • Paul dans la tempête (Actes 27)

Chaque fois que vous serez confronté à un tournant décisionnel, vous serez un exemple de courage ou de lâcheté. David et Daniel étaient des hommes de courage. Jonas et Gédéon étaient des hommes de lâcheté.

Il faut du courage pour faire face à des situations difficiles - faire face aux obstacles, attaques, critiques personnelles et oppositions (de la part des gens; de Satan, etc.). Il faut du courage pour prêcher quand vous avez été vivement critiqué pendant la semaine (cf. Jér. 1: 17-19). La critique est l’un des pires ennemis à vous épuiser. Il amplifie vos insécurités, détourne votre regard de la tâche à accomplir et porte sur vous-même, épuise votre énergie et votre enthousiasme, vous rend défensif et vous isole.

C’est pourquoi je pense que la critique négative et destructrice (l’esprit du jugement) est un outil de Satan. Je crois aux concepts bibliques de réprimande, d'exhortation et de confrontation (2 Tim. 4: 2), mais la critique destructive n'a pas sa place parmi le peuple de Dieu. Les critiques sont généralement négatives, destructives - il s’agit de ce que les gens ne veulent pas ou n’aiment pas, pas de ce qui honore Dieu ou bénéfique pour son peuple. Les critiques peuvent déformer votre vision du ministère et des personnes à qui vous exercez le ministère.

Il faut du courage pour persévérer dans les moments de découragement spirituel: maintenir le cap lorsque le découragement s’installe, lorsque vous pensez que vous êtes un échec, lorsque vous travaillez dur, mais il semble que personne n’écoute ni ne réagit.

Rappelez-vous: trois fois, Dieu dit à Josué d'être fort et de bon courage. Pourquoi? Parce qu'il savait que les tentations et les épreuves auxquelles Josué serait confronté risquaient de le décourager et de l'inciter à choisir la solution de facilité.

5. La Vision

Qu’est-ce que la vision? La vision n’est pas un monde de rêve «tête dans les nuages»; ce ne sont pas vos propres aspirations. La vision est…

a) Voir ce qui est possible.

b) «Voir l'invisible» comme Moïse l'a fait (Hébreux 11:27) et les patriarches, qui ont vu les promesses de loin, même s'ils ne les ont pas reçues eux-mêmes (Hébreux 11:13).

c) Fixer des objectifs et des orientations réalistes et réalisables.

d) Un sentiment d'optimisme: «Je puis tout par Christ qui me fortifie» (Phil. 4:13) - c'est-à-dire les choses que je suis capable de faire et que je vais faire, je le fais avec la force que Christ pourvoit.

B. Des Traits De Personalite

Par traits de personnalité, je désigne les caractéristiques personnelles qui influencent les personnes que vous dirigez. C'est la capacité d'inspirer les autres à suivre et à obéir. C'est ce que l'on appelle parfois le «pouvoir de la personne». Vous ne pouvez pas apprendre cela. Vous l’avez ou vous ne l’avez pas. C'est un charisme - pas artificiel ou superficiel, mais authentique et interne.

C. Des Traits De Succes

Les traits de succès sont les caractéristiques qui poussent un leader à atteindre des résultats. Ceux-ci incluent des traits comme l'autodiscipline, la persévérance, l'endurance. Poursuivre malgré le découragement car on voit le but. Encourager les membres de votre équipe à continuer. Cela vient de la volonté interne de faire une différence dans votre vie. C'est une question de motivation.

Conclusions

Ces cinq traits de caractère déterminent si un leader prendra systématiquement les bonnes décisions, influencera de manière décisive ceux qu’il dirige et le pousse à atteindre ses objectifs.

Partie III. Plan De Sermon

Pour écouter la version audio de ces sermons en anglais, cliquez sur ces liens: Link 1 - Jn. 20:19-21; Link 2 - Jn. 20:21-23; Link 3 - Jn. 20:24-31

Titre: Je viens de voir Jésus

Thème: The choc et la réalité de la résurrection

Point #3: La résurrection de Jésus transforme la peur en courage (19-23)

(Voir la version Winter 2019 de ce journal pour les points #1 et #2)

1. Le Jésus ressuscité apaise nos peurs (19-20)

a) Il atténue nos peurs par ce qu'il dit (19)

b) Il atténue nos peurs par ce qu'il fait (20)

2. Le Jésus ressuscité active notre courage (21-23)

a) Il active notre courage pour continuer son œuvre (21)

b) Il active notre courage de parler avec autorité (22-23)

Point #4: La résurrection de Jésus transforme l'incrédulité en foi (24-29)

1. L'incrédulité n'est pas convaincue par un témoignage de seconde main (24-25a)

2. L'incrédulité nécessite des preuves concrètes (25b-28)

a) La preuve concrète est ce que dit Jésus (26)

b) La preuve concrète est ce que Jésus a fait (27a)

