AGCC Sun. a.m. 1/10/99




TEXT:         Genesis 25:21-34;  Heb. 12:16-17


INTRO:       There is little doubt that life contains many choices.  There is little doubt that life has many difficulties.  There is little doubt that the choices we make with difficulties can either make or break the quality of our life!


The problem with most people, including Christians, is NOT the problems themselves but the choices we make when we face them.  We need to decide early on that if we are going to live for Christ we are truly SOLD OUT to do so or we will find ourselves SELLING OUT due to lack of commitment when the problems hit.


Good preparation before problems help prevent procrastination and pain on making good choices when the problems hit!


ILLUS:     Lord Joseph Duveen, American head of the art firm that bore his name, planned in 1915 to send one of his experts to England to examine some ancient pottery.  He booked passage on the Lusitania.  Then the German Embassy issued a warning that the liner might be torpedoed. Duveen wanted to call off the trip.

"I can't take the risk of your being killed," he said to his young employee.  "Don't worry," said the man, "I'm a strong swimmer, and when I read what was happening in the Atlantic, I began hardening myself by spending time every day in a tub of ice water.  At first I could sit only a few minutes, but this morning, I stayed in that tub nearly two hours."

Naturally, Duveen laughed.  It sounded preposterous.  But his expert sailed, and the Lusitania was torpedoed.  The young man was rescued after nearly five hours in the chilly ocean, still in excellent condition.  Just as this young man did, so Christians should condition themselves by practicing devotional discipline, behavioral discipline, and discipline in doing good.   -- Cited in Christianity Today, February 1979, p. 25.


PROP. SENT:    The Bible teaches us that short sighted choices we may make to satisfy a momentary material need can have life long spiritual consequences that not even forgiveness can alter later. 




      A.   Prayer   25:21

1.   Like his own father and mother, Isaac and his wife Rebekah were childless, Rebekah was barren.

a.   Like his father Abraham, Isaac truly loved his wife and facing such difficulties he does the right thing, he prays on behalf of his wife.

b.   There is nothing better we can do when facing difficulties than praying, it moves our focus off the problem and onto God.

2.  The only right way for Isaac and Rebekah was God’s way, they knew where to turn when they faced this challenge.

3.  It is so important in difficult circumstances to have a proper focus, it will affect the choices we make.

                 a.   If our focus is wrong, there is a good chance our choices will be also!


ILLUS:    It seems that more people today have a greater desire to live long than they do to live well. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).


b.   As a relatively young man Isaac had learned from his father Abraham to keep his focus on God and not on the problem.

4.  God’s reward for Isaac and Rebekah for a proper focus is an answer to their prayer…she becomes pregnant not with just one child, but with two – considered by ancient Hebrews as a great blessing!


      B.   Problems!   25:22-26

            1.   Even answered prayers don’t remove the possibilities of new problems!

                 a.    In fact, they sometimes create a new set of problems!

b.   When Lazarus was raised from the dead, a great miracle, immediately the Jewish authorities sought to kill him! – boy, talk about new problems!

2.  Rebekah took note that these two boys in her womb were already jostling with each other, what does this mean?

a.   She went to the Lord because she recognized that this was a potential problem.

b.   She may have been confused by the fact that God blesses her with twins, but only to discover that instead of ending all her problems new ones seem to be forming!

c.   How many times have we reacted this same way to God, as soon as a prayer request gets answered and we think there will be smooth sailing another problem reveals itself related to the blessing of the answered prayer!

3.  Life is a string of facing difficulties, and how we tackle each one determines the quality of our life. 

4.  An answered prayer no matter how great does not negate future problems!

                  Even great blessings can become great challenges!

5.  At such times we must choose in EACH SITUATION which way to go!


ILLUS:    It is this way. The Lord, he is always voting for a man; and the devil, he is always voting against him. Then the man himself votes and that breaks the tie.  -Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entries 1143-1146.


II.  DESTRUCTIVE CHOICES    25:27-34;  Heb. 12:16-17


      A.   Pitfalls   25:27-28

1.   It is very obvious early on here that Easu and Jacob were both very different boys.

a.   Esau was an outdoorsman type while Jacob was a domestic kid.

b.   Unfortunately the father Isaac made a clear favorite out of Esau because he loved wild meat while Rebekah clearly favored Jacob.

2.  Instead of the parents working together to help both boys appreciate each other they actually helped keep the tension between them alive.

3.  As Isaac got older his stomach began to rule his desires, so much so that at the end of his life his last desires were not so much spiritual in nature as they were physical…he wanted a bowl of his favorite meat from his favorite son.

a.   This pitfall in his life is seen in his favored son Esau also.

b.   Esau learned well from his dad, his stomach will rule his life also.

c.   How important it is that we show our young people what to value.


