22 Aug 2021

A Call To Worship [Genesis 35]


God's love for Jacob was unbreakable. Even after Jacob strayed outside God's will for years at Shechem, God still called out to Jacob to return to the place of worship. We learn the principles of worship: 1. Repentance. We cannot worship at Bethel (house of God) if we are harbouring idols in our lives. Jacob decisively put away the household gods before he sets off for Bethel. Corporate worship is not just singing, listening or just attending. There must be a putting away of idols in our lives. We must search our hearts. We must be willing to repent and obey His word. We must help one another remove idols. Without repentance, there is no worship. 2. Return. The focus of Bethel is not stones or geography, but the very special presence of God. Therefore Jacob gave Bethel a new name El-Bethel- God of the house of God. And there, God appeared to Jacob, blessed Jacob, spoke to Jacob, and assured Jacob. Jacob must have felt encouraged and favoured. There is great joy in meeting with God. Take time to be holy! 3. Result. Worship is not a guarantee that life will now be a bed of roses. Moses records 4 successive waves of sorrows that will sweep over Jacob post-worship. Why? I suppose it sends a message that whilst worship does not immunise us from hardship, worship is key to sustaining us through hardship. The story of Jacob is a story of God's love. May His love for you melt your heart to true worship, and may that worship sustain you through the trials and afflictions of life.


Sermon Transcript

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Well, once again, I like to again take you through the book of Genesis in our worship service here. So take your Bibles, turn with me to Genesis, chapter 35 today, and we are continuing our look in the story of Jacob.

Now, about 20 years ago, that's a long time ago now, but maybe even more 20 years ago, I was a medical officer in the Singapore Armed Forces. I had to serve out my bond as an Army doctor, and so that's where I was. I was at 3rd Brigade, 3SIB and over there I had many colleagues, and many of my colleagues are officers. They are the army regular officers, and one thing about my colleagues then was that they all loved cars. They love to talk about cars, they love to dream about which car they are going to get and so on.

And soon enough, I found myself very influenced by them, I began to like cars, I began to talk about cars, I began to research cars, I began to go on forums to learn about cars. And after a while, I decided to change cars. I wanted to get a car that is more sporty, more cool-looking. Now, I'm a quite a 'cheapo', I wouldn't want to pay too much to get a real sports car because that would cost too much and you can't race here in Singapore, anyway!

But I decided to get a car that looks like a sports car or at least has the potential to look like a sports car. So I got a new car that looked potentially like a sports car, and then I began to modify the car. I didn't modify the engine and so on, I did not need the speed, I just wanted the look. Yes, I know it's vain, it's all for vanity, but that was that phase in my life, I just wanted to have a car that looked like a sports car.

So, I did ... I went on progressively to change the bumper, to change the bonnet, to change the wings, to change the rims. Now, as I'm speaking this, I'm sure my wife is cringing because she could remember all those days that I was changing the car. I wanted to modify it, soup it up, in Singapore we call it 'zhng' [decorate in Hokkien dialect] the car. Alright, 'zhng' the car until it looked like an Ah Beng car, gangster kind of car. And I wanted my car to look something, I guess, like this. It looked close to this, it's not exactly like this, but that's how it was.

I changed the bonnet, so that there is this air scoop, that's the turbocharged version, it has this hole on the bonnet. And I got that, my wife was upset that I got something like this. Then I added a wing at the back, that spoiler at the back. And she says, "What an ugly thing it was!"

Now, I tell you, with all these modifications, it added grief to her when she drives, because the bumper is lower and we have to be very careful driving over humps. The spoiler at the back it's quite useless, but it is a hindrance to her because when she drives, it blocks her point of view. And then this bonnet, well, it's supposed to allow for more air intake for oxygenation of the turbo-charged engine, I don't have it. But what it does is that it became a bed for the stray cats along the streets. Every morning, I ... I walked to the car, I'll see a cat sleep on that precise hood, right there.

Well, I knew that this was really bad for me when one day, actually for a two weeks when I was in China preaching, the image of my car kept coming back to my mind. This pursuit has become an obsession! And I don't think I was doing well spiritually at all, I think I was quite out of God's will.

I'm not sure about you, but maybe this is something you can identify with. Maybe some time in the past, you've been obsessed over something, or even right now you may be obsessing over something. It might be a bag, it might be a shoe, a pair of shoes, it might be another car, it might be a property purchase. It might be some financial targets. It might be something that you longed for in your career, but it has become an ambition that has obsessed you.