3. La preuve concrète exige un verdict (27b-29)

a) La conviction est prouvée par une grande confession de foi (28)

b) La foi est honorée par une grande bénédiction de Jésus (29)

i) C’est bien de voir et de croire (29a)

ii) C’est encore mieux de croire avant de voir (29b)

Conclusions (30-31)

Related Topics: Pastors

Jurnalul Electronic Al Păstorilor, Rom Ed 31, Editia de primăvară 2019

Ediția de primăvară, 2019

“Întărind Biserica în Predicare biblică și conducere”

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 519-620-2375

Partea I: Consolidarea Predicării Expozitive

„Folosirea eficientă a ilustrațiilor”

A. De Ce Să Folosim Ilustrații?

1. Pentru Că Biblia Este Plină De Ilustrații

Din moment ce Dumnezeu a ales să ne comunice o mare parte din Cuvântul Său prin intermediul povestirilor, cu siguranță lucrul acesta ar trebui să îi ghideze pe predicatori în comunicarea Cuvântului. Fără îndoială, Dumnezeu a folosit povestirile pentru a comunica adevărul Său pentru că acestea sunt un instrument puternic la care ființele umane răspund și pe care îl înțeleg. A nu folosi istorisiri în predicare înseamnă a nu folosi o metodă de comunicare importantă, pe care Dumnezeu a folosit-o și a aprobat-o, precum și a nu reuși să comunici adevărul în moduri relevante și iluminatoare.

2. Pentru Că Ilustrațiile Merg Mână-N Mână Cu „Explicarea” Și „Aplicarea”

Ilustrațiile ne ajută să explicăm și să aplicăm adevărul în moduri relevante, clare și ușor de înțeles. Așadar, când predici adevărul în aplicațiile sale la situații din viața reală, trebuie să fii în stare și să îl ilustrezi!

Unii predicatori cred că trebuie să lase aplicarea Cuvântului doar în seama Duhului Sfânt, pentru ca El să îl clarifice și să îl facă relevant pentru viața ascultătorilor. Este adevărat că numai Duhul Sfânt poate face Cuvântul atât de clar și de convingător încât viața unui om să poată fi schimbată, dar în același timp, nu trebuie să uităm că Duhul Sfânt folosește predicarea pentru a face Cuvântul relevant și aplicabil la viață și că El ne-a dat precedentul biblic al folosirii ilustrațiilor cu scopul de face ca aplicațiile să prindă viață.

Noi nu trebuie doar să le spunem oamenilor ce să facă, ci trebuie să le dăm și exemple ca să știe cum să facă sau să le spunem cum Cuvântul a avut impact în viața altcuiva.

3. Pentru Că Ilustrațiile Ne Ajută Să Depășim Obstacolul „Și Ce?”

Ilustrațiile îl ajută pe predicator să treacă pragul atenției ascultătorilor, intrând în mintea, inima, voința și conștiința lor. Ilustrațiile adesea pot să arate ascultătorilor de ce au nevoie de predica respectivă și de ce li se aplică lor.

Ilustrațiile pot fi un instrument foarte util care ajută predicatorul să treacă dincolo de obiecțiile oamenilor de tipul „ce are asta a face cu mine?”, pentru că nu sunt amenințătoare sau ostile. Ilustrațiile nu incită obiecțiile oamenilor, deoarece sunt distante și reprezintă exemple despre altcineva.

B. Câteva Scopuri Ale Ilustrațiilor Și Tipuri De Ilustrații

1. Câteva Scopuri Ale Ilustrațiilor

a) Să clarifice adevărul

b) Să simplifice adevărul

c) Să ilustreze adevărul

d) Să concretizeze adevărul (i.e. să facă adevărul tangibil, vizibil, real)

e) Să accentueze adevărul

f) Să confere mai multă autoritate mesajului

g) Să exprime adevărul într-un alt mod

2. Câteva Tipuri De Ilustrații Și Surse De Ilustrații

a) Povestirile biblice, relatările și proverbele sunt adesea cele mai bune ilustrații. Atenție însă: Folosește cu multă atenție povestirile biblice ca ilustrații! Povestirile biblice au fost spuse pentru a demonstra ceva, și nu pentru a fi o sursă de ilustrații pentru alți predicatori. Poți folosi istorisiri biblice pentru a ilustra o idee, însă, în general, este mai bine să citezi din Biblie pentru a apela la autoritatea și învățătura sa mai degrabă decât pentru a ilustra o idee (deși nu aș vrea să fiu dogmatic în sensul acesta).

b) Istoria Bisericii, biografii, mărturii.

c) Istoria seculară, literatura, diverse informații.

d) Alegorii, parabole, fabule, povestiri.

e) Anecdote, citate, statistici.

f) Experiența personală, mărturii contemporane. Cele mai bune ilustrații sunt adesea „crâmpeiele de viață” - o experiență, fie a ta, fie a altcuiva. Experiențele personale sunt eficiente ca ilustrații pentru că…

  • oricine se poate identifica cu ele
  • sunt „reale”
  • sunt relevante și contemporane
  • nu au nevoie de interpretare pentru a fi aplicate la viața oamenilor

