Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley.
Today, we look at how we can set the new year on the right track with lessons from the Old Testament story of Jacob and Esau. Here's part one of Protecting Your Future. What is the biggest mistake you ever made in your life? You say, well, I've made so many, I'm not too sure I know what the largest one is. Well, we all make mistakes. Sometimes they're small mistakes, sometimes they're big mistakes. Sometimes they have little or no consequence. Sometimes they have very long-lasting consequence. We all make them. Now, some of them, we can just sort of say, well, forgive me and move on. Or, I'll correct this.
Some of them are irretrievable. You can't go back. You can't make it right once it's happened. And one of those mistakes that I want to talk about in this message is one of those mistakes that many people are making and do not even realize it. If you ask them, do you think that's a mistake?
They'd say no. And so, I want you to turn, if you will, to the twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Genesis. And here is a very graphic picture of a mistake that many people are making in their life. And what they're doing is simply this. They are simply sacrificing their future for the pleasure of the present moment. Sacrificing their future for the pleasure of the present moment. They don't even realize it. Because you see, they're not looking ahead.
They're doing those things that seem to be the natural, normal thing to do. So, I want you to notice something here. Abraham, son Isaac, two sons, Jacob and Esau. This is all about one event, one incident in the relationship between Esau and Jacob.
So, I'll just begin with the twenty-seventh verse that speaks of these two young men. When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field. But Jacob was a peaceful man living in the tents. Now, Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for game. But Rebekah loved Jacob.
Now, you got to know that there's going to be a little conflict in his family already. When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished. And Esau said to Jacob, Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff, for I am famished.
Therefore, his name was called Edom, because it was red. But Jacob said, First, sell me your birthright. Esau said, Behold, I'm about to die.
Or of what use then is the birthright to me? And Jacob said, First, swear to me. So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew. And he ate and drank and rose and went on his way.
Thus Esau despised his birthright. Now, somebody says, Well, what's that got to do with me? It has a whole lot to do with all of us.
Because here is the question. The question is, what's going on in my life if I'm willing to sacrifice my future for the pleasure of the moment? When does that happen in a person's life? Here's what happens. We sacrifice the future for the pleasure of the moment when we are blind to the values in life.
When we are blind to the values in life. Now, what happens here? Well, what happens here is this. The firstborn had the birthright. Now, what's significant about that? Here's what's significant about it. The birthright was the most valuable thing possible for a young man to have.
Because here's what it meant. Remember when the father passed on that he became the head of the family. That he got a double portion of the family wealth. He was the ruler of the family. He would oversee what went on. And the truth was, he also had the responsibility of being the priest, so to speak, to guide them in worship.
This was before the tribe of Levi came along and guided the worship in the families and also in the temple and so forth. So, this was a very responsible position. And a position of great opportunity. Because you see, not only will he be affected by it, but his children and children's children. In other words, this was the most valuable thing he could possibly have. But because of his attitude and because of the way he valued it and because of the way he looked at it and because of what he wanted at the moment, he was willing to give up his birthright for one bowl of stew.
Now, we look at that and say, well, that's just ridiculous. But let me ask you a question. Is there a bowl of stew in your life?
Is there something you're into? Thinking about a decision, something you've been contemplating, some relationship you have, that when you look at it very carefully, it could influence and affect the rest of your life. It could impact your whole future.
If you make the wrong decision about this, it could impact your whole future. I think about men, for example, who are in business and the most valuable thing in your life is your prestige, your popularity, your prominence, your prosperity, your wealth, all the things, your reputation, all of that's the most important thing in your life. So, you neglect your wife, you neglect your children, you give them almost no time.
They're not just second place, they're third and fourth place in your life. And after a while, what happens? Your wife walks away. She divorces because she never sees you. The kids never see you and so they walk away. They don't want anything to do with you.
And so, out there in the future, what do you have? You have no relationship with your wife. Your children don't care anything in the world about you. And now you've got money, popularity, prestige, prominence, but you have no intimate relationship. And so, all of a sudden, here's what happens. You begin to think, well, they're gone, so what will I do? I'll just stir it up.
