Faithlife Sermons

Loving Leah

Hot Mess  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Pastor Appreciation

A reminder to appreciate
& Our book Keeper: Dove
I just showed up here…If you want, You can appreciate me next year…But these people help kept the church going during a difficult time


REC Welcome to a brand new series that we are simply calling: “Hot Mess”
How many of you have ever had relationships that were just a Hot Mess?
Whether it was marriage,
a relationship with your kids
or your coworkers
or how about people you go to church with?
We have all said things that we wish we could take back..
We have all broken a trust of some sort
We have all need to forgive or to be forgiven
We are going to be talking about how God redeems messy relationships
But before we get into that today I want to do something kind of old fashioned: For the rest of this series... we are going back to children’s church...
You probably haven’t done this in a long time. But we are going to Memorize 2 verses out of the Bible:
So would you all stand with me?
And lets read this together, Ready Go:
1 John 4:11-12
The New International Version (Chapter 4)
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
I love this verse because John is trying to remind the church that no one has seen God. But when we love each other then people get to see the love of God
So you loving others is a way that God reveals himself to all of humanity!
How revolutionary would it be if we all began to live this out?
I mean John is telling us that people would see God!
And the reality is: The church is the first place where people ought to experience this!
But the church is where broken people come!
So guess what we are from time to time?
We are a hot mess! (Graphic)
When I was talking through this series as a staff we were talking about graphics and I just said…
Sometimes messy relationships remind me of when my kids were small they would eat ice cream on a hot day and it would go everywhere...
So we took Pastor Ruth’s grandson on a hot day and took a photo of him eating ice cream and this is what we got.
This is what relationships are sometime
Whether it is family relationships
work relationships
your own marriage relationship
or relationships here in church...
Relationships can be like a two year old eating ice cream on a hot day...
Literally it is a hot mess!
When you are the two year old you don’t even see the mess…Everything is great...
BUT When you are on the outside of the situation, all you can see is the mess!
So in this series we are going to look through some messy relationships…We are going to look at thinks like conflict, family trauma, forgiveness and marriage
Open your bibles to Genesis 29:15 and just stick your finger in that place.

Jacob, Leah & Rachel

So before we jump into this story…we have to understand a little backstory:
Abraham made a covenant with God: He will be blessed to be a blessing…And God told Abraham that he would make his decedents as numerous as the stars in the sky
Abraham had a son named Isaac:
Isaac had twin sons. Jacob and Esau
Where we are picking up this story is where Jacob flees for his life because he had just deceived his father into giving him his brother’s blessing…
And his brother wanted to kill him
It is impotrant to note that the name Jacob means “deceiver”
He had cheated his own father with his mother’s help
and now his mother sent him to his Uncle Laban’s house….
Where he will get cheated himself...
Isn't it interesting how the worst traits of our families tend to be passed down from generation to generation?
This is where we pick up the story…
Genesis 29:15-30
Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel
After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
Do you ever read the Bible and think, what is even happening here?
Let me break it down for you if you didn’t get it
Jacob has fled his own family because he made that relationship a hot mess. His brother wanted to kill him…His deception in the family began to have repercussions
So then he goes to his uncle’s home...
He is working for him and he is thinking
My cousin Rachel is hot…I want to marry her!
So many jokes we can make about this…like: If you met your wife at your last family reunion then you might be a redneck...
But this actually is an impotrant point to make about reading the Bible.
It is impotrant not to Judge the Bronze age by 21st century ethics
This is just a very normal think in Jacob’s day
So the Bible says that Leah had weak eyes: In those days, eyes were spoken about as the total beauty for the whole woman…So Leah has weak eyes. Leah was not as pretty
But Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful
So Jacob wants to marry Rachel and sneaky old uncle Laban pulls the old switch-a-roo on Jacob...
You know they get married at night
There is strong drink flowing at the feast
Leah would have been covered from head to toe in a veil and gown
Then they go to the bridal tent where they spend their first night together, Jacob wakes up and realized he is deceived...
The same exact thing that Jacob does to his father happens to him…AHHH FAMILY SYSTEMS AND REPEATED SIN…We are going to get into this later in the series!
So Uncle Laban says hey…Our custom here is to have the older get married first. In a week you can have Rachel, but you have to give me another 7 years...
Laban wasn’t about to lose his labor and Jacob was in no position to negotiate
So the same kind of deceptiveness and trickery that Jacob pulled on his father is now being pulled on him...
However this reveals an impotrant truth...
When I do pre-marital counseling I will often tell this story and give those getting married this little saying.

