Sermon:  A Work in Progress       

Summary:  Jacob's life demonstrates the patience and faithfulness of God who, 
as a faithful father, trains and disciplines his children so that they can 
continue to fulfill his desire and vision of what he desires for us to be.  
As a result, we can be strengthened and encouraged.  

Text:  Multiple, Gen 29 - 35

Scripture Reading:  Phil 1:3-6

1.  Have you ever read a story or watched a movie and lost track of the plot?
	a.  Becomes hard to follow the story line after that
	b.  Story becomes a disjointed collection of scenes
2.  Have you ever tried to read the Bible and lost track of the plot
	a.  Sometimes it happens as early as Genesis after Abraham
	b.  Can lose sight of where the story is going in Genesis
3.  Overview
	a.  Remember in Genesis there are three major human figures
		- Abraham
		- Jacob
		- Joseph
	b.  Looked at Abraham last week
	c.  This morning, we will look at Jacob, Abraham's grandson
4.  Now we look at Jacob, Abraham's grandson
	a.  Sometimes you can tell something about a child before they born
		- Jeremy ran laps in the womb before he was born
		- William kicked Stacey in the womb when we scolded Jeremy
	b.  Same was true with Jacob
	c.  (Gen 25:19-26) - Already can tell this going to be interesting
		- Jacob does not mean "deceiver"
		- Who would name their child that?  Jacob a common name
		- It means "supplanter" or "over-reacher" - Idea of ambition
	d.  Is "overreacher" going to work out in God's plan?
		- As we read, will look at how God's promise is threatened
		- Will look at what God's reactions say about him

I.  Gen 27 - Jacob steals Esau's blessing
	A.  Story highlights
		1.  Isaac is old, needs to pass on the blessing to oldest son
			a.  Tells Esau to go and hunt, make favorite dish
			b.  Then Isaac would bless Esau
		2.  Rebekah overheard, instructed Jacob to prepare dish from flock
			a.  Feed it to him, let him think you are Esau (Isaac blind)
			b.  Then he will bless you instead of Esau
			c.  Jacob worried - Esau is hairy, Jacob is smooth, might feel
			d.  Had Jacob put skins of goats on
		3.  Isaac suspicious (v.24-29)
			a.  Kept asking questions
				- Sounded like Jacob, asked - Are you really Esau?
				-  Are you REALLY Esau?  -- Yes, eat game I made
				-  How come you have game so quickly --God helped
				-  Come close, I can feel you.  Felt & smell like Esau
			b.  Gave him the blessing
		4.  Later Esau returns with the game (v.30-41)
			a.  Here is the game, go ahead and eat, so can bless me
			b.  Isaac said, "Who are you?" -- I am Esau
			c.  Issac trembled, realized what had happened
			d.  Esau wept for a blessing, vowed to kill Jacob after father 
	B.  Probably have heard of famous sibling rivalries
		1.  There are Cal and Aaron Trask in East of Eden
		2.  Linus and Lucy in Peanuts
		3.  Dick and Tom Smothers - Laugh when Tom Smothers would 
		     say, "Mom always liked you best"
		4.  This was more than your typical sibling rivalry
			a.  Jacob along with mother steals blessing
			b.  Messing with family traditions a serious thing
			c.  Jacob tries to manipulate things to his advantage
	C.  (Gen 28:10-19) - Jacob has a dream, knew it was from God
		1.  Afterwards, he a changed man right?
		2.  No, he once again try to manipulate things to his advantage
		3.  (v.20-22) - If, if, if - Is he trying to make deals with God?
	D.  So far, Jacob has not acted very honorably
		-  Does he get any better?

