Don’t Be Afraid

Genesis 46:1-7

1So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied.

3“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

5Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

See That!

Have you ever attended a convention or meeting of church leaders and pastors? The common expectation for church leaders and pastors is for them to behave with dignity, yet, it’s not necessarily 100% accurate. Pastors and church leaders can be passionate and assertive. They can be discreet and careless.

A first time delegate attended a convention of churches represented by pastors and church leaders. During the meeting an interesting issue polarized opinions, and heated argument had erupted. Delegates shouted their ideas.

At breaktime, this first time delegate was introduced to a famous individual, who tested him. “So, you want to be pastor, huh? Did you see how those pastors and church leaders behaved?” It comes to him, “Make sure that God called you!”

There are various practical realities in life that may scare anyone to accept a call to full-time ministry and enroll in the seminary—financial support, insecurity, introvert personality, bad reputation of pastors, thriving career, family concerns, not good enough, no experience and many undefined realities.

God has never called those who were very confident in their capabilities.

Moses said, “I’m slow to speak!” Isaiah said, “I’ve unclean lips!” Jeremiah said, “I’m young and no experience!” Amos said, “I’m just a shepherd!” Hosea had adulterous wife. Jonah was prejudice against potential believers.

The Lord Jesus chose ordinary men as His first disciples—fishermen, tax collector, doubter, renegade and zealous extremist. The Lord won’t call a perfect individual to serve Him. Nobody but God only is perfect. The Lord calls the weak, imperfect, and not expert, why? He wants us to rely upon Him not on our abilities.

Peter said in Mark 10:28-31, 28“We have left everything to follow you!” 29“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Nobody knows exactly (100%) what or how much one needs. Groceries expire in store rooms prove that we just guess what or how much we need.

The Lord is the author of life. He knows what we need and how much we need. All believers are called to live a godly life. The Lord has prepared what we need. We are called to testify of what He has changed in our life. And, we need to pray, ask for wisdom, and increase in our faith for willingness to obey Him.

When the sons of Israel testified that Joseph was the ruler of Egypt, Jacob was hesitant, at first. Maybe, he’s scared, but decided to go to Egypt eventually.

The Lord promised to be with him to encourage Jacob when he prayed.

1. Prayer

1So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied.

Jacob prayed when he offered sacrifices to God but why in Beersheba? When he stopped at Beersheba, Jacob may have recalled when his father Isaac told him to find a wife among the relatives of his mother Rebekah. It was his first time journey outside Canaan, and God watched over him until he returned safely.

Going to Egypt was his second time journey outside Canaan. Jacob may have prayed in Beersheba to confirm if it was the will of God for him and his family to relocate to Egypt. Jacob did not tell his sons what he had in his mind, if he was scared to travel or not. The Lord’s answer revealed what he prayed for.

We will always make crucial decisions—what course to study, what career to pursue, or choice of life time partner. Have you considered your legacy when it’s time to leave this world or just trying to survive the challenges of this world? It can be like being satisfied to finish the race and no intention to win the marathon.

Psalm 23

In Psalm 23, David described similar contentment in the Lord by practical experience he had as a shepherd. He testified, 1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Shepherds can be bored but David was satisfied. He didn’t ask for more. David encountered dangers as shepherd but he was not scared. In God’s right time, David was situated in a diversion road that leads to God’s purposes for him.

When his father told him to bring food supplies to his soldier brothers who were at war against the Philistines, David just wanted to obey. Did he ever think, “This day, I’ll become a hero. I’ll defeat the giant Goliath”? No! He just obeyed! That’s all! But God may have prompted him to fight and defeat the giant Goliath.

Jacob was 130 years old, satisfied in life and ready to die anytime. Going to Egypt was crucial. He hesitated so that he prayed for the Lord’s assurance. God promised to make him into a great nation and bring him back to Canaan.

2. Promise

3“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

The Lord’s promise was Jacob’s assurance that removed his hesitation to relocate to Egypt. Jacob trusted the Lord’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise. He may have observed the similarity of promise that the Lord gave him when he traveled east to find a wife, and then, returned to Canaan safely.

When Jacob left Beersheba and went to Harran to find a wife, the Lord appeared to him and assured him with such promise. He said in Genesis 28:15, 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

At that time, Jacob wasn’t sure which direction to go. His mother Rebekah may have described the place where she came from but still Jacob had never been there before. In his dream, the Lord assured him that wherever he went, He will be with him and watch over him. The promise of God gave him confidence.

When Jacob travelled to Egypt, it was also his first time, but his sons were familiar of the road going to Egypt. Jacob was not worried which way to take. He may have been worried by the kind of life waiting for him in Egypt. Even if Joseph his favorite son was the ruler, will they be treated well? Will he return to Canaan?

And specifically, the Lord promised that He will go down to Egypt with him and to bring him back. The Lord’s promises to Jacob were answers to what he prayed for–things that bothered him. In Beersheba, Jacob prayed to seek God’s assurance because of those concerns that worried him on their way to Egypt.

When we decide on crucial issues of life, we practically practice our faith when we seek assurance from the Lord. Jacob and his household went to Egypt because of a crisis. God allows crisis, trouble, burden, difficulties in life to take us out from our comfort zone for Him to accomplish His good purposes in our life.

