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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - There's More To It Than That

Levi Lusko - There's More To It Than That

Levi Lusko - There's More To It Than That
TOPICS: Pioneer Series

Title of my message is, There's More To It Than That. There's more to it than that. We are in Hebrews, chapter 11 in this series. We're all focused in on, in this time, what is the faith that makes God's list? What causes God to write down when he sees something in us that causes him to lean in, that causes him to get excited? We're discovering it's faith. Because without faith, it is impossible to please God. Our mission in life should be to please God. Our mission in life should be to live in such a way that the one that we're going to stand before, to give an account after leaving this body, is happy with us. All we should want is to hear well done, good and faithful servant. We should live to seek to please him, to make it our aim in life to please the one to whom we have to give that account. Hebrews 11 is like the ultimate hackers code. It's the ultimate cheat code, because it is telling us what lights heaven up. It is telling us what impresses God.

Today, we're going to see the faith to speak blessing into the future. One of my favorite things is that moment when you're putting your child to bed, when you can just put out your hand and just speak blessing over them. I love it, especially when they're kind of in that in-between awake and asleep moment, where they're kind of murmuring back to you. Those moments are beautiful. Now, getting to that moment is anything but beautiful. Any parents want to give me a good amen on a Sunday? Getting to that moment is chaos and pain and tears. And that's just you, right? And then, begging and pleading and more time. It's like getting out of jail. It's like, water. I thought I had you safely incarcerated for the evening and you're out again. I've been kicked in the face so many times putting children to bed, but there are precious moments along the way.

A while back, I was putting Lennox to bed. I've told this story before. I was reading him a story. I thought he was out for the count. And so, I kind of finished. It was done. I'd finished the end of the page. I kind of quietly shut the book. You know, you're going to kind of sneak out. And he stopped me dead in my tracks and said Dad... without even opening his eyes said Dad, there's more to it than that. There's more to it than that. I'm like, son, I am a Reverend. OK, I know. Who are you to tell me my business, son? I mean, these days my conversation with Lennox in bed mostly rotates around what he's going to get of mine when I die. That's all he's focused on. Do I get your shoes when you die? Yes, you get my shoes. Do I get your truck when you die, Dad? I'm like, this boy is ready for me to be in the grave. That's all.

Sounds like the prodigal son here, if I want the portion that falls to me in my inheritance, Father. I'm like, I'm going to have to start sleeping with one eye open. Right? And yet, he said, there's more to it than that, Dad. I said, buddy, I don't know what to tell you. This is the end of the story. He goes, Dad, just turn the page. I turned the page. He was right. There was one more stanza in this story. And so, I read the last thing. He goes, that's how the story ends. With that, he was out for the count. I'm going to preach to you, though, about how when we bless the next generation there always is, even when we are gone, there's more to it than that. Come on. We have the faith to live on. We have the faith to see legacy. We have the faith to see the work extend into the future. This is exactly what we see when we look not at one example of faith, but three. We can't separate them because it's all connected, the thought that was introduced when Abraham had the faith to offer up Isaac.

So now, we continue this journey we've been on. This is the third week now in this family, Abraham and Isaac. And then, we took a moment and talked about Sarah's faith, and the faith that is no laughing matter in God's sight, even if you do laugh when God opens up your eyes to see what he intends to do through you. And now, we continue the conversation as it says in Hebrews 11:20. "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come". He spoke into the future. He spoke beyond his grave. He spoke into what God was going to do on the Earth, through his sons, after he was gone. He spoke and had faith to speak into things to come. Verse 21, "By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones". Would you pray with me?

Dear Lord, we are grateful to gather in your name today. Across our church online, streaming platforms, podcasts, you have gathered together people to hear your word. They've tuned in to hear from you. I pray they would. Help me get out of the way and convey what you have shown to me, that has given me such strength and set a fire in my heart in these weeks. We pray through your spirit you would, God, do something in our lives that would outlast us. We thank you for the power of legacy. We thank you for the shock waves unleashed when we live with a faith that looks forward, concerning things to come as the message translation puts it. By faith, we can reach into the future. I pray you would quicken us to do so, humbly asking that if there's a single person listening to my voice today that doesn't know you, that you would, through your spirit, draw them to yourself. But I also asked for the saved, God. I ask for the lost that would be found, but I also ask that the saved would find new passion in their walk with you. I thank you that today, God, you want to bring dry bones to life in all of our hearts. We ask your blessing that it may be so in Jesus' name, amen.

