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SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 2011-02-20: Embracing Your Past"

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EMBRACING YOUR PAST!

SERMON STARTER

          The young woman in my office was in her early 20's. She wished to meet me in my office late one night. Her eyes were red with tears. She was on some kind of street drug. I listened patiently to her story. I have heard hundreds of stories that all have the same ring to them. Sordid details may vary but the outcome remains the same. People are having difficulty in the present because of a painful past. Something has happened that
they can't forget. The inward anger of guilt binds them and wraps them into the cocoon of self.

They become self-obsessed  

The Koine Greek word for "self" is "I-di-os"

The word, "Idiot" is derived from "Idios."
GUILT is like that!

It binds us and wraps us up into the cocoon of self-idiocy.

The more we become wrapped up in our "own private affairs, the more likely we become to lose our balance, our our Sanity!!!

          AFTER HEARING THE YOUNG WOMAN THROUGH,

I urged her to receive God's forgiveness!

I implored her to stop running from her past.

I reminded her that once she confesses her sin to God, then He's not mad anymore!!!

That Jesus' blood shed at the Cross of Calvary could cover every stain!

A small tear formed in her eyes told me the message of God's forgiveness and hope was getting through to her.

In my mind I could see her in a life and death tug of war with her past.

The salvation of her soul was at stake at that moment.
Then, abruptly she cried aloud,

"NO! You just don't know what I've done!"

"You just don't know where I've been!
My life is ruined!

There 's no hope for me!"

And she turned away, defeated by her own guilt, overcome by a past she couldn't accept.

THIS IS A SERMON ABOUT

EMBRACING YOUR PAST!

 

"Acceptance" means:

"To endure without protest"
"To receive with consent"

"To undertake the responsibility"

 

John Bunyan wrote classic, Pilgrim's Progress:

"Pilgrim was running from the City of Destruction. On his back was the guilt of his sin weighing heavily upon him. He wanted to be delivered from the heavy weight of guilt.

"How can I possibly get this burden off my back?"

Then he met Evangelist, and Evangelist pointed him to the wicket gate and said to him,

"Go to that gate. Go thru that gate. As you go thru that gate someone will meet you and will be able to show you how you
can be delivered from the burden of your guilt."

The Apostle Paul said,
Philippians 3:13:

"Forgetting those things which are behind. . ."

WE CAN'T FORGET THE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND UNTIL WE LEARN TO ACCEPT THEM!!!

Eg.

Two old friends met up with each other late one afternoon. They decided since they hadn't seen each other for years, they
would have dinner together. They sat and they talked, remembering all the happy experiences of many years ago. FINALLY, one of them realized it was three o'clock in the morning! They agreed they must "hurry home!"

THE NEXT day they met again, and one said to the other,

"How did your wife take your coming in so late last night?"

The man replied,

"l explained to her, she understood, and everything was perfectly all right. How did your wife react?"

The other man replied,

"When I got home, my wife became HISTORICAL"
The friend replied,

"You mean HYSTERICAL!"

The other man said,

"No! I mean HISTORICAL!

She brought up every bad thing that had happened in the last 30 years!"

 

"Forgetting those things which are behind, And reaching forth to those things which are before!"

EMBRACING YOUR PAST!

ALL OF US, ESPECIALLY AS WE GET OLDER, BEGIN A PROCESS OF LIFE-REVIEW.

I AM TODAY WHO I AM,

BY REFLECTING ON THE PAST:

WHERE I WAS
WHO I WAS
WHAT I WAS

LITTLE KIDS ARE GOOD AT "LIFE-REVIEW"
Watch them as they are absorbed in the family portrait...   .

GIGGLE, LAUGH, ENJOY A SENSE OF IDENTITY. . .

THEY DON'T HAVE TROUBLE ACCEPTING PAST!

WE DO!

Eg.

Several weeks ago I ran across a photo of my family after my father's death in 1956.

IT IS A PICTURE OF GRIEF!

I saw six gaunt, haunted faces from the past!
I felt the tug of old grief and quickly put the photo away!

I struggled to fold the images on the picture away into the recesses of my memory.

WHAT ABOUT YOU, FRIEND?

MAYBE THERE'S A HIDDEN GRIEF IN YOUR PAST!
Grief over a loss you can't accept. . .

Mad at God . . .

Mad at self because of things you didn't do but could have done?

OR , MAYBE THERE'S A DEEP DISAPPOINTMENT IN
YOUR PAST!