Când folosești lustrații bazate pe „crâmpeie de viață”, trebuie să fii atent la …

  • durerile, dorințele, nevoile, relațiile, ocupațiile, greutățile oamenilor
  • știri contemporane care se adresează inimilor și conștiințelor oamenilor
  • ce spun, gândesc și fac oamenii
  • cum vorbesc, gândesc, acționează și reacționează oamenii
  • cum reacționezi tu, cum gândești, cum vorbești și cum acționezi (pentru ca să te identifici cu alții în tine însuți). Fără să vorbești mereu despre tine însuți, în general, ceea ce ți se întâmplă ție și felul în care acționezi sunt lucruri reprezentative pentru majoritatea oamenilor.

g) Mijloacele literare, cum ar fi figurile de stil (comparații, metafore, contraste), descrieri, jocuri de cuvinte.

h) Lecții practice, cum ar fi mijloace vizuale și prezentări.

i) Știri contemporane, slogane, declarații, evenimente. Aceste surse de ilustrații le găsești citind ziare și reviste, ori ascultând la radio sau la televizor – mass-media știe cel mai bine ce își doresc oamenii, ce îi doare și cum trăiesc.

j) Observații generale despre viață, experiențe.

k) Exemple din natură – de exemplu, omida care se transformă în fluture poate fi o ilustrație a transformării creștinului.

C. Inserarea Ilustrațiilor

1. Unde Să Inserezi Ilustrațiile În Cursul Predicii

Hotărăște locul în care ar trebui să inserezi o ilustrație astfel încât să obții cel mai bun efect și / sau locul în care este cea mai mare nevoie de ea. Nu e nevoie să folosești o ilustrație la fiecare punct al predicii.

Inserarea strategică a ilustrațiilor are mult mai mult impact decât numărul ilustrațiilor.

Totuși, există câteva locuri clare unde ai nevoie de o ilustrație:

a) Introducerea. O ilustrație bine aleasă atrage atenția, sporește interesul, introduce subiectul și identifică nevoia.

b) Punctele principale. Nu simt nevoia să folosesc o ilustrație la fiecare punct principal. De fapt, poate că lucrul acesta nu este nici măcar posibil, oportun sau necesar. Însă, undeva, pe parcursul predicii, trebuie să ilustrezi subiectul pe care îl abordezi, dacă nu pentru alt motiv, măcar pentru a oferi o pauză de la învățătura predicii, adică, pentru a oferi o ușurare minții ascultătorilor.

c) Încheierea. Dacă găsești o ilustrație potrivită pentru încheiere, aceasta o va face mai puternică și mai memorabilă. Repet, poate că nu întotdeauna va fi posibil lucrul acesta sau poate că nu va fi necesar ori oportun.

Iată câteva întrebări care te vor ajuta să te gândești la locul, numărul și tipul ilustrațiilor folosite [Aceste întrebări sunt preluate din Ramesh Richard, Pregătirea predicilor expozitive]:

a) Este necesară o ilustrație pentru a clarifica sau a explica o idee ori o secțiune a predicii?

b) Ilustrația ar răspunde la întrebările implicite ale ascultătorilor: „cum, de ce, când”?

c) Ilustrația ar face argumentul mai credibil, mai ușor de crezut și de acceptat?

d) Ce fel de ilustrație ar prezenta ascultătorilor posibilele implicații și aplicații ale subiectului?

2. Cum Să Le Inserezi În Predică

Ilustrația are mai multă coerență și mai mult impact atunci când respecți următoarea ordine:

a) Prezintă punctul principal.

b) Fă trecerea către ilustrație. Este util să faci o trecere lină către ilustrație folosind o afirmație de tranziție – cum ar fi: „Am descoperit recent realitatea acestor lucruri când…” sau ceva asemănător.

c) Ilustrează ideea.

d) Poți să faci și tranziția către ascultători aplicând ilustrația sau îndemnându-i să răspundă la mesajul acesteia, deși lucrul acesta nu este necesar.

e) Repetă punctul principal sau du-l mai departe sau fă trecerea către punctul următor!

D. Douăzeci De Lucruri Pe Care Să Le Faci Sau Să Nu Le Faci Cu Privire La Ilustrații

1. Nu folosi același tip de ilustrații tot timpul

De exemplu, nu folosi ilustrații numai din sport, care prezintă interes de obicei pentru bărbați și numai pentru unii bărbați.

2. Nu-i folosi pe membrii familiei tale ca subiect al ilustrațiilor

Ca regulă generală, nu îți include familia în predică! Familia ta este deja suficient de expusă. Deși în general membrii familiei își vor da acordul să folosești în predică o ilustrație personală, totuși adesea ei nu se gândesc la consecințele sau implicațiile acestui fapt, așa că, mai bine nu vorbi despre ei!

3. Nu folosi ilustrații cu referire la membrii bisericii, decât dacă o faci pentru a le adresa un compliment și, chiar și atunci, doar cu permisiunea lor!

