One of my favorite songs that we sung in my home church when I was a kid was Learning to lean. “Learning to lean, I’m learning to lean, learning to lean on Jesus. Finding more power than I ever dreamed, I’m learning to lean on Jesus.
Hebrews 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.”
I loved that verse because it puts Jacobs life into perspective. Early in his life Jacob had been a liar, a cheater, and a usurper. Jacob would do anything to get what he wanted. He was a self-made man. He cheated Esau, his brother, out of Esau’s birthright, and then he deceived his father and got the blessing of the firstborn son.
But one night Jacob had an encounter with and angel of the Lord, and he wrestled with him all night long till the break of day. At one point during the match the angel said let me go, but Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”
Somewhere during that wrestling match Jacob came face to face with the wicked and corrupt man he had become and he realized that he couldn’t fix himself. When Jacob refused to let go without a blessing, the angel of the lord put forth his hand and touched the hollow of Jacobs thigh and threw it out of joint, and the sinew or muscle of his thigh shrank. From that day on, Jacob leaned to the side the Lord had touched. That day he received a new name, He was no longer called Jacob the liar, heel grabber, and deceiver - his name was called Israel: Prince who hath power with God.
Israel’s power was not in his standing, it was not in his wrestling, his blessing, his power, his strength, and his transformation – came through his leaning. When he learned to lean, he found the power of God.
I know it doesn’t make sense because it goes against every human principle of warfare, but the strength and the power of the child of God is found in weakness.
II Corinthians 12:9 – “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
It is my opinion, taken from my own experiences, that the greatest battle we will ever fight, is not with the devil, and it’s not even with sin – it’s with self. Our fight is with the spirit of pride that makes us feel strong and independent. Pride is a killer!
Pride will whisper in your ear, “You can do it! You don’t need to wait on God. You don’t need to pray. You don’t need anyone’s help, they’ll just hold you back. You don’t need to read the Bible. Anointing, anointing, who needs anointing, you’ve got talent!”
Pride will tell you that you can stand on your own, your smart enough to make the right choices, you don’t need a preacher telling you how to live.
I Corinthians 10:12 – “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
The strongest believer, the most anointed and effective believer, is the one who has learned the secret and the necessity and the joy of leaning on Jesus.
As believers, we are all leaning, the only question is: which way are we leaning? When you believe that you are strong enough to stay saved even though you don’t pray or read the word of God, when you believe that you can make it without the fellowship of your brothers and sisters in Christ, or when you start letting little things slip in that are offensive to the Holy Ghost – you are leaning in the wrong direction.
People start leaning in the wrong direction, when they begin to allow self to be in charge: my way, my plans, my feelings, and my understanding. You know what I’m talking about: “I don’t see anything wrong with it, it looks all right to me, it’s just country music it’s not that evil rock and roll stuff. I just don’t want to go to church today. I’m all right, I’m not backslid or anything like that I just want to hang out at the house and chill. Give me a break preacher: I’m not going to the bar, I’m not going to the crack-house, I’m not looking for a prostitute, I just want to hang out at the house watch the tube and relax.”
It was exactly that same attitude that got David in such a mess: David was at the wrong place at the wrong time, it was the time of year for Kings to go forth and fight their battles, but David stayed home, he leaned the wrong direction.
The Bible says that, “Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.”
Sodom was known to be a wicked and sinful city, but Lot leaned toward Sodom. He wasn’t in Sodom, he wasn’t a partaker of Sodom’s sins, but he was close enough to hear the sounds of Sodom, close enough to see the business of Sodom, close enough that eventually the dirty off color jokes didn’t offend him anymore, close enough that their immorality and vulgarity didn’t offend him anymore. Eventually, Lot has moved his family into town.
They are now living in an environment that is given to perversion. They are no longer on the outskirts of town, they are not just passerby’s or occasional visitors, they are no longer on the outside looking in, they are permanent residents of sin city.
Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
This means don’t allow the outside pressure to shape your life, don’t make adjustments to accommodate the mindsets attitudes and appetites of this world: standards of holiness do not change because the patterns of this world have changed!
The bible says: Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them.
James 4:4 The friendship of the world is enmity with God, whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
There is continual pressure on the child of God to relax, tone down, become tolerant and flexible toward the spirit of worldliness, ungodliness, and perversion in our nation and this world. The standard of morality in this nation has fallen so low that there is no moral compass to point us to true north. The line between right and wrong has been erased and from a world view it is nearly impossible to discern the difference between good and evil.
Let’s not be spiritual ostriches that bury our heads in the sand and pretend that because we ignore it, the problem does not exist. Our nation is leaning away from God, society is leaning away from God, but what concerns me most is that the church is leaning toward Sodom, toward tolerance of sin and compromise to avoid conflict.
To avoid conflict, to gain acceptance, to fit in, many of our pulpits have sold out, even many of our churches that once held the Word of God as the only standard for a life acceptable to God, have been infected by the spirit of compromise, and no longer sound a clear warning against sin. Their message has become diluted, and polluted, their pulpits are for sell to the highest bidder.
Genesis 19:16 – “And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.”
In other words, Lot was leaning in the wrong direction, but the Lord being merciful unto Lot, the angels took hold of their hands and pulled) them out of the city.
I know should get on with my message, but I just can’t go on without taking a minute to thank God for pulling me out. I was leaning in the wrong direction, stuck in sin and Jesus pulled me out! He pulled me out of drug addiction, out of alcoholism, and out of selfishness. Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus, for pulling me out! I was sinking in Quicksand, the harder I fought to get out, the deeper I went and the worse it got, then God in love and mercy reached down his hand and pulled me out.
Lot lost everything: He lost every temporal blessing that he had in Sodom, he lost his two sons in law, he lost his wife, and finally he lost his two daughters to the spirit of lust and corruption and perversion of Sodom. And it all started with a lean in the wrong direction.
I know this is a long one, and I’m almost done but I must make this point, it is perhaps the saddest part of the whole story. Through Abraham’s bold intercession the mercy of God had determined that judgment of Sodom could be avoided if he only Ten righteous were found there. Supposing that Lot had the power of a Godly life that had influenced his family toward God, they only needed four more people to overturn the verdict of destruction.
But the sad truth is: Not only were there not four others to be found, Lot’s life was so unstable, and so empty of conviction that his son-in-law’s thought he was making a joke about the coming judgment. Lot’s wife loved Sodom so much that her heart never left, and when her eyes turned to where she had invested her heart, she became a pillar of salt and died. And it all started with a lean in the wrong direction.
As I end this week’s entry, I only have one question for you child of God: which way are you leaning?
I know by the Spirit of God, someone who is reading this, your life has begun to lean in the wrong direction. It may not be any big thing right now, you might even say, I haven’t sinned. But your leaning the wrong way:
Song of Solomon 2:15 – “It’s the little foxes that spoil the vines.”
Don’t follow Lots example, don’t let the little things add up until it’s beyond repair. Repent, and start right now, leaning on Jesus.