Have you seen a mother (or father) overlook their child's negative tendencies and excuse those tendencies away rather than correct them? How about you? By doing this, Rebekah cultivated an undisciplined child and made an easy way for the many wounds and scars Jacob would experience in life.
We are in the middle of our series called HEALED WITHOUT SCARS and today is Mother's Day, so I will direct our lesson somewhat in that direction. However, the principles are for each of us – woman, man, young, old.
The Lord desires to HEAL WITHOUT SCARS all who will allow him. We are studying how emotional and psychological wounds from the past, if not properly healed, are alive and well in our todays. The scars from those wounds literally alter and distort our identities. We place DO NOT ENTER signs to keep people out, but in reality incarcerate ourselves. Scars cause us to build prisons and dungeons that even separate us from God. Scars force us to put on masks hiding our true identities to avoid further injury. We become the masked man – the a-lone ranger. Scars alter our identities until we are no longer the person God created.
Life has a way of cultivating our natural inborn negative tendencies of manipulation, truth stretching, deceit, pretense, lust, anger, etc. This sets us up for wounds. The problem is not a person's natural inborn negative tendencies. These are simply symptoms of the true problem. The true problem is the lack of a true and active presence of God.
We see how this can come about in the story about Jacob. Jacob's name (Ya`aqob) means heel catcher, i.e. supplanter. According to dictionary.com, "supplanter" means to take the place of (another), as through force, scheming, strategy, or the like. Those were Jacob's natural negative character tendencies. He came out of Rebekah's womb grabbing his brother Esau's heel trying to take Esau's place as first born (Gen 25:26). Sadly, Jacob's mother helped cultivate those negative tendencies rather than adjusting them. She justified his negative character tendencies without discipline. Does anyone see this happening today? Have you seen a mother (or father) overlook their child's negative tendencies and excuse those tendencies away rather than correct them? How about you? By doing this, Rebekah cultivated an undisciplined child and made an easy way for the many wounds and scars Jacob would experience in life.
We become very competent with our inborn negative tendencies. We become great liars, great manipulators, great at expressing anger, etc. We become well skilled at using our negative traits. As children, we learn early to manipulate our parents, to lie, to cheat, to take advantage of people, and we get better at it through life. The sad part is it sets us up for serious wounds later.
Let's see how this worked out with Jacob. Jacob was the younger of twins in a godly, but dysfunctional family. I know a "godly but dysfunctional" family sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me, it's not. I have seen many and so have you.
Genesis 25:28 Isaac loved Esau IN PARTICULAR because of the wild game he brought home, but Rebekah FAVORED Jacob.
Both parents showed obvious favoritisms. That's not good. Jacob never experienced the affirmation of his father. Esau, lacking his mother's affection, moved into open rebellion and sexual impropriety (Gen 28:6-9). LIFE CULTIVATES OUR NEGATIVE TENDENCIES.
Early in life, Jacob deceived and manipulated the birthright, which concerned inheritance, from his brother (Gen 25:33). Then later, at the encouragement/cultivation of his mother, Jacob deceived his own father to get the blessing, which belonged to Esau. The blessing is interesting. It carries with it the generational continuation of the covenantal blessings from God. The blessing began with Jacob's grandfather Abraham who God blessed and made extremely wealthy. Abraham blessed Isaac passing it on to Jacob's father who God blessed and made extremely wealthy. Jacob wanted that and Rebekah wanted her favorite son to have that, so she cultivated Jacob's natural tendencies as the heel catcher, i.e. supplanter – to take the place of (another), as through force, scheming, strategy, or the like.. Rebekah purposefully cultivated and taught Jacob to deceive his own father and we wonder why sometimes our children do crazy things. I watch parents use children like pawns to manipulate the other parent. Of course, the dysfunctional situation ultimately exploded. Esau was angry at Jacob, swore to kill his brother, and Jacob ran.