4. Nu folosi niciodată o informație confidențială, chiar dacă este prezentată într-un limbaj impersonal. Persoana în cauză se va identifica în povestirea ta, iar tu îți vei pierde credibilitatea în fața sa.

5. Menționează pe scurt sursa folosită

Îți pierzi impactul dacă citarea sursei distrage atenția ascultătorilor de la ilustrație sau dacă devine plictisitoare. În general, în notițele de predică îmi notez exact sursa citată, în detaliu, însă atunci când predic nu menționez decât numele autorului sau numele resursei folosite (de exemplu, numele ziarului).

Dacă nu cunoști sursa (sau nu vrei să o menționezi), spune doar: „Cineva a spus” sau „Am citit undeva”, pentru ca să recunoști că ilustrația respectivă nu îți aparține și să nu pară că vrei să ți-o însușești.

În cazul ilustrațiilor care fac parte din domeniul public, în general nu trebuie menționată sursa.

6. Nu folosi de două ori aceeași ilustrație în fața acelorași ascultători

Dacă repeți ilustrațiile, îți asumi riscul de a-ți plictisi ascultătorii.

7. Nu folosi o ilustrație care domină punctul principal, ci una care îl ilustrează

Ai grijă ca fiecare ilustrație folosită să servească adevărului, și nu să îl domine! Explicarea și aplicarea adevărului sunt principalul scop al predicării – pentru că pe acestea Duhul Sfânt poate să le folosească pentru a schimba viețile oamenilor. Noi suntem în primul rând predicatori, nu povestitori.

Tu vrei ca oamenii să țină minte adevărul cu ajutorul ilustrației! Cu siguranță vor ține minte ilustrația, însă ai grijă să își amintească și ce ilustrează aceasta!

8. Nu distorsiona o ilustrație făcând-o să se potrivească, doar pentru că este o ilustrație bună

Ilustrațiile bune sunt puternice și predicatorii au tendința să își dorească să le folosească, ceea ce duce la tendința de a le folosi incorect și inadecvat. Este una să ajustezi o ilustrație generală (de pildă, „povestea băiețelului care…”) pentru a se potrivi contextului tău, dar este cu totul altceva să distorsionezi o ilustrație ca să se potrivească în predica ta.

9. Învață să comunici bine ilustrațiile

Aceasta este o artă care se învață. Urmărește reacția ascultătorilor tăi pentru a-ți da seama de efectul ilustrației!

10. Inserează ilustrațiile în locuri strategice pentru un impact maxim

Cele mai strategice locuri pentru ilustrații sunt la începutul și la sfârșitul predicii – la început, pentru a capta atenția ascultătorilor, iar la final, pentru a fixa bine ideea predicii și pentru a-i ajuta să țină minte ce ai spus.

11. Ilustrațiile trebuie să fie scurte

Ilustrațiile lungi au tendința de a pierde concentrarea pe ceea ce vrei să ilustrezi. Ilustrațiile lungi trebuie să îți iasă din prima încercare (pentru că nu primești o a doua șansă – odată ce ai început-o, trebuie să o duci la capăt) și să obții impactul dorit, pentru că altfel pierzi atenția ascultătorilor, te pui într-o lumină proastă și pierzi timp prețios.

Pe de altă parte, dacă o ilustrație scurtă nu are impactul dorit, poți merge mai departe fără să te simți jenat și fără o pierdere de timp considerabilă. De asemenea, ilustrațiile scurte sunt mai ușor de ținut minte și mai ușor de prezentat fără să apelezi la notițe. Ilustrațiile pe care le spui fără ajutorul notițelor au cel mai mare impact.

12. Ai grijă ca ilustrațiile tale să conțină detalii corecte, precum și informații corecte cu privire la sursa lor

Dacă nu prezinți informații corecte, îți pierzi credibilitatea. Datele istorice trebuie să fie corecte. Citatele literare (ex. poezii) trebuie să fie corecte. Datele statistice trebuie, de asemenea, să fie corecte.

13. Ai grijă ca ilustrațiile folosite să fie potrivite pentru ascultătorii tăi

Ține cont de specificul cultural, cum ar fi figurile de stil, practicile sociale, relevanța istorică, umorul etc. Acest lucru este foarte important mai ales atunci când ascultătorii tăi fac parte dintr-o cultură diferită de a ta (de exemplu, când călătorești în alte țări).

Ilustrațiile generale au de-a face cu experiențele vieții, cu natura, istoria și altele asemenea.

14. Nu folosi prea multe ilustrații

Dacă îți încarci predica cu multe ilustrații, ascultătorii tăi se vor plictisi de ele și vor trage concluzia că nu te-ai pregătit prea bine. Cel mult o ilustrație pentru fiecare punct principal este, în general, suficient.