Who's thankful for God's word? Come on. Can we just thank him together? Amazing. It was GK Chesterton who said, "if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly". You're like, wait. That's bad advice, Levi, because that's not how we think about it. We think about if a thing is worth doing, what do the dads all say? It's worth doing... well. Right, it's worth doing with excellence. If you're going to do it, do it with all your heart. So to hear our boy, GK, just break ranks and tell us if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly, what is he exposing? He's exposing the fallacy of an all or nothing mentality. He's exposing the line of thinking that would have us sort of say, well, I already blew the diet, so the rest of the week, I'm off the wagon.

Sort of the mentality that would say, if I can't do it at the level I want to do it, I'm not going to do it at all. Which experts say is a problem in parenting that leads to weak children, where we only praise them when they do things they're naturally already good at, that come easy to them. Your child is funny. You're always like, oh, he's so funny. He's so funny. But that comes easy to him. You're never praising him for something he's not good at, that he does badly but tries at anyway. That funny child who's terrible at math, but tried at the math paper and maybe got the C, but you're focused on well, he's a funny one. At least, he's always got that. He can fall back on that. You're not praising the thing he's not good at that he did badly, but tried hard at. He's going to end up with a fixed mentality and not a growth mentality, as it's been well-researched and documented by Carol Dweck among others.

You can read more on that by googling her name and looking into a fixed mentality versus a growth mentality. We want to praise in our kids and praise in ourselves the things we suck at but we stick with, lest we think that there's a fixed mentality. I'm going to back away from anything that doesn't come easy to me. What GK is saying is if a thing really is worth doing, it's worth doing even if all you can muster is doing it badly. If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing even if you can't run, even if you can't walk. I'm telling you. It's worth doing. Even if you've got to crawl, you still got to move towards it, even if it's all you can muster up to keep even moving on. I'm telling you. If following God is worth doing, it's worth doing even if you're doing it badly today. It's worth doing it even if you're shaking as you move to, it's still worth doing even if you're doing it.

I came to speak to those of you who feel like failures today. I came with a burden in my heart to preach to some of you who feel like giving up. You think you're unworthy of God's love, because you look at your devotional life and it just looks like a dumpster fire. I'm telling you. Following God is the most important thing on this planet. It's still worth doing it, even if today you feel like you're doing it badly. I came to encourage somebody today. I offer to you, as evidence in the case that I want to make, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Isaac and Jacob and Joseph, the patriarchs is what they're called, the patriarchs. They have a nickname in the Bible. This is rarefied air, honey. We're in territory where when God's going to introduce himself to Moses and he's going to slap down his business card, he's going to say, I'm the God of Abraham. I'm the God of Isaac. I'm the God of Jacob. I mean, this is a big deal. We're looking at the faith of the patriarchs.

Imagine your confusion, when after reading Hebrews tell you how faithful they were, you saunter over to the book of Genesis, Chapter 27 to 50, and you read about their lives. And you know what you'll be doing this week? You'll be doing the Magic Eye thing, trying to get the dinosaur to come out of the painting in the dentist's office, trying to find some faith in there. Does anybody remember those things, by the way? Can anybody ever find them? Do you ever see the dinosaur? Or are you just convinced it's all a scam and they're just trying to keep you busy until the dentist calls you back? Anybody? Young people. Google it. It's called Magic Eye. You would stand on one leg, cross one eye, pull on one ear lobe, and eventually, something's coming out of this image.

I don't ever think they came out to me. But when you look at their life, you're looking for faith. Because Hebrews says, these dudes were like the king of faith. But I think that would reveal our misunderstanding of the nature of that which God is actually looking for. I think just enlarge, if we take a step back, oftentimes, it shows that we have an unrealistic picture in our minds of what it actually looks like to be great at anything. Take a subject like bravery or courage or boldness. For me, when I think about those attributes, one unique singular figure comes to mind that I have a man crush on. I'll just go to the grave saying, I don't care. It's Teddy Roosevelt. I mean, bravery, boldness, courage.

I wrote a whole book inspired by one sentence he wrote about the wolf rising in his heart when he rushed into battle, bullets flying all around him, didn't care. Led his men on, led his men on, led his men on until the hill was taken. Come on. The wolf's going to rise. Who writes stuff like that? In his journal, he wrote that night, "I felt the power surging up in me like a wolf rising in my heart". That's why he got to be president, guys. They're going to read my journals one day. They're going to be very disappointed. That's why he got to be the president. He was a consummate outdoorsman. He could walk cross-country at a 15-minute mile pace, climb mountains. He could sit in the saddle, astride a horse, for half a day without taking a break or asking for one. He could snowshoe in winter, canoe in summer. He swam outdoors in all seasons, regardless of the temperature. He actually, famously, when he was in office, would begin every single day by skinny-dipping in the Potomac River.

