Our study of Genesis 25 this Sunday brought us to the end of Abraham’s story and the beginning of his son Isaac’s story — and it offered us more than a few crucial truths we can apply to our lives.
First, we saw that Isaac and Rebekah weren’t able to have children because Rebekah was barren. But they also were people of prayer, and Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife — and God answered Isaac’s prayer, enabling Rebekah to conceive. Right off the bat, a quite simple illustration: How often do we come to the Lord in prayer with our needs? How often are we doing life “on our own” as if we are in control and in the driver’s seat? And how often does God remind us that we ultimately rely on him for our needs?
In this vein, Pastor Scott referenced a pair of verses that work well together. Isaiah 65:24 reads, “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” James 4:2 reads, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” We do not have because we do not ask — and even before we ask, God already has an answer waiting for us.
How many of you are still struck by Pastor Scott’s illustration of answers waiting for us in heaven that we haven’t asked God about in prayer? And to think that all of us in one way or another are going to find out in eternity that aspects of our lives on earth could have been different had we approached the Lord in prayer about specific things? Now, that may sound tragic on some level — but I find it pretty exciting! I’m alive right now and can begin to explore the blessings God has prepared for me that are literally waiting for me. How cool is that?
The chapter moves along with a scene featuring Esau and Jacob — the combative twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. And it’s a sad one. Esau comes in exhausted after shooting game as Jacob is making stew, and Jacob says he’ll give Esau some — for a price. Esau’s inheritance from Isaac, to be specific. And unbelievably, Esau — who “despised his birthright” — agrees! As Pastor Scott observed, Esau “magnified his current situation and minimized his future benefit.” And isn’t that what we often do, when we get involved in things we shouldn’t be getting involved in — or when we clamor “I want what I want when I want it”?
Esau sold off his inheritance for some food. He threw away his future so he could get rid of hunger pangs! As Christians our eternal futures are secure, but don’t we in some respects toss away God’s blessings that he’s just waiting to give us in favor of temporary, cheap substitutes? We must remind ourselves daily who we are in Christ and what he’s given us so we can accept his blessings and let them change our lives
Pastor Scott also reminded us that it all comes down to the fact that you and I are already “winners” of the greatest “sweepstakes” ever. We all hold the winning ticket because of what Jesus has done for us. Yet, our fallen natures still compel us to earn our way into heaven. Perhaps we find ourselves focused on “being good” and giving money away and doing our devotions — and not that we shouldn’t do those things; we should! But maybe, just maybe, in parts of ourselves we don’t often see, we’re doing those things as a transaction with God. “I do this for you, Lord, and then you can do this for me.” No, no, and for a third time, no!
Let us not view God as tightly holding on to blessings — or even eternal life — and us as constantly prying apart the Lord’s fingers so that he’ll release those things to us. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Just as the Publisher’s Clearinghouse people pursue winners of their prizes, even more the Lord pursues us with his blessings — that’s how much he wants us to experience them! We just have to stop running away from the Lord and what he wants to give to us. Let us slow down, turn to him, ask, and accept.
Finally, while we are truly “winners,” many of us may feel like “losers.” And that’s OK. In fact, as Pastor Scott said, that’s the first step is becoming a winner. Because the truth is, we’re all losers, we all fall short. But when we become Christians, we become winners because of what Jesus did for us. And that should cause us to live differently — and with our heads held high. Because we know who our father is.