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Tears of Regret – Esau May 1, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Esau, Forgiveness, Genesis, Hebrews, Holiness, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah, Regret, Tears.
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TEARS OF REGRET
Genesis 27 with Hebrews 12:14-17

When I was growing up, there was a Southern gospel song that we used to sing that went something like this:

Part of my life brings tears of regret and part of my life I would rather forget.
Part of my life is the story of shame but the rest of my life, I will honor God’s name.
Yes, part of my life to false idols I bowed and part of my life I just followed the crowd.
Part of my life is the story of shame but the rest of my life, I will honor God’s name.

Freely I drank from life’s glittering cup, so deep in my shame, I could hardly look up.
Tears of regret are the price I must pay but the rest of my life, God can have his own way.

A. Most of us experience tears of regret.
1. Tears of regret result from not foreseeing the consequences of our actions (Heb. 12:16 and Gen. 25:29-34). Patrick Morley in The Man in the Mirror tells how he as a young businessman “made it a habit to always ask older men what their greatest regrets were, hoping [to] glean some wise tips…two [regrets] showed up on virtually every man’s list…” not being financially ready for retirement at the age of fifty and not getting to know their kids before they left home. These men had not seen the consequences of their chosen lifestyle.

2. Tears of regret come when we realize the past cannot be undone (Heb. 12:17 and Gen. 27:30-40). Esau was being a little hard on himself. After all, before he was born God had already denied him the blessing he wept for. He, however, had thought that he and his father could get around God’s will. Esau could have decided to follow God’s plan as Jonathan did when David was chosen by God to be king but instead he chose to work for his own self-interests.

3. Tears of regret can easily become the fuel of bitterness (Heb. 12:15 and Genesis 27:41-28:9). The writer of Hebrews describes the root of bitterness as something more than what the hate of Esau became. It seems to be akin to unbelief, spiritual stubbornness and rebellion. There is emotional bitterness which is painful and hurtful but the greatest danger is when that bitterness results in rejection of Jesus Christ but that often happens.

B. How do we avoid tears of regret?
1. Pursue peace with others and holiness before God (Hebrews 12:14). Thomas Jefferson valued the pursuit of happiness, which in the culture of that day meant the pursuit of property. God values other pursuits. We are to pursue, to chase after, to make peace and holiness priorities in my life.

Pursuing peace: In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Erwin Lutzer in his book, When You’ve Been Wronged, tells of a missionary to Muslims in Egypt. The man received a letter from an angry Muslim that said, “Cursed be you, cursed be your wife, and cursed be your children. Cursed is the home in which you live, cursed is the car that you drive.” Rather than worrying about the letter or ignoring the letter, the man wrote a reply, “This is my prayer for you: blessed be your wife, blessed be your children, blessed be your home, and blessed is the car that you drive.”

How do you pursue peace? Erwin Lutzer suggests the following:
I. Offer a gesture of genuine goodwill. It may be small like a handshake and smile. It may be a gesture of generosity. It may be personal sacrifice. You may not feel like offering goodwill. Your gesture may be regarded with suspicion but that is where you can begin.
II. Humble yourself before God. If you are going to pursue peace with others you must first submit your will to God. Until you are convinced that God wants you to reconcile, to pursue peace, you will almost always find an excuse not to do it.
III. Humble yourself before others. Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” To pursue peace will cost you in pride and dignity and rights. It is the only way, however, to pursue peace. Don’t misunderstand, humbling yourself does not mean you never hold others accountable or set necessary boundaries but as you hold them accountable and as you set up the boundaries, humble yourself before others.

Pursuing holiness: Jerry Bridges in Pursuit of Holiness tells of “Jonathan Edwards, who resolved never to do anything he would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of his life, [he] also made this resolution: ‘Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.’”

How then do you pursue holiness? The context of Hebrews 12 (see verse 10) implies discipline. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Bible is necessary. The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible for this purpose (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As we learn the Scripture the Spirit brings to our mind and illuminates what we have learned and then we obey it. That, however, takes daily discipline.

2. Pay attention to each other’s spiritual condition (Hebrews 12:15; see also 3:12-14:1; 10:24-27). The book of Hebrews is difficult for us to understand at times because the author does not do what we often do, we compartmentalize our belief and our practice. The writer of Hebrews indicates that if there is a problem with how you live, there may well be a problem with what you believe.

There is another area that makes the book of Hebrews hard for us. The writer is willing to reserve judgment on the spiritual condition of others without shrinking from his responsibility for others. We find this hard to do. We take one of two extremes: either “judge not that you be not judged” or we condemn those who we feel do not meet our standard. Both extremes are irresponsible and wrong. The writer of Hebrews says, “Know each other, become so close to each other in every way so that you will recognize the root of bitterness when it begins to produce a sprout.”

What should you do? The answer is found in Hebrews 12:25, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” God has spoken. Will you do his will?

