“Because They Are My Heart’s Joy” July 16, 2023

“Because They Are My Heart’s Joy” July 16, 2023

Posted by on Jul 27, 2023 in Sermon archives

“Because They Are My Heart’s Joy”

Genesis 25:19-34

Psalm 119:105-112

Romans 8:1-11

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Wow! We have quite an assortment of scripture to talk about today. First, there is the somewhat graphic description of the birth of the twins Jacob and Esau. Next we have David’s beautiful song praising the word of God for guidance and direction in the 119th Psalm. And lastly, we read Matthew’s account of the parable of the Sower, complete with an explanation to a group of disciples who seem a little slow to catch on sometimes.

But, It is the birth and subsequent rivalry between Jacob and Esau That has always fascinated me. I mean, you’d think that God could have made an arrangement so that these two brothers who were so crucial    for the future of the nation of Israel; you’d think that God could have seen fit to make them a little more noble and heroic rather than so conniving and deceitful. But you know, that’s the thing about scripture: when it paints a picture of humanity, it paints us warts and all.

My brother, who is two or three years younger than me, was always a scrawny  kid. I’m guessing when he got out of high school that he was 6 feet 1 and 135 pounds. My uncle Dick used to say that he looked like 6:00 o’clock walking around. But scrawny or not, he was a tough little guy, and as the years went by I found it harder and harder 2 get the best of him in a wrestling match. Eventually, I moved away and was only able to visit on rare occasions  . Each time, of course, I had to pin him to the ground just to prove who was boss.

That all came to an end, however, when Mark discovered the weight room at the local gym. I’ll never forget coming h home to visit after being gone for quite some time, when my little brother, my scrawny little brother, walked in the door and I hardly recognized him. His bulging biceps and wide shoulders were pushing hard against the shirt he was wearing, and when I looked at his face And saw his lip curled up just a bit, I knew I was in trouble.

I can’t say as I remember how it was that I weaseled out of getting the thrashing I deserved;  maybe some fictitious story about a bad back or a sore knee,  let’s just say that, like Esau. I came to know what it’s like for the older brother to be ruled by the younger. It’s been said that half the time, when brothers wrestle, it’s just an excuse to hug each other. I might add that the other half of the time, there is a genuine desire to inflict pain.

So yes; sibling rivalries certainly do make life interesting, and the Bible is chocked full of them. The most famous story of sibling rivalries would have to be the account of Cain and Abel. Fortunately, our little squabbles don’t end as tragically as brothers fighting to the death, So for the next few weeks as we follow the lives of these two very different brothers, we will get a taste of how, no matter what, God will always steer us  towards reconciliation; towards forgiveness.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus is telling his disciples of a man who is planting wheat, but he’s not very smart about it. There are seeds flying everywhere; some over in the rocks, some in a thistle patch, and some, of course, on good fertile dirt.The end result isn’t hard to figure out,

But as Jesus explains, this isn’t about growing wheat at all.  I’ve always figured   this parable is a good way to view evangelism.

I mean, if we are motivated to spread the word of God, we are called to spread it everywhere and not just on the fertile soil under the sprinklers. Just one look at the dandelions that thrive in the cracks of my driveway convince me of that. We don’t get to pick and choose where we cast the love of God in this world, We are commanded to love our neighbor the same way and just as much and just as intensely as we love ourselves.

And Speaking of ‘we are commanded’ our excerpt from the 119th Psalm Is a thoughtful insight into the driving force behind the heart of King David.

I mean, think about it; this was a man who had it all. He had the looks, he had power and prestige, and he had access to all the wealth and women that he could handle. So why would a guy like this be inspired to write songs about how much he loves the commands and the precepts and rules that God had laid before him? Why? Was this some sort of stunt to ensure that the general population would find themselves in agreement just because their king wrote  songs about it? Well, I think you already know the answer to that one.

The fact is that David had won the hearts of the nation and had been undefeated in countless battles because of the blessings that God had bestowed upon him. He was aware of this, and he was also aware that every time he had ignored or had forgotten the rules and precepts that God commanded him, it did not end well.


But here’s the thing, It’s not so much that God punished David (or by the same token, punishes us) for disobedience and for  turning a blind eye when it suits us. No, the punishment comes in the deed itself And this I believe, Is what prompted David To sing about the real value of God’s statutes so that the whole world could  hear.

We were out for dinner With two other couples a few months back and when the time came We proceeded to split the check three ways. When the receipt came back I said to Tim sitting next to me, who is a long term member of First Baptist Church. “I can write this off, don’t you think? I mean, we did talk about church, so this is sort of church related.”  I really had no intention of declaring this meal as an exp0ense on my tax return, but Tim didn’t know that. So with a very stern face, he shook his head as if to say, “Don’t do that.”

But you know, he was right to chastise me. To use my position in the church to save a few bucks would have been dishonest. deceitful, and contrary to the statutes of not  only God’s law, but of federal tax laws as well.

Once again from the 119th Psalm: “Your word is a lamp before my feet

And a light for my journey. I have sworn, and I fully mean it: I will keep your righteous rules. Your laws are my possession forever because they are my heart’s joy.” Because they are my heart’s joy.

Years back, at my first church appointment in Montana, I asked a question at a Bible study, I asked folks to describe our God from their personal point of view. The first person to answer said simply, “I think of God as my conscience. He is who I turn to when  I’m not sure of the right thing to do.”

“Great answer!” I said. “Does anyone else have something to add?” But to my surprise most everyone in the room agreed With the first person who answered saying, ‘I think of God as my conscience.’ And again, David tells us. “I have been suffering so much, Lord make me live again according to your promise. Though the wicked have set a trap for me, I will not stray from your precepts. Your laws are my possession forever, because they are my heart’s joy

Amen  and Shalom








Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *