Gen. 37:18-30 – Story of Rueben, who did not want to kill his brother Joseph, even if he was a pest. When faced with the pressure of his brother’s wishes to kill Joseph, his solution was to wait – put him in this ditch (he planned on coming back later and rescuing him). But he waited too late. When he returned Joseph was gone. The lamentful cry of Reuben speaks volumes about the tragedy of waiting too late.
Have you ever regretted putting something off to a later time? Why did your good intentions turn to regret? You ran of time.
I. The Presumption of Procrastination: Your willingness to procrastinate was probably based on a false presupposition: I have time to do that later” This frame of mind involves 2 presumptions:
- A. The Presumption of Time: James implies this thinking in his admonition of James 4:13-15 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” Because we do not control tomorrow, even whether it arrives or not, it is ludicrous for us to plan as though we do.
1. In Luke 12 The rich farmer was planning for a tomorrow that he did not have Luke 12:19 – And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘.
2. What are you planning to do tomorrow? Read the Bible all the way through? Start coming to Bible study? Spend more time with my family? Give up that habit that is killing me? Repent of the sin? Become a Christian? All of that is uncertain, because time is simply a presumption on your part.
B. The Presumption of Disposition: We may be simply presuming when we tell ourselves, or others, that if we are granted another opportunity down the line to obey, we will be ready to do it then. This seems to be the thought in Solomon’s admonition in Eccl. 12:1 – “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”;(NAS) We can no more predict the quality of our character than we can the quantity of our time in the future. Can we recognize the residual effect of unrighteousness or indifference in our lives? The longer you wait to do what is right, the more difficult it becomes.
1. Jesus made it clear to the Jews of His day that their continued refusal to believe and obey Him would only lead them to greater evil – Matt 12:41-45 “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. “The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. “Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. “Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”(NKJ) You are not standing still in your unwillingness to obey today. What we must see is that the things we are doing right now are the foundation for whom and what we will be in the future. Actions develop into habits – habits make character – character determines our fate. What type of person do you plan on being tomorrow? You are becoming him today.
II. The Cold Hard Facts About Rejecting God: Rejecting the truth hardens the disposition of man against future obedience. The most famous case of heart-hardening is Pharaoh. Yet the element of this event that is often overlooked is God persistent presentation of the truth. (God did not just speak to Pharaoh once, but repeatedly. It was his consistent rejection of God’s pleas that is defined as the “hardening of his heart (both by God & by his own efforts)
A. In Jesus’ personal ministry he witnessed the results of this continual rejection of God’s word. He quoted Isaiah – John 12:37-40 – But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” This is not speaking of a divine opposition to their repentance or obedience. This indicates the “natural” effects of consistently rejecting God’s word.
B. Later at the end of the book of Acts, Paul saw the same hardening effect: Acts 28:24-27 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. 25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, 26 saying, ‘Go to this people and say: ‘Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; 27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” Those Jews in Rome who refused to believe Paul were continuing their nation’s sad history of rejecting God’s messengers. Several times in Jeremiah, God lamented that fact. In Jer 7:25-26, for example, God said to wayward, rebellious Israel: “Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them. Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did evil more than their fathers.
III. The Blessing & Curse of More Time: If God gives you more time will that be a blessing to you? There is both a blessing and curse in having more time. The longsuffering of the Lord may afford us opportunity to do the right thing – even repent if need be. 2 Pet. 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”(NKJ) But the continuation of time may lull us into a false sense of security and make us think that “time” has no end. 2 Pet 3:3-4 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (NKJ)
A. Tomorrow becomes a depository for our good intentions, but when tomorrow comes, the seeming assurance of another tomorrow postpones our needed changes for another day. We conclude that we have time to change. Have you told yourself that you have time to change?
IV. Today is The Day of Salvation: The Hebrew writer urges the Christians of his day to not follow the example of their fathers and test God’s mercy by hardening their hearts against His word. Heb 3:7-11 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Notice the emphatic reference to today.
Why is it so important to obey God now – today?
A. Jesus wept over Jerusalem’s refusal to recognize the importance and uniqueness of their opportunity to respond to God’s call. Luke 19:41-44 41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
B. Paul calls his ministry a “ministry of reconciliation” in 2 Cor. 5:18. He wants the Corinthians to see the importance of what he is revealing to them, not because he is doing it, but because it is the fulfillment of God eternal plan brought to fruition in their own lifetime.
1. 2 Cor 6:1-2 – We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2. The quotation Paul uses in verse 2 is from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 49:8. The Pulpit Commentary says the first use of the term acceptable time means, “a time of favor or mercy.” The 2nd use of the phrase indicates the “well-accepted opportunity” It goes on to say. .this is meant to express the necessity for receiving the grace of God, not only efficaciously, but at once.
Today is the day that God offers His grace. Do not refuse it today.