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Journey Mercies

Seeking God's mercy through prayer in the midst of crisis
This sermon is part of the sermon series "A Messy, Blessed Life". See series.


Unless you go to the theater regularly, you may not be used to thinking of stories in terms of acts. But most of the stories you read, or dramatic movies and TV shows you see, are presented in a three-act structure. In Act One we're introduced to the characters and their setting. Things are normal, but then—a crisis! A danger or villain or problem is played out before us until it seems insurmountable. When the first act ends, the audience looks at one another with raised eyebrows—a look that says, "How are they going to get out of that mess?"

In Act Two the plot thickens. Perhaps the hero is making her way toward a solution and then—wham!—there's a twist that makes things even worse. Perhaps there are several twists. What is she going to do? Things have gone from bad to worse. Then the curtain closes, or on TV, the commercials run.

In Act Three everything starts building to a climax—the final battle, the showdown in the courtroom, the big game. Then, it's over. The story is resolved, and the loose ends are tied up. The curtain comes down, you close the book, or the credits run, and you look at your friend with a satisfied smile. "That was good!" you say.

As we return to our study of the life of Jacob, we step into the first act of a classic three-act story that stretches through Genesis 32-33. You remember the back story. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, cheated his older twin brother, Esau, out of the great blessing of God—a blessing God would have given to him without all the shenanigans. Esau was angry enough to kill Jacob, so Jacob went into exile for 20 years. Now he's coming home, but he has to face Esau.

This story is useful to us because we all regularly have our own three-act ...

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Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Even if you're facing a crisis of your own making, God is on your side.

II. When your future is frightening, nothing you do matters so much as praying well.