Yesterday we worked through a FRESH word from the Lord in our sermon titled “Ebenezers?” This was something God delivered to me in the morning before church. I had been working through Genesis 42 and was majorly focused on Jacob having a big event happen in his past that shaped his future. The death of Joseph led him to make many decisions he would otherwise not have experienced. I felt the Lord telling me that Jacob had setup an Ebenezer to Joseph. An Ebenezer is “a stone erected by Samuel as a memorial of divine aid in defeating the Philistines.” I felt the Lord open my eyes to the fact that Jacob, unlike Samuel, had erected a psychological Ebenezer as a memorial of destruction perpetrated towards him. As Samuel was using this stack of stones to point them back to God to keep his actions on course when he’d forget, Jacob too had this setup but it was to direct his actions in relation to taking care of Benjamin. I was convicted that in this same way our church, and many churches across America, has setup psychological Ebenezers which are directing their lives.
In our sermon I focused on how our flesh is often enough of a weapon for the enemy that he needs not even waste time attacking us. We setup strongholds in our life due to pain we’ve experienced and we allow those strongholds to essentially perpetuate more sin/pain. We wonder why we are struggling but it is because we are basing our lives off of a past event which decimated us. Our anxiety is prompted by our allowance of bad memories to find home in our minds. We dwell on past events which then create more PRESENT TROUBLE! -.- Crazy. Especially because God tells us to dwell on good things and in that we can let go of our anxiety. He reminds us in Philippians 4 to put off our anxiety by thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” or anything that is praiseworthy. Unfortunately this is NOT what Jacob had done. He was willing to let Simeon sit in prison (Gen 42) and die there because he was anxious about Benjamin being killed as well if he sent Benjamin to Egypt to rescue Simeon.
I was wondering, what is this all for? What is the application of this COLLECTIVELY.
Well… our church was founded on some INCREDIBLE intention living. Pastor Dean (our founding pastor) prompted a lot of life on life living, discipleship, and true worship. This was the driving force behind our church’s growth and overall stability. However, as he drifted from the church, and a number of other pastors have come and gone, it seems we have grown cold of the idea of connection.Through the years we have seen pastor after pastor grow close to us and then leave us… seemingly treating us how Joseph’s brothers treated him. Though the pastors did not do this out of HATE it sure did have the same effect in our lives as it left us in darkness and isolation. The Lord has taken care of this congregation each time, showing His faithfulness. Bringing pastor after pastor in to take care of the transitions.
However, instead of focusing on God’s faithfulness and setting that up as an Ebenezer preparing us for whoever it would be that invests in our lives… we setup the pain as an Ebenezer. Now I know that many of you are new and the history hasn’t effected you, but I would challenge you to evaluate your past at other churches as well. Also many of you are not noticeably thinking this way either… but that doesn’t mean the same effect isn’t taking place. I mentioned yesterday that ALL of us have Ebenezers guiding our thoughts, guiding our attitude, and guiding our actions. I also challenged us to be active in our Ebenezers. A call to avoid letting our flesh or the enemy set them up. I am asking today, have you setup an Ebenezer in relation to your church experience? Have you setup all the past pain, let down, and abandonment as an Ebenezer under the guide of “better barriers?”
It is noticeable that many of you are either unwilling to grow close as a family would be. Now that is hugely due to our cultures insistence on being too busy to the point of no time for personal growth… however many of us have allowed that cultural weakness to creep in because we simply don’t want to be hurt again. I want to challenge you, me, and everyone in between: What is your Ebenezer? Have you setup some mental fence which keeps you from treating this relationship the way Scripture calls us to?
Families grow in intimacy due to the struggles they work through together. It isn’t the shared experience in JUST the good times that brings closeness. It is also the moments of walking through fires together. We won’t always come through them unscathed. However, the shared experience of being attacked, recovering, and accepting the wounds together draws us closer. Can we do this as a unified team, or are we going to keep playing this game?
I am broken, I know. Help me pick up my pieces instead of just looking at me scattered along the floor and noting my inability to keep it together. I make mistakes, I know. Help me to reconcile these issues instead of walking away and leaving me in darkness hoping I’ll stumble upon my inadequacies. Our church team desires unity and that means there will be lots of mistakes along the way, small burns, etc. Let’s work through those together! 🙂