Michael Youssef - Sowing and Reaping
We have begun the series of messages from the life of Jacob, entitled that "Fear Deceives, but Grace Frees," or sets us free. But before I get there, I wanna tell you that, in the New Testament, 'cause there's a distinction, but in the New Testament, when you come to Jesus Christ, surrendering to him and receiving him as the only Savior and the Lord of your life, all of our sins, past, present, and future sins, all of sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and now forgiven, amen? Yet, often, the scars of sins or the consequences of what we have sown in the past, those scars sometimes not only stay for a long time, sometimes for life, and here's where many Christians are confused, and I found this through my years in ministry, and I wanna really... I'm gonna harp on this one because I've seen that confusion in the mind of many.
They confuse the scars, or the consequences of their reaping of what they've sown, for lack of God's forgiveness. They confuse what they're reaping, as a result of what they've sown, with the lack of love on God's part, and they say, "If God really forgave me, why are these scars that I'm carrying"? It would be like a little boy whose parents have said to him on numerous occasions, "Don't touch the stove," "Don't touch the stove," "Don't touch the stove," but then he decides to experiment and do it for himself, and he gets burned, and here they are, sitting in the ambulance, taking their son to the hospital, and the boy will say, "Mom, Dad, I'm sorry. Forgive me".
What will they do? Of course, they forgive him, right? Can they remove the scars? Most likely not. I'm saying all of this to beg you, I am begging you, whether you're watching or you're here in the sanctuary, not to confuse the scars, or the natural reaping of what have been sown, with God's love and forgiveness and the grace of God that is available to his children. I wanna challenge you today, I wanna challenge you to do something, and it's this: Every time you see the scars in your life, the scars of reaping whatever has been sown, that you remind yourself of the love of God and of the forgiveness of God and of the overruling grace of God, amen? In this episode of Jacob's life, we see the deceiver is deceived. Isn't that amazing?
Probably a more romantic preacher than me, although I think I'm romantic enough, don't you think? I mean, but I think a more romantic preacher would just focus on the love story between Rachel and Jacob. Well, I'm gonna get to it, but I'm not gonna focus on it, and it is a truly, a great love story. It's an epic love story. It's an amazing story. You see, today Jacob reaches his destination. We saw in the map how he, two day's walking, and he got from Beersheba, which is modern-day Gaza, and he got to Bethel, and there he saw a vision of God, put an altar, and then he continue in his walk to Haran. That's modern-day south of Iraq.
After loneliness and pain and suffering in the desert, all alone at night and in the daytime, he reaches his uncle's house. After receiving a great vision from the Lord, a great revelation from the Lord that he and his seed will be through whom the Messiah will come, he sees a vision of the pre-incarnate Jesus on top of the stairs going up to heaven at Bethel. Now he is home away from home. Here he is, in his mom's hometown, Rebekah's hometown, and he comes face-to-face with sowing and reaping. Let me tell you again, as I distinguish between the grace of God that overrules and the consequences of sin, now, as, again, I'm harping on it because I've seen it in my personal experience of talking to people and ministering to people, there are some believers who may have been Christians for years, and, yet they keep on living under false guilt, and false guilt is very different from conviction.
When we get convicted of sin, we repent of our sins and turn to the Lord and receive his forgiveness on a daily basis, but false guilt is different, and those who fill their mind with false guilt, they cease to grow in the Lord, and they cease to be fruitful for the kingdom of God. Why? Because they cannot distinguish between the grace of God and the consequences of their sins because they cannot distinguish between God's forgiveness and the lingering scars because they do not understand or do not want to understand that, at the cross, all of our sins are forgiven regardless of the scars. So when Jacob arrives at Haran, and he sees his cousin Rachel, man, he is smitten.