A cat would get canceled these days for crap like that. Even in winter, he would go take this plunge in the river. I told you, I loved him. He could rope. He could ride. He could shoot. He lived a life like a Remington painting, like larger than life. When he was the governor of New York, he tried to get the state to subsidize and expense installing boxing and wrestling rings inside the executive mansion. He actually turned the receipts on. The comptroller questioned this bill as being a valid expense that the state should pay for, but he reasoned this way. I have a steady stream of Tammany Hall legislators coming by the mansion, all wanting to talk, all wanting to speak, all wanting something, all wanting to do business. I'm constantly having to entertain and do these meetings. You wouldn't have bat an eye had I tried to justify getting a billiards table put in, because that's how gentlemen, in those days, sorted things out.

Let's play a game of pool. We'll talk about your issue. But Teddy didn't play pool. What Teddy liked to do, any time one of these pasty politicians would come by the house, is he would challenge them to get into their underwear and wrestle him. If you can beat me wrestling, if you go the distance with me in the ring boxing, then I will hear you out. They refused to pay the bill, by the way. They said that is not a justifiable write-off. But this is a guy who, when you think of, you do a Google search in your head for boldness, for masculinity, for just yes. And yet, he was a sickly child, asthmatic, frail, nearsighted. As a child, he was afraid of horses, terrified of wild animals.

This is the guy who accumulated most of the collection that's in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in DC, but terrified of animals, afraid of what was behind a tree in the dark. His doctors told him he might not live long unless he cultivated an indoor life. You're not going to be long on this earth if you spend your life outdoors, Teddy Roosevelt, the Badlands Teddy Roosevelt, the punched a pirate in the nose for stealing his boat Roosevelt. He said, and I quote, "I rejected that. I decided I will make my body tough". How did he do it? He said, and I quote, "By acting as if I was not afraid, I gradually ceased to be afraid".

Come on. Here's for Teddy Roosevelt, bully, bully, bully. He taught himself to be fearless. My point is, he got there by struggling. How did he get there? By being willing to do it badly. How will you become the man or woman of God that he wants you to be? You got to be willing to do it badly. You got to be willing to keep fighting. You got to be willing to struggle. The weak have to say, I am strong and choose to be what he says we are. Amen. A lot of people try it and walk away because it was hard. They only want to do things they can do well. But if so, you will never have the faith to please God, because God is most pleased with the faith that emerges in our heart in the midst of the crucible of a struggle.

What are Isaac and Jacob doing, let's just start with these two, Isaac and Jacob ending up in the hall of faith? I wouldn't trust these guys with a potato gun. I mean, I'm telling you. And yet, undeniably, they're a part of a chain reaction of Godly legacy that ripples throughout Scripture to present day to eternity and beyond. But a casual glance at their actual day to day lives, you would be hard pressed to find anything close to faith at all. So what does God choose to praise them for? Well, in Hebrews 11, Jacob's praised concerning things to come, meaning he couldn't even get blessed for the faith that he showed anywhere in his life. It was concerning things to come. That's the scriptural equivalent of he had a great personality.

You know what I'm saying? How is his faith? Oh, my gosh, well his prophetic life after he was dead was amazing. What about his actual day to day life? It was pretty bad. I'm not going to lie to you. His name was cheater because he was a cheater. He was a schemer. He always had an angle. People could smell the smell on him. You know what I'm saying? I'd love to get together. I don't know if I have time for the hard sell. He stole the birthright from his brother by manipulating circumstances. Even in the womb, he was a schemer. He was a twin. He had a twin brother. His twin brother was going to get born first, and Jacob came out holding on to Esau's foot, even trying to get ahead, even trying to angle and wrangle within the womb. Literally, like the ultrasound moment, you know, it's like oh, look there's a baby. It's like oh, wow, there's two of them in there.

And so, Isaac and his wife, Rebecca, are like, oh, my goodness, two babies. And then, the ultrasound tech was like, well, and they're already fighting. Good luck with that. They were literally already warring in the womb. Esau, we know, was the man's man. Esau was the man of the woods. Esau was tough and brave. And so, Isaac liked him better, because naturally, Esau had all the things that in that day puts you ahead. He made Isaac proud. And so, Isaac, for his part, he only praised the least significant things about his sons, the things that came naturally to them. He didn't encourage the actual things of depth that mattered. And so, when Isaac chose to bless Jacob and Esau, he blessed them into their future, their God-given future. But the Scripture is telling us that Isaac did so by faith.

And so, that's the only thing that we find to really be blessed in him was concerning things to come. It was the same way with Jacob. Jacob blessed his grandchildren. Jacob used the blessing of God and by faith, spoke blessing over Joseph's boys. What about Joseph? This is where the sort of pattern breaks. Because Joseph, to my eye, what's not to like? Joseph, to my eye, he's often said, and I don't know if this is true. Obviously, we know he did sin, because he was human. Only one man ever lived that didn't sin. His name was Jesus. But it's a well-touted line that you never find recorded sin from two people and only two people in all of the Bible.

