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September 13, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”—Genesis 35:3 (ESV)
I was happily singing a song in my car when I heard the DJ on the radio say three words I will never forget: Elvis is dead. And then he played one of Elvis’ songs, a song many rebel’s request at their funeral. I shook my head in disbelief as I heard his voice share these prophetic words: “Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew.” I learned through a talented man’s untimely death that doing it “my way” could open the door to my destruction. As the wisest man on earth declared, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV).
Jacob was a man who had lived by his own set of rules and ended up in turmoil. He tried to make things happen the way he wanted and ended up fracturing his family through selfish manipulation. When his willful choices lead to conflict and chaos, he ran away from God and everyone he loved instead of repenting and cleaning up his mess. Thankfully, Jacob reached a breaking point and finally turned from his own way in total surrender to the Lord. He stopped singing the rebel’s song in his heart and heeded His heavenly Father’s wisdom.
Transformation is possible even in the most stubborn heart. Here in Genesis 35 we see how a rebellious, prideful man can indeed change his ways by yielding his will in obedience to God’s Word. Jacob didn’t halfheartedly turn from his sin to appease a distant deity. He resolved to lay His whole life on the altar, and he gave God his full attention. With wholehearted devotion, he tore down every idol and stronghold that had defiled his heart and kept him in bondage to sin. He discarded the garment of the flesh and decided to press in to know the Lord with a renewed commitment to personal purity.
True life and lasting peace come from doing it God’s way. Like Jacob, we can “have it all” from a worldly perspective, but never live truly satisfied until we lay our lives down on the altar of sacrifice. We’ll continue to wrestle with discontentment and doubt if we insist on determining our own destiny instead of allowing God to direct our lives. May the song of our lives be “I Surrender All.”
DIG: Read Psalm 51. What kind of sacrifice is pleasing to the Lord?
DISCOVER: Read Ephesians 5:1-2. What can you learn from the life of Christ about presenting yourself as an offering?
DO: Read Romans 12. Paul challenges us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice and then gives practical wisdom on how to live fully surrendered to Christ. What is one step you can take this week to surrender all?