You see, for Jacob, Rachel, love at first sight. My goodness, I mean, poor, old Jacob. He fell in love hard. I mean, he fell head over heels for Rachel. He even tried to show a superman strength. Normally that stone on top of that well, it takes several men to move it, but he was gonna show off, so he went in there and pulled it all by himself, probably busted something. Like the man who sucks his stomach in every time he see a good-looking woman goin' by, that's what we do today, right? Nothing changed. But listen to me, there is nothing more beautiful and pathetic, at the same time, than seeing a man in love. It really is. He will do things that nobody is able to get him to do. Some even lose their rationale and rational thinking when they're in love. It's like this guy who said to his girlfriend, he said, "I love you, I love you. I wanna marry you. I'm madly in love with you. No matter what, I wanna marry you". She said, "Oh, no, no, no, no, one day, you're gonna meet and marry a beautiful girl".
In his enthusiasm, he said, "No, I don't wanna marry a beautiful girl. I wanna marry you," ha. Jacob, his love for Rachel made him irrational but also made him irrationally patient, irrationally patient. I'm gonna explain this to you. He would do whatever it takes, including 14 years of hard labor. Now, don't miss the next verse. It's very important. This, my beloved friends, is what you call a Middle East bargaining or negotiating at its best. Jacob wanted the girl so badly that he was willing to go to any lengths to marry her. Oh-ho-ho, but, listen, Tricky Dicky, Uncle Laban, father of the girl, you see, he sensed it. He saw it in his eyes. I mean, he can feel it. He can feel that incredible love, and he milked it for all he can get out of it. It was customary, back then, for a guest, houseguest, can come and stay three or four days maximum as a guest and then move on.
In fact, that's how it was in Medieval England. You know, somebody stayed past four days as a houseguest, they serve him a cold shoulder, and that's where we get the "cold shoulder," "Give him the cold shoulder," from. When you get served the cold shoulder, you better pack your bag and keep going. And so he was willing to work his heart out, but manipulative uncle, verse 15, he said, "Well, just because you're my nephew, it doesn't mean that I shouldn't pay you something for your labor". Watch out. This is a negotiator. This is a bargaining in the bazaar. This is, my friends, what is really, really where you can call "the art of the deal". This is really the art of the deal.
Look at what happens next, and please, please, please feel free to compare this with the instant-gratification culture in which we live. Jacob said, "I would be willing to work for seven years to have the privilege of marrying your younger daughter Rachel". He was probably thinking that because, even the custom of the day, this is excessive, normally a year or two, and he was hoping, probably, that his uncle would say, "Oh, this is too much. One or two years will be enough". But his Tricky Dicky Uncle Laban jumped all over this offer. Look at verse 20. Here's what you can underline in your Bible, "The seven years seemed like only a few days to him because he was in love with Rachel".
Listen to me, listen to me, there is nothing like making your wife feel valued and treasured and appreciated. Today, in our hurried culture, we don't take time to value and cherish and nourish our wives. Now, husbands, again, if I could only speak to you as a husband and a man... now, wives, you can eavesdrop, but no elbows flying, please. Guys, I wanna tell you something: If you take time and, at least once a day, at least once a day, and tell your wife how important she is to you, how valued she is by you, how blessed you are to have her, how thankful you are to the Lord for her and how much she means to you, once a day, I promise you, I make you a promise, in one month, even if you're married to the "iron lady" herself, she'll melt. Can I get an "amen"? That's come from the ladies. Jacob adored Rachel, and his tricky uncle knew it. Oh, but the plot thickens.
See, Rachel had an older sister, poor, ole Leah. And so, on the night of the wedding, when it's bad luck to see the bride, boy, they played that one, hah, in the darkness of the tent at night, ole, tricky Uncle Laban gives him Leah instead of Rachel. After seven years of hard labor, after seven years of patiently waiting, after seven years of sweat and blood, in the dark night, Laban switches, and he gives him Leah. Obviously, Leah must've dressed like Rachel, must have smelled like Rachel, must have the same build as Rachel, and that is why, when Jacob gets up in the morning and discovers what happens, he freaks out. I mean, basically, you see it even in his words. I mean, he freaks out. This is to put it mildly. He goes to his father-in-law/uncle, and he had it out with him.