I'll just make it work. And you just plow in to make more work so you can have more prosperity and more prominence and more prestige and more of the rest and more of this and more of the other. But deep down inside, you're dying a little bit at the time. You know why you made a mistake? Because you didn't place the adequate value on your family. What you did is you decided what you thought was important and the result was and the result is, and it happens every day, that people whose wrong sense of values, they make decisions for the pleasure of the moment, liken all this money, love this prestige, love this acceptance, love all this prominence, love being president of this and love being on this stage and love being speaking here and love all this recognition only to lose the most valuable thing you have in your life. So, that's one way you can sacrifice your future for the pleasure of the moment.
A second way that it's revealed is this. It's when we are ruled by our appetites rather than the Spirit of God. A person who's ruled by their appetites rather than the Spirit of God is going to sacrifice their future.
So, think about this. Here comes Esau hungry, thirsty, just dying for something. And so, his appetite is ruling him for the moment. And when appetites rule, get ready for trouble. Because we, now we all have appetites and there's nothing wrong with having an appetite. God's given us, we have God-endowed appetites for food, for rest, for example, for relationships, an appetite for many things in life, sex, whatever it may be. But all of our appetites are to be ruled by the Spirit of God within us. And so, when a person just yields to what is before him.
And you see, this is one of Satan's most powerful ways of bringing a person down. He shows it to you. You see it. You feel it. You touch it.
You taste it, whatever it might be. And all of a sudden, everything else is secondary. When a person is ruled by their appetites, they make very foolish decisions. They make decisions that not only hurt them for the day, but oftentimes those decisions don't show up in the consequence until later on. And they look at their life and they look back and they say, Well, now, what could I have done differently? And what they don't realize is this.
Most of the time, people who make those kind of decisions, they're ruled by their appetites in many areas of their life. What do I want? And you see, you and I live in a very materialistic age. It's what you see, what you feel, what you touch. And so, all the propaganda and all of the advertisements, listen, they make them look shiny. They make her look beautiful.
They make them look masculine. This wealth and all the prosperity and all the things, all of this is just, just what does it do? It just pours into people's minds.
And what happens? Want to have this? Got to have that.
Must have this. Anytime somebody says, If you don't get it today, you won't get it, then tell them to keep it. Because it is a danger. And so, people are ruled by their appetites. And if you rule by your appetite, you will not make wise decisions in life. Because God gave us the Holy Spirit.
And here's what He said. He said, One of the fruits of the Spirit of God living within us is what? Self-control. Now, that doesn't mean that I necessarily control myself, but it simply means this. That the Spirit of God within me, I am to yield to Him. So, when God says, Don't do that, what does that mean? It doesn't mean I'm to play with it, consider it, taste of it, feel of it, touch it, and then make a decision. It means I'm not to mess with it.
And you see, when you and I who are believers find ourselves tempted for things that are not of God, He is going to send us a signal, Don't do that. Don't move in that direction. Don't touch that. Don't build that relationship.
Don't go there. But you see, if you're controlled by what you feel, what you see, and these desires within you that get out of control, you head in the wrong direction, you're going to make a decision that's going to cost you in future consequences. So, what ruled Esau? What ruled Esau was not wisdom.
It was not knowledge. What ruled him were feelings that he had. And so many people will say, Well, but you know, this is the way I feel. You can feel many things, but feelings sometimes are the first step toward trouble.
Heartache, disaster, and regret in life. We all have feelings about different things at different times. So, if you rule by your feelings and your appetites, my desires. And somebody says, Well, everybody has desires and so this happens to be mine and since this is what I want and I can have it. And you see, watch this. This is what Satan says.
Satan says, Why not? There it is. It's present.
It's available. You like it. You need it. You want it. Take it. And what happens is you take something that is before God's timing or something that is not of God and you suffer the consequences. So, I ask you a question.
Do you have a soup bowl in your life? Is there something that you are contemplating doing that before this message is over you're going to stop and think, Am I willing to sacrifice my future over this thing? This relationship, going in this direction, moving here, taking this job, when everything in you says, Don't do that. And you see, God isn't going to shout. Every once in a while I think sometimes I've heard Him shout, but the truth is He doesn't. He just speaks through our spirit.
