JACOB’S LADDER

Jn1:51 – And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

The ways of God are really quite amazing. Jacob was literally running for his life because of the deception he had spun against his brother Esau. Esau vowed to kill Jacob so Jacob took off. Forty miles later (remember Jacob was on foot) Jacob, exhausted from the journey, found a rock for a pillow and laid himself down to sleep. This was the night everything changed for Jacob. He had a dream in which the Lord appeared to him. He realized several amazing things that day. First, the God of Abraham was very real and very personal. Second, God had a plan for Jacob. Third, that if Jacob would follow the Lord; the Lord would protect him, bless him, and bring His purposes to pass in Jacob’s life. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on this passage.

“The mediation of Christ. He is this ladder, the foot on earth in his human nature, the top in heaven in his divine nature: or the former in his humiliation, the latter in his exaltation. All the intercourse between heaven and earth, since the fall, is by this ladder. Christ is the way; all God’s favors come to us, and all our services go to him, by Christ. If God dwell with us, and we with him, it is by Christ. We have no way of getting to heaven, but by this ladder; if we climb up any other way we are thieves and robbers. To this vision our Saviour alludes when he speaks of the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man; for the kind offices the angels do us, and the benefits we receive by their ministration, are all owing to Christ, who has reconciled things on earth and things in heaven, and made them all meet in himself.”

This dream was Jacob’s introduction to Christ. In this dream Jacob became aware of the incredible calling that was on his life. He was being called out of all his relationships that kept him from dependency on God. He was introduced into a supernatural life, “God was in this place and I didn’t even know.” Jacob was also launched into God’s purpose of redemption, “your seed will be like the dust of the earth and the stars of the sky”.

Maybe you feel like you are on the run like Jacob. God’s plans are way different than you would ever expect. Jacob went to sleep one way and woke up another way. What made the difference? He found himself at Bethel, the house of God.

FINDING JACOB’S LADDER

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” GEN.28:16

I love getting outside. Finding outside places wherever I find myself becomes an adventure. Staying indoors, curtains closed, tv on, never knowing what the weather is or season makes one crazy and then eating bad to boot is just toxic! And we wonder why we are depressed! Christ comes to redeem the whole man and he went through so much trouble to create so many intricate things. I believe it will take a lifetime finding them all out! Christ wants to show off his creation to you and to me. Go out there in the big world and see for yourself!

Piper said in his book, THE PLEASURES OF GOD, “Being infinite, he is inexhaustibly interesting. And it gets very practical. Seeing and savoring the glory of God like this changes us profoundly. And when we are changed like this, all our attitudes and actions are affected”. Here’s the way the New Testament says it: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another”.

When I combine the word of God to creation he reveals himself even more. You may ask yourself, where is he to be found and known? He tells us: “The LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:21, ESV). God reveals himself by his Word. If we want him, we go through his Word. Do you know you are transformed when you read his word and then when your glorify him through creation well thats the cherry on top! How many times have you been overtaken by God while reading his word or out in creation (or in worship) and you realize Oh my goodness “God is in this place and I didn’t know!” For the divine promise is the best commentary to see God. A million Jacob ladders opens up to us when we learn to leave the gaze of earth and its woes to become fixated on another world. “The seen is but a thin veil to the unseen” says, McClaren, “Here is the secret of elevation of aim and thought above the mean things of sense. Earth, which we are too apt to make a workshop, or a mere garden of pleasure, is a Bethel,-a house of God. Everywhere the ladder stands; everywhere the angels go up and down; everywhere the Face looks from the top. Nothing will save life from becoming, sooner or later, trivial, monotonous, and infinitely wearisome, but the continual vision of the present God, and the continual experience of the swift ascent and descent of our aspirations and His blessings.”

Find your Jacob’s ladder its all around you!

AWAKENED TO GOD’S ADVENTURE

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Gen. 28:16 ¶ Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Do you know what the presence of God is like? The thing about His presence is this, there is always more. If the Lord is infinite there can never be a time when your experience of God is final, His very nature demands that we are on an endless quest to know Him more. That was the goal of Paul’s life, Phil. 3:8,10 – “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”.

