Your Way or God's Way? Bible Study

Skip Christo and Christina Li


Heb 11:21 “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”

Jacob had faith in God to bless his grandchildren, even on his deathbed.

What kind of faith did Jacob have to trust God, even on his deathbed? What were his priorities in that he was concerned for his children, rather than thinking about himself at his death?

‘Leaning upon the top of his staff.’ Why does Scripture say this?

Gen 25:29-34 “And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.”

Yes, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of beans. But, Jacob knew his brother would be coming home soon and which way he’d be coming. Jacob knew he’d be hungry and set him up.  He had delicious soup that smelled from a ways off. Jacob planned to take what he wanted. Don’t we do the same? Don’t we make plans to get it?

The next time Jacob did this, he had help from Momma.

Gen 27:15-20 “And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: 16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck: 17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. 18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? 19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy first born; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. 20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.”

Jacob impersonated his brother. He lied and said God gave it to him! After Jacob brought God into it, Isaac stopped asking questions.

Jacob is a man who epitomizes self-reliance, the ends justified the means. To look at it, we say, morally, you’re wrong. Yet, don’t we do the same? If you rely on yourself, what you can do and what you can accomplish, you are doing the same thing as Jacob.

There are men who rely on their ‘presence’ when they enter a room, very intimidating. Women do the same by relying on their looks.

Where did all this get Jacob?

After he got his daddy’s blessing and his brother’s birthright, it got him the threat of death (from his brother).

Have you ever tried to manipulate things to get your own way? Are you a control freak? How do you handle it when things are not done your way? How do you handle it when you can’t control things? 

God dealt with Jacob while he was on the way to his uncle’s and he had his own encounter with God. He named the place where he saw angels going up and down a ladder Beth-El, House of God. At that moment, he decided to live for God.

When he got to the uncle he had never met before, he saw the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Instead of trying to con his uncle (Jacob as usual), he agreed to work for seven years. However, after seven years, his uncle conned him into marrying the wrong girl! So, instead of seven years, he worked fourteen years for the woman he loved. Yet, in all this unfairness, he never worked a con to get what he wanted. He was faithful to God.

Even his uncle noticed God’s favor on Jacob.

Have you noticed the favor of God on your own life when you do things His way? What has He done for you?

Gen 30:27-43 “‘Please listen to me,’ Laban replied. ‘I have become wealthy, for the Lord has blessed me because of you. 28 Tell me how much I owe you. Whatever it is, I’ll pay it.’ 29 Jacob replied, ‘You know how hard I’ve worked for you, and how your flocks and herds have grown under my care. 30 You had little indeed before I came, but your wealth has increased enormously. The Lord has blessed you through everything I’ve done. But now, what about me? When can I start providing for my own family?’ 31 ‘What wages do you want?’ Laban asked again. Jacob replied, ‘Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. 32 Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. Give these to me as my wages. 33 In the future, when you check on the animals you have given me as my wages, you’ll see that I have been honest. If you find in my flock any goats without speckles or spots, or any sheep that are not black, you will know that I have stolen them from you.’ 34 ‘All right,’ Laban replied. ‘It will be as you say.’ 35 But that very day Laban went out and removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted, all the female goats that were speckled and spotted or had white patches, and all the black sheep. He placed them in the care of his own sons, 36 who took them a three-days’ journey from where Jacob was. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed and cared for the rest of Laban’s flock. 37 Then Jacob took some fresh branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of bark, making white streaks on them. 38 Then he placed these peeled branches in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, for that was where they mated. 39 And when they mated in front of the white-streaked branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40 Jacob separated those lambs from Laban’s flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban’s animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban’s. 41 Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob would place the peeled branches in the watering troughs in front of them. Then they would mate in front of the branches. 42 But he didn’t do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob’s. 43 As a result, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys.”

Jacob pulled another con. He got worried and took matters into his own hands to stack the deck. Instead of asking for God’s leading and peace, he did it himself. What did this get him?

Uncle Laban’s sons told him that Jacob had conned him and ran away. Another death threat followed!

Prov 14:12 “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

Again, God intervened and Jacob’s life was spared. Uncle Laban wasn’t to curse or bless him, but just let him go.

Now, on the way home, he found out his brother was on the way to meet him with an army. So, he tried to bribe him. He wasn’t sure if it would work so he sent his family off. He still tried to do it his own way, in his own ability and power.

In the middle of the night, he prayed. He knew he conned and swindled and he was afraid. God showed up. Jacob took hold of him and wrestled all night. In this case, ‘wrestled’ means Jacob refused to let go until God blessed him. He held on with everything in him.

Jacob was afraid and knew he needed God to help him. Do you trust that God will help you when you’re at your ‘end?’ Do you think it might be a good idea to do things God’s way from the beginning?

We try in our own power and our own abilities. There’s an epidemic in the world today. People are taking anti-anxiety pills and seeing therapists. They are so messed up, but they don’t see any way out.

They tried to do things their own way, but all they end up with is a mess. It’s never enough, no matter what. Even when they get what they ‘want,’ it’s not really what they wanted, what they needed.

Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

The suicide rate among celebrities is ridiculous. They’re not happy.

There is joy and peace available. There is comfort and assurance for you. God desires to give you what you need.

Gen 32:26-30 “Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ 27 ‘What is your name?’ the man asked. He replied, ‘Jacob.’ 28 ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’ 29 ‘Please tell me your name,’ Jacob said. ‘Why do you want to know my name?’ the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. 30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means ‘face of God’), for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.’”

When Jacob refused to let go of God, he was finally able to be blessed. It was all about reaching for God rather than reaching for whatever you think you want. God’s rewards are so much better. Because of that one night, Jacob’s children are known as the people who wouldn’t let go.

Hold on! Check what you’re holding onto. Hold onto Jesus and you’ll get that peace, that joy, that comfort, that assurance that everything is going to be okay.

What are you holding onto? Is it Jesus? Is it Jesus in every part of your life, or only some things? What do you need to let go of? What do you need to stop reaching for? Do you trust God to be that Help that you need?

Mat 11:28-30 “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’”

Go where Peace surpasses understanding! When you’re hit with trouble, seek the Lord. He wants to lead you. He will tell you what to do. He will take your burdens and cares. Hold onto Him and He will bless you. He will give you that impossible rest for your soul!

God wants to give you a new name. You may see in the mirror, ‘Loser! Failure! Lost!’ Let Him change your name to ‘Loved! Wanted! Forgiven! Cherished!’

What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about God? Do you trust Him to help you, even with your mess? Will you choose to do things His way?

This Bible Study excerpted from a sermon preached by Skip Christo. 

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!