And frankly, you know like myself you're not quite living in the will of God, you're somewhat outside the will of God. Maybe some of us today are obsessed over computer games. I've spoken with someone in our church and he's a ... he's a married man and he tells me about the people he's serving and how it's so common that young men today are obsessed over computer games. That ... that has somewhat dominated their lives!

Maybe today you're not obsessed with things and games, but you're obsessed with pornography. On the surface, you look very much a normal man, a good man, but deep inside you know you're obsessed, you're held captive to this addiction. Maybe some of you are living outside God's will in the sense of unforgiveness, or even in selfish pursuits. Well, we all have been there, isn't it? We know where God's will is but somehow we live outside it, not quite willing to enter into the will of God in obedience toward Him.

The story of Jacob, at least in the past sermon and in this week's chapter is the story of how he somehow lived outside the will of God. God had told him to go back to his kindred, to his family, down south at Beersheba, but for years Jacob just went halfway from Haran, and he will not go all the way back to his kindred, he stayed somewhat at Succoth and Shechem.

Now, we can understand if this is just part of his travel, just part of his journey, this is a temporary staycation, I can totally understand that. But you know, Jacob was not at Shechem just for a few days or a few weeks, for ... or for even a few months, but he was living here for years. His daughter was a little girl, probably seven-years or six, seven-years-old, can't be much older than that when he left Haran. But by the time he arrived here, by the time we read about that story in Genesis 34, he was ... oh, she was already of marriageable age.

So Jacob had lingered on in this land for years and not really gone back to where God wanted him to go. And then we read tragically about how disaster happened right here in Genesis 34. How he lost spiritual confidence, his daughter was raped, he could not deal with the situation and his sons committed terrible violent massacre of the people at Shechem.

Well, we would have thought that God would give up on Jacob, but you know the story of Jacob is the story of God's love. And God's love will not let him go! Even though he kind of lived outside of the will of God, even though it is all a messed-up situation right now, God didn't give up on him, but instead in Genesis 35:1, we shift gears, we turn a corner, we see God stepping in. And, "God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there, make an altar there to the God who appeared to you."

So God is calling Jacob back to where he first met Him. God is calling Jacob to come back to the place of worship, of rededication to God. So this morning, if you're living outside God's will, this is an encouraging word for you. And I pray God's love will melt your heart, and God's love will bring you to the place of worship. This chapter in 35, I believe is - "A Call To Worship".

[1] Repentance
Very simply, a few things we need to learn. Number one, the call to worship requires - repentance.

The call to worship requires repentance. We must be willing to give up our sins. We must be willing to give up our idols, if we are to come back to Bethel to worship God. You see, when God called out to Jacob to go and return to Bethel and build an altar, Jacob immediately knew what this entailed. Because right after this in verse 2, "He told his household, and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you."

"Purify yourself! We've got to be clean! We've got to get rid of idols if we are to go back to Bethel, if we are to go ... go back to meet my God who has been so good to me, who has answered my prayers all these years, we've got to put away the idols of our lives."

Now, it's very interesting why are there idols in Jacob's family? It may be that Rachel ... remember that? It may be that Rachel who stole from Laban, his father, the ... her father the idols was an idol worshiper. She kept that idol, and maybe that's spread to the rest of the household. We cannot be sure, but certainly there is a problem of idolatry in Jacob's family.

Did Jacob himself believe idols or worship idols? We do not know, we do not have evidence that he does so. But at least Jacob knew about idolatry in his family and he even tolerated idolatry in his family. But now that God is calling him out of Shechem to go to Bethel, he understood that he cannot go to Bethel, holding idols in his hands. There cannot be idols in their hearts! There cannot be an allowance for idols if they are to love God and to worship Him!

"And so he took the idols, hid them away." [Gen 35:4] Put it as a kind of a history in time past, and he makes a clean cut for his family with regards to idols before he will come to the place of worship at Bethel.

I say to you today, "Worship requires an understanding, and indeed an obedience in repentance, in giving up the idols of our lives, in forsaking sin. You cannot meet with God if you're holding idols in your arms."

You know for this one and a half years, we have been pretty much worshiping God online. You will see us ... you'll see this service online, on screen, on your TV, on your computer. And it's ... it has been I must say, "A very different corporate worship experience." And in order for this online service to be more palatable, to be easier for you, it is now shortened. We used to sing a lot more songs, we are singing less songs, and I think that's not too bad yet.