Now, watch this. When you refuse to speak to the Spirit of God and you refuse to respond to the Spirit of God, how many times is He going to say it to you? I don't know that. I just know this, that after a while, the longer you say, I'm going to do what I want to do. The more you believe that, the more you feel that, the more you touch and feel and want and see and you're in the presence of whatever that is.
You know what you're doing? You're just backing off from God and what's happening is you hear less and less. It becomes less and less painful, less and less clear because what you've done, you've begun to listen to the wrong voices. You cannot live by your appetites. You must live by the wisdom of God that indwells every single believer. But if you're blind to the values in life, more than likely you'll just yield to those appetites. This is why Paul said, for example, he said in First Corinthians chapter nine, verse twenty-seven, he says, In order to keep myself from being a castaway and no longer usable, he says, I beat my body.
Now, he didn't really mean that he beat it like this, but what he was saying is this, I keep it under control. And if you think about this, every single day you and I are responsible for controlling our emotions. We're responsible. When you get up in the morning, you have emotions.
When you work during the day, you have emotions. And so, we have these living, walking emotions, these appetites that are there. We have to bring them under control. By the Spirit of God, we keep them under control. Apart from Him, it's you against the awesome power and the pull and the tug of the world.
So, you ask yourself the question, Is there something in my life that's drawing me away from what I know is right in my life? And I think a third evidence, for example, and a third way we sacrifice our futures is this, just what we are saying here when we talk about the fact that we have to have it now. That is, immediate gratification. And I think about how many blessings God has for His children.
He's got all kind of blessings for His children. But you see, if I have to have it now, then here's what I'm saying. I'm saying I'm smarter than God. I'm saying I'm wiser than God. And besides that, if it's something that I want, why not take it now?
Well, here's the reason. Sometimes you and I are not ready even for the blessing that God has for us. And so, when we reach for what we're not ready for, here's what happens. We foul it up.
We mess it up. In fact, we can oftentimes put ourselves in a position that we don't ever receive it because we grappled for it before God's timing. And how many times have you heard me say, when you reach for something before God's timing?
Watch this, you may get it, but it'll turn to ashes at some point. And how many people would have to say that? I knew I made a wrong decision, and now look.
And how many times have I heard this? If I only had known where this was going to lead me, I would never have taken that step or made that decision. You see, it's that immediate thing. I've got to have it now. And this is the power of temptation.
And if Satan can say to you and you can believe it, there it is. It's present. Why not take it now? It's available. Those are the words of the devil. Take it now.
It's available. Look at that. You don't want to lose that. How many people, for example, have married the wrong person? Because they thought, well, this is exactly what I want. They've never stopped to ask what God wants. And secondly, well, I better get it now because if I don't get it now, I won't ever get it.
Who said you wouldn't? And it may be, for example, if you've got your eye on the wrong thing in life or the wrong person in life, don't you know that if you're willing to wait, that God will guide you to the right thing or the right person in your life? You see, if you've got to have everything right now, you mark this down, you're going to miss the best in life. God is the one who plans the best. He's planned the very best possible for every single one of us. And therefore, if I reach for it and take it ahead of time, I'll never be able to enjoy it to the maximum of my potential, number one. Secondly, if I reach for something that is not of Him, what I've done is I have forfeited and I have sacrificed the best for second or third or fourth or fifth best or maybe something that will never bring happiness and joy and peace in my life. And too few people are willing to wait. So, let me ask you the question. If you're not willing to wait, do you think that you are going to get God's best when you choose to move ahead of Him, do it your way in your timing, and the answer is no.
You cannot. And so, when you look to see what Esau is doing here, he wanted stew right now. He could have said, I'm famished and I'm thirsty and I think I'm going to about die, but I can wait at least fifteen minutes. I can wait thirty minutes.
What did you put in that stew anyway? No, he wanted it right now. And you see, there are many people who've got to have it now. This is the power of sex. When it's available, you want it now.
It's a power of an awesome material opportunity. The money's on the table. You have the opportunity to make a deal. It's a big deal. It's a good deal.
Everything about it is right. You better do it now while you can without stopping to ask the question, what are the consequences of this? And I hear all kind of excuses that people give. Well, let me tell you, but my situation is this and my situation is that. Let me just say this to you. God has the best for His children.
The question is, are you willing to wait for the best? Thank you for listening to Part 1 of Protecting Your Future. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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