Those two are Joseph and Daniel. Here is just this amazing man that comes out of just the most broken family. His life is full of things to praise, the integrity and the perseverance and the leadership qualities. And yet, Hebrews 11 only picks one thing to lift him up for as being exemplary. It was that he pre-planned his funeral before he died. It's like, wait, what? It's like, you know, I really like mahogany. This is it. What are we to take away from this? I wrote it down this way. God doesn't see things the way that we do. God, this is worth knowing if we're going to live to please Him, we need to learn to speak his love language, lest we keep buying him flowers and he's really an acts of service kind of God.

If what to us is a life that's completely devoid of anything to praise is lifted up as being hey, this thing, I'm impressed by. And a life that we would go, I love so much of it and rightly so. But what God sees as the most noteworthy thing and aspect about them is not something that would probably, if you were to list 20 things that were awesome source about Joseph, I highly doubt this would even make most of y'all's top 15, the fact that he gave orders concerning his bones. And yet, God's like, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. You see what Joseph did there? That's what I'm talking about. What are we exposing here? Different value systems, different value systems, this gives us a peek into God's value systems. These two did it badly. We're blessed anyway.

This one thing that we wouldn't even focus on, God's lit up by. That just tells you whatever we would take away from their lives, what we would take away from looking at it, God would say, there's more to it than that. There's more to the story. And so, today, if you feel like God would have a really difficult time blessing you, if you would feel like you're doing it wrong, you're doing it badly, I want to expose the fallacy of thinking that those things are a barrier to God's blessing. Three things that we would wrongly assume are barriers to blessing, number one, my family is dysfunctional. If they're with you, don't say amen. Just act quiet and pretend like it's all good. But if you came to church alone today, just give me a shout if you've got a dysfunctional family.

There's some things, like if you would say, God's blessing, but my family, then you would be in good company. You would be in good company if there's dysfunction in your family as there is in every family. But here's what God told me to tell you. The dysfunction in your family is not a barrier to God's blessing. It's the reason you need it so badly. I'm telling you. The brokenness and pain and wounds and difficulty and trauma and the things in your family that have not gone exactly as they should, they are not causing God of having to go, I can't bless that. Listen, I'm telling you. You're the reason you need his blessing so much. Your family needs his blessing. Your marriage needs his blessing. Your children need his blessing, your grandchildren. Your future needs God's blessing. God wants to give it. God has never blessed a perfect person, not one time. He doesn't bless perfect families.

If your marriage is squeaky clean behind the ears, if you got no issues, no trauma, no wounds, if you haven't been through anything, I'm telling you something. Don't worry about it, because God will not bless you. But if you got broken places, if you got hurting pieces, if you got cracks and gaps, I'm telling you. I dare you to believe in faith. Those are spaces for God to fill with his kindness and his love and his grace. He wants to anoint your head with oil. If there's some things that aren't firing right, if you would say, I feel like I'm doing it badly, I'm telling you. It's a thing worth doing badly. But don't do it alone. Do it with God's blessing. Do it with God's plan. Do it with God's power.

I see this in the text, telling us that Jacob, by faith, blessed his grandchildren, worshipping while leaning on the top of his staff. He had to lean to bless. I came to say, if it takes you leaning in into worship, if it's not easy, you can't stand ramrod straight, if you're bent over a little bit, I'm telling you. If life has been hard and it's hard to praise, if it's hard to see past the injury, if it's hard to see past the difficulty and the struggle, I'm telling you. Worshipping God is worth it, even if you got to lean to do it, even if you got to limp to do it. He had to lean on his staff. He wasn't all perky like a palm tree. It took everything with him. He leaned. Why? Why? Because he had been broken. But the brokenness was a part of God's plan.

You see the limp was how God unlocked a heart that would trust. In fact, the reason Jacob limped is because God had wrestled with him all night. In the middle of all that, he just kept saying, this is hard. This is hard, but I'm not letting go of you. I'm not doing this right. I've been making some mistakes. I've isolated myself from some people. I've gotten myself into some trouble and it was my own doing. But he says, I will not let go of you. I'm going to follow you, if I'm going to do it badly. I'm just going to, don't let go. Don't let go. Don't let go. Don't let go. Don't let go. God says to you, don't let go. Don't let go. Don't let go. Don't let go. He said, bless me. I won't let go of you until you bless me. And God broke him, but he blessed him. The brokenness and the blessing always go together in God's hands.

