Careful Optimism

Genesis 49:28-33

28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

29Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

33When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Introduction

How did you celebrate on New Year’s Eve? Did you watch firecrackers?

Did you celebrate on New Year’s Eve to thank the Lord for His blessings you received in 2019? Are you optimistic of the Lord’s great blessings in 2020?

Do you consider the first day of New Year as special day? If so, what is a smart way to celebrate a special day? Should you celebrate mindfully? On New Year’s Eve celebration, did you prepare food to maintain your dietary plans? How can you express yourselves cheerfully but quietly, gracefully and elegantly?

Fun-loving individuals view such demeanor as boring or killjoy. To indulge in food and wild activities is not peculiar. Videos of wild adventures are viral. Occasionally, we want to indulge or gratify the desire of our flesh. Right?

As believers in Christ, Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:16-17:

16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

This is really tough rebuke for each of us because we normally forget our goal as believers when we celebrate during cultural festivities. Millions of people want to pay the price of momentary excitement. This is why circus, carnivals, and amusement parks have become hundreds of billions of dollars industry.

Such brief excitements are actually a shadow of the eternal life in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17 says, 16Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.       

Festivals are not celebration for sorrow, mourning or grieving. Everyone is cheerful and wants a taste of heaven!  Revelation 21:3-4 says, 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

So, take it seriously! And, whenever you have celebration, remind yourself of the greater and eternal celebration waiting for you in heaven. Additionally, the Lord will reward all of us according to what we done while on earth, that’s for sure! Make it very sure that you will join the Lord’s Grand Celebration in heaven!             

At the start New Year, the topic of death is not optimistic for many people. Yet, everyone will leave this world eventually. It’s inevitable, unavoidable. And, believers hope for Christ’s return. How should we prepare for that moment? Well, we can learn from Jacob when he gave blessings appropriate to his sons.

1. Appropriate

28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

When Jacob gave blessings appropriate to his sons, they’re prophecies that the Lord had intended for the twelve tribes of Israel. Interestingly, Joseph received the right of the first born but no Israel tribe was named after Joseph. Why? Two Israel tribes were named after his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

When Jacob gave blessings appropriate to his sons, would you accept that their attitude toward their father played a significant factor in the appropriation of their blessings? Reuben was Jacob’s first son but because he defiled his father’s couch, Jacob gave the right of the firstborn to Joseph.

Why did Jacob give the right of the firstborn to Joseph? Was it because Joseph was his favorite son? Why was Joseph favorite son of Jacob? Scholars suggest that Joseph was firm believer of God, and he was obedient to Jacob. His faith in God was tested, and he remained faithful during his struggles in life. He was sold as slave and imprisoned for false accusation but he kept on trusting the Lord. Have you had personal struggles tougher than being a slave or prisoner?

As believers of Christ, the Lord has warned us to expect persecution.

The Lord Jesus declares in John 15:20, Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

The Lord won’t leave us alone during persecution. His grace is sufficient enough to sustain us. His Spirit gives us joy peace, patience and faithfulness if we keep on trusting Him. Not just during persecution, Christ is with us through life concerns, even social status or material needs. Apostle Paul has testified it in Philippians 4:11-13, 11I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

We want to acquire material things. We venture in various enterprises just to satisfy our cravings. Even the rich people want to be richer. People who love adventures can’t stop searching for new adventures. We want better things.

But, when we allow the Lord Jesus to perform His lordship in our life, He will teach and enable us to know the secret of contentment. Can you agree?

God is eternally satisfied, and He holds the secret of contentment in life.

It says in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, 20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

The Lord created you and me for special purposes. So, there’ll always be unending desire of search for contentment in life until we venture on the intended purposes of the Lord for us. Have you discovered God’s special purpose for you?

God’s purpose for us is our spiritual calling. Spend time to pray for the Lord to help you discover His purposes for you. Pray that Christ will inspire you to respond to His calling sincerely and devotedly. He will gladly empower you so that you would experience the contentment of life that you’ve been searching for.

To start with, we may seriously consider what Apostle Paul admonished in

Romans 12:6-8, 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Have you heard other people say, “You should be serving, encouraging, giving or showing mercy; you should be doing this and that!” Who would benefit if we do what they want? Why would they dictate behavior? Do they want us to serve them? Do they want to benefit from our service or good behavior?

Are you bothered about what others may say about you? Does it hint or imply seeking some sort of confirmation or approval from others? Mankind is very hard to satisfy, you know that! Humans will always find faults of other humans.

It is advisable to pray that Christ will empower us to live the purposes He has intended for us, and God will be pleased with us, and we would experience complete contentment in our life, and won’t be bothered by what others may say.

King David teaches us in Psalm 18:30, As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

God’s word is flawless, perfect or accurate guide to discover His purposes. The Lord does not want us waste our effort trying to guess His purposes for us. God’s words are accurate instructions of what pleases Him that would satisfy us.

Similarly, Jacob gave accurate instruction for his desired burial.

2. Accurate

29Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

Jacob lived the last seventeen years of his life in Egypt, and he may have personally observed Egyptian practices of burial ceremonies for their dead. He may have seen where and how they buried their dead. Jacob did not want to identify with the Egyptians. He wanted to be identified with his ancestors.