In today’s verse, Jacob was surprised when he found himself suddenly in the very presence of God. It was more real than anything he had ever known before. This would be the defining moment in Jacob’s life. When you touch “Jacob’s ladder” it will be your defining moment as well. John Wesley describes the surprising nature of encounters with the Lord.

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not—God’s manifestations of himself to his people carry their own evidence along with them. God can give undeniable demonstrations of his presence, such as give abundant satisfaction to the souls of the faithful, that God is with them of a truth; satisfaction not communicable to others, but convincing to themselves. We sometimes meet with God there, where we little thought of meeting with him. He is there where we did not think he had been, is found there where we asked not for him.”
So have you had your defining moment with the Lord? Isaiah saw the Lord “high and lifted up” in the temple, for Moses it was the unquenchable burning bush, Ezekiel experienced the wheel in the middle of the wheel, and for Paul it was seeing Jesus on the Damascus Road. Where was your moment when you were surprised by God? For those who know what I mean you have to go back there time and again. I don’t mean physically, I mean visit that place in your heart. You too, like Jacob, can be awakened from your sleep to God’s wonderful adventure for your life.

MY GOD !

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Gen. 28:20-22- Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.

I hope you didn’t skip the verse in today’s devotion. I know it is pretty long, but for some it could be a game changer. Jacob had just awakened from his famous dream, you know the one, the one about angels and ladders. This night was not just any night, it was Jacob’s first night away from home. Before now he was under his father Isaac’s roof, his dad was rich and Jacob worried about nothing. Now Jacob was alone. At least he thought he was alone until that dream. When he awoke he felt something he had never felt before. The very weighty presence of God was there in that place. He wasn’t alone after all. He was in the very presence of the Lord. He had to name that place, he decided to call it Bethel. Bethel means house of God. He knew he was in God’s house and God was with him.

Something special was happening that night. He had heard Grandpa Abraham’s stories about the Lord, he also heard his dad Isaac tell some stories. The one that really got Jacob was the one about the ram in the bush. The one where Jehovah Jireh provided an offering so that his dad wouldn’t have to die. He knew the Lord was the Lord of Abraham and Isaac, now he had become his God too. He was now the God of Jacob.

Jacob was beginning to get it, that’s it, Jehovah Jireh, He is my provider. That’s when he remembered what Grandpa Abraham had taught, “the first tenth of our income belongs to the Lord”. Jacob knew now what that night had been all about. The Lord would be with Jacob and take care of him in all his ways but the Lord wanted something, he wanted Jacob. That’s what the tithe is all about, the Lord wanted Jacob to put some skin in the game. He wanted the first of all of Jacob’s wealth. He was going to make Jacob wealthy, just like Abraham and Isaac, but He had to have Jacob’s heart first. It’s not good enough to know about God, He has to become your God. That happens when you find yourself in God’s presence, at the bottom of Jacob’s ladder at a place called Bethel, the house of God.

THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE

malte-baumann-82231.jpgGen. 28:16,17 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I love the story of Jacob’s ladder. Just think about it, teenaged Jacob was away from home for the first time that historic night. He was troubled by estrangement from his family, running for his life in fear of Esau, and troubled about his provision and safety into his journey to a place he had never been. That’s why the night was historic; the angelic visitation, the vision of the ladder into heaven, and the sudden awareness that ‘God was in this place’ changed Jacob’s life. Though nothing had changed on the outside everything had changed for Jacob. Abraham and Isaac’s God had now become the God of Jacob.

Visitation by the Holy Spirit assures us of God’s sovereign plan for our lives. Maybe you are troubled about your future. Put yourself in a position to get into the presence of the Lord. Like Jacob, a sudden glimpse of the fact that ‘God is in this place’ will bring you to a sense of the sovereign reign of the Lord. That is the place where you too can even sleep with a rock for a pillow. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s verse.

