O The Difference a Day Makes

Twins. Not one child, but two. And though they came from the same womb, they grew to be worlds apart. Their names are probably familiar to you. Esau, born first, loved to hunt. Isaac, his father, loved him for it. Jacob, riding out of the womb on the heel of Esau, hung out at the tents—a homebody of sorts. Rebekah loved him.

Esau could hunt, Jacob cook. Esau was passionate, emotional and sporadic. Jacob, cunning and deceitful. Isaac kept on loving Esau, Rebekah continued to favor Jacob.

One day. How a day changes everything. Esau, as the firstborn owned the birthright. He owned it for no other reason than the fact he was born first. As owner of the birthright, he knew that several privileges awaited him at his father’s death. First of all, he would receive twice as much of his father’s property as any other heir. His wealth was secure. Second, he received authority over the other family members. He became the new patriarch, the newly respected leader of the family. His authority would be in tact. Finally, he would receive the much-desired blessing from the father which secured his relationship with Almighty God. His spiritual heritage was pronounced. All because he owned the birthright.

One day. Esau came home from the field—exhausted, famished, weary. Almost home, he smelled lunch. Jacob was practicing his culinary arts again. The aroma of the freshly cooked stew floated through the dry desert air. Esau’s empty stomach screamed for food. His tired, aching body begged for relief. His mind listened to nothing else but their voices.

“Jacob, please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished,” Esau begged.

Jacob had plenty of time to fill his stomach and his heart with a devious plan. Seeing Esau’s desperate condition, he went for the jugular.

“First, sell me your birthright.”

Esau’s eyes grew larger than his stomach. Hunger overwhelmed him. Forgetting that in his father’s house was plenty of food, in his father’s house were servants who could have responded to his request for food, he chose a swallow of lentil soup— a simple stew of red beans. Where he could have enjoyed a leg of lamb, he gulped a mouthful of beans. When he could have feasted at Isaac’s table, he begged at his brother’s trailside soup kitchen. Overcome with emotion, Esau responded:

“Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?”

Jacob, wanting to clearly understand that he had so easily won the coveted birthright asked Esau for further assurance. “Swear to me.” The steam from the bean soup slowly wafted to Esau’s nostrils. Swearing that Jacob could have his birthright, Esau lunged for the bowl of soup.

Jacob served Esau for the last time. From now on, Esau would serve Jacob. With each swallow of the soup Esau’s birthright disintegrated into nothing. A full stomach gave way to an empty heart. Esau despised his birthright.

Family Discussion: What should Esau have done differently? What did Jacob do wrong? What kinds of decisions can we make hastily (like Esau) and end up making a mess rather than trusting God?

You’d Better Run!

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14 ESV)


Dictionary.com defines flee as to run away, as from danger or pursuers. Idolatry is dangerous. Fleeing is the only sane response. Making it practical, here are five ways to flee idolatry:

  1. End ungodly relationships. The right relationship with the wrong person is still the wrong relationship.  Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20 ESV)
  2. End ungodly habits. Stephen Covey said, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) What you do today will determine who you are tomorrow.
  3. Don’t just run from–run to. If you flee idolatry without running to God, you will replace your old idol with another one.  The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)
  4. Begin godly relationships. You are not designed to walk alone. From the beginning, God knew Adam should not be alone so he made a helper for him. John called this walking in the light:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)
  5. If you fall down, don’t freak out, ‘fess up.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV) God is faithful when you fail. Run to him.

Send Jesus to Answer the Door

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:13-14 ESV)

Sin comes knocking on the door of your heart. If you only crack open the door, sin will push it down. The writer of Genesis draws a vivid picture of the invasive nature of sin:

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 ESV)

When sin knocks you have a choice. You can present your members (your body) to sin as instruments for unrighteousness. Sin wants your eyes, your tongue, your mind, your hands, your feet. Sin wants your entire body so that it can destroy you piece by piece and lead you down the road to destruction.

On the other hand you can present yourself to God as one who has been brought from death to life. You can present your members to God as instruments for righteousness. The reality is that sin won’t quit knocking. Becoming a Christian doesn’t stop the knocking of sin on the door of your heart. However, you don’t have to answer the door. You have a new king on the throne room of your heart. His name is Jesus. He is eager to answer the door of temptation when the world comes knocking, when the flesh rears its ugly head, or when the enemy assaults.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

When Jesus answers the door, sin flees. When sin flees your heart is ready to be alone with God.

Send Jesus to answer the door…every time.

Unrealized Love

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  Matthew 1:25 (ESV)

I enjoy weddings. I really do! I have a unique advantage. Thirty minutes before the wedding I get to hang out with the groom. I’ve watched them pace, sweat and squirm. I’ve heard them chatter, tell not so funny jokes to pass the time, and wonder how many guests are arriving. Grooms are generally a nervous bunch.

I wonder what would happen if I told the groom that the wedding was on but the honeymoon was off. Many have saved themselves sexually for marriage. Joseph had. Premarital sex was unheard of in his day and punishable by death! Yet when Mary came to him announcing her pregnancy and Joseph was told by an angel to marry her anyway, everything changed. Obedience for Joseph wasn’t an easy road.

He took his wife. He properly married Mary.

But knew her not. He skipped the honeymoon. No sex. No physical expression of his love for her.

His obedience to God preempted his ability to have sex with his wife. Did he desire Mary sexually? Of course! Did he anticipate sexual intimacy with her? Every fiancé does! Was he sexually attracted to her? Absolutely!

He waited. Joseph chose the path of unrealized love because he realized Jesus’ love for Him and the world.

What do you want desperately but God says, “not now?” What are you tempted to do but shouldn’t? What sin entices you, draws you in, calls your name? He is Immanuel, God with you. He’s enough to give you power over sin and over your selfish desires.

Sin: An Enemy Worthy of A Savior

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

When God first promised Ahaz that he would give him a sign that his enemies would no longer threaten him, the sign came through a baby whose name would be Immanuel. God’s answer for Ahaz’s enemies wasn’t a military attack or even a military leader. His plan was the promise of His presence.

When God told Joseph to marry Mary, God informed Joseph of his tactical assault on sin: “She will bear a son, and they shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The first immanuel was born to remind Ahaz that God could handle his most dreaded enemies; the second Immanuel was born to show Joseph (and us) that God can handle our most threatening enemy–sin.

How does God do it? Immanuel. God could have blown sin off the map from His vantage point in Heaven. Rather, he came down and became one of us, walked among us, and now lives in us to daily eradicate sin in our lives. He is Immanuel.

What is your most significant sin struggle today? If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He’s Immanuel. He is with you and He is for you. Turn to Him today. When sin comes knocking at the door of your heart, send Jesus to answer the door!