Next Week’s Sermon: Remember this Place

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Now That Jesus Is Risen April 18, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Confession, Covenant, Discipleship, Exodus, First Peter, Holiness, Leviticus, Sanctification.
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NOW THAT JESUS IS RISEN
Exodus 19:1-8

I want to address an important question. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Now that he is risen, what now? The answer is found in Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Salvation we understand. We are saved from sin, death, hell, and the devil. What, however, does it mean to believe unto righteousness? This is one of the great themes of the Bible. We through faith in the resurrected Christ become a holy people, that is, we become saints.

A. To be a holy people means we must keep the covenant of the Lord (Exodus 19:3-6). The children of Israel are a good example of what we are talking about. God saved them from slavery in Egypt. God saved them from certain death by parting the Red Sea. God saved them from Pharaoh and his mighty army.

In verse 4 God says, “You have seen what I did to Pharaoh. You have seen that you are the apple of my eye. I have born you on eagle’s wings. All the world is mine but I have made a covenant with you. Keep that covenant.” Put another way, this is your reality, now obey me.

B. To be a holy people means we must honor the salvation of the Lord (Leviticus 11:44-47). These verses indicate how that we keep the covenant of the Lord. At the end of a chapter of rules concerning what is kosher to eat, God says that the reason for these rules is not because bacon is sinful and hamburger is not. It is also not necessarily because oysters are unhealthy and chicken is not. God tells us why he gave them such strict rules. He says that my works prove that I am different from all other gods so you must be different from all other peoples (verse 44-45).

Now we know that these rules don’t apply anymore. Jesus made that clear to Peter in a dream in Acts 10. Since bacon and jumbo shrimp are allowable to us to eat, how do we honor the salvation of the Lord? Ephesians 4:1-3 tells us, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

The world for the most part does not live with this type of attitude. Billy Martin tells how that he and Mickey Mantle went hunting in Texas. Mantle had a friend, who had given them permission to hunt. When they arrived, Mantle went inside and Martin stayed in the car. The friend had a pet mule in the barn, that was going blind, and he didn’t have the heart to put the animal out of his misery; so he asked Mantle to shoot it for him. Mantle came back to the car pretending to be mad and said to Martin, that permission to hunt had been denied and that he was so mad he was going to shoot one of the friend’s mules. Martin said, “We can’t do that!” Mantle said, “Just watch me!” Mantle rushed to the barn and shot the mule. As he was leaving the barn, he heard two shots. He saw Martin with his gun. “What are you doing?” Mantle said. Martin, himself now truly angry, said, “We’ll show him! I just killed two of his cows.” That is the way of the world. Are you longsuffering as a citizen of God’s holy people or do you get even, as is done in the world?

C. To be a holy people means we must pledge our loyalty to the Lord (Leviticus 20:6-8). To be holy means more than being nice. It also means that our loyalty is pledged to the Lord. God uses strong language here. To depend on a medium or someone who communicates with the spirit world is unfaithfulness to God our husband.

Now most of us do not try to communicate with the spirit world, not because we don’t believe in its existence or in the possibility but rather we have understood that God has forbidden it. There is, however, another way in which we can show unfaithfulness to our groom, Jesus the Christ. It is found in James 4:1-4, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? …You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever there wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

D. To be a holy people means we will not follow the world (Leviticus 20:25-27). God says, “I have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (verse 26). He is not talking about isolation here. Israel was never isolated from the nations. In fact, Israel was intended to be a witness of God’s power to the nations. Rahab, Ruth, Namaan, the city of Nineveh, the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius are all examples of how Israel as the nation of God drew individuals from within the nations to God. If we are not to isolate ourselves from the world, what does it mean not to follow the world?

First John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

E. To be a holy people means we will hope in the coming of the Lord (1 Peter 1:13-21). Peter is saying, because the world will not last and our salvation is eternal, you need to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance… ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

To hope in the coming of the Lord implies being very careful in this world. Max Lucado tells about an Indian walking up a mountain when he met snake who wanted to be carried up the mountain. The Indian said, “No, you’ll bite me.” “No, I won’t,” said the snake, “I just need a little help.” The Indian picked up the snake and carried him to the top of the mountain. At the top the snake bit him. The Indian fell and the snake began to slither away. “You lied!” he gasped, “You said you wouldn’t bite me!” The snake stopped and looked back and said, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

F. To be a holy people means we proclaim the praises of the Lord to the world (1 Peter 2:8b-10). We have been delivered. We are now a holy people. Let’s proclaim his praises, let’s shout from the housetops that there is mercy to be found in Jesus Christ.

This is one of the reasons I believe in eternal security. How can I preach the mercy of God when I am not sure that His mercy is sufficient to forgive me not only of what I have done but also of anything I might do. There is a warning here though. Paul put it this way in Romans 11:20-22, “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches (ethnic Israel), He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” If I say I am in the faith and I do not live accordingly, then, like Israel, I prove am not in faith and that I am doomed to destruction.”

Next Week’s Sermon: Does God Hate Some People?