“This vision gave very seasonable comfort to Jacob, letting him know that he had both a good guide and a good guard, in his going out and coming in,—that, though he was made to wander from his father’s house, yet still he was the care of a kind Providence, and the charge of the holy angels. This is comfort enough, though we should not admit the notion which some have, that the tutelar angels of Canaan were ascending, having guarded Jacob out of their land, and the angels of Syria descending to take him into their custody. Jacob was now the type and representative of the whole church, with the guardianship of which the angels are entrusted.”
I sometimes feel like Jacob’s ladder has come down in our gatherings in Metairie. When we come together we know ‘God is in this place’. This coming week is important, it may be historic as we set aside time for SUMMER SATURATION. Hope to see you at Jacob’s ladder.

JACOB’S LADDER

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Gen. 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

I have been thinking about Jacob’s dream about the ladder that went into heaven ever since last Sunday. Jacob saw angels coming up and down the ladder showing a connection between the two worlds. When Jacob awoke from his sleep he realized he was in the presence of the Lord. He called the place Bethel which means the house of God. Last Sunday it seemed as if we had unusual access into the presence of God all throughout the day. There was a greater than usual awareness of heaven in the house. That is how Jacob felt after seeing his vision, God was there and history was taking place.

Adam Clarke says that this dream speaks to us about three distinct things. First, he says it speaks of the sovereign plan of God. The Lord was showing Jacob that he had him in this life changing moment. For Jacob, his future was in the hand of the Lord. Secondly, Clarke says that this speaks to us about the connection of the two worlds by the ministry of angels. Christianity is supernatural. Times of visitation like Jacob was experiencing confirms that. The open portal we are experiencing at Victory Fellowship also assures us of the supernatural involvement of the Lord in the details of our lives. Finally, Clarke said that this ladder is a type of Christ. This is how Clarke expresses that;
“Nothing could be a more expressive emblem of the incarnation and its effects; Jesus Christ is the grand connecting medium between heaven and earth, and between God and man. By him God comes down to man; through him man ascends to God. It appears that our Lord applies the vision in this way himself, 1st, In that remarkable speech to Nathanael, Hereafter ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man, secondly, in his speech to Thomas: I am the Way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
So God is amongst us, revival is in our midst. God’s timing is perfect, Summer Saturation should be very powerful beginning this Sunday.

JACOB’S LADDER

Gen. 28:11-12 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

All of us are pursuing happiness in this life, it is the unspoken goal of each day. From our first waking moment until we close our eyes at night, our hearts are pursuing happiness in one way or another. For some it is found in a bottle of alcohol or pills, for someone else it may be in the acquirement of wealth or possessions, for others it may be in the pursuit of an ambitious goal in their chosen place of employment. Some people are pursuing their ultimate happiness by athletic accomplishments, of course happiness belongs to number one, number two is just not acceptable. Jacob’s ladder is a beautiful picture of man’s endless pursuit. Happily, Jacob was visited by this angelic vision in his youth. From that day he began his upward climb, he had discovered true happiness is found in the other world. Jonathan Edwards shares powerfully about this in his message on Jacob’s ladder.

“Inquire whether or not one who is ascending towards heaven is on this ladder. This ladder that I have been speaking of is the only way to happiness; there is no other way that God has provided by which men may ascend to or arrive at any happiness, or can ascend out of their misery. God has set down no other ladder on the earth for the sinful children of men to ascend on to escape the wrath to come. There are other ways that men endeavor to rise to happiness. ‘Tis the strife of the world to get happiness. Everyone strives in some manner: some climb on one thing and some on another; and the strife of men is very much who shall get the highest degree of happiness. Some men have ascents of their own by which they endeavor to arrive at happiness; some try to arise to happiness by their great estates (wealth); some seek it by sensual pleasures; some seek it in the earthly pinnacles of honor and greatness. Many build towers and make ladders of their own by which they think to rise to heaven, even their own righteousness.”

Have you discovered this other world? Like Jacob, maybe you are in God’s house but still unaware. That all changed in Jacob’s dream. Suddenly he was introduced to another pursuit, the pursuit of God. All of life’s ambitions seem to melt away when we discover Jacob’s ladder. How could we have been so close and yet so far away? You never know, maybe you will wake up and discover you have been at Bethel all along.