Disappointment because someone/something let you down, and

left you with a deep wound to your soul and spirit.

Harboring some inward anger toward someone, or toward your self .

For years you haven't been able to accept what has happened!

OR MAYBE THERE'S A SHOCKING/TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE IN YOUR PAST!

Something happened so shocking and so painful, you can't even allow yourself to think about it, let alone talk about it!!!

OR MAYBE YOU LET YOUR PARENTS AND FAMILY DOWN!!

Got so busy sowing your wild oats. . .
Made a series of bad decisions. . .
Want to change. . .but can't seem to get on the right track!!

Eg.

A man and his wife were on vacation, driving thru a desert in the Western USA. The husband had a habit of carrying his money in a clip in his pants pocket. As they were driving along, the fellow felt his pants pocket where the money was.

IT WAS GONE!

He stopped the car, got out and searched thoroughly behind the seat and thru-out the car. He even opened his suitcase and went

thru that. He looked in the pockets of the clothing he had worn the day before.
But the money was not to be found.

He sat there by the side of the road moaning about his losses. Then his wife said,

"Are we just going to sit here in the desert worrying about what we have lost, or are we going to go on?"

So they resumed their trip and managed to have a good time.

A NUMBER OF YOU HERE, THIS MORNING ARE LIKE THAT!

A FEW BAD CHOICES. . .

A FEW REVERSALS. . .
A PAST YOU CAN'T ESCAPE. . .

AND YOU'RE OVERCOME WITH GUILT!!!

QUESTION,

"Are you going sit in the desert of guilt and despair,

Or, are you going to go on with your life?

 

JACOB WAS A MAN WHO STRUGGLED WITH HIS PAST!

Deep within him there were images of his brother, Esau's angry face!

Of his hurt father of his disappointed mother. . .

There were the threatening images of his brother's hand, poised to strike him down!!!

 

 

Pastor Phil   <><<

 

 

February 20, 2011 - Sheepfold Ministries

Pastor Phil Roland

 

embracing your past

GENESIS 33:1-11

“In order to press on in life, we must accept, embrace and forgive the past with it's successes, failures and losses. We must give the regret and guilt to Jesus. He's already paid the price for it.”                                            Pastor Phil

 

Philippians 3:13,14

"One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

 

I.  JACOB CREATED HIS PAST

          A. "Jacob" meaning - "Holder of the Heel" - "Supplanter" - "Grabber"

                        1. Tricked his brother out of his birthright, "Spiritual Blessing"

                        2. Deceived his father into blessing him

                        3. Tricked his Father-in-Law, "Labin" out of 40% of his flock

            B. Jacob earned a reaction from his enraged brother, Esau

                        1. Esau hated Jacob - Genesis 25:38-41, esp. v.41

                         "So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father

                        blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for

                        my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob."

                        2. Isaac gave Esau a prophetic word - Gen. 25:38-41, esp. v.40

                        "By your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother;

                        And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, That you shall

                        break his yoke from your neck."

            C. Jacob is like us, we, too, create our own past

                        1. Stubborn and controlling, we want our own way

                        2. Take matters into our own hands

                        3. "God, I'm doing this one my way, no matter the cost"

            D. What you sow now, you'll reap later - Galatians 6:7

            "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he

            will also reap."

                        1. If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

                        2. If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

                        3. If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

                        4. If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

                        5. If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

                        6. If you plant hard work, you will reap success

                        7. If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

                        8. Be careful what you plant now

                        9. It will determine what you will reap later.

 

 

EMBRACING YOUR PAST, p.2

 

II.  JACOB RAN FROM HIS PAST

            A. He ran for nearly 20 years

                        1. He ran from Easu after stealing the birthright

                        2. He ran from Labin, after stealing his Flock and Family

            B. Jacob always ran in fear - Genesis 32:7

            "So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that

            were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies."

                        1. Fear is the motivator for worry - Job 3:25

                        "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I

                        dreaded has happened to me."

                        2. Jacob's past was catching up with him. It always does.

            C. Jacob tries to placate Esau and bargain with God - Gen. 32:11,12

            "Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for

            I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12

                For You said, 'I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as

            the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.' "

                        1. He sends 570 animals to appease Esau's wrath

                        2. You may bargain w/mankind, but not God

            D. Walt Whitman quote, "Song of Myself"

            "I think I could turn and live with animals,

            They are so placid and self-contained.

