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The World Changer Who Wrestled with God - I

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 6, 2020 3:00 am

The World Changer Who Wrestled with God - I

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 6, 2020 3:00 am

The two brothers, Jacob and Esau, were very different. And surprisingly, the younger ended up with the birthright instead of the older. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie explains just how that happened.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If you would like to know how you can become a Harvest Partner, just go to

That's Coming up today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how the Lord does extraordinary things through ordinary people. When we hear that phrase, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, understand it, it's another way of saying the God of ordinary people. Abraham, flawed. Isaac, definitely flawed.

Jacob, big time flawed. But he's the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He's the God of second chances.

This is the day, the day when life begins. It's a mistake to think the Bible only follows the lives of priests, prophets, and those with pedigrees. If we look closely, we'll see God can use anyone. He even worked through a harlot, a tax commissioner, and a talking donkey. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie continues his series called World Changers, examining the lives of people whom God used to impact their culture.

We'll see he just may want to use you to change your world. Ready for the assignment? This is the day, the day when life begins. Have you heard the story of how the Oxford English Dictionary came about? It's actually in a book called The Professor and the Madman.

That's being made into a film, by the way. Well, the Oxford English Dictionary came about because in 1879, Dr. James Murray was commissioned to write it. And it was to contain every single word in the English language.

Quite a daunting task, wouldn't you say? So Murray invited scholars and literary people from around the world to participate. And they were to read books from every era of the English language, make lists of the words, write a sentence definition, and then a quotation from the earliest source. So many people offered their services, including a man known as Dr. William Minor. He was well qualified, so Dr. Murray brought him into the program. And before he knew it, Dr. Minor had submitted 12,000 separate pieces of paper with definitions. And every submission submitted by Dr. Minor was used.

In fact, more than any other person. So upon completion, Dr. Murray wanted to meet Dr. Minor, so he wrote him a letter and said, I'd like to meet you. And Dr. Minor wrote back, Well, I'm unable to come and see you, but you're welcome to visit me anytime. So finally, Dr. Murray decided to go visit Dr. Minor. As the story is told, he trudged up a long road lined with beautiful poplar trees and arrived at a very large house. Entering through two large green doors, he was ushered by a servant up a marble staircase to a huge room on the second floor.

A fire glowed in the fireplace, and there was a huge desk in the middle of the room. A man of obvious importance was sitting behind the desk, and the doctor said, Hello, I'm Dr. James Murray, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. And Dr. Minor, it's a great pleasure to meet you. And then there was an awkward silence, and the man behind the desk stood up and said, Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not Dr. William Minor. Rather, I am the superintendent of the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in which you are now standing.

And the doctor you are asking for has been our longest resident. He is an American. He is also a murderer, and he is hopelessly insane.

So go figure on that one. This crazy, insane man made the significant contribution to the Oxford English Dictionary. The most amazing accomplishment can come from the least likely people. So here we are in Hebrews 11 with an amazing collection of characters, what I call the Heroes Hall of Faith, or World Changers.

And here's what I find fascinating. You will not find a single mention of any of their sins in this chapter. And trust me, they sinned. Abraham, as we already discovered, lied twice about his wife Sarah, saying she was his sister. Isaac did the same thing.

Sarah laughed at the promises of God, and the list goes on. So these winners didn't always collect medals. Sometimes they collected scars. But not one word of their failure is mentioned.

Why? Because they were forgiven, and God gives second chances. They were looked at for what they became, not what they were. And God doesn't just see you for what you are in the moment.

He sees you for what you can become. He saw the potential in the life of each of these world changers, and he certainly saw it in Jacob. So when we hear that phrase, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, understand it, it is another way of saying the God of ordinary people. Abraham, flawed. Isaac, definitely flawed. Jacob, big time flawed. But he's the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

He's the God of second chances. Now here's what we learn about Jacob in the hero's hall of faith. Look at Hebrews 11 verse 21. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. Now this particular event happened toward the end of Jacob's life, and we'll revisit it in a moment. Let's go back to the very beginning of Jacob's life.

Let's think of him now as a baby in the womb of his mother, Rebekah. He was there with his brother Esau. Jacob and Esau were twins.

You might say they were womb mates, you see. And so the circumstances of their birth are quite interesting, because Esau was born first. And how did he even get the name Esau? The name Esau means hairy, not as in H-A-R-R-Y, but as in H-A-I-R. Why? Because, well, he was hairy. He was a hairy kid. By the way, is that a good name to give to a child?

You draw attention to the fact that they're covered in hair. You know you're living in a time where parents seem to be going out of their way to give really unusual names to their children. I read the other day that here's some of the names that have been given.

I'm not making any of these up. One couple named their child Freak. Is that a good name for a kid? Here's a little boy, Freak. Can he come stay overnight at your house?

