Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 25:19-34; Psalm 119:105-112 or Isaiah 55:10-13: Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Choosing the Lord’s way: Our response to God’s grace
Esau was a fool. He chose his own way rather than the Lord’s way.
Jacob was a ‘heel’! ‘Born with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel..., he was named Jacob (Heel)’ (Genesis 25:26). A crafty twister, a manipulating cheat, there was nothing about him that merited God’s blessing.
Jacob was not superior to Esau. Like Esau, Jacob was a sinner. Esau was not inferior to Jacob. Both were guilty before God.
Why, then - in God’s purpose - does ‘the elder’ (Esau) ‘serve the younger’ (Jacob) (Genesis 25:23)?
The answer is grace, the ‘amazing grace’ of God. Grace lifted Jacob. The glory belongs to God.
Grace could have lifted Esau.
By grace Jacob valued the birthright (God’s blessing). His way of seeking God’s blessing was devious. Nevertheless, he was seeking for God - and God, in His grace, found him and made him a new man (Genesis 32:28). ‘Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin!’
Choosing the Lord’s way: Our choice for the whole of our life
‘I have decided to obey Your laws until the day I die’ (Psalm 119:112).
Throughout life, we have to make choices. Some choices are relatively straightforward. Others are very much more difficult. Some choices don’t affect the rest of our life very much. There are, however, choices which affect the whole of our life.
There is one choice which is more important than any other - Choosing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour.
Those who refuse to choose are ‘double-minded’ (Psalm 119:113). They can’t make up their mind. They know that they should be following Christ - but they are still ‘in love with the world.’ They are ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (I John 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:4).
Make your choice. Say to the world, ‘Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God’. Say to God, ‘I have decided to obey Your laws until the day I die’ (Psalm 119:115, 112).
Choosing the Lord’s way: Let the Word of God change your life.
The Word of God is spoken - ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found...’ (Isaiah 55:6-7).
No one seems to be listening. What are we to do? We must remember God’s promise: ‘My Word will not return to Me empty’ (Isaiah 55:11).
We do not see all that God is doing. He is doing much more than we realize - ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts...’ (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We may be feeling very despondent - ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything’ (Luke 5:5). The Lord still comes to us with His Word of encouragement: ‘You shall go out with joy...’ (Isaiah 55:12).
Before there is joy, there may be many tears.
When there seems to be nothing but disappointments, we must remember the Lord’s promise: ‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy...’ (Psalm 126:5-6).
We must not ‘judge before the time...’ (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Choosing the Lord’s way: Let the joy of God change your life.
‘Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord’ (Psalm 64:10).
True joy in the Lord is not just a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn’t last for very long.
When our ‘praise’ to the Lord is real, it leads to a changed life: ‘O God’, we will ‘keep our promises to You’ (Psalm 65:1).
Jesus shows us the great difference between a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn’t last, and a true conversion which leads to a changed life.
He speaks of those who ‘receive the Word with joy,... endure for a while’ and then ‘fall away.’ He speaks also of those who ‘hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit’ (Mark 4:3-9, 16-17, 20).
How do you worship the Lord? Are you looking for a good feeling - and nothing more than that? God is looking for more. He wants us to live as ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Choosing the Lord’s way: Let the Spirit of God change your life.
Each of us must choose.
We can ‘live according to the flesh’ or we can ‘live according to the Spirit.’ We can ‘set the mind on the flesh’ or we can ‘set the mind on the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6).
The new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. God is preparing us for the greater ‘glory that will be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18). We have ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’. The Holy Spirit is ‘the guarantee of our inheritance’. He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course! With Him in our hearts, we long for more - ‘an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you’, ‘the redemption of our bodies’, ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’(21-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
Led by the Spirit, strong in the Spirit, we press on to glory (Romans 8:14, 26, 17).
Choosing the Lord’s way: Let the Son of God change your life.
Jesus spoke in parables. He spoke of everyday things, teaching lessons concerning the Kingdom of God. He was a story-teller, and yet He was more than that. His stories had a message, a life-changing message, a message designed to lead His hearers into new life, the life of God’s Kingdom.
The parable of the sower may be described more fully as the parable of ‘the sower, the seed and the soil.’
Some respond to God’s Word in a shallow way. In others, there is greater depth of response. Some ‘enjoy’ the preaching without really responding, in faith, to Christ. Jesus says, ‘He who has ears, let him hear’(Matthew 13:10).
Receive God’s Word in obedient faith, and your knowledge of God will increase (Matthew 13:12). This is the way of childlike faith and spiritual growth. Beware of proud unbelief and spiritual decline (Matthew 13:12; 11:25)!