ILLUS:    Max Jukes lived in New York. He did not believe in Christ or in Christian training. He refused to take his children to church, even when they asked to go. He has had 1,026 descendants; 300 were sent to prison for an average term of thirteen years; 190 were public prostitutes; 680 were admitted alcoholics. His family, thus far, has cost the state in excess of $420,000. They made no contribution to society.

Jonathan Edwards lived in the same state, at the same time as Jukes. He loved the Lord and saw that his children were in church every Sunday, as he served the Lord to the best of his ability. He has had 929 descendants, and of these 430 were ministers; 86 became university professors; 13 became university presidents; 75 authored good books; 7 were elected to the United States Congress. One was vice president of his nation. His family never cost the state one cent but has contributed immeasurably to the life of plenty in this land today.   --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 195.


4.  Rebekah had learned to get what she wanted through deception, and Jacob learned this skill well also.

a.   Rebekah was willing to deceive her own husband to get what she wanted.

b.   Though she desired the right things, she often went about getting them in the wrong way, something Jacob learned well from her.

5.  It is NOT enough to desire the right things in life if we seek to gain them in the wrong way, the example of our lives is so important in shaping the next generation.


     B.   Priorities    25:29-34

1.   This next part of the story reveals the learned priorities of Jacob and Esau from the respective parents who favored them.

a.   Esau comes back from the hunt, and he is hungry, all he wants is immediate satisfaction of his stomach.

b.   Jacob sees an opportunity to secure a spiritual blessings, but does it in the wrong way, by taking advantage of his brother’s weakness.

2.  All Esau can see is his immediate need of satisfaction, nothing else matters.

a.   This is a sure formula for failure in life.

b.   When passions rule our life instead of priorities we become prisoners to those passions.

c.   Esau only saw what he didn’t have that he immediately wanted … no sense of value on what he is willing to give up to satisfy an immediate craving.

3.  Jacob too feels he is slighted and sees his brother’s weakness as a way to get what he wants too!

4.  It is sad when people always feel like everyone else has what they want!  Tragically, neither one will be happy with the price-tag.


ILLUS:   The cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand.   -- Jonathan Swift   -- As quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts & Funny Sayings, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1993), p. 59.


5.  All sense of priorities were gone in order to satisfy his immediate need.

a.   This is how much of western civilization lives today.

b.   Our education system stresses the learning of information over the wisdom to know what’s important.


ILLUS:   It is not the IQ but the I WILL that is important in education.     -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996).


6.  Esau’s priorities were misplaced, and though Jacob’s was correct he goes about getting the right thing in the wrong way … they both will pay the price-tag for their sin.

a.   It is so tragic that Esau could be so short-sighted as to give away the birthright of the first born son just to get something at the moment that he wanted.

b.   How many of us live this way before our children, do they see us postpone gratification to do the right things?

c.   You can hardly teach your kids the importance of Church if you skip it to go to the model car show or fishing on the lake!  How can you tell your children God is more important than material things if you don’t tithe yourself?  Remember, Esau and Jacob both reflected the values of their parents who favored them, what are you teaching your children?


     C.    Price-tag   Heb. 12:16-17

1.  The great reality of poor choices has both good news and bad news:

a.   Good news:  There can be forgiveness for those mistakes we make.

b.   Bad news:  The consequences may continue throughout our lifetime.

2.  The Hebrew writer here instructs us to avoid being “godless” like Esau who for a moment of pleasure sold off his birthright…and then later when he decided it was after all important and he wanted it back could not get it back EVEN WITH TEARS!

a.   If only people would realize this about sin and godless choices we may make.

b.   Yes, God can and will forgive our mistakes, but we may learn to live with the results of our choices for years or even a lifetime.

3.  We must be careful not to comfort our bad choices by the fact that others have made the same bad choice too…that doesn’t always mean we escape pain.


ILLUS:    Hurrying my 11-year-old daughter to school, I turned right on red where it was prohibited. "Uh, oh," I said, realizing my mistake. "I just made an illegal turn."

"It's all right," my daughter said. "The police car behind us did the same thing."   -- Jack Eppolito, Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."


4.  Both Esau and Jacob paid dearly for their choices, and so did their family.

a.   Yet in spite of this they both did find forgiveness also, and even blessing.

b.   How different though the quality of their lives may have been had they done things God’s ways instead of their own.

5.  So often we want to find someone or something else to blame the pain on, but the truth is that we are often the ones responsible for the quality of our lives.


ILLUS:    As a rule, you will find that those who complain about the way the ball bounces are usually the ones who dropped it.   -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).


6.  Why not spend your life making good bargains instead of bad ones, it is better to sell out to God than to be sold out to the world.


CONCLUSION:   Life if full of choices and choosing is driven by needs.  What we define as our most important needs will define what we consider our most important choices should be.  For this reason we need to decide what we are sold out to!  Actually, our choices will reflect our passions.  Our choices can bring great joys or sorrows, some things cannot later be undone, so we need to choose wisely.