Faith with Action

Genesis 28:18-22

18Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Fishing Season

One activity that I like so much in Canada is fishing. Interestingly, being Christ’s disciple is comparable to the life of a fisherman. When Christ called the first batch of His disciples—Peter, James, John and Andrew, they were career fishermen. He told them to follow Him and make them fishers of men.

For three years, the disciples followed and learned from Christ. Then, one day, Peter and the other disciples went fishing. As seasoned fishermen, they should know the right time and place to fish but they have caught nothing at all.

It narrated in John 21:4-6, 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Christ is the Creator. He knows where fish swim. His disciples were expert fishermen yet, they caught nothing. But, when they listened and obeyed Christ’s instruction to throw their net of the boat, they caught more than expected.

Similarly, one can be expert in evangelism but cannot convince anybody to believe in Christ. Why? Christ instructed that we are to be His witnesses after we receive power from His Spirit. His empowerment exhibits His work in our life.

It says in 2 Corinthians 4:13, 13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

To witness or testify verbally of what Christ has done in our life is practical proof that we truly believe in Christ. Christ did not command us to be on our own. We need Christ’s empowerment when we share the gospel with our contacts.

Faith comes from God. And faith is active and not idle or dormant. Anyone may claim to have faith in Christ, but would inspire us to actively share to others our personal experience as believers of Christ. What is your personal experience of Christ ever since you accepted Him as Lord and Savior?

Ask Christ to reveal Himself and His power to you. When you encounter the Lord, your will certainly commit yourself to tell your love ones about Christ.

Isaac represents Christ. Jacob represents obedient believers. When Isaac blessed Jacob and told him to get a wife from the relatives of his mother, it was a picture of believers instructed by Christ to witness for Him. Jacob was unfamiliar of the path he took but God appeared and assured him of successful journey.

In his dream, Jacob saw and heard the Lord promised to bless him with similar blessing given to Abraham. The Lord also promised to be with him until His promise is accomplished. He awoke from his sleep and acknowledged the Lord’s awesomeness. He performed a ceremony and named the place Bethel.

1. Ceremony

18Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 

19He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

The Hebrew term “Bethel” literally means “House of God.” Jacob called “House of God” the place where God appeared and spoke to him in his dream. The Hittites called the place “Luz” which literally means “almond.” There could be many almond trees in that place, and Jacob was attracted to take a rest there.

Interestingly, Jacob had been sensible to perform a ceremony in memorial and recognition of the meaningful encounter of the Lord in that place. He set up the stone he had placed under his head as monument to mark the place so that when he returns, it would be easier for him to identify that place.

He also poured oil on it as integral part of that special ceremony to rename the place as the “House of God” or Bethel. And, when the time come when his descendants may ask why the place was called “Bethel” instead of “Luz,” they will point at the stone Jacob set up as monument and tell the story when the Lord appeared and spoke to Jacob in his dream at that particular place in Bethel.

TMEC Rock

Have you ever visited the huge “Rock” in front of our church building? Have you ever spent a moment of your precious time to read and internalize the inscription on the said TMEC Rock? I suggest that you visit it from time to time for you to understand and remember what the Lord has done to this church.

The Inscription says, “THIS IS A TESTIMONIAL TO THE STEADFAST LOVE AND UNFAILING GOODNESS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN PROVIDING HIS CHILDREN AT THE MAPLES EVANGELICAL CHURCH A GRANDIOSE PLACE OF WORSHIP. THE CONGREGATION OPENLY DECLARES WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING THAT ONLY JESUS CHRIST AND HIM ALONE HAS PROVIDED THE PLACE AS A MILESTONE FOR THE CHURCH TO GROW, GLOW AND GO WITH HIM AND CONTINUALLY LIFT HIM UP AS OUR SAVIOUR AND LORD.

THIS MEMORIAL WAS UNVEILED OCT. 22, 2000 ECHOING LOUDLY THE SONG OF PRAISE “THE LORD HAS DONE THIS AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES.” PSALM 118:23.

“TO GOD BE THE GLORY GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE”

You observed it Right! Every letter in the inscription was capitalized. Why?

It was intentional feature that may add to the emphasis of thankfulness, praise, and willingness of each TMEC member to testify the goodness and love of Christ in providing us a grandiose place of worship and spiritual growth.