But you know, this week I realized something. I realized in our desire to make the worship service shorter and concise for a better online worship experience, maybe it has been known to you, but maybe it is not so obvious to you, but it struck me this week as I was preparing this message, that we have not really had that time of silent reflection and repentance. And it struck me that we really should have that once again.

The reason is because worship on Sunday morning at least, corporate worship is not just looking at the words, listening to the songs, or even hearing the sermon. Worship on Sunday morning in our corporate worship experience is seeking God, is looking to encounter Him, is looking to come and to love Him, to revere Him, to obey Him, to praise Him.

And we cannot come to this Bethel, we cannot come to this house of God, we cannot come to worship God if we are still carrying idols in our lives. And so this week I said to John, "I think we've missed something! We've got to put back that time, at least for our people to have an opportunity to reflect and to repent and to remove the idols by God's grace in our lives." In other words, I do not want our worship service just to rush on from song to song to song to ... to sermon and that's it, as if we watched a movie and nothing's changed! But there should be a time for silent reflection and repentance.

Now, I look forward to the time, we're going to gather on site, and we're going to have the Lord's Supper once again, on the first and third Sundays of the month. But I also hope that ... that will be a great opportunity for all of us to still our hearts, to repent of our sins as well. There must be repentance in worship. There must be!

You see worshiping of God is not just coming to sing some songs. It's not just that ... yes, it involves that, but it is not just that. It is not just the mere mouthing of words, with still an obsession with idols in our hearts. Worship is not just coming here and ... and listening to a sermon. Yes, we do need the Word of God! Yes, we need to gain knowledge in order for us to obey, but worship is not just gaining knowledge, worship is also to remove image, to remove the images, the false images of God, to remove the idols in our lives.

"Who shall ascend onto the hill of the Lord ...?" the psalmist cries, "... he who has clean hands and pure hearts." If you want to meet with God, if you want to hear from Him, if you want to be blessed in worship, it must be that we must remove the idols in our lives.

Many of us today, all of us today are worshiping like this at home. Stay at home, watch the worship service, I hope today that you have a proper perspective as you sit there and worship right now, because I hope you don't view this, it's so easy isn't it? But ... but please don't view this as watching a show. The mindset of going to a theatre or having a home movie should be very different from the mindset of worship.

Worship is meeting with God. And it means that we must be willing to remove the idols. There must ... let me repeat this again, "There must be repentance in worship, just as Jacob needed to remove the idols before he goes to Bethel."

Some of you say, "But Pastor, I don't get very much from my Bible." I'm ... I'm not talking so much about corporate worship, I'm talking about your daily worship, your daily reading of the Bible. Some of you say, "You know, pastor, I don't get very much from reading the Bible. It seems so dry, I'm not sure why." Well then, there may be many reasons why, but one reason I want to address today perhaps could be that you're just going through the motions. You're just reading the Bible to get knowledge, to get information, but you're not really reading the Bible so that you may change yourselves, so that you may remove the idols, so that you may correct your flaws, and your ugliness and your sins in your life.

You see, James tells us that, "We should look at the law of liberty ..." James 1, "We should look at the Bible, the law of liberty, and that we should aim not just to be a hearer but a doer." You say, "Why?" He says because, "When you do the will of God, when you read and you understand and you then obey the Word of God, you will be blessed in your deeds. You're not blessed in your hearing, you're blessed in your deed," James says.

"It's so dry!" you say. You know why? Because perhaps you're reading the Bible without ever an intention to obey. No wonder it is boring! No wonder there is no life! No wonder there is no difference in your life! It's like a man, every morning imagine ... every morning a man wakes up, he goes to the toilet, he looks at his face, he looks at his hair, and he looks at it, but he just walks away right after that. He does nothing about it!

The next day he comes, he looks at the mirror, mirror. Nothing changes, he walks away. The next day, the same thing happens and over and over again, I guarantee you something, he will get messy! His moustache, his beard, his dirt, his hair unkempt, long and unkempt. Every day he will look at the mirror, but every day he will do nothing about it, and after a while, he will get sick of himself looking at the mirror. He says, "This mirror is useless! This mirror is dry! It's boring!" You know why? Because he does nothing!

