Read Genesis 35:1-15.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, life goes from disorder to order, from the deep pit to the highest mountain, from disobedience to surrender. We go from power to greater power, from strength to greater strength, from one point of glory to another.

I realize that things don’t always feel this way in the Christian life. Take Jacob, for example. He acts selfishly and dishonestly, but then he has an experience with God and begins to live by faith. Then time goes by, and he gets busy, and suddenly he’s operating out of his own strength again. But then he’s reminded of God’s promises, and his spirit is renewed. Is it any wonder that when we read about Jacob’s life, we see a bit of ourselves?

In Genesis 35, we read that Jacob was reminded of an experience he had had with God some twenty years earlier. God had spoken to him, saying, “Go up to Bethel” (Genesis 35:1). That’s the place where God had first appeared to Jacob when he had been on the run from his brother, Esau. It was there that he had dreamt of a stairway to heaven and angels ascending and descending (see Genesis 28:12). It was there that God had told Jacob, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go” (v. 15). At the mention of Bethel, Jacob remembered God’s blessings to him and his vow to God. He looked back on his life and saw the fingerprints of God’s faithfulness all over his story.

Once he remembered God’s grace toward him, Jacob then released the false idols he and his family had kept. “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you,” he announced to his household (Genesis 35:2). Jacob called his family to repentance. Why? Because their idols and their rings and their clothing were not just trinkets or ornaments. Jacob’s family kept these idols for their own protection and security.

In the West today, not many people keep little statues in their homes, but we do have our own idols. We bow down to the idol of financial security. We give ourselves to our idol of career, reputation, or comfort. But when we remember what God has done for us, we have an opportunity to set aside these false gods—knowing that our only real security comes from Him.

Prayer: Lord, help me to remember Your faithfulness to me. May it inspire me to seek first Your Kingdom and to trust in You whatever my trials. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau’” (Genesis 35:1).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon series Fear Deceives, Grace Frees: WATCH NOW

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About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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