ROCK FOR A PILLOW

ROCK FOR A PILLOW

Gen. 28:11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

This is a very beautiful story in the Bible filled with spiritual revelation. Jacob was on his own for the first time, or so he thought. Actually in this aloneness is where He met his forever friend for the first time. Like Jacob, many times, it’s in the most miserable circumstances that we have our revelation of The Lord. As Jacob fell into a fitful sleep that night, he was beginning the adventure of his life. He was about to experience the supernatural world for himself. Jonathan Edwards brings out some of the spiritual implications of this story in his teaching on Jacob’s ladder.

“God has as it were set a Ladder on the Earth for man to Climb to happiness.
Man has Lost his Primitive happiness as he was set at first on high, in a great height of Honor and dignity at an high pitch of Blessedness but he by transgression is fallen from thence he is sunk low in misery and now all mankind are naturally in a very doleful state and condition fallen from God. Bereft of all good groveling in the ground and unable to rise in the state that we are in by the fall we are no more able to reach up and come out of our misery or reach happiness than we are unable to rise up in the air and ascend to the clouds or up to the stars.”

Edwards had a knack of seeing Christ in all things. He was a master of teaching types and shadows of Christ from Old Testament stories and texts. In the story of Jacob’s ladder he brings out the picture of the believer resting on Christ being typified by Jacob sleeping on a rock for a pillow. Here is a quote from am unedited sermon Edwards preached on Jacob’s ladder.

“Jacobs sleeping or resting on this stone is a type of faith by which believers are resting on Christ. Christ invites the weary to come to Him and His promises. Jacob while resting on this stone has Heavens Gate opened to him and a ladder reaching from him to God in Heaven so tis by faith in Christ whereby the believers rest on Christ that they have heavens gate opened to them and have a ladder or a way procured for them to ascend and come to God in Heaven. Jacob, while resting on the stone had God appearing to him as his Covenant God. So tis through faith in Christ that God becomes the Covenant God of his people. Jacob, while sleeping on this stone had the angels of God ascending and descending.”

So maybe you feel all alone and your sleep felt like you were using Jacob’s rock for a pillow, be encouraged, you just might find yourself starting your own adventure on the ladder that goes to heaven.

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Gen. 28:12,13

Jacob had his first divine visitation the night he left home. He was headed to his uncle’s house hundreds of miles away. He was all alone out in the wilderness, at least he thought he was all alone, until the angels showed up in his dreams. He had quite a night, he found himself at the very stairway into heaven. That’s the way it is with all of us, especially when we are going through rough waters, we think we are all alone, not realizing that we are right there at Jacob’s ladder. When Jacob woke up that morning, it hit him, “God is here with me, this is the very house of God” (he named the place Bethel which means house of God).
Have you been awakened from your state of sleep. Actually that is what happened to Jacob, while he was sleeping he was being awakened, awakened spiritually to a new awareness of spiritual reality. God was not only there with Him, but God had become his God. Jacob no longer had to go on the stories of his father Isaac or his grandfather Abraham, God was his God and He had a plan for Jacob.
Have you ever been suddenly surprised by the nearness of God? He comes in unexpected ways at very unexpected times. Sometimes you don’t even realize he was speaking until days later. Everyone remembers my wife Parris’s story of the faces in Bulgaria. God was speaking through the Bulgarian shepherd, the girls washing their clothes, the shining faces of the sunflowers, and the fragrant aroma of the Valley of the Roses. In 1994 he was speaking through the angels with watermelons, these were messengers preparing us for the days ahead. More recently He has been speaking to me from the faces in the crowd. I can’t forget the policeman’s cry for justice, the simplicity of the dancer, the urgency of the EMS worker, the cry for revival from “Evan”, the compassion of the newspaper man, and his cry for eternity. I remember looking at the faces in the tent at FTM last week as Courtney sang, “America the Beautiful” and saw the cry in their faces for an awakening in our country. Have you heard his voice lately? You know, like Jacob, maybe you are sleeping at the stairway to heaven, He is nearer than you think. If you wake up to His voice today, it’s time to follow Jacob’s example, pour out some oil and call upon the Lord.