And so, what is he doing? He's leaning on the staff. He's broken, but he's a blessed man. God humbled him through his broken places. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life, but he was grateful for that limp because that limp taught him how much he needed his Lord. That limp taught him that he didn't need to look out for himself. He didn't need to take it for himself, that he could trust God. That limp led to power. We've been in the series, talking about different pioneers in different ways. I wrote down, early in my notes, to talk to you about Orlando Bloom, Legolas. I mean, I'm attracted to Legolas. He's a good-looking man. He's a beautiful man, this amazing character. He's unbelievable.

And yet, did you know he never would have become, the world would never have likely had a Legolas had it not been for a broken back? He was 20 years old, Orlando Bloom, 20 years old. He's in film school. He's trying to become an actor, trying to figure stuff out. Some friends needed a door unlocked in a balcony. And so he, being kind of like impressing the group, did something stupid, jumped from balcony to balcony on the outside of the building to unlock this door, to kick it in and get in it for them. And he fell, because a drainpipe that he tried to hold on to peeled away from the wall. He fell three stories and broke his back.

In fact, the way he put it, his spine was crushed. He narrowly escaped death and he was paralyzed. Had it gone millimeters more, it would have completely severed his spinal cord. But as it was, when he got into the hospital, they told him, son, you'll never walk again. For four days, the doctors, every time they came in told him, you'll never walk again. What kind of a wheelchair do you want? He said, something welled up in him. He said, this is not the life I will live. He decided to walk. He did walk. And yet, he had to walk with a back brace. As I heard him tell this story on The Howard Stern Show, said he had to get all of his drama costumes re-tailored so that he could act with the back brace under them. If you would have seen him in these parts, they would just have real baggy clothes in the midsection, regardless of what the character was wearing, because he had to act with the back brace.

During that whole time of healing, that year, that final year of healing, he had to figure out an entirely new way to act, because he used to always be like manic energy, always moving around. He said, I was like a hamster in a cage, just moving, moving, moving, moving, moving. He said, he couldn't because his back hurt too much if he moved at all. He said, I had to learn how to act with my face. I had to learn how to do a lot with just the tiniest movement of my mouth, with just a little movement of my eyes. I had to learn to do a lot. And that, he says, is how eight months later, he ended up in this role where on screen, there's hardly any movement from Legolas. But he says so much with a stare. It was the brokenness that led to the intensity.

And so, God says to you, if you can learn to walk with your limp, He can unlock things in your heart that can change the world. It's how you handle the setbacks. It's how you handle that dysfunction that can lead to what God can do in your life in the future. My favorite part of the interview was he said, looking back on it, he said, I look back on that time fondly. I speak that over someone today who's in a season that you wish you weren't in. He said, but in that season, I had to learn how to be still, to be still. Come on. Our God makes us lie down before the green pastures and in front of the still waters. He needs to, at times, cause us to be still so we can remember that he is God. Because before that moment of brokenness, Jacob lived like he was God. He needed to take care of stuff. But in the broken places, he learned to be still.

That's what God is seeking to do in your family. Your dysfunction doesn't scare God. The pain in your family doesn't scare him one bit. The second reason that we think we are immune to God's blessing is we've been through a lot. I've been through a lot. I've been through a lot of hardship. If anybody could say this, it would be Joseph. I always think it's hilarious that Joseph didn't justify any of the comfort sin that was thrown his way. I mean, dude, your brothers sold you into slavery. Your own father kind of was complicit in it, by treating you as the favorite and creating the circumstances under which there would be intense sibling rivalry. The coat of many colors is not a great move.

James Dobson never said to do such a thing. You know what I'm saying? It's just not like a focus in the family maneuver. You know what you can do? You can single out your youngest son and treat him the best, because his older brothers will love that. And then, when they're out in the field, send him alone to them. What do you think's going to happen, bro? Joseph ends up in chains, dragged off. He could have said, you know what? Who needs God? God, you didn't look out for me. I did nothing to deserve this. But what did he do? Kept his eyes on God. He worked hard right where he was. He did what he could. He blessed. Even in a hard situation, he made the best of it. He got promoted. It was a different spirit in him. He knew that God was with him. God was merciful to him. And when opportunity came to give in to his fleshly nature, and his boss's wife said, come on. Let's lie down. Let's get it on.

He just honored God. He honored her. He honored her husband. That made his life get worse, not better. Newsflash, sometimes you're going to do the right thing and it's going to go wrong. That's not a reason to assume that you're out of God's will. You can go through more difficult things onto more difficult things and do so in God's will. We've been through a lot, though. We think, I can't be sweet because life's been so salty. Joseph shows us, you can tap into a deeper well, that forgiveness that actually helps you not to get tainted by the hate that other people are broadcasting to you. This is what Jesus would later articulate in the Beatitudes, about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek, and being asked to walk one mile but being willing to go two, and this whole mentality of the new way of looking at life through the lens of the upside-down kingdom.