I don't want a freak in my house. I mean, poor kid, come on. Another kid was named Duda. Duda? Seriously? Another was named Cougar.

That's going to be trouble for her when she gets older. I'm just telling you. Hi, my name is Cougar. Okay, bye.

See ya. I wish these were made up. Another couple named their child Hitler. Hitler? Seriously? Another named their child Xanax.

Oh, please. Another named their kid Hurricane. Another couple named their child Superman. Really? You're going to name your child Superman?

But here's the thing. Studies have been done and they've found that when you name a child a strange name, it can actually have an effect on their behavior later in life. Well, I wonder if this had an effect on Esau. He was really something. Now, right on the heels, literally, of Esau's birth comes Jacob. And his name can be translated multiple ways. One is Heel Catcher because he was hanging on to his brother's heel.

It also means supplanter or to trip up or overthrow. And you know what? That's exactly who Jacob became. He was the guy who was always grabbing, trying to get more. Jacob always wanted the advantage. You know people like Jacob.

I know a person like this. I'm thinking of right now that he, I tell you, this guy can work a deal like no one I've ever met. If I want to buy anything, I ask him to negotiate it for me.

And sometimes I have to walk away. I'm just embarrassed by what he's saying. But every time, you know, he gets a better deal. It's incredible to me. But I don't want to say who this is, Steve Wohlberg, but I digress. When he's sharing the gospel and closing that deal, that's awesome.

But if you're the person selling something to him, that's not awesome for you. But that was Jacob. Jacob was a negotiator. Jacob was a man that didn't just wait for something to happen. He'd go and make it happen if he needed to. In a moment, we'll see Jacob was not only a negotiator, but obviously a pretty good cook. And between the two talents, he ended up being handed the birthright that belonged to his older brother.

More on that in a moment. Well, Pastor Greg, we have something exciting to mention. We just tallied up the numbers, and this year, just since January, we've now seen a hundred thousand professions of faith through Harvest Ministries, which is absolutely incredible.

Yes, David, is incredible. And the way it came about is even more incredible, because at the beginning of 2020, we went before everybody in our church and our ministry and said, we have a goal this year. Some of you may remember this.

I've seen a hundred thousand people make a profession of faith. I'll be honest with you. I had some doubts like, are we going to really hit this number?

But I thought, well, why not shoot for it? We'll see what the Lord does. Well, COVID-19 hit. So we went exclusively online with our weekend program that we call Harvest at Home. It's basically a church service that you watch in your home. But each week I've been inviting people to come to Christ. And on one particular Sunday, we had seven thousand people make a profession of faith. So now, as we tally the numbers, we've reached the hundred thousand mark.

We've reached it in an unexpected way. So what that says to me is, well, we had the right idea, but the Lord had a different way of bringing it about. So we just say, hey, to God be the glory. Let's just keep going, because we're passing that number now.

And listen to this. The Bible says there is joy in heaven over one sinner that comes to repentance. And we have seen one hundred thousand people in just months make this profession of faith to follow Christ. So we join the angels in rejoicing. While we're beginning a study of the life of Jacob today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg is presenting his message, The World Changer Who Wrestled with God.

Now here's an interesting thing. Under normal circumstances, the firstborn in the family, the firstborn male, received the inheritance, received the birthright. What was the birthright? It was a special privilege bestowed on the firstborn. It meant that number one, you would get a double portion of the inheritance. Number two, you would become the spiritual leader of the family.

And third and lastly, you would be on the messianic line. So under normal circumstances, Esau, i.e. Harry, should have gotten the birthright.

But God in this particular situation reversed the order and said, I want to give it to Heelcatcher. I want Jacob to receive the birthright. But Isaac, who clearly favored Esau, wasn't going for that. And so a conflict developed among these boys from the very beginning because Isaac, the father, favored Esau. Rebecca, the mother, favored Jacob.

And so this is never a good thing when this happens in a family when a parent favors one child over another. And these two boys could not have been more different. Esau was a man of action. A man who would go out on the field. A guy who would hunt, pray, and then skin the animals and prepare the meat. In fact he had an incredible recipe his dad loved.

Probably some kind of barbecue thing. And dad loved to eat the food that Esau brought in from the field. In contrast, Jacob was more like a homebody. He liked to hang around the tent with mom helping the kitchen. Sort of a mama's boy if you will. So Esau was a man's man. If you were around today he would have shopped at the Bass Pro Shop.

No question about it. And his favorite shows would have been Duck Dynasty or Adventure Bow Hunter. If you want to know what to give Esau for his birth he would give him a hunting knife. For sure. Something like that. Now Jacob was different.

And like I said he helped around the tent more. He would like to shop at Bed Bath and Beyond, baby. That's the worst name for a store really. It's just like all the things I don't care about. It's Bed Bath and Beyond. That's a great place to take a nap by the way.

