Jacob’s long journey had come full circle. He left as a weak, cowardly, conniving man who saw God as a good luck charm. He returned as a man who had grown strong in his faith through the trials and difficulties he had faced.
Jacob returned to the place where he first met God. He no longer viewed God as just an option or a possibility. God had proven that He was faithful and upheld every promise he made to Jacob. With new understanding, Jacob returned to worship. Instead of being passive and leaving his family to do whatever they thought best, he took an active role in spiritual leadership and led them to worship God.
We, too, must prepare to worship. One way to accomplish that is to put away our other idols. An idol is anything we place in the center of our lives where only God belongs. When something other than God is the center of our life, it is an idol. It may be success, wealth, health, fame, possessions, intellect, a relationship or anything else that consumes our time and energy. When a good thing becomes a God thing, that’s a bad thing. To encounter God, we need to put everything else aside and return God to the center of our lives.
How often do you prepare for worship? Take time to prepare your heart to meet God. Before you arrive at church, spend some time preparing for it, considering your heart’s condition. Is there a sin you need to repent of or perhaps an issue you need to turn over to God?
Worship is an active process, and we engage in it through a variety of ways. Singing helps us to focus on God, stirring our emotions and directing our thoughts toward Him. Focus on the words, using them to express your heart to God. If they aren’t how you feel, repent and tell God that. Engage the Scriptures during the sermon by reading along, taking notes, and jotting down questions. Think about what God is saying and how you can put it into practice. Respond to God by giving your offering, recognizing Him as your source of provision and giving Him the first part of what you have. Give yourself to God and commit to doing everything for His glory (Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:17).
One activity in particular is central to our worship: communion. It reminds us of what God has done for us, just like the altar did for Jacob. As he put the stones together, he thought about all the things God had done for him. With each stone, he repented of his own sin and thanked God for His grace. In communion, we remember what God has done, repent of the sins for which Jesus had to die and thank Him for His death that brought us life.
1. What is your “Bethel” – where God has met you in times of stress? Where do you want God to answer now?
2. What do these dreams tell us about how the story of Joseph will end? Why might God give these dreams to Joseph at this time? Do such dreams point to human success or God’s control? Why?
3. If you were Joseph, would you be despising your dreams from God, or drawing comfort from them? Why?