I can't talk about Joseph without mentioning the fact that at the very end, when he got exalted and became powerful, he could have had vengeance upon his brothers. He could have had them torn limb from limb. But he forgave them. He said, you didn't do this thing. God sent me here to save many lives. He was willing to love and embrace and forgive and choose reconciliation in his family and be an agent of healing. It kind of reminds me of Elisabeth Elliott. Elisabeth Elliott was married to a man who, like her, had a call on their life to the mission field, specifically to Ecuador. They burned to see people in the jungles of Ecuador come to know Christ. They specifically felt a call to reach a Stone Age Indian tribe called the Auca people. And so, they went. They spent their life trying to get there.

The husbands of this missionary group were going to be the first to kind of establish rapport. And then, eventually, the plan was for the wives and the families to come as well. They had a 10-month-old baby, Elisabeth and Jim did. And so, these five men loaded up in a plane, flown by a man named Nate Saint. They landed on the riverbed. They brought gifts. They had learned one phrase to sort of say to this group of people, we come in peace. But in their second meeting, the Auca people turned on these five men, killing them all with wooden spears, leaving their corpses there to rot by the river. Elisabeth and the other women, of course, were grieving, of course were plunged into chaos.

But God began to burden her, basically saying to her, nothing's changed. Nothing's changed. This changes nothing. I still want you to love these people. I didn't revoke my calling just because your husband died. I want you to reach them. She said words that should be challenging to all of us. Think about it. This is a woman who's barely been married four years, 10-month-old baby. She says though, as long as this is what the Lord requires of me, then all else is irrelevant. She said to God, the answer's yes. What's the question? God said to her, I want you to go. She said, yes. Where are we going? I'll tell you when we get there.

And so, what did she do? She spent her energy and focus to get to and finish the task her husband started, bringing her 10-month-old baby girl and seeking to continue to establish to get to and reach these Auca people. She finally made it to them. It was the 8th of October, 1958, two years after her husband's death. It was the same day as Jim's birthday. It would have been their fifth wedding anniversary. They were married on his birthday. That was the day she finally got to reach these people. And she did, in the end, lead many of these, including some of the men who murdered her husband, to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Don't you tell me the things that you have been through are a barrier to God's blessing. They might be, like in Joseph's case, God's hand leading you to his ultimate calling for you. Joseph said, you meant it for evil. God meant it for good. We got to start translating stuff, honey. I'm telling you.

When I was in Columbia, I remember, I was listening to the preaching but I couldn't understand it. But they said, a translator is going to be sitting behind you. I was watching up here and it was confusing. I didn't understand what was being said, but I just had to listen to the voice whispering behind me. He was translating. I wasn't paying attention to what I couldn't understand. I was listening to what I could. So what did Joseph say? He said life's hard. My brothers were mean. Potiphar this, the baker, Potiphar's wife, the pharaoh, all this, he's like, that's what you meant for evil. But I'm not looking at what I don't understand. I'm listening to God who says, I got plans for you. I am with you. My hand is on you. I'm merciful to you.

Come on. We got to start letting God translate the brutality of life. Oh, God can't bless me because of what I've been through. Maybe, in the midst of what you're going through, God's seeking to bless you, seeking to create a humility in you. Things aren't going how I planned, we would say. Number three, things aren't going how I've planned. This would be a barrier in our minds to God's blessing. Where do we find this in the text, Levi? Because this sounds like what you're saying is, there's disappointment. Because if you're talking about disappointment, I got disappointment in my life. I thought it was going to be this. I thought they were going to be faithful to me, that they meant their wedding vows. I thought the company that I gave so many years of my life to would look after me. I thought that just after retirement, I'd be healthy and now, I've got this diagnosis.

You see what I'm saying? I thought if I raised my kids in the faith that when they're old, they would not depart. We have our disappointments, ways which our expectations get dashed and disappointed. I want to say to you lovingly. I want to say to you gently. Be honest with God, because he can handle your disappointment. He can handle your disappointment. But we have to trust His Providence and His hand and His leading, even in circumstances that disappoint us. Joseph now, let's finally get to Joseph. Joseph is bringing his two boys to be blessed by Jacob. The text says, "By faith, Jacob reached out his hands to bless Joseph sons". That's true. But we don't get the full picture of what he did before he blessed them, if we don't look at the actual story from Genesis 48.

So jump back with me, Genesis 48 in your Bible. I want to read to you about that day. This is the last day of Jacob's life. He's going to bless Joseph sons. Then, he's going to bless the rest of his sons. And then, he is going to pull his feet up into bed and he is going to die. It says, Genesis 48, on this day, "Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand", someone say: right hand, "toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and he brought them near him".