When you say, “I do” you get two

Think about it…
Men, on your wedding day, you got Rachel…she was beautiful…She had the figure…her hair was all done up…care free and fun…
You bought a ring for her, you served her, you spent time on her and it seemed like nothing because you were so in love with her.
But a few years later you realized that that woman sleeping next to you was the not so lovely Leah…
She uses your razor to shave her legs
In the beginning of a movie you’ve both never seen, she asks what’s going on???
She starts to ask you loaded questions like, “If you had to change one thing about me what would it be?”
She insists on having a deep and meaningful conversation with you during the most vital moments of the game!
And ladies when you got married your man had a 6 pack…right? You were basically marrying a young Brad Pitt.
And now a few years later that six pack has crept into a full blown “dad bod”
And when you got married he would complement you and tell you the nicest thing and now the most he talks to you is when he falls asleep and snores so loud that you cant even fall asleep...
Early in the morning when everyone is trying to sleep he eats his oatmeal and the clank of the spoon on the bowl is so loud that it wakes everyone out...
Oh wait did that sound like an extremely specific example? Its because it is me...
You thought you had Brad Pitt on your hands, but you’ve just spilled your guys to him and he responds with, “I’m sorry, were you talking to me? “
How about this one: You tell him something and then he gives you 10 ways to fix it…And your like I don’t want it fixed I just want you to listen”
And then here is the best one ladies….You are so mad at him, you give him the silent treatment for like two hours…And he has no clue that your even doing it...
How is it that you could swear that you married Rachel….but one day you wake up and you realize that it is really Leah laying there…
When you say “I do,” you get the Rachel you’ve always wanted, and the Leah you never asked for!
See for Jacob…The only way to get the wife that he really wanted..His Rachel was to love Leah.
And for you,
the only way to get Rachel is to love Leah.
A couple of years ago our friends Nick and Coco were having a 20th anniversary party where they had a vow renewal service and they asked me to renew their vows.
I have a huge respect for couples that renew their vows. Because have gone through the realization that neither of them are perfect…
They have both met the Leah inside one another and decided to love the Leah…They had found the way to bring out Rachel
Christian couples discover this all the time…That who they married is actually a sinner just like them…
That who they married has so much Leah in them….
But in what these couples learned is that the secret to Leah is that when you love her well, Rachel comes out!
So when Nick and Coco renewed their vows…I used this scripture…Because they had both met the Leah that existed in each one of each-other and made the decision to love, and when they did…Rachel came out.
All of us have a little bit of Leah in us.
And this doesn't just pertain to those of you who are married it actually goes much deeper than that
Flip with me to the book of Mark:
Mark 3:13-19
Jesus Appoints the Twelve
13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Did you notice that Jesus in verse 13: “Called to him those he wanted”
I love that the people who Jesus “wanted” were a mess!
So Jesus calls together this group of men, many of who were natural enemies…
These Guys formed the first churches
Some of these guys would have never even had a conversation with each other because of how hated some of these guys were….
I mean Jesus called Simon the Zealot to his ministry to work along side Levi (Matthew) the tax collector!
Zealots believed that the only way to rid Palestine of Roman influence was to murder agents of Rome…this includes Jew traders who worked as tax collector…
So you’ve got to understand that many of Jesus’ teachings like love your enemies…forgive one another…do good to others…was first meant for this group of 12 guys who would have never spent any time together…
These 12 guys started the church….
You have Judas who the entire time of Jesus’ ministry was helping himself to the treasury bag and would later betray Jesus with a kiss.
You have the sons of Zebedee asking for a promotion in leadership and the rest of the disciples becoming indignant at each other
Even at the last supper when Jesus says, one of you will betray me, each one asks…is it me…probably because they genuinely thought at that point it could have been any of them.
It is no wonder there are so many problems with the church today…
And look at just the last few years what major scandals the church has had to deal with
I could name names but I don’t want to do that…you could look back just over the last 10 years and get a HUGE list of pastors who have failed morally
You can find a list of church scandals that are horrific…
Even this one: I mean River’s Edge is an amazing church but lets be honest...
There are some of you here who have problems with one another
There are some of you here who don’t speak any more
Let’s be honest…Church is just messy sometimes…sometimes you go to find God and all you get is drama