So, he gave accurate instruction where he wanted to be buried when he died.

Jacob exemplified a lifestyle for believers to be accurate of our destiny.  We have accuracy of assurance of eternal destiny in and through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It says in Ephesians 1:3-5, 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Even before we were conceived, God has been eternally pleased that we will become His adopted children, holy and blameless in His sight. When He sent the Spirit of Christ into our life, we become holy in God’s sight but still others see imperfection in us. So, what is a holy and blameless life of God’s children?

Can we live holy and blameless before God with normal daily schedules?

Team Building Activity

In a movie, employees attended team building activities in the countryside. They have rigid schedule of exercises and strict vegetarian diet. During free time, a woman curiously observed that a man disappears from time to time. And, she was very suspicious. So, she followed him secretly and cautiously.

She found out that the man was eating hamburger and soft drink in secret. The woman was furious and confronted the man, “Hey! That’s cheating! You’re not following the strict vegetarian diet!” The surprised man said, “Please don’t tell the group about what you saw!” The woman agreed with her condition, “Sure! I won’t, but share with me that hamburger and soft drink!”

Best diet, best exercise, best place for retirement, best place to visit, best dress, best high tech gadgets… There’s no shortage of attractive offers that may temp or entice everyone. Listen: To try those things is not about bad or good decision that matters most. Some of them could be very useful for anybody.

Is it smart to try anything in the market to discover if it’s beneficial or not?

It says in Colossians 3:17, And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

So, whatever lifestyle you may choose, make it sure that the righteousness of Christ reflects in you. And, seek wisdom from the Lord for you to be successful if you may want also to accomplish things that you’ve dreamed in your childhood.

3. Accomplished

33When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Can you accept that Jacob had accomplished his purpose before he died?

The death of Jacob reminds that all of us will face death sooner or later? That is for certain! And one thing that we need to keep in mind is that, we’ve got to accomplish or finish our purposes that God has designed for each of us, first.

It says in Ephesians 2:8-10, 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God saved us for His purposes, which is, to do good works. God’s design for each of us had been made ready even before we become believers of Christ. God saved us not for us to do whatever we want to do. Why is it that the Lord does not want to us to do the inclination of our hearts? His plan is great for us. 

Fable of the Eagle and the Chicken

Have you heard the fable about an eagle that thought it was a chicken?

A chicken farmer found a little eagle, took and raised it among chickens. The eagle grew up, did what chickens do and lived like a chicken.

A naturalist man visited the eagle acting like chicken, and told the farmer that eagle is born eagle and had the heart of eagle, and nothing could change that. The farmer curiously disagreed. So, with permission from the farmer, the naturalist man lifted the eagle onto the fence. The eagle jumped off the fence, joined the chickens, and continued to act like chicken, scratching the ground.

The naturalist took the eagle to the roof of the farmhouse and said: “Eagle, you are an eagle. You belong to the sky. Stretch your wings and fly.” The eagle jumped from the roof and joined the chickens. The naturalist together with the farmer brought the eagle to the foot of a high mountain where they could not see the chicken farm. The naturalist held the eagle on his arm, pointed high into the sky and said: “Eagle, you are an eagle! You belong to the sky. Stretch forth your wings and fly.” The eagle stared skyward, straightened its large body, and stretched his massive wings. His wings moved, slowly at first, then surely and powerfully. With the mighty screech sound, the eagle flew high in the sky.

It says in Isaiah 40:31, Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The Lord has predestined us for a special purpose that He has prepared for us in advance. We are not supposed to conform to the pattern of this world. We pray and ask what particularly that the Lord has prepared for us personally.

By His grace through faith in Christ, we are saved not to gratify the worldly inclination of our hearts but to live a godly and holy lifestyle. The great plan of the Lord for us is to live a life with purpose, holy and blameless in His eyes.

For sure, we will still face challenges in life but we have great hope in the Lord.

It says in Ephesians 2:2-5  2You used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

God has special purposes for you and for me. When you discover, obey and serve the Lord according to His purposes for, you will experience the greatest contentment in your life so that you will keep on hoping for Christ return.

And as we face this New Year, we can be optimistic and careful of our decision making and lifestyle. Therefore, we’ve got to renew our spiritual strength as we hope and expect for the Lord’s return. How and where should we start?

Keep on seeking for empowerment of the Holy Spirit constantly.

Keep on praying and asking the Lord to increase your faith.

Growth in faith is practically expressed in the measure of obedience to Him.

Meaning: The more we grow enthusiastically in our obedience to the Lord, the more we grow in our faith in Him.  Faith is measured by obedience to God.

Do you want to know how much you’ve grown spiritually in your faith?

Measure how much you enthusiastically obey the Lord’s instruction.

Keep reading the Scripture to find out Christ’s specific instruction for you.

The Lord’s personal instruction for you would eventually lead you to discover the Lord’s specific purposes and design for you.

An eagle is designed to fly high in the sky. The eagle that lived like chicken surely had greater life experiences when it discovers its purpose to fly in the sky.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded that by faith in Christ, we believe that He died for our sins, He resurrected to heaven to prepare a place for us, and we expectantly and patiently wait for His 2nd Advent.

May we soar like eagle and discover the great purposes of God for us.

><((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec\2020 <‘)))>< … <‘))><

 

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