Moment of Choice

Genesis 30:22-30

22Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”

25After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

27But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

29Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”

Dislocated Arm

Have you had a decision you’ve regretted so much that you wish you may forget everything that happened? Have you ever had a sprained ankle that you cannot walk for few days or weeks and you cannot do your usual activities?

When a certain young man dislocated his arm, he was slow to catch up with the requirement of school activities. Added to the pain of his injury, his classmates ridiculed him. Each time he would glance at his dislocated arm, he would sense some regret of his careless decision. Nevertheless, his dislocated arm serves as warning not to venture in extreme activities or extreme sports.

King Solomon advised in Ecclesiastes 7:16-18, 16Do not be over righteous, neither be over wise—why destroy yourself? 17Do not be over wicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time? 18It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.

King David declared about the Lord as his shepherd in Psalm 23:4, 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.

What is the difference between the rod and staff of a shepherd? The rod is a shorter stick than a staff that the shepherd uses to count or even separate each sheep.

It says in Leviticus 27:32, 32Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord.

Bible scholars interpret that the shepherd’s rod is the word of God. God’s word separates those who are under God’s grace and scapegrace. God’s people who are under God’s grace are obedient to His word. The scapegrace people are those who escaped from the grace of God and disobey His word intentionally.

What is the shepherd’s staff? The staff is a stick that has U-shape on one end, and much longer that the rod. The staff is used to drive away wolves or wild animals. It is also used to guide the stray or wandering sheep back into the flock. Theologians teach that like a shepherd’s staff, the Holy Spirit guides us when we go astray and comforts us when we are afflicted.

Do you still resent when your decisions turned awful? Listen: Nothing we have done can stop God’s love. Regret and guilt, are included with the iniquities that the Lord crucified with Christ. By faith, God has removed your disgrace.

1. Disgrace

22Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”

Rachel was Jacob’s choice to be his wife. He must have been very happy to have a child with Rachel. As result, Joseph became Jacob’s favorite son.

Bible scholars estimated that Jacob was 91-years old when Joseph was born.

Rachel was also quick to give credit to the Lord for her pregnancy. She recognized that God has taken away her disgrace so that she got pregnant.

Nevertheless, she was not satisfied with having just one son when she named her child Joseph. The name “Joseph” means “to increase” in Hebrew language. Rachel prayed that God would give her another son.

Rachel may have felt so blessed to have a son. When she declared that God has removed her disgrace when her prayer to get pregnant was answered, Rachel implied that she suffered much mockery when she was still childless.

The Scripture promises that those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame. So, why do we feel humiliated, embarrassed or disgraced at some point?

Apostle Paul testifies in Romans 10:9-11, 9If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

A disgrace feeling does not come from Christ but it reminds our mistakes.

There’s feeling of disgrace when we try to meet the standards of this world. The world dictates, “You need to have this and that. You need to achieve this and that. You need to get there, visit those places, or acquire those things!”

Instead of the Word of God, commercialism has dictated our lifestyle.

Diet Coke

Some time ago, Coca-Cola promoted their product as “It’s the real thing!” It also claims, “Coke adds life!” And then, they introduced Diet Coke. Many like it!

Lately, an article reported that scientists now claim that: “Sweeteners in Diet Coke and other soft drinks— aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium-k — have all been found to be toxic to gut bacteria. Consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues. Healthy gut bacteria are helpful to digestion, nutrient absorption and immune system function.”

Believe it or not, many among us have bought popular things sold in the market without much research on our part. Some would say, “Rice can make you fat!” Yet skinny Asians eat rice. We easily believe commercials like Bible truth.

Similarly, without searching the Scriptures, not a few have absorbed or accepted popular concepts that caused them spiritually weak and sickly. Well, one may say, “It’s personal choice!” but if a choice is not right, regret follows.

It says in Acts 17:11-12, 11The Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12As a result, many of them believed.

Like the Berean believers, be sure that you personally searched your Bible before you agree or accept anything that seems appealing to you. Some groups may package their teaching with enticing programs (like concerts or choirs) to attract unsuspecting victims. Just be prayerful when you attend those events.

Someone said that your choices reflect your lifestyle, and your lifestyle may reflect your belief. When our lifestyle reflects our faith in Christ, the desire of our hearts becomes acceptable to the Lord.
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2. Desire

25After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

Jacob offered to serve 14 years for him to have Leah and Rachel as wives. And, it was after Jacob has completed the 14 years of service for Laban that Rachel gave birth to Joseph. So, if Joseph was born when Jacob was 