E. L. Thornton
“And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.”
This place where Jacob chose to spend the night would prove to be a special place in the life of Jacob. This place was called “Luz,” which means separation, or departure.
Certainly Jacob would be making some separations and departures after one night at “Luz.”
The first thing he did was change the name of that place from Luz to “Bethel.”
When he made his separation and departure from former things the place where he made his consecration became “Bethel,” the house of God. He made a vow to God. “God if you will keep me and bring me back to this place I’ll give you a tenth of all my increase.”
God has to remind Jacob of the vow. Sometime prosperity makes us forget some of the things we promised God. Has God ever had to remind you? (Gen 31:13) “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.”
God has to tell him again, (Gen 35:1) “And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God,” This time he obeys the voice of God. He goes back to the place of consecration and dedication. I think it would do us all good to go back to that place in our lives were we made the consecration to God to see how well we’ve done in keeping our promises to God.
This place where Jacob encountered God is nondescript, probably just a lonely hill side, nothing special. In fact who could ever guessed that a man would have a rendezvous with God there. The place was not favorable, the circumstance was not favorable, the mentitality was not favorable, and the timing was not favorable for a conference with God. An unusual place? An unusual place indeed.
Almost every person that finds God will have a “circumstance” in their life. Not all of us was healthy when we found God. Not all of us was trouble free when we found God. In fact some turn to God, in one last effort, in trying to correct many things that was wrong in their lives, such as broken marriges and broken homes, such as an incurable disease, such as insurmountable indebtness and facing sure bankruptcy, such as a dependence on drugs or alcohol to the point that life and health is ruined. Yes most that come to God has their circumstances. And……………………………………………………
I. FINDING GOD IS THE ONE MOST INPORTANT THING YOU WILL EVER DO:
You may find friends, but God is the most important friend you will ever find. You may find riches, but Jesus is the greatest riches that you will ever find. You may find happiness, but there’s no happiness like you will find in Jesus. You may find rest, but Jesus said “come unto me and I’ll give you rest.” You may find truth, but Jesus said “I am the truth.”
In all of your searching and seeking be sure you find the Lord. (Matt 6:33) “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” You better seek and find God because the devil is seeking, and will find you.
Jesus tells the value of finding him in the parable of Matt 13:45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Finding God is worth everything you have.
You can find God. There is an ancient tale from India about a young man who was seeking God. He went to a wise old sage for help. “How can I fing God?” he asked the old man. The old man took him to a nearby river were they waded out into the deep water. Suddenly the old man seized the younger man by the neck and pushed him under the water. He held him down until the young man was flailing the water in desperation. Another minute and he may well have drowned. But up out of the water the two of them came. The young man was coughing water from his lungs and still gasping for air. Reaching the bank he asked the old man indignantly, “What did that have to do with finding God?” The old man asked him quietly, While you were under the water, what did you want more than anything else?” The youngster thought for a minute and then answered, “I wanted air. I wanted air more than anything else?” The old man replied, “When you want God as much as you wanted air, you will find him.”
Desire will get you to God quicker than anything else. (Ps 27:4) “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.”
At 211 degrees water is hot enough for you to use to shave or to make a cup of coffee. But by adding one more degree you have steam which will power a locomotive around this country or propel a steamship around the world. Desire can make your coffee or power your steamship. Desire will cause one to put forth the extra effort, add another step. One soldier in battle cried, “Sir my sword is too short,” his commander cried back, “Soldier, add another step to it.” That’s the way of desire.
II. THE USUAL PLACES WE FIND GOD:
It’s easy to find God at church services. It’s easy to find God among believers.
It’s easy to find God at Campmeeting. It’s easy to find God when the spirit is high.
It’s easy to find God among the fellowship of God’s people. It is easy to find God when there’s encouragement.
III, BUT FINDING GOD IN UNUSAL PLACES:
Jacob didn’t find God at church services, when everyone was worshipping God,
but Jacob found God when his world was falling in. He is forced to leave home, he is hurt deep down inside, he is lonely and by himself. But in the solitude of a lonely hill side, in the isolation of separation from family, in the seclusion of a strange place, in the silence of darkness, and in the remoteness of change, Jacob has an encounter with God.
The place where you find God to be the most intimate, the place where your relationship with God is the most intrinsic, the place where your affinity, or bond, with God becomes firmly established, the place where you find God to be the most authentic, real, and true, may not be at church. It may not be in the crowd at church, it may not be with the masses at campmeeting, it may not be among the fellowship of those you love dearest. But like Jacob, it may be in an unusal place.
Moses found God on the back side of the desert.
Job found God in the profundity, or depth, of sickness.
Hezekiah found God during a terminal illness.
Isaiah found God at the demise, or death, of a friend.
Gideon found God in the stress of oppression
Elijah found God in the strain of depression.
It was an issue of blood that brought one little woman to Jesus. It was blindness that cause Bartimeus to cry out to Jesus. It was the dying daughter of Jairus that cause him to seek out Jesus. It was the vexation of having a demented son that brought one man to Jesus. It was paralysis that caused others to seek Jesus. It was a dying son that brought the Nobleman to Jesus. Peter, James and John found Jesus amid the hard lobor of the sea shore. Paul found God right in the middle of a career. John found God on the lonely, rockie terrain of an island at sea.
1 Pet 4:12-13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
If God sends us on a tough path, he will supply tough shoes.
People are like potatoes. After potatoes have been harvested they have to be spread out and sorted in order to get the maximum market dollar. They are divided according to size, big, medium, and small. It is only after potatoes have been graded and bagged that they are loaded onto trucks. This is the method that all Idaho potato farmers use, all except one.
One farmer never bothered to sort the potatoes at all. Yet he seemed to be making the most money. A puzzled neighbor finally asked him, “What is your secert?” He said, “It’s simple. I just load up the wagon with potatoes and take the roughest road to town. During the eight mile trip, the little potatoes always fall to the bottom. The medium potatoes land in the middle, while the big ones rise to the top.”
That’s not only true of potatoes. It is a law of life. Big potatoes rise to the top on rough roads, and tough people rise to the top in rough times. Tough times never last, but tough people do.
Sometimes things go wrong. ( insert #1 )
You may be going through the most difficult and complex time of your life. You may be experiencing the most perplexing and arduous ordeal ever. You may have the most strenous and intricate trial of you experience on going right now. But I can assure you that God knows what he’s doing.
A man went to a chrysanthemum show and observed some wonderful blooms. He asked one gardener, “How in the world do you manage to produce such marvelous flowers?”
“Well sir, the secert is to concentrate all the strength of a plant into one or two blooms. If we would allow it to bear all the flowers it could, none would be worth showing. If you want a prize specimen, you must be content with a single chrysanthemum instead of a bouquet.” For the same reason, God sends trials to prune from our lives the useless blooms of self, popularity, and sometimes comfort, so that He may perfect in us one exquisite white blossom of holiness.
I like this poen:
There was once an oyster whose story I tell
Who found that sand had gotten under his shell
Just one little grain, but gave him so much pain
For oysters have feelings although they’re so plain
Now, did he berate the working of fate
Which had led him to such a deplorable state
No; but as he lay in sand, he said to himself
“If I cannot remove it, I’ll try to improve it
So the years rolled by as they always do
And he came to his ultimate destiny, stew
And this grain of sand that had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl, all richly aglow
Now this tale has a moral, for isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do with a morsel of sand
What couldn’t we do if we’d only begin
With all of the things that get under our skin
2 Cor 4:15-18 “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”