15. Nu folosi ilustrații ce nu sunt credibile

Testează fiecare ilustrație: „Este posibil…credibil…logic…realist?” Dacă nu, nu folosi ilustrația respectivă (chiar dacă este adevărată), pentru că altfel îți vei distruge credibilitatea.

16. Ai mare grijă la folosire umorului

Umorul trebuie folosit doar dacă vine în mod natural; cu alte cuvinte, nu folosi glume! Dacă o ilustrație sau o experiență este amuzantă și se potrivește cu subiectul tău biblic, atunci folosește-o! Aceasta nu este o glumă; gluma este un scenariu inventat! Ține minte: incidentele amuzante care ascultătorilor tăi nu li se par amuzante nu fac decât să diminueze eficiența mesajului tău, așa că, fii atent! Nu folosi umor care poate fi considerat nepotrivit sau de prost gust (de pildă, orice ar putea fi considerat drept rasism).

17. Nu vorbi mereu despre tine

De obicei, oamenii își iubesc pastorul, însă orice lucru are limite. Oamenii vor să audă și altceva, nu doar ce s-a întâmplat în viața ta (când erai mic, când ai crescut, incidente din biserica în care ai fost mai înainte etc.). Eu recomand să te ferești să faci referiri la biserica pe care ai păstorit-o mai înainte. Dacă vorbești despre ea, oamenii pot trage concluzia, pe bună dreptate, că vei vorbi și despre ei altor oameni. Acest lucru nu este profesionist, nici necesar și nici potrivit.

18. Nu fi prea expresiv

Noi ne aflăm acolo pentru a atrage atenția asupra lui Dumnezeu și a adevărului Său, și nu asupra ilustrațiilor noastre elocvente. În general, limbajul prea colorat sau ilustrațiile prea elocvente îi decuplează pe oameni de la mesaj.

19. Nu folosi ilustrații învechite

Povestirile pe care le spune orice predicator sunt interzise. Fii original! Asta presupune muncă și cercetare, dar se merită!

20. Ai grijă ca ilustrațiile tale să ilustreze subiectul

Uneori, după ce asculți o ilustrație, te întrebi: „Ce are aceasta de-a face cu subiectul?” Ca și umorul, ilustrațiile trebuie să fie clare în ce privește înțelesul lor, modul în care ilustrează subiectul tău, precum și felul în care se leagă de ceea ce încerci să arăți. Nu ar trebui să fii nevoit să explici o ilustrație, pentru că, în cazul acesta, ca și umorul, își pierde eficiența.

Partea A II-A. Conducere Transformatoare

„Profilul unui lider creștin”

Cum este un lider creștin? Cum este el ca persoană, caracter, abilități, atitudini, stil de viață, spiritualitate etc.? În mod cert, punctul de plecare îl constituie calificările spirituale ale liderului bisericii, așa cum sunt prezentate în 1 Timotei 3:1-7 și Tit 1:5-9. Însă, după părerea mea, acesta este doar punctul de plecare. Aceasta nu este, sub nicio formă, o listă exhaustivă, pe care, dacă un om o îndeplinește, se califică automat să fie lider al bisericii. Nu cred că Pavel a intenționat să ne ofere o listă pe care să o folosim fără alte standarde sau cerințe. Lista aceasta nu spune nimic despre anumite trăsături de caracter, cum ar fi smerenia, curajul sau înțelepciunea, însă cu siguranță și acestea sunt aspecte importante ale profilului liderului bisericii. Și nu spune nimic nici despre darul conducerii (Rom. 12:8), însă cu siguranță un prezbiter trebuie să aibă acest dar.

Așadar, ce alte aspecte privitoare la caracter, personalitate și abilități credeți că ar trebui să aibă un lider al bisericii? Eu cred că, în afară de criteriile lui Pavel din 1 Timotei 3, Scriptura conține anumite trăsături de caracter și de personalitate inalienabile, pe care liderii bisericilor trebuie să le aibă. Cred că le vom înțelege mai bine dacă le vom împărți în trei categorii:

A. Acele trăsături de caracter intangibile care îi ajută să ia mereu decizii bune.

B. Acele trăsături de personalitate care au un impact asupra celor ce îi conduc, inspirându-i să îi urmeze și să îi asculte.

C. Acele trăsături „de succes”, care îl ajută pe lider să obțină rezultate bune, cum ar fi auto-disciplina, perseverența, rezistența.

A. Trăsături De Caracter

Aceste trăsături îi ajută pe lideri să ia mereu decizii bune. Primele cinci de pe lista mea sunt următoarele: înțelepciunea, integritatea, smerenia, curajul și viziunea.

1. Înțelepciunea

Înțelepciunea este prima pe lista mea. Aceasta este trăsătura-umbrelă, care le include pe toate celelalte. Întrebarea este: „Ce este înțelepciunea?” Iată formula mea: Înțelepciune = cunoaștere + experiență + maturitate.

a) Cunoaștere. Cunoașterea se referă la cunoașterea faptelor, adevărurilor, principiilor etc. Cunoașterea este legată de învățare. Cunoașterea specială vine din ariile noastre specifice de expertiză și învățare, fie academică sau prin calificarea la locul de muncă.

b) Experiență. Nu poți fi înțelept fără experiență. În definitiv, înțelepciunea este dobândită și învățată prin experiența de viață. Școala greutăților vieții te înțelepțește.