When the Lord appeared and spoke to Jacob in his dream, God assured him of blessing and companionship. It may have helped Jacob turn from fear of the future to reverent fear of the Lord. The memorial stone he set up and the ceremony he performed expressed his faith that the Lord would provide for him.

The members of TMEC, who set up the TMEC Rock in front of the church building have personally observed how the Lord provided for a place of worship, can identify with Jacob’s reverent fear of God and his trust that God provides.

We should continue to trust that God will sustain us as a church to perform in the church ministries more effectively as we proclaim to others whom He has chosen to listen to our testimony of His goodness and saving grace.

It says in Jude 24-25, To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen

And, it also states in Ephesians 3:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably  more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Normally, we hear these verses to declare the awesome power of the Lord God almighty, especially, during doxology. A “doxology” is a phrase or hymn the expresses praise glorifying God and His goodness. By faith we praise the Lord.

When Jacob performed a ceremony and set up a memorial monument in Bethel where God appeared and spoke to him personally, he expressed his faith that God would certainly fulfill His promise to bless and to be with him.

Jacob acknowledged the circumstances mentioned in God’s promise.

2. Circumstance

20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

When God gave the circumstances of His promise to Jacob, He did not ask anything from Jacob. God has chosen to bless and to be with Jacob without demanding anything from him. Jacob echoed what he heard from the Lord.

During the ceremony in Bethel where he set up a memorial stone, Jacob rephrased what God told him as affirmation that God will be with him, watch over him in his mission, provide him food and clothing until he safely return home.

The Lord did not mention about Jacob’s main purpose of travelling to his destination which was to choose his wife from the relatives of his mother? Did God leave that part or other circumstances for Jacob to decide on his own?

The circumstances that God promised to Jacob were the specifics that the Lord may want him to observe. Jacob was not anxious about the woman he would marry. He was more concerned about being alone on his journey, his safety and provision, and he desired to return to his family in Canaan.

Wisdom for Solomon

To know what God granted, be specific in your prayer. God appeared and said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1:7-12, 7“Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 8Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

11God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

Sure, the Lord knows that Solomon as the wisest king in his generation, He provided material wealth as practical proof of wisdom. After the queen of Sheba saw the splendor of King Solomon’s majesty, she gave him 4 metric tons of gold as gift. She personally visited King Solomon to prove what she heard were real. What she saw exceeded her expectation.

Many people cannot believe the wealth of King Solomon but with more billionaires in our midst these days, more people are convinced that the life story of King Solomon and his vast wealth were real and accurate. God added things that King Solomon needed as proof that God granted his prayer for wisdom.

The Lord knows our needs. When He places us in a situation, He provides the things we need as practical proof of His grace at work in us. When God brought TMEC to this sanctuary, He also brought in members who are faithful in giving His tithes and their offerings so that we can function as His church.

It is by faith that Jacob acknowledges the circumstances of God’s promise to him. He did not worry about other details but he made a commitment to God.

3. Commitment

21bthen the Lord will be my God 22and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

The phrase “then the Lord will be my God” expresses an acknowledgment of Jacob’s personal relationship with the Lord Almighty. He trusted that the Lord God will provide for his unforeseen needs in his journey. He did not bother to ask God where he may get food and water, or how he may choose a wife.

The phrase “and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house” signifies Jacob’s personal monument to remind him where he saw and heard the Lord in his dream. He may have planned to return to that place and worship God when he returns safe to the Promise Land from his journey.

The phrase “and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth” articulates Jacob’s personal commitment of response to God as his keeper and provider.

The Lord did not command Jacob to give a tenth of all that the Lord gives him but he committed himself to give it anyway. This may suggest that his grandfather Abraham may have influence of Jacob’s lifestyle, and God knows it. Was that the reason God gave Jacob similar blessing and promise given to Abraham?

Jacob’s commitment teaches genuine believers to have commitment not just with empty claims but in practical deeds as proof of faith to the Lord. Faith in God is displayed with our commitment to serve and give what is due Him.

It says in James 2:17-24, 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

When you signed for your ministry preferences, it was a step to practice faith. With ministry involvement, you’ve got a circumstance to practice your faith actively. Ask the Lord Jesus to empower you and inspire you to participate.

When you sense joy of ministry involvement, it practically proves that Christ’s Spirit is real and at work in your life. Praise God!

What’s more wonderful experience than to be empowered by Christ Jesus?

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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