Verse 25: "Why have you deceived me"? Wow, the chickens come home to roost. The deceiver is now being deceived, and the tragedy is this is not the last time Jacob becomes a victim of deception, and we'll see it as we go on in the next few messages. Forgiveness, yes. Grace, yes. Scars, they linger on. Consequences, yes. Jacob deceived his nearly blind father, Isaac. Now he's deceived by his uncle by marrying a nearly blind woman whom he did not love. Although Jacob managed to marry the love of his life, seven days later, but he had to work seven more years. They're a whole bunch of ironies here, and I do not believe the Scripture, the Holy Spirit who authored the Scripture, would waste words. I believe, with all my heart, the Holy Spirit wants us to see these ironies.
Irony number one, Esau was supposed to serve Jacob, for that was the vision that God gave their mother, that "the older shall serve the younger". Here, Jacob serves his uncle. Irony number two, by getting Leah first, then Rachel, Jacob felt what Esau must've felt when he lost his birthright. Irony number three, Jacob was deceived by Rachel's father, just as he deceived his father. Beloved, "God is not mocked. What man sows, he also shall reap". You say, "God has forgiven me". Absolutely. "God has redeemed me". Yes, without a shadow of doubt. "God has even forgotten my sins". Yes, he did. The scars, or the consequences, can live on, but don't let that keep you back. Don't let it hold you back because these things are set in motion.
There's three things I wanna share with you today, and, no, don't panic, this is not a three-point sermon that I've just begun, 'cause someone's thinking, "Oh, he's just begun with the three point". These are fast points, okay? And I hope you'll write 'em down. I want you to remember them. They're very simple, but they, hopefully, help you as you walk with the Lord. Very quick three points: "Whatever we sow, we reap in kind". Galatians 6:7, says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what a man sows".
So let me ask you a question: If you plant wheat, what do you get? Cotton? You get wheat, right? If you plant corn, you don't get rice. You get corn. So, when you plant love, you reap love. When you plant friendship, you'll reap friendship. When you plant peace, you'll reap peace and become a peacemaker. Second point is this: "The same proportion with which you sow, is the same proportion that you'll reap". No, don't give me credit. I'm not that smart. I did not make it up. Jesus is the one who said that, okay? So, before you get mad at me, I'm only telling you what's in the Scripture because you cannot sow sparingly and you expect a bumper crop.
Here's what Jesus said, Luke 6:38, "Give, and it will be given to you. For by the measure you use, it will be measured back to you". That's Jesus's words. In fact, the apostle Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians chapter 9. He said, "Whoever sows generously will reap generously". The third point that I wanna share with you this morning is this: No matter how long it takes, no matter how long is the delay, no matter how many crop failures you may get along the way, "If you keep on sowing consistently, in due season, you will get a harvest".
So let me ask you, have you prayed for something for so long, and you haven't received yet an answer? Keep on planting. Keep on praying. Keep on sowing. Keep on interceding. In due season, in due season, say that with me: "In..." Have you been faithful to the Lord and faithfully giving of yourself, but you have not seen the abundant harvest yet? Don't give up. Don't you dare give up. Keep on planting. Keep on praying because the harvest is coming. It's a matter of time. Just as in sowing and reaping, in Jacob's case, it worked in the negative.
In the Churchill family's case, it worked for the positive. Beloved, listen to me, sowing and reaping can go either way. It's neutral. It goes both ways. Well, someone here might say, "Well, you know, I have some scars, and they're keeping me from sowing good seeds". Let me tell you this: The grace of God will overrule. The grace of God will overrule. The very fact that God has overruled in Jacob's case will overrule in your case. Don't let the scars keep you from reaching for the stars.
This is not a cliché. It is an absolute truth. Claim the overruling power of the grace of God. Don't ever forget that the overruling grace of God can write his straight purpose with a crooked pencil, that his grace can take a twisted instrument and use it powerfully. God's grace is more powerful than all of your past scars. God's grace can polish the roughest of diamond. God's grace can call the unworthy. God's grace can love the unlovable. God's grace uses the unusable. God's grace can make the dullest of gold to shine. God's grace is more than amazing.