I'm talking to the men for a moment. Or he might have shopped at Williams-Sonoma. What do you buy Jacob for his birthday? Cooking utensils.

A mixer maybe. His favorite show would have been Iron Chef or Chopped or Cake Wars. So Esau liked to hunt, kill and skin its food and prepare it. And Jacob he just liked to bake muffins pretty much. So one day brother Esau comes up from the field. He is famished.

He hasn't been able to kill anything that day. Meanwhile Jacob is cooking up this amazing stew. So Esau comes up and says, Hey bro can I have some of that stew? And Jacob says, you can have all the stew you want. If you will give me your birthright right now. And Esau says, birthright schmerthright.

Fill this bowl up with stew. Now you won't find that literally in the Bible. I am paraphrasing. He didn't care about the birthright. He cared about temporal gratification. He didn't care about the spiritual.

He cared only about the physical. So he ate up his stew and traded his birthright providing commentary. Hebrews 12 18 says, Make sure that not one of you is a moral or godless like Esau who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

But here is the ridiculous thing. God had made a promise to Jacob that he would give to him the birthright. All Jacob had to do was wait for the promise to be fulfilled. But instead he takes matters into his own hands and starts to manipulate as he did here with his brother. Have you ever done that? Have you ever got tired of waiting for something to happen so you thought I am just going to go make it happen on my own? You know sometimes we are asking God for what he has already given us. You know you say, Lord I need more love. I am having a hard time in the marriage here. Not feeling the love for the wife like I used to.

Not feeling the love for the husband, Lord. Give me more love. You don't need to pray for more love because the Bible tells you that the love of God has been shed abroad or poured out in your heart through the Holy Spirit. Romans 5.5 You don't need to pray for more love. You need to just do more loving things.

Stop waiting for the emotion and just do a loving thing. You know when you read 1 Corinthians 13 which is often cited as the definitive chapter on love you will note that it does not tell you what love is. It tells you what love does. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is long suffering. Love doesn't remember the faults of others. It is what love does.

So just do loving things. Sometimes we are praying for more power and strength but yet we are told in Philippians 4.13 we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. And 2 Peter 1.3 says, God's divine power is granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness so the believer's need is not necessarily to receive something more but to do something more with what he already has. Let me repeat that the believer's need is not to receive something more.

It is to do something more with what he already has. It'd be like saying I'm broke when you have $500,000 in the bank. Hey man why don't you go make a withdrawal? You know the money's there. I remember years ago we were in New York with a group of people and one of the girls that was with us had a $100 bill. And so when we would catch a cab we'd all contribute and she'd say well I only have a $100 bill. And then we'd go eat and she'd go I only have a $100 bill. And this went on about four or five times and I said let me see that $100 bill. And I walked across the street to a hot dog vendor and he said can you change it? And he said yes. I came back and I said here's a hot dog and here's your change you know.

I think that was just her way of not participating. Hey you've got it use it. And so God had made a promise to Jacob. All he had to do was wait. But we grow impatient with the Lord. You know there are times in our life when we say when Lord?

When is this gonna happen? You've prayed and prayed. You've prayed for that unsafe husband or wife. When are they gonna come to faith Lord? You've prayed for their prodigal child.

How long Lord is it gonna be till they come back to you? Or you've prayed for that healing touch and it seems like you receive it. Then there's a setback. Then you're better.

Then you're worse. What's going on God? Or you're praying for God to reveal his will to you. You wanna know what you are to do.

It's unclear. Or you're single and you're praying for that man or that woman that God has for you. Where are they Lord? I'm getting old.

I'm like 16 come on. And you should pray about those things by the way. Because the Bible says in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And scripture reminds us you have not because you asked not. And Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount ask and it shall be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened.

Or in the Greek it's keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. So yes pray about it but understand along with God's will he has his timing. Wait on the timing of the Lord. Don't rush things.

The Bible says he makes everything beautiful in his time. So now we see Jacob has manipulated this situation and he's conned his brother and he's stolen the birthright. But it even gets worse.

Fast forward now. And Isaac the father is getting older and he knows he's gonna die soon. So he decides he's gonna give his blessing to Esau. He says son go on out in the field and kill something and cook it up.

Use a barbecue. You know how much I love it. And come to me and I'll eat the meal and I'll give you the blessing.

Off Esau goes excited to get the blessing. Well mom was listening you see. Rebecca was eavesdropping.

It's really easy to eavesdrop when you live in a tent. And so she said well this is not gonna happen on my watch. So she calls in Jacob she says all right I'm gonna make up a little recipe just like your dad likes it. I'll kill a couple of goats and I want you to cover yourself in animal skins and pretend to be your brother and take it to your dad and he'll give you the blessing thinking you're Esau. Jacob's like I don't know if this is gonna work mom.

