2014 Sermon Series
- January 4, 2015
The Virtues of Our Christian Pilgrimage.
Our Grace Church of Mentor theme for 2015 is “Living Worship-Filled Lives.” In preaching, we will study through the Pastoral Epistles and selected Psalms. Our goal is to increase our prayer, service, fellowship, and memorization. Consider joining our pastors in memorizing Philippians chapter 1 this year. Will you also pray that God would add 10% to our numerical growth just through new births in 2015?
Genesis 46-47 shows the virtues of spiritual pilgrims. Though required in many religions, no geographic pilgrimage is necessary for biblical Christians. We are on a spiritual journey that begins when we meet Christ and ends not in a destination but in meeting our Savior face to face. Jacob and Joseph demonstrate the heart of a spiritual pilgrim by maturing through severity with integrity.
Like the patriarchs before him, Jacob is found worshipping before moving to his next destination. He honored God with all that he had. Pilgrims acknowledge that they own nothing, but all they have belongs to God. Personal worship is critical to finding out who we are, why we’re here, and where to go. God answered all three of these questions for Jacob as he worshipped. Likewise, He desires us to know our role and work it out in the local church.
Jacob and Joseph both demonstrate personal separation. Why did Jacob leave the land God had so clearly led his family to? The urging of Joseph and Pharaoh were not enough – God Himself had to tell Jacob to move. Joseph told his brothers what to say to make sure they lived separately from the Egyptians as shepherds. He had stayed separate from the Egyptians’ pagan worship even though he married the daughter of a priest. The best way to protect the church from demise is personal and corporate separation.
In his first conversation with Pharaoh, Jacob is honest about the difficulty he’s faced in his life. Does this mean he is depressed? Aren’t Christians supposed to be happy all the time? No, our pilgrimage is severe. It’s true that our lives are full of difficulty, but God brought Jacob through 147 years, and He does the same for us. God’s grace shines through the afflictions of His people. His Word and fellowship with His people give us strength to endure another day. We find our joy in doing His will.
Jacob respected authority in the midst of adversity. Pharaoh was a despot worse than any President our country has had, but Jacob showed him respect for four reasons:
- God gave Pharaoh his authority.
- It is God’s will for us to do the right thing the right way before even wicked authorities.
- Jacob was thankful for the good that Pharaoh did.
- He knew Pharaoh’s ultimate authority was God, and His purposes would continue.
There is even a difference between saying you respect someone, acting pleasant, and demonstrating respect. Jacob was a conduit of blessing to Pharaoh. Everyone is welcome to join God’s family. Unbelievers will come to you with their spiritual questions if they remember you for offering them something good, with joy.
Finally, Jacob finished well. Often the temptation to give up is even stronger in later years than in is in one’s youth or middle age. Jacob persevered to the end.
- Do you know your role in the church? Are you worshipping God with everything you have, through good times and bad?
- Do you value personal and corporate separation from the world? What does that look like in your life?
- Do you respect those in authority even if their character is not respectable? How do you demonstrate that respect?
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore:
- 1 Thessalonians 2:13, James 1:25, Psalm 119:9-11, John 17:17, 1 Peter 2:1-2, Psalm 19:7-24 – Give increased attention to the Word because it is sufficient to meet spiritual needs.
- Matthew 6:19-20, 1 Peter 2:11-12, Hebrews 11:13-16 – New Testament descriptions of our pilgrimage.
A Hymn to Encourage: “Be Thou My Vision”
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.