Now, pause, just so you understand the significance of right hand, left hand. In some cultures and countries you go to today, it's a huge sign of disrespect to put your left hand above the surface of the table. If you eat or do anything with your left hand, you're violating decorum. They would be shocked and appalled. In many parts of the world it has to do with the bathroom. There wasn't toilet paper. There wasn't a way to easily clean yourself, so that was all left hand duties. So you kept your left hand out of sight, because you did unclean things with your left hand. Does that make sense? As you're reaching across the table for a communal dish, if you saw someone use their left hand, sorry southpaws, you need to use your right hand, because that was how they curbed the spread of infections.

When I was in Nepal, the first thing they told us to never touch anyone with your left hand. You don't high five with your left hand. Left hand is bathroom duty. Right hand is clean. Right hand is power. Right hand is blessing. God holds us up with His mighty right hand. Right hand is fellowship, the right hand of fellowship. You have to also understand birth order. Birth order is not just the dynamics of trying to figure out today why we need therapy. I'm the middle child. I was the baby. That's all and well. But in those days, it was a much bigger deal. In this family, it was a really big deal. Because to be the firstborn in the family of Abraham meant you got to be the progenitor of that stewardship, of the Messianic line flowing through you, which was pretty easy when it was just Abraham. It's Isaac, that's it. It's not Ishmael. It's Isaac. But when Isaac has twins, oh shoot, now you understand the warring in the womb.

Now, you understand the heel catching and the conniving and the wearing Chewbacca costume and the whole deal, which is because he was all about getting that blessing, which meant double finances. It meant being the priest of the home. There's a lot of things attached to it. Joseph has two boys. Manasseh is his man, his firstborn. Manasseh is his Esau, you see. Manasseh he carefully puts into his left hand, because Jacob's sitting there. If he's in Joseph's left hand, he's going to end up at Jacob's right hand. As he puts his hands out, he'll bless the one on Joseph's left hand. Ephraim, his second born, who he loves, but a little bit less, he holds in his right hand, so he'll end up in Jacob's hand. He wants him to get a blessing too, but Joseph has clearly done the math on which of his boys should get the extra blessing.

Verse 14, "Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn". And then, he spoke to blessing out about all that God had done to Abraham, all that God had done and would do. But look at verse 17. "Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head and to put it on Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father", the same thing that you've said to your father, looking at the life that you are living instead of the life that you expected, "Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn". This is what you should bless. This is what life should be like. This is how things should go.

Put your right hand on his head. But his father refused and said what God says to you and says to me. I know, my son. I know. I know you're disappointed. I know my daughter, you're confused. I know I'm not putting my hand on what you think I should put my hand on. I know your pain, my son. I know your heartache. I know you've spent your whole life trying to honor me, Joseph. You've done so well in so many ways. And now, your payoff is what you thought, the Manasseh you brought me, I'm not blessing like I think you should. Instead, I'm choosing Ephraim. I know that displeases you, but I know what I'm doing. You can trust me. I have a plan. He will also become a people. He will also be great. But truly, his younger brother shall be greater than he. His descendants shall become a multitude of nations.

"So he blessed them that day, saying: By you Israel will bless, saying, 'May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!'" That's in quotes. You see it in verse 20. It's in quotes. "May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh"! Because apparently, it became a byword for blessing. To be like Ephraim and Manasseh was to be exceedingly blessed. I don't know if you receive it like I mean it, but I just dare you to believe for blessing on your broken places that could become for other people a category of what blessing looks like in life. That your life which has had many pits in it, and much pain in it, and deceit in it and brokenness in it, that you could walk in such a blessing that it would eventually become like a category. May I aspire to live as blessed as Ephraim and Manasseh.

Come on. If you believe that, say amen. But that's not what I'm trying to get you to see. What I'm trying to get you to see is how God looks at things. Because we set out to discover God's value system. Our aim was to see if we could figure out why what we thought was terrible God says, no, actually, I see a lot there. What we see as being like whatever, God's like, O-M-Me, did you see? Because we look at it and we go, I don't understand it. God says, you don't understand. There's more to it than that. There's more to the story. It's not just like you think it should be that those who are the first born, those who are the tallest, those are the bravest, if we could do that God would be pleased with us. Because I think we think that's what faith looks like, that I'm always on all the time, that I never have low moments and I never get confused, that I never doubt.