And there are people today, who will read the Bible and find it dry because they never really said, "I will remove the sins and the idols of my heart by God's grace." Oh, there will be no blessing, there will be no worship of God if there is no repentance, no desire to change, no desire to honor and to obey God.

Now, let me be very clear here, we are not saying that, "You remove these things, remove sins, remove idols so that God can now love you and save you." No, no, no, no, no, no, no! What I'm saying is, "Because God loves you, you cannot come to God with idols in your life, you won't want to."

Maybe today, I would like to encourage you in your worship life, to have a proper attitude as we gather for corporate worship, to have a proper attitude in your private worship. Maybe I'd like to also encourage you to have a proper attitude in your community worship, in your small groups, the community of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

So often we call Care Groups or Small Groups, 'feilowship'. We laugh about it! Now, I think it has been a long time since we had 'feilowship'. 'Feilowship' is a colloquial, we use in church to describe people gathering together just to eat food. A lot of times, Care Groups can slowly neglect the spiritual element and major on the physical food element. Now, that's not what I think is great, there should be a balance, I think it's great to eat together, but certainly that should not describe us.

Instead, I think a Care Group, a spiritual community should be an IRS. Now, I'm not saying "Inland Revenue Services" or ... or taxes or whatever but IRS should be "Idol Removal Services".
We should help one another remove idols in our lives. We should help one another repent. We should lovingly provide accountability one to another. That's what a Care Group is about, because that's what worship is about! We cannot come to God ... this is the basic premise, we cannot come to God with idols in our life, there must be repentance.

And I think that's a very simple but obvious point that Jacob's life shares or teaches us. So a call to worship requires a call to repentance.

[2] Return
Number two, let's look at not just the repentance of Jacob, but let's look at the - return of Jacob to Bethel.

Now, God is the One who called Jacob back to Bethel, and God is the One who ensured that Jacob will be back at Bethel. The Bible gives us this little detail that, "there was a terror from God that fell upon the cities that were around them." [Gen 35:5] That was necessary because Jacob's family just massacred the whole city of Shechem. And all the Canaanitish people surely will be upset; angry; fearful and they will strike at Jacob's family, unless there was that divine protection from God.

So God saw to it that Jacob will arrive safely at Bethel. Now, "This place used to be called Luz, but now it's called Bethel." [GEN 35:6-7] Bethel means the house of God. "So he got to Bethel, he sets up an altar to worship God. And now he calls this place, he adds a name to it, El Bethel." Know what this means is, God of the house of God, if Bethel is the house of God, then El Bethel is the God of the house of God.

Jacob understood that when ... when he goes back to Bethel, the key thing about Bethel is not the altar, is not the place, it's not the stones, it's not the geography, but it is the presence of God. He understands that he is there to worship not the place, but the God of the house of God.

Simple point! That when we worship, we are not gathering before some ritual or some SOP, we are gathering before God. When we look at the Bible is not just going through the motions, it's hearing from God. When we go to Care Group, we're not just meeting with people, precious as they are but we are meeting with people in the presence of God. We are coming to El Bethel, God of the house of God.

And there we see, "God now graciously appearing to Jacob." [Gen 35:9] Look at the words here, "God appeared to Jacob again, where he came from Paddan-aram, and bless him. And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; you no longer shall your name because Jacob [or heel grabber], but Israel shall be your name." [Gen 35:9-10] The man who prevails with God, that shall be your name, and so He called his name Israel.

I want you to see how reassuring, how comforting, how warm, how encouraging this episode is! God appeared. God blessed. God said. God called his name Israel. And then we read on in verse, 11 and 12, "God reaffirmed His promise to Jacob." So, I think Moses as he writes these verses have designed it to be such an encouraging description of Jacob's encounter with God at El Bethel.

Oh, what a wonderful time! Even though he is messed up, God is still so comforting, reassuring, loving towards him. And I think Jacob must feel favored, he must feel warmed, he must feel blessed, he must feel encouraged, he must feel joyful, he must feel grace. He must feel so so undeserved ... undeserving, of all that God is showering upon him.

You know Scripture tells us about the joy of worship. Scripture tells us about the happiness of God's people when they gather before Him. Oh, look at Psalm 122:1, there are many Psalms that speak to this, but just one will do. "I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!"'

There is a joy in worship, there is a blessing in worship, there is tremendous encouragement in worship, in corporate worship, and also in your private time of worship. If only we are willing to put away the idols, to put away the sins in our lives, we hear from God, we meet with Him and when we obey and when we serve Him, we will be blessed in our deed.