The church makes the church hard to love…
In fact many, many people still realize that Jesus is good but they will never step into a church because of these scandals that they’ve seen on tv
Let’s be honest.
You came to the church because the beauty of Jesus. The redemption and forgiveness that He offers
You came to church because Jesus is the savior of the world and through his death you get to have fellowship with God.
HOLY COW! You came to Jesus for his ethics and his upside down kingdom
You came to Jesus because you wanted to learn to love your enemies
You wanted to bless those who persecute you
So you came to Jesus…But what you got was each other
You came to the church because Jesus drew you in but what you ended up getting was the entire christian community!
You came for Jesus…But you got the church...
When you say “I DO” you get two
You get the Rachel you always wanted and the Leah that you never asked for
And when you come to follow Jesus
You get the savior of the word that you always wanted and the church that you never asked for.
Just like the only way to really get Rachel is to love Leah…
the only way to follow Jesus, to grow in your walk with Jesus...deeply is to love the church.
This is why we are memorizing 1 John 4:11-12 Together
1 John 4:11-12
The New International Version (Chapter 4)
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Learning to love the church or learning to love your spouse with all of the flaws that we have as human’s actually is huge in our Christian formation…
Loving Leah will transform me to be more like Christ
It is what we call sanctification or holiness…or putting on the character of Christ…
It gives a new meaning to
John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Because God so loved people…
Because God loved us when we were weak eyed Leah
Because God sees us as we really are
The Duplicitous
The Spiteful
The Hateful
The Resentful
The Angry
The Fake
God sees us…He knows our own brokenness and he still chooses to love us anyway
he sent His son for us
Jesus loved the Leah in us so that Rachel will come out
The Apostle Paul really understood this!
Ephesians 5:25-32
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Paul Got it!
Did you see verse 32:
“This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Husbands love your wives Just as Jesus loved the church!
Husbands fall in love with the Leah that is in your wife because your love will transform her into a Rachel
and wives love and respect your husbands because when you do, the Leah that is alive in him will be transformed into Rachel
But most importantly: When we learn to love Leah…in our marriages…at church…at work
Then we are the ones who get transformed!
We are the ones who become like Jesus...
because Jesus loved us as Leah!
One of my favorite Lutheran Theologians was Dietrich Bonhoeffer
and he wrote this amazing little book called Life together
I am going to put a quote on the screen
Christian Community is like the Christian’s sanctification. It’s a gift of God, which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification. What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as Christians should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to constantly be taking its temperature. The more thankful we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.
Christian Brotherhood is not an ideal, which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and the promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely we shall think of our fellowship and pray for it and hope for it.
(page 30)
What Dietrich Bonhoeffer is saying is that when you love the church in all of her flaws, that is when you really start to look like Jesus.
Because that is what Jesus did for you!
So how do you learn to love Leah? You dive into the community…into the church and you decide to love and to bear with one another….you get to know the people that are around you…
In loving them….you find Jesus
Love the church…in her brokenness…in the sins that become public…in the scandal…when it is hard to love…because when we do we become more and more like Jesus…
Loving and giving himself for her…
When you say I do to Jesus to you get the Jesus you’ve always wanted and the Church you don't.
But, the only way to get Rachel is to love Leah.


Church our relationships are often a hot mess, but through it all there is a sure fire way to redeem the mess
Love Leah
Love the Leah that is in your boss at work
Love the Leah that is in your spouse
Love the Leah that is in your small group
Love the Leah that is living next door
Often times relationships do not get redeemed or restored because they get written off
We throw away rather than dig in.
This week,
Men would you love the Leah that is sleeping right next to you
Women would you love the Leah in your husband
Friends, would you come to church and find the not so lovely Leah’s and love them until Rachel comes out
Maybe you are here and you are thinking…I AM LEAH…GOD WOULD NEVER LOVE ME!
But the reality is that this is that your creator loves you right where you are at
Where you see yourself as a Leah, he sees you as Rachel
God wants a chance at transforming you into the Rachel he created you to be...
All you need to do is to put your trust in Him.
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