II.  (Gen 29:15-27) - Jacob runs to Laban
	A.  Laban deceives Jacob into marrying BOTH of his daughters
		1.  This is poetic, what goes around comes around
		2.  Maybe Jacob has finally learned something
		3.  Now he'll start acting more honorably?
	B.  Gen 29:28- 30:2 - Now there is wife rivalry in his house.  
		1.  Leah is competing for Jacob's love
		2.  Rachel does not want to be outdone by Leah
		3.  There is tension and little peace in the house
		4.  Even though he prospers materially, things do not seem to 
	C.  So Jacob still has a lot to learn
		1.  Chap 30, Dishonest business dealings with Laban
			a.  Manipulates things to his advantage
			b.  Jacob prospered at Laban's expense 
		2.  (Gen 31:1) - Laban's sons realize Jacob has taken everything 
		      away from Laban
			a.  Jacob took away Esau's birthright
			b.  Jacob took away Esau's blessing
			c.  Jacob took away Laban's prosperity
	D.  Appears he is about to make another enemy - Laban, but manages to 
	     make peace with him instead

III.  Gen 32 - Meeting with Esau
	A.  (v. 3-5) - Wanted to make amends 
		1.  (v.6-8) - Esau coming with 400 men
		2.  (v.9-12) - Jacob's prayer - recognizes his unworthiness
	B.  After sending gifts to appease Esau, Jacob wrestles with a man
		1.  (v.22-32) - When did Jacob realize it was God?
		2.  Why didn't he give up and bow?
	C.  Should be the last straw  
		1.  This person is self-serving and insolent
		2.  All his life he has been overreaching, usually in a bad way
		3.  He is a manipulator and dishonest
	D.  Can see the many threats to God's promise.  They going to blow it
		1.  Now Jacob about to meet his end from brother turned enemy
		2.  (33:-1-2) Just what we would expect of the low life Jacob
		3.  (v.3) - But wait!   He went on ahead - That was selfless!
		4.  What is to become of this Jacob?

IV.  (Gen 35:1-15) - What all this say about God?
	A.  God remains true to his promises
		1.  This is in spite of our warts and blemishes
		2.  Doesn't matter how you are, God will use you
		3.  God uses us in spite of our problems
	B.  Sign should be hung on us - "Under construction"
		1.  (Eph 2:10) - For we are His workmanship, created in Christ 
		     Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that 
		      we would walk in them.
			a.  Workmaship - poiema = What is created, made
				- We are a new creation
				- We are God's project, & he is passionate about it
			b.  But he is not finished yet...
		2.  (Phil 1:6) - For I am confident of this very thing, that He who 
		     began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ 
			a.  The project began all the way back in Genesis
			b.  You are part of his project
			c.  He is faithful, and will complete it
	C.  ILL:  We are God's new creation, and he is still working on us
		1.  Like Michelangelo who went to work on a neglected chunk of 
			a.  Rock was weathered, worn, neglected for 25 years in the 
			     workshop courtyard
			b.  HE goes to work with his hammer, chisel, and other tools
			c.  For two years, he works it over
			d.  Out of that 17 foot chunk of marble, he fashioned the 
			     statue of David, a masterpiece that is famous to this day
		2.  We are not instantaneously all that God wants us to be
		3.  God has to work us over with his tools
			a.  He does not give up, he is faithful
			b.  May take a lot of time, but will complete his masterpiece
	D.  Truly, we are a work in progress
		1.  Jacob had a long and difficult life
		2.  May not be pleasant when take hammer and chisel to us
			a.  Heb 12:6 - Those whom the Lord loves, he disciplines
				- All about training, shaping, molding
				- All about transformation and growth
				- Part of difficulty due to loving God
			b.  Heb 12:11 - All discipline for the moment seems not to be 
			     joyful, but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained 
			     by it, afterwards it yields peaceful fruit of righteousness 
		3.  God is a faithful Father that does what is best for us

1.  God is not through with you, shaping you
2.  Sin has twisted and beaten you into shapeless hunk of rock
	a.  But God shapes and sculpts us
	b.  Begins with the Gospel 
	c.  Continues to shape us as we submit to his word
3.  You are a work in progress, can be encouraged by that