When Israel and his household relocated to Egypt, actually, the Lord has fulfilled the circumstances that He declared for the descendants of Abraham.

The Lord declared to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16, 13Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.

The Lord declared what may happen to Abraham’s descendants. Really!?!

Abraham did not have any child at that time, just yet, but the Lord declared what happens to his descendants. If you were Abraham, can you imagine that?

When Abraham was 75 years old, the Lord promised to make him into a great nation. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. That’s 25 years of waiting. That’s long time to test Abraham’s faith. Why wait until Abraham was 100? God’s perfect timing is 100%. He certainly fulfills His promises 100% sure!

Of course, it takes faith to believe that! It says in Romans 4:16, 16To those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

Galatians 3:7 says, 7Those who have faith are children of Abraham.

The Lord fulfilled His declaration for Abraham’s descendants when Jacob and his household relocated to Egypt. That’s approximately 215 years later.

What can we learn from the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises to Abraham and Jacob? Most often, we cannot help but to worry about our future, finances, family, or retirement. Did you hear any promise from God that you may want to hold onto? Do you have much faith that the Lord fulfills His promises to you?

Apostle Peter testified in 2 Peter 1:1-4, 1To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Previously, Peter said that they left everything to follow Christ. He teaches that the Lord has already supplied everything we need for godly life. Have you proven the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to sustain your needs for godly life?

Sick Leave

It has been acceptable practice in Western culture to exploit “Sick Leave” even when they are not really sick. Have you ever called in sick even if you were not sick? Listen carefully: Have you heard the story of an employee who may have abused his right for sick leave? Before he reached retirement age, the said willful employee became very sickly and became a regular visitor in the hospital.

Visiting patients is noble. To get sick is terrible. Be careful what you wish. Desire a godly and righteous lifestyle. You will never have any regret at all.

It says in 1 Peter 3:12-14, 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

Apostle Paul reveals in 2 Timothy 3:12-17, 12In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

When Jacob prayed, and the Lord promised to be with him to Egypt, it was a biblical demonstration of how the Lord sustains our needs when we decide to follow Him and live a godly life. Furthermore, to prove that Jacob was very much willing to obey the Lord, he took with him all his possessions and his household.

3. Possession

5Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

When Joseph instructed his brothers to relocate their families to Egypt, he actually prophesied about God’s declaration for Abraham’s descendants to live in a foreign land. His brothers told his instruction to their father, and Jacob prayed to be sure it was God’s will. The Lord confirmed it and promise to be with him. No turning back, Jacob! No turning back! Jacob had willingly obeyed the Lord.

So, he took all his possessions and his household, and relocated to Egypt. And, Jacob did not plan on returning to Canaan. That is a picture of obedience without reluctance that the Lord requires from all who decide to follow Him. There’s no turning back. No turning back! We can experience more of His blessings when we follow the Lord with all of our heart and without hesitation.

The Lord Jesus said in Luke 10:27, 27Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.

How much love does the Lord desires from us? Complete love, not less!

He requires all aspects of life—heart, soul, strength, and mind. Heart is the center of our being, moral preferences, character, inner self or intentions. Soul is the seat of affection and will, identity, personality. Strength is the physical ability, power, might, force. Mind is disposition, understanding, thought, intellect, insight.

When Jacob brought all his possessions together with all members of his household, he did not plan on returning. He wanted to obey the Lord completely.

The Lord assured that He will bring him back, and Jacob trusted that the Lord decides when His perfect time comes, if ever he returns to Canaan.

In everything we do or decide, especially, crucial decisions, major changes of lifestyle, it is very advisable to pray and seek the Lord’s signal and assurance.

It says in Proverbs 12:15, 15The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. And in Proverbs 16:9, 9In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Wedding Plans

Who would reject elaborated wedding plans? Believers are also tempted to advertise illustrious wedding—beautiful dresses, fancy decoration, or delicious food.  Which part of the wedding is widely shared in social media? Mistakes, accidents or confusions during the wedding! Couples spend much time preparing for their wedding day and spend less time preparing for their lifetime married life.

Such reality practically illustrates how most of us approach life as believers of Christ. There just a few believers who sincerely prepare for life in eternity. The church is congregation of believers. The church is the Bride of Christ. We live with Christ for all eternity. Have you planned for your eternal life with the Lord?

Ask the Lord for help. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

For marriage to grow strong, we need the guidance and empowerment of the Lord. Similarly, to store up treasures in heaven, we need to willingly obey the Lord with all our hearts, soul, strength and mind. Ask the Lord to give you an idea how you may approach your life as a believer that will translate to eternity.

Jacob did not plan of living the rest of his life in Egypt. His sons did not plan of relocating to Egypt. Severe famine made their life in Canaan so terrible but they tried their best to survive. Jacob instructed his sons to buy grain in Egypt then returned to Canaan. But the famine was so severe and they starved.

Jacob made the right step when he prayed after he learned that Joseph instructed them to relocate to Egypt. The Lord confirmed for Jacob to relocate. He gave him a promise. He assured him that He will go down to Egypt with him.

Friends: Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about life. Ask God how you may store up eternal treasures if you’re assured of eternal life. Pray that the Lord may increase your faith in Him. Pray and be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Joy from the Lord strengthens you. You may not understand everything but when peace from God prevails in your heart, you’ll follow His lead without hesitation.

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