            They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins"

                        1. That's Jacob on the Dark Night of the Soul

                        2. Before he meets his brother, Esau

                        3. Weeping over his sins, dreading their consequence

                                               

III.  JACOB WRESTLED WITH HIS PAST

            A. Who was Jacob's wrestling partner?

                        1. Theologians have debated for centuries

                        2. Scripture leaves it up to us to figure it out

            B. Was Jacob simply wrestling with himself?

                        1. Wrestling with his own soul?

                        2. Tormented, Divided, Guilty, Self-Condemned?

                        3. Hating the past he had lied and cheated his way through?

            C. Was Jacob wrestling with the memories of his deceived brother?

                        1. Terrified of his brother's death threat?

                        2. Worried that his brother's wrath might kill his family as well

            D. Was Jacob wrestling with God Himself?

                        1. Theologians call his wrestling partner a "Christophany"

                        2. A manifestation of the Pre-Existent Christ

                        3. Loneliest verse in the Bible - Genesis 32:24

                        "Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the

                        breaking of day."

 

 

 

EMBRACING YOUR PAST, p.3

 

IV.  JACOB'S PAST CAUGHT UP WITH HIM - Genesis 33:4

"But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept."

            A. Jacob Embraced his Past and Reconciled with it

                        1. Remember Isaac's prophesy - Gen. 25:40

                        "By your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother;

                        And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, That you shall

                        break his yoke from your neck."

                   2. How did Esau fulfill his father's prophesy?

                        3. By Forgiving his brother and Receiving him

            B. Note the great joy in reconciliation and forgiveness - Gen. 33:10b

            ". . .I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you

            were pleased with me."

                        1. Jacob and Esau's reconciliation is like the Prodigal Son

                        2. That's the Good News of the Gospel Message

                        3. God's not mad anymore!

                        4. Give up your anger, guilt and fear

                        5. You can be forgiven and loved

            C. Practical Lessons from this narrative

1. Don't run away from your past.

2. Face your past.

3. Examine your own feelings of guilt and anger over the past.

4. Empty your mind of the past.

Rabbi Joshua Liebman's book, "Peace of Mind"
After writing the book he became swamped with people seeking peace. His mail was heavy. His telephone rang constantly.
Many people came to see him. He was a young, kindhearted Rabbi, only 38 years old.

He tried to help every person who came to him. He died in three years at the age of 41. Shortly before his death he said,
"I am appalled at the multitude of people who have never learned to empty their minds!"

5. Give your guilt and anger to Jesus. Isaiah 1:18

"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

6. EMBRACE YOUR PAST - Isaiah 26:3

"Thou will keep him in perfect peace , whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee. . ."

 

 

 

 

(Closing illustration)

 

CLOSING ILLUSTRATION

 

ABOUT A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, a girl had been left an orphan in a remote German town. She was in dire financial need. She advertised a pianoforte recital. The posters stated that she was a pupil of the celebrated Hungarian pianist and composer, Franz Liszt, though this was quite untrue. You may imagine her horror when she heard that Liszt was actually
coming to their town at the time of her recital. He would most certainly see the posters! In anguish of soul she began to
picture all kinds of dire consequences.
YOUR GUILT IS LIKE THAT!

You and Jacob imagine the worst!

THEN, taking her courage in her hands, she sought an interview with the great man when he arrived on the day before her recital.
IN HIS PRESENCE, she sobbed out her confession and awaited his rebuke.

Liszt said to her,

"You have done wrong, but we all make mistakes, and then the only thing left to do is to be sorry.

Let me hear you play."

THIS WAS ALMOST TOO MUCH FOR THE GIRL, PLAYING IN FRONT OF THE MASTER HIMSELF.

AT FIRST she stumbled quite a bit, but as she won more confidence she played better.

LISZT corrected her on one or two points and then said,

"My dear, I have instructed you a little,

YOUR ARE NOW A PUPIL OF LISZT!

You may go to your concert tomorrow night, and the last item will be played, not by the pupil, but the MASTER!"

 

Let us pray. . .

 

 

 

 

 

EMBRACING YOUR PAST, Text:

 

GENESIS 33:1-11

1 Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants.
2 And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last.
3 Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
5 And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, "Who are these with you?" So he said, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant."
6 Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down.
7 And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down.
8 Then Esau said, "What do you mean by all this company which I met?" And he said, "These are to find favor in the sight of my lord."
9 But Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself."
10 And Jacob said, "No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.
11 Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." So he urged him, and he took it.