Deși experiența implică și ideea de „vârstă”, unii o dobândesc mai repede decât alții datorită expunerii lor la experiențele vieții și deschiderii lor de a învăța din ele, fie acasă, la școală, la locul de muncă sau în societate.

Poate că am putea spune că experiența se află acolo unde punem cunoștința la treabă, ca în ucenicie. În definitiv, nu este întreaga viață, într-o anumită măsură, o ucenicie?

c) Maturitate. Apostolul Pavel a scris: Totuşi ceea ce propovăduim noi printre cei desăvârşiţi este o înţelepciune” (1 Cor. 2:6). Ce este maturitatea? Maturitatea este ceva greu de definit, însă o recunoști când o vezi. Sau, altfel spus, știi ce este maturitatea atunci când o vezi.

Maturitate înseamnă să te porți ca un adult, nu ca un copil; de pildă, să nu faci crize de furie atunci când nu poți să faci ce vrei tu sau când lucrurile nu merg bine. Maturitate înseamnă să îți controlezi emoțiile.

Maturitatea fizică este ușor de recunoscut și apare fără vreun efort din partea noastră. Pur și simplu, ajungem într-o etapă în care nu mai creștem, nu ne mai ies dinți și arătăm ca un adult.

Maturitatea emoțională și psihică nu apare în același moment la toți oamenii. Sunt oameni mai în vârstă care nu se maturizează niciodată și sunt tot imaturi în comportament, reacții, atitudini și vorbire chiar și la 60 sau 70 de ani, pe când alții mai tineri pot fi mult mai maturi în domeniile respective.

Maturitatea implică autocontrol, alegeri, felul în care ne exprimăm emoțiile. Este o conștientizare a propriei persoane (cine suntem) și a felului în care relaționăm cu ceilalți.

Maturitatea implică suferirea durerii pe termen scurt pentru un câștig pe termen lung. Oamenii imaturi nu văd așa lucrurile, ci ei își doresc împlinirea imediată a propriilor dorințe.

Maturitate înseamnă să te ții de cuvânt. Consecvență. Încredere.

Din păcate, mulți lideri bisericești din zilele noastre par să ducă lipsă de înțelepciune. Însă exact acesta este lucrul de care bisericile noastre au nevoie disperată. Să observăm următoarele:

  • Solomon nu i-a cerut lui Dumnezeu bogății, ci înțelepciune (1 Împărați 3:9).
  • Isus creştea şi Se întărea; era plin de înţelepciune” (Luca 2:40) ... și creştea în înţelepciune, în statură” (2:52).
  • Conducătorii bisericii din Fapte 6 erau şapte bărbaţi, vorbiţi de bine, plini de Duhul Sfânt şi înţelepciune” (Fapte 6:3).
  • Apostolul Pavel se roagă să vă umpleţi de cunoştinţa voii Lui, în orice fel de înţelepciune şi pricepere duhovnicească” (Col. 1:9).
  • Vorbind despre Hristos, Pavel spune: „… în care sunt ascunse toate comorile înţelepciunii şi ale ştiinţei” (Col. 2:3).
  • Credincioșii sunt îndemnați astfel: Purtaţi-vă cu înţelepciune faţă de cei de afară; răscumpăraţi vremea” (Col. 4:5).

Oamenii înțelepți de obicei se consultă cu alții, se auto-evaluează și meditează. Oamenii înțelepți acceptă dialogul provocator care le stimulează gândirea și opiniile. Oamenii înțelepți nu vor să aibă lingușitori în jurul lor, ci oameni cu inițiativă și cu gândire liberă.

2. Integritate

Ce este integritatea? Integritatea este definită uneori ca aderența la principii morale și etice. Integritatea se vede în…

a) Imparțialitate. Aceasta înseamnă să nu iei niciodată decizii care să placă oamenilor, ci care să placă lui Dumnezeu (Efes. 6:6-7; Col. 3:22-23). Să faci ce este corect, indiferent de cost. Aceasta înseamnă să nu fii prins niciodată într-un conflict de interese. De asemenea, mai înseamnă să nu favorizezi niciodată pe cineva în defavoarea altcuiva, indiferent de cine ar fi vorba. Și mai poate însemna să refuzi intenția bună a cuiva pentru a nu te îndatora față de persoana respectivă.

b) Transparență. Sinceritate. Fără agende ascunse, indiferent de consecințe. Aceasta nu înseamnă neapărat că trebuie să spui tot ce știi (înțelepciunea și confidențialitatea pot dicta altceva), însă înseamnă să nu te ascunzi în spatele unei măști, ci să arăți cine ești cu adevărat.

c) Dreptate. Corectitudine în tot ceea ce faci.