We think God only wants to bless us if we can be Esau, if we can be Manasseh. God says, I don't choose the first. I choose the second. I don't choose the best. I choose the weak. I don't choose the strongest. I choose the one who's willing to keep struggling. I am the God of Jacob. There's not one person's name that God introduces himself in the Scripture as being the God of more than Jacob. He's the most jacked up of them all. So I say to you, can you keep following God even if you're doing it badly? Because it's worth it. It's worth it. It's worth it. It's worth it. He's choosing the weak. It should be, in our world, it's the first is the first and the last is well, if you ain't first, Ricky Bobby's dad told him, you're last. But in God's Kingdom, the first shall be last. The last shall be first. The broken places, the weak ones, these are the ones that God looks for and selects.

But how, Levi? How? How? How can it be the second born, not the first? How can it be the second born, not the first? That's not how the world works, Levi. I can't be doing this badly but still find God's love. He won't be willing to pour on me. How can it be the second birth and not the first? What does that remind you of? Reminds me of John 3, when Jesus was talking to a man who was the expert in how things should be. He was the Esau of his culture. The teacher of Israel, Jesus called him. Jesus said, I know you were born once but that's not enough. It's got to be the second birth.

What was Nicodemus's response to that? Jesus said, "You must be born again". Nicodemus said, how? How? How? How? How? How? How can a man be born again? What did Jesus say? Jesus said, just as "Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up". If I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself. How did Jacob bless Ephraim and not Manasseh? Cross. You're telling me that the second can be blessed? That the one that's not doing so good can be blessed because of the cross? I'm not telling you that. Jesus is. I'm telling you that there is a cross that tells you why God's blessing can be on your life, even though you feel like you haven't done anything to deserve it. It's the cross that God's impressed by.

If God looks at you and sees that you believe in the cross, it's the hands of God, the hands that were crossed that came to take Jesus away, Garden of Gethsemane. Judas kissed him. Like Joseph, betrayed by his brothers. They abandoned him. Peter denied him. They came to take him. He had all the power in the world to incinerate them on the spot. Jesus crossed his hands. Jesus crossed his hands so that those hands could pour blessing on your life.

Elisabeth Elliott had a radio program, called Gateway to Joy. Some of you have heard it, played all around the country until her death in 2015 when she went home to be with Jesus after a long struggle with dementia, disappointing for her, disappointing for her third husband after her second husband died as well, married another man. Third husband had to walk with her through the pain and the confusion of her losing her mind. Despite all the disappointment and the confusion and all that, throughout every single day of her radio program she would begin with these words. You are loved with an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms. This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliott. I came today to preach to anybody who feels like you got broken places, to tell you that's OK. It's worth doing it badly. Just live your life under those uncrossed, crossed arms, those everlasting arms, those arms that seek to bless you.

And so, Father, we pray that in our hearts you would help us to see it was never about us. It was never about how good we followed You. It was always about You. Thank you, Father, that we don't have to be an Esau or a Manasseh for you to love us. We can be the Jacob that's full of problems and brokenness and confusion. But God, I pray that even in the limps that You give us, like Paul said, the thorns in the flesh, that those would be means of You putting even more grace on our lives.

If you're receiving and receptive to this word from God today, would you just let him know by raising the hand of faith? God, I want your crossed hands onto my head. No one can take your hand from my head, so I receive that blessing. I receive Your love. I receive Your kindness. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, God. If you're listening at home, I feel called to encourage you, through the technology we have, you're right there listening to this podcast. You would just say:

God, I want you to reach into my broken places. I want to see like You see, God. I want to believe like You believe. I want to love like You love. Help me to forgive. Help me to be kind. Help me to be brave. Thank You that we can say, I am strong, that we're more than conquerors to Christ.

You can put your hands down. I want to now invite those who need to trust Jesus for salvation to do so. If I'm talking to you and you are outside the house of faith, let me just tell you that Joseph could speak concerning his bones and it mattered, because he knew and believed, through faith in the resurrection of the dead. You can too, because Jesus rose. The grave will not be the end of your story, no matter what. But if you are in Christ, heaven is the end of your story. Jesus said, the one who died on the cross with his arms stretched out wide, He said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. And if you believe in me, though you die, you will live". You are going to die. But Jesus says, you don't have to fear it. It will not be the end of your road, but a bend in the road that leads to paradise.

So turn the page today. Like Lennox said, turn the page today and see that He has more for you than your sin. He has more for you than all that shame. He has more for you than your guilt. He has more for you than wrath and hell. He has life and life everlasting in his everlasting arms. If that's you I'm describing and you would say, "Levi, I want to receive Christ. What do I need to do"? I'm going to pray with you and for you. As I pray, I want you to pray, out loud, after me. Jesus will hear you. God will come to live inside of you. Church, say this with us as we accept those into the family, trusting Jesus by faith today.

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. There's nothing I can do to change that. But I believe Jesus did everything necessary when he died for me, when he rose from the dead. Thank You, God, for crossing your arms, putting on blessing that I don't deserve but I receive it. I'm different because of it, in Jesus' name.

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