Now, I know this one and a half years, worshiping online is really difficult for some of you. You have a hard time adjusting, but I'm so glad that many of you have persisted, you did not give up on worship, even though we could not do things like we used to. And I think it's because you understand you need this time of worship, there is great joy in meeting with God through these difficulties.

I want to encourage you to keep it up and even as we reopen on-site services and if the demand is there, we would increase the frequency or the number of sessions on Sunday. Even if you still cannot get to us for whatever reasons, I hope you'll still keep on worshiping and find joy in meeting with your God.

I hope today more than ever, you will have your personal time of worship. And maybe some of you have even more time in your hands, you don't have to travel that much, business activity drops. But I know it's not always the same, it's not always this linear a relationship, that when you have less work, means you have more time for worship, because I know how things can eat up our time. But I want to remind you that in the stresses of life or even in the ease of life, make this a priority. Because I ... I think about the story that tells us about Mary and Martha, meeting with Jesus.

And Martha was so busy, she had to take care of the food, the plating, the laying out of the table, the hosting of Jesus. She's always doing something, but you know her sister Mary would be the one who would quietly but attentively sit before Jesus.
Soon enough Martha was stressed, she was angry, she was even angry with Jesus. And Jesus then said to the sisters, "One thing is necessary. And Mary has chosen a good portion, which will not be taken away from her." [Luke 10:42] "She was wise, she took time, undistracted time to sit at My feet and to learn and to hear."

I pray today you will return to the place of worship. Maybe life's hard on you, but remember the joy of worship. Take time, take time to do so, I hope you will do this regularly not just on Sunday morning.

Maybe just a little few words in a song that we have sung before:
"Take time to be holy, speak often with your Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God's children, help those who are weak, Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be your Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word."

Well, a call to worship was given to Jacob. Jacob understood that he must repent. Jacob, by the grace of God was able to return to meet with God, to be tremendously encouraged by God.

[3] Result
And finally, let's come to the - result of this time of worship.

Now, he must be blessed, he must be encouraged, he must be cheered, he must be favored, he must feel really happy to have met with God. But what will happen after this time of worship?
Does this mean that his life is going to be smooth and easy? Does it mean that everything, as we say here in Singapore, "Will be a okay, or everything will be 'swee swee'?" [Hokkien dialect]

Well, the reality is his life from now on is not exactly going to be a bed of roses, it's not going to be 'swee swee'. In other ... in fact, we are going to see that he is going to be hit by a wave after wave of sorrow. So it's not 'swee', but sorrowful after this time. There's a very interesting collection of sorrows that Moses records for us in this chapter.

First of all, we read in verse 8 that, "Deborah, Rebekah's nurse would die." Now, I want you to know Rebekah is Jacob's mother, Jacob's mother. And this Deborah, Rebekah's nurse must be someone who is really old, she took care of Rebekah when she was younger. So Deborah is someone who is old. How she came to be in Jacob's family, we are not told beforehand. We just read that right now she is with Jacob, but she has died along the way, and we know that this is something painful, this is something difficult for the entire household. And maybe especially for Jacob because, "Jacob called this place, this oak below Bethel, Allon-bacuth," [Gen 35:8] which means the "oak of weeping".

So they may have, must have wept buckets for Deborah. It is something difficult for the family, someone died, someone precious has left them. This is wave number one.

Wave number two is that Rachel would die. [Gen 35:19] Now, you would know that Rachel is Jacob's favored wife. She was the one that he originally agreed to work seven years for, and she is the one who Jacob ultimately worked 14 years for. He loved Rachel deeply, and even on his deathbed later on, we read about how he described the sorrow he had when Rachel died in chapter 48:7.

Now, how did she die? "She died in painful labor. Rachel, went into labor, she had hard labor and when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, "Do not fear, for you have another son. Be encouraged, that your son will be born, and as her soul was departing, for she was dying, she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin." [Gen 35:16-18]

So she died in painful childbirth, difficult labor, and she called his son Ben-oni. Ben-oni means son of my sorrow, son of my pain. But there's something interesting because Jacob overrides his wife, he says, "No, I will not call her ... call him Ben-oni, son of sorrow, but I'll call him Benjamin, the son of my right hand,” or if you were to look at it properly, the son of my strength.