It'll work trust me. So she makes up the recipe. Bring it to dad.

And so of course Jacob does that and the father reads it. This is great but is this really you? You don't sound like Esau. Yeah it's me dad it's me.

But yeah your voice sounds different. Isaac says come closer so I can put my hand on you and he puts his hand on animal skin and says yeah it feels like Esau. Which shows you that guy was hairy man.

Hairy was hairy for sure. Then Isaac pulls him a little closer. Let me smell you. Yeah you're Esau for sure.

Get out of here. And receive the blessing. And off Jacob goes. Meanwhile Esau shows up. Dad I'm home here's your fresh meat. What do you mean you're home? I just ate the fresh meat.

That wasn't me. And then Isaac realizes he's been conned and he says son I cannot give you the blessing. Your brother has taken it and Esau was so angry he said I'm gonna kill him. And so now Jacob heads for the hills. Well as you can tell there's more to come from this study called The World Changer Who Wrestled with God. Pastor Greg Laurie is following the drama of Jacob and Esau as a part of his series World Changers.

And he has another comment to share with us before this edition of A New Beginning concludes. To hear today's message again just go online to and look for The World Changer Who Wrestled with God. You'll also find it on our Harvest mobile app or for a CD copy call 1-800-821-3300.

You can reach us anytime 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. And then we're so happy to have special guests, Jeff and Shanti Feldhahn today. They're joining Pastor Greg and his wife Kathy here in the studio. And we're making available their new book called Thriving in Love and Money to thank you for investing in this outreach, an investment that changes lives each and every day.

Pastor Greg. Hey speaking of investing in ministry, let's talk a little bit about giving to the Lord. Why is that important to invest in the kingdom of God?

And by that I mean investing in a ministry like ours or others or your local church? Well, it really goes back to that where your treasure is there, your heart will be, right? Because Jesus knows that what you do with your money, it reveals the heart, right? Like if, you know, as you as a pastor, I'm sure you've said many times that if you're choosing to tithe, if you're choosing to invest in the kingdom, it reveals where your heart is. You know, this is you choosing to trust. However, one of the other things we may not realize about what Jesus said there is what you do with your money, it's not that it just reveals the heart, it also steers the heart. And as you do that, as you step out in faith and say, you know, I want to hold on to all of it, but God says to give this back to him, it forces me to say this is a choice of trust. This may not be a feeling right now, like we all wish it would be, but it's going to be a choice and it steers my heart in that direction when I take a deep breath and choose to give. Oh, that's very good.

You're listening to Shanti and Jeff Feldhahn. They've written a book called Thriving in Love and Money and this is our special resource this month that we want to put into your hands. Folks, you know that when we offer these resources, it's because we want to help you, we want to encourage you, we want to strengthen you, and this is one of the most important that we've ever offered. And I would remind you that I'm offering this to you for your gift of any size, whatever you send, large or small, we'll get you your copy, but let me encourage you to invest in our ministry because this is a ministry that obviously teaches the word of God, but it's also a ministry that calls people to Christ and every year we see literally thousands of people make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ because we'll invite them to do so at the end of our program. So if you believe that people need to come to Jesus, if you believe people need to hear the word of God, then we would appreciate your investment in our ministry and we'll get you your copy of this book by Jeff and Shanti Feldhahn, Thriving in Love and Money. Yeah, and we hope you'll contact us today so we can get this help on its way to you.

Your investment right now is so pivotal as we reach even further in impacting our culture with the truth of God's word. So you can send your donation today to A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to The full title is Thriving in Love and Money, subtitled Five Game-Changing Insights About Your Relationships, Your Money, and Yourself. Next time we'll continue to follow Jacob's life and see how one night he ended up wrestling with some kind of heavenly being. Very interesting turn of events. We'll discuss it more tomorrow.

But going back to the drama we've been discussing today between Jacob and Esau, Pastor Greg closes now with some final comments. You know, Proverbs 18, 19 says, a brother offended is harder to win than a strong city. And that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. But the problem is a lot of people don't know how to apologize. They offer apologies that sound something like this. I'm sorry if what I said offended you. Okay, that's not an apology. Well, I apologize.

No, you didn't. What you should say is I'm sorry. I hurt you. I'm sorry for hurting you.

Forgive me. That's an apology. And it's an amazing thing when someone has hurt you and they'll say that. You're just like, well, wow, okay. And not everyone forgives, but many do.

And the Bible says as much as it's possible, live at peace with all men. Maybe you're at a point in life where you look back and you think there are people I've hurt, people I've offended, people that I've wronged. But you know, okay, don't cry over spilled milk. Nothing you can do. Yeah, there is something you can do.

You can go apologize. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-23 10:43:22 / 2024-02-23 10:54:43 / 11

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