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Summary: If you want your future to be better than your past, don’t give into your passions. Instead, rest in God’s provision of a King, King Jesus, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, who died to save us from our sins.

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Pastor Donn Moomaw was preaching in Bel Air, Maryland, where a lady came up to him after a sermon and said, “Oh, Reverend Moomaw, I just have to tell you that every sermon you preach is better than your next.”

He thanked her and then went home to think about it. It’s not really a compliment any preacher wants to hear, because it means that every sermon is worse than the last. It’s a compliment that only a pessimist can give, and that’s the way some people look at life: “Every day is better than the next,” or “Every year is better than the next.” (Earl Palmer, “A Durable Hope,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 47)

How sad, because we don’t need to live that way. Rather, we can live with the confidence that the future is better than the past if we look to the Lord and not to ourselves.

If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 49, Genesis 49, where old Jacob blesses his family and gives them a vision of their future. Now, that vision is not only for Jacob’s family, but for all of us who by faith in Christ are a part of God’s family.

Genesis 49:1-4 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel. “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it. (NIV)

Reuben was strong, but he was weakened by his lust. He gave into his passions so he could “no longer excel.” This happened after Israel, Reuben’s father, had been cheated by his uncle Laban for 20 years. It happened after Israel had wrestled with God, and aafter his beloved wife, Rachel, had died. After Israel had returned with his family to his childhood home, Genesis 35 records, “While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it” (Genesis 35:22).

Israel knew what had happened, even though nobody else did until now, several decades later. What Reuben did was in secret, and maybe he thought he got away with it, but his sin was exposed and now his whole family knows what he did.

As a result, he has lost his position in the family as the primary heir. He is disqualified to lead the family, even though that was his right as the first born son.

He gave into his passions so he could no longer excel, and that’s what happens when we give into our passions, as well. You may think you’re sinning in secret, but the Bible is very clear: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). What is done is secret will eventually be revealed and it could have serious consequences. So if you want your future to be better than your past…

DON’T GIVE IN TO YOUR PASSIONS.

Don’t yield to your appetites which lead you away from God. Don’t surrender to those strong feelings which steer you in the wrong direction. Don’t give into your lusts like Reuben did, because that weakens any person.

Author and pastor, Bob Russell talks about the days when he was a teenager. Then, his mother had a rule: don't ever bring your girlfriend to our house when no one is here. And Bob would always say, “Mom, why? Don't you trust me?”

She always had the same answer. “No. That's too much temptation.” She did not say, “It looks bad to other people. I don't trust her; I do trust you.” She just said, “No, that's too much temptation.”

Bob says, “I would act like I was really hurt. My own mother doesn't trust me. That's terrible.” He'd walk away and deep inside he would think, “My mother's pretty sharp. She knows what I'm thinking.”

You see, Bob’s mother believed in the sin nature – that it needed to be restrained more than her child’s self-esteem needed to be boosted. “Otherwise,” Bob says, “maybe I wouldn't be here today.” (Bob Russell, “When Teens Rebel,” Preaching Today, Audio Tape 207; www.PreachingToday.com)

Gary Thomas, in his book Holy Available, talks about a friend of his who on a business trip found an attractive young woman knocking on his hotel door. When he opened the door, she pushed through and walked right into his room.

“You can't be in here,” he said.

“Why not?” she asked teasingly. “Are you scared?”

The woman started acting seductively. She made it very clear that she was available for any sexual favor of his choosing. When he insisted that she leave, she finally did something … [that] was over-the top provocative.

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