Now, perhaps Jacob is saying, "The ability for me to go through the sorrow, that my wife would die with the birth of my son, is that I have found the secret of my strength in God alone. The son of my strength, it is God who strengthens me and enables me to go through this hardship." Perhaps that's the reason why he called him, Benjamin. That is wave number two.

So Deborah dies. Rachel dies. Wave number three, something tragic and that is his eldest son Reuben. "Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, Jacob's concubine." [Gen 35:22] I don't think there is a kind of pain that is like a pain of father experiences when his son lives in sin and rebellion. There's no pain like that! But in this case, his own son sleeps with his concubine, if you may say his wife. And that is tragic! I do not know how a father would ever face something like this, but that's what Jacob had to go through.

Now, you’ll read about Jacob's commentary on this later on in Genesis 49, but we'll reserve it till that time. So that is wave number three - Sorrow.

And then wave number four. Sorrow that Moses records for us in Genesis 35:28-29 is that Isaac would also die. Now, that will be sometime later, it's not as immediate as we read it right here, it's about 10 plus years later before Isaac dies. But there's this concentration, very interesting concentration of sorrows. And we've got to ask the reason why? Why does Moses record the sorrows in such rapid pace?

Perhaps, it's to convey to us that after this encounter with God in Bethel, Jacob is not immunized from sorrows of life. There will be pains in his life, but perhaps that is the lesson for us that the real strength for Jacob to be able to meet these sorrows after, is because he has met with God first of all. Worship ... worship does not prevent us from sorrows. Worship does not immunize us from the pains of this life, but perhaps worship is essential to strengthen you as you face the struggles of this life.

You know during this COVID season, the government tells us, "Vaccinate. Stay safe. Keep safe distancing. Wash your hands. Have good hygiene." But today, God's Word tells you, "More than all that above, is that you need to worship. You need to have a healthy rhythm of worship in your life, daily in your life, weekly in your corporate worship and regularly in your spiritual community because you will need that to face the sorrows, and the pains of life."

So this morning, this is the call to worship from God. Repent, put away the idols, you've got to do it! Somehow they've crept into your life, you have tolerated them, but no man who shall ascend unto the holy hill of the Lord, except he who has clean hands and pure hearts. Drop those idols at the Oak of Bethel. Return to the place of worship, and there encounter God. Hear Him. Be blessed by Him. Obey Him, and there'll be joy. This joy and this strength that allows you to face the sorrows that may hit you wave after wave after wave. But then, may we arise together with Jacob and say, "Benjamin, the son of our right hand, the son of strength."

So this day, we mark probably the conclusion of the story of Jacob. The story of Jacob is a story really of God's love. I hope that we have kept to this motif, this theme, this overriding, overarching idea, I think Moses is conveying. From birth, and indeed, indeed even before birth, God has set His love on Jacob. Even when he was a deceiver, even when he was a refugee, even when he was deceived, and even when he comes to the river Jabbok, and even when he was living in Shechem.
And now we see him in Bethel! God's love never let Him go.

That is the amazing story of the love of God in a life of His elect! Oh, love that will never let you go! I pray God's love today will melt your heart, and draw you to Bethel to El Bethel, to the God of the house of God. And there you would worship Him, may you repent, may you return and may you see tremendous result and resilience as you face the trials of life.

Let's bow for word of prayer together.

Father, we thank You this morning that we can be still and know that You are God. In this time, I pray that we will pause, and even reflect upon our own lives. If there be idols that have crept in unawares, help us today to be decisive like Jacob that when we hear the call to worship, we will remove idols from our lives by Your help.

Help us, O God to love You with all our heart and soul and mind, and strength. We pray today that Your people will be wise, not just to hear and gain knowledge, but that we will remove the image, the image of idols, image of false gods in our lives. And then, may we obey You and be so doing, blessed in our deed. Even as Your people go through COVID, I pray not only will we be vaccinated, will we stay safe, but Lord help us to worship. More than anything else, to have that regular healthy rhythm of worship.

Once again, I want to pray for friends and guests listening in right now. O, may they today realize the message of the Bible can be summarized to be a message about God's amazing unconditional love. That even when we live in sin, God sent forth His Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. O God, grant to them a heart that will repent of sin and believe in Jesus that they might be saved.

May Your elect, may Your children hear Your voice and worship You. Thank You for that love that will not let us go. We thank You in Jesus' Name. Amen. God bless

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