d) Sinceritate. Să nu fii fals. Să nu ai motivații ascunse. Să nu fii ipocrit. Fără prefăcătorii.

e) Onestitate. Sinceritate, franchețe. Fără înșelăciune și viclenie.

f) Credibilitate. Să te porți în așa fel încât oamenii să te creadă și să aibă încredere în tine.

g) Puritate morală. Aceasta face parte din integritatea personală. „Fii cu luare aminte asupra ta însuți” (1 Tim. 4:16). De ce? Pentru că nu poți să îi conduci pe alții la credință, sau să îi înveți adevărul pe oameni, sau să îi conduci pe oamenii lui Dumnezeu în închinare, sau să mijlocești pentru alții, decât dacă trăiești în integritate și puritate morală.

Un lider creștin trebuie să fie integru. Viața ta întreagă trebuie să fie unitară – fără goluri, fără inconsistențe; un tot unitar.

3. Smerenie

Ce este smerenia? Smerenia este …

a) Blândețe. Blândețe înseamnă să nu aibă despre sine o părere mai înaltă decât se cuvine” (Rom. 12:3) – adică să fii arogant. Blândețe înseamnă să privească pe altul mai presus de el însuşi” (Fil. 2:3). Blândețea este atitudinea care spune: Trebuie ca El să crească, iar eu să mă micşorez (Ioan 3:30). Blândețea este atitudinea care spune: Căci eu sunt cel mai neînsemnat dintre apostoli; nu sunt vrednic să port numele de apostol (1 Cor. 15:9; cf. Efes. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:15).

b) Failibilitate. Failibilitate înseamnă să știi și să admiți că nu știi totul. Poți să faci și chiar faci greșeli. Nu știi răspunsurile la toate întrebările.

c) Blândețe. Să nu îi intimidezi pe alții ca să poți face ce vrei tu.

d) Slujire. Să nu fii o vedetă care așteaptă adulația celorlalți, ci să îi slujești pe ceilalți.

e) Auto-cunoaștere. Disponibilitatea de a-ți recunoaște atât punctele slabe, cât și punctele tari.

Smerenia este opusul mândriei. În lucrare, este ușor să devii mândru, mai ales dacă există semne exterioare de succes în termeni lumești (de exemplu, creșterea numărului de participanți la biserică sau o nouă clădire). Predicarea, în general, poate duce la mândrie. Dacă oamenii îți apreciază predicarea, asta ți se poate urca la cap.

În clipa în care începem să credem că avem vreun merit, deja avem probleme. Nu uitați: „Dumnezeu stă împotriva celor mândri, dar dă har celor smeriţi (Iacov 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). Smeriţi-vă dar sub mâna tare a lui Dumnezeu, pentru ca, la vremea Lui, El să vă înalţe” (1 Petru 5:6). La vremea potrivită, El te va înălța – nu trebuie să o faci tu însuți.

4. Curaj

Ce este curajul? Curajul nu înseamnă tupeu, nici obrăznicie, nici franchețe. Mai degrabă, să ai curaj înseamnă să faci ceea ce este drept, indiferent de părerile celorlalți și în ciuda împotrivirilor, a consecințelor, a criticii, a eșecului sau a descurajării. Să ai curaj înseamnă să știi sigur care este mersul corect al lucrurilor și să îl duci la îndeplinire. Curaj înseamnă să susții adevărul. Curajul este încrederea că, prin ajutorul lui Dumnezeu, vei reuși.

Nu uita: Dumnezeu nu ne-a dat un duh de frică…” (2 Tim. 1:7). Martin Luther, pe drum către Worms, unde urma să fie interogat cu privire la învățăturile sale, a spus: „Vă puteți aștepta la orice din partea mea, în afară de frică și retractare. Nu voi fugi, și cu atât mai puțin nu voi retracta ce am spus.” Aceasta înseamnă să ai curaj.

Conducerea creștină nu este ușoară și presupune curaj.

Este nevoie de curaj pentru a lua decizii grele – pentru a face ceea ce este drept indiferent de consecințe.

Luarea unor decizii clare și bune, în dependență de Dumnezeu, este semnul unui lider spiritual bun, ca…

  • Avraam în timpul crizei din Sodoma și al salvării lui Lot (Gen. 14:14 și urm.)
  • Moise când a decis să renunțe la puterea și plăcerile din Egipt (Evr. 11:23-28)
  • Pavel în timpul furtunii (Fapte 27).

De fiecare dată când te vei afla la răscruce de drumuri în ce privește luarea deciziilor, vei fi un exemplu fie de curaj, fie de lașitate. David și Daniel au fost oameni curajoși. Iona și Ghedeon au fost niște lași.

Este nevoie de curaj pentru a rezolva situații dificile – pentru a face față obstacolelor, atacurilor, împotrivirilor și criticilor la persoană (din partea oamenilor; din partea lui Satan etc.). Este nevoie de curaj pentru a predica după ce ai fost criticat dur în timpul săptămânii (cf. Ier. 1:17-19). Critica este unul din cei mai răi dușmani care te va roade pe dinăuntru. Critica îți amplifică nesiguranța, îți îndepărtează privirea de la ceea ce ai de făcut și o mută pe tine, îți secătuiește energia și entuziasmul, te face să intri în defensivă și te izolează.

De aceea, critica negativă, distructivă (judecarea), eu cred că este un instrument al lui Satan. Cred în conceptele biblice de mustrare, îndemnare și confruntare (2 Tim. 4:2), însă critica distructivă nu își are locul printre oamenii lui Dumnezeu. De obicei, critica este negativă, distructivă – și este despre ceea ce nu vor oamenii sau nu le place, nu despre ceea ce Îl onorează pe Dumnezeu sau este benefic poporului Său. Critica îți poate distorsiona imaginea lucrării, precum și a oamenilor pe care îi slujești.

Este nevoie de curaj pentru a persevera în vremuri de descurajare spirituală – pentru a nu te da bătut atunci când apare descurajarea, atunci când crezi că ai eșuat, atunci când muncești din greu, însă pare că nimeni nu ascultă sau nu răspunde.

Ține minte: De trei ori i-a spus Dumnezeu lui Iosua să se întărească și să se îmbărbăteze. De ce? Pentru că El știa că ispitele și încercările pe care Iosua le va întâmpina l-ar putea descuraja și că atunci el ar putea fi tentat să aleagă calea ușoară.

5. Viziune

Ce este viziunea? Viziunea nu este o lume a viselor „cu capul în nori”; și nici propriile tale aspirații. Viziunea înseamnă …

a) Să vezi ceea ce este posibil.

b) „Să vezi ceea ce este invizibil”, ca Moise (Evr. 11:27) și patriarhii, care au văzut lucrurile făgăduite de departe, deși nu le-au primit ei înșiși (Evr. 11:13).

c) Să îți stabilești o direcție și obiective realiste și realizabile.

d) Optimism: „Pot totul în Hristos care mă întărește” (Fil. 4:13) – adică lucrurile pe care pot să le fac și le voi face, le fac prin puterea pe care mi-o dă Hristos.

B. Trăsături De Personalitate

Prin trăsături de personalitate mă refer la acele caracteristici personale care îi influențează pe oamenii pe care îi conduci. Aceasta este capacitatea de a-i inspira pe alții să te urmeze și să te asculte. Aceasta mai este numită uneori „personalitate puternică” și este ceva ce nu se poate învăța. Fie o ai, fie nu o ai. Este carismă, însă nu una artificială ori superficială, ci una internă și autentică.

C. Trăsături De Succes

Trăsăturile de succes sunt acele caracteristici care îl ajută pe lider să obțină rezultate. Acestea includ trăsături ca auto-disciplina, perseverența, rezistența. Să perseverezi în ciuda descurajării, pentru că privești la țelul tău. Să îi încurajezi pe cei din echipa ta să meargă mai departe. Și aceasta vine din impulsul tău interior de a-ți trăi viața cu folos. Este vorba despre motivație.

Concluzii

De aceste cinci trăsături de caracter depinde dacă liderul va lua decizii bune în mod constant și dacă va avea un impact puternic în viața celor pe care îi conduce; tot acestea îl vor ajuta să își atingă scopurile.

Partea A III-A. Schițe De Predici

Pentru versiunea audio a acestor predici în engleză, dați click pe link-urile următoare: Link 1 - Jn. 20:19-21; Link 2 - Jn. 20:21-23; Link 3 - Jn. 20:24-31

Titlu: Tocmai L-am văzut pe Isus

Subiectul: Șocul și realitatea învierii

Punctul #3: Învierea lui Isus transformă teama în curaj (19-23)

(Vezi Ediția de Iarnă 2019 a acestui jurnal pentru punctele #1 și #2)

1. Isus cel înviat alină temerile noastre (19-20)

a) El alină temerile noastre prin ceea ce spune (19)

b) El alină temerile noastre prin ceea ce face (20)

2. Isus cel înviat trezește curajul din noi (21-23)

a) El ne trezește curajul de a continua lucrarea Sa (21)

b) El ne trezește curajul de a vorbi cu autoritate (22-23)

Punctul #4: Învierea lui Isus transformă necredința în credință (24-29)

1. Necredința nu poate fi convinsă de o mărturie la mâna a doua (24-25a)

2. Necredința cere dovezi concrete (25b-28)

a) O dovadă concretă este ceea ce spune Isus (26)

b) O dovadă concretă este ceea ce Isus a făcut (27a)

3. Dovezile concrete cer un verdict (27b-29)

a) Credința este dovedită printr-o mare mărturisire de credință (28)

b) Credința este onorată cu o mare binecuvântare din partea lui Isus (29)

i) Este bine să vezi și să crezi (29a)

ii) Este mai bine să crezi fără să vezi (29b)

Concluzii (30-31)

Related Topics: Pastors

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