Again, the base problem was not Jacob's supplanting character. The true problem was the lack of the true presence of God in Jacob's life. To Jacob, God was only a story. He knew the story of how God brought Abraham out of Ur, took him to a special land, and blessed him in every way possible, but Jacob didn't know the God who did that. He knew the stories about his father Isaac and how God had protected and blessed Isaac in every way possible making him rich and powerful, but he didn't know the God who did that. There was no true presence of God in Jacob's life. He had a perception of God, but no relationship with God. He was a momma's boy and momma was obviously a supplanter herself.
I watch this today. I had lunch with a young man who asked me a question along these lines. He asked something like, "Why do you think the students today are not actively bringing other students to Christ? They have been told and taught, but they just won't do it." My answer was something like, "Until God is actively present in their lives they will never be able to share that experience with others." This, of course, is not only for students.
The only antidote for our negative character traits is a true presence of God through Jesus Christ. Even with that, as we all know, our negative traits are cultivated sufficiently to show up. Sadly, they, more than anything else, set us up for wounding.
Let's look quickly at how life cultivated Jacob to be wounded. Rebekah, Jacob's mother, became more of a friend/confidant to Jacob than a mother. Mother's are extremely influential in the lives of their children. Sadly, in Jacob's life, though she loved Jacob, that influence was not always good. Rebekah's "favorite" was forced to leave home because his brother sought to kill him. She lost her favorite, breaking her heart. Isaac, Jacob's father was angry, heart-broken, weeping, regretting having blessed Jacob. Jacob went to live with relatives (Uncle Laban), but what a horrible experience that became. Jacob was deceived into thinking he was marrying one woman, but woke with another. He ended up with two wives and had physical relationships with two others. He produced children with four women. How dysfunctional is that? Jacob's heart was broken again and again. His uncle, who was also full of deceit and manipulation, constantly tricked Jacob for twenty years. However, that might not be the saddest part. Jacob, imitating his mother and father, had an obvious favorite child – Joseph. It was because of that favoritism Jacob's other sons hated Joseph, wanted to kill him, and did sell him to slave traders. Those brothers purposely deceived Jacob, as Jacob once deceived his father, into believing Joseph was dead. Jacob's heart was again emotionally wounded, ripped apart, and scarred.
Genesis 37:34-35 Then Jacob tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. He MOURNED DEEPLY for his son for many days. His family all tried to comfort him, but it was no use. "I WILL DIE IN MOURNING FOR MY SON," he would say, and then begin to weep.
That's some of the cultivated negative influence upon Jacob. We don't have time to investigate how life cultivated the negative character traits of Esau, the grandchildren, i.e. Joseph, his brothers, and sister who was raped. All these wounded and scarred Jacob's heart.
Life has cultivated your negative character traits and set you up for wounds and scars. What negative character traits have been cultivated in you through life? In what negative trait have you become very proficient? If you will take a look, you will see it is the cause of many of your wounds and scars and caused you to wound and hurt others.
Again, our negative character traits are not the true problem. The true problem is the absence of the real presence of God in our lives. Even with the true presence of God in a life there will be wounds. However, they can be HEALED WITHOUT SCARS.
What are some ways to bring the presence of God into our lives and keep it there? There are many things necessary. A primary one is a godly functional environment at home. Jacob's home was godly, but dysfunctional. I'm talkin125g about a home that does more than believe in God and go to church most Sundays. I mean a home that functions around the principles of God, not dad's or mom's principles. How different would Jacob's life been had their family not been so dysfunctional? How different would it have been had Rebekah been a mother and not a friend?
Another necessary thing to bring the presence of God is a steady diet of God's word. Of course, prayer in a necessary ingredient – not religious prayers of vain repetitions. Praying without ceasing, meaning a life of continual communication with God. Of course, you need godly fellowship and the body of Christ including a good place to worship (which should be a storehouse of all the above).
However, there is one specific element that brings the presence of God faster and, I think, better than anything else. What is that? It's praise for God.
Let me ask you a question. What happens to your praise for God when you experience a wounding disappointment? Is the loss of your praise to God usually one of the very first things that happens when you are emotionally injured? It is to most people. There is a direct link between wounds/scars and the absence of praise. Think about it. Bitter, angry, injured, and scarred people refuse to praise God. People, especially those who feel they are perpetual victims, distance themselves further and further from God. They have lost their life's song. Their emphasis has shifted from praise to pity. Praise for God never enters their minds. As they meditate and talk about the wound and hurt, they negatively praise their wounds instead of God. The enemy has successfully separated them from God and until there is God's true presence they can never be healed.
Everything the enemy sends you is designed to steal your praise for God. Why? The reason is to remove God's presence. Without praise there is no presence to heal.
(KJV) Psalms 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that INHABITEST THE PRAISES of Israel.
What does that verse mean? When God's people praise him, his presence is immediately experienced in their situations. Will you make this personal with me? Say with me, "The Lord inhabits MY praise. PRAISE INITIATES GOD'S PRESENCE IN MY LIFE." Let's look at another translation and a few more verses.
(NLT) Psalm 22:3-5 Yet you are holy. The praises of Israel surround your throne. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. You heard their cries for help and saved them. They put their trust in you and were NEVER DISAPPOINTED.
Disappointments are overcome with praise. Praise immediately takes us into the presence and throne of God. There the Lord hears our cries and saves us from negative situations. Praise removes disappointment. Praise is a form of communication with God. Praise, if you will, is a language, which invites a response from God. Praise intensifies your perception of God. That is why we sense the need/desire to kneel in his presence, lift our hands, weep, clap, jump in excitement, sing, or shout. PRAISE BRINGS GOD INTO OUR EMOTIONS AND THERE HE WILL HEAL AND REFOCUS US. Many times God simply needs to re-adjust our view of problems and not just the problems themselves. Hear this! The problems we face are not the real issues. It's how we feel about the problems that causes us distress.
Something you need to do is stop a minute, think, and recognize that God has preserved you through all your struggles and all your shame. You are alive and you still love God. The enemy gave you his best shot and you endured. When you make that realization, you instantly transfer your thinking from your HURT TO HOPE again in God.
I am a habitual "praiser." If you know me and observe me, you know I praise God no matter what is going on. "Praise is a spiritual weapon sharpened by use in good times so that it will be readily available and effective when times are difficult." Praise is so habitual to me that I feel people who know what I am sometimes experiencing think I am pretending. I'm not, but don't misunderstand me. There have been times when my situations and wounds had me stressed and diverted my attention from God. However, once I entered into praise, my focus moved from my situation to hope and trust in God. I can literally feel his presence in praise.
I always remember the time when Paul and Silas, after being beaten, were bound in stocks in prison.
Acts 16:23-26 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and SINGING HYMNS TO GOD, and the other prisoners were listening to them. SUDDENLY there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and EVERYBODY'S CHAINS CAME LOOSE.
Praise works supernaturally in a way nothing else does. It brings the presence of God. Therefore, PRAISE IS INDESTRUCTIBLE. That's why everything the enemy sends at you is designed to steal your praise. I have learned that if I will praise God when I am bound, praise has the power to free me.
Life will cultivate your negative traits. Perhaps you, like Jacob, didn't have the best home life. Many of our negative traits go back to the home. Perhaps on your journey, you have run into some real deceitful characters like Jacob's uncle Laban. Perhaps, you have had a few spouses and children with them. Perhaps, your children (or parents) have broken your heart. LIFE WILL CULTIVATE YOUR NEGATIVE TRAITS. If we simply allow life to do that, we will not only experience wound after wound, we will also pass those traits on to our children and grandchildren. The traits are not the true problem, only symptoms. The problem is the absence of the true presence of God. When God is truly in our lives, we deal with the negative traits. They no longer have the devastating effects on our lives. The presence of God comes many ways, but a primary way is through praise. Praise not only refocuses our souls on God. God inhabits our praise and comes into our situations, wounds, and scars to deliver and heal. The absence of praise is the absence of God's true presence. Without praise, God is more like a story than a presence. A story cannot heal. God can and will heal. When experiencing a wounding time, we all have two options: (1) You will sink into depression and defeat, which produces scars that remain alive and well. imprisoning you and distorting/masking who you really are. (2) You remember the goodness and faithfulness of God, which moves you into praise for him. This deals with the problems and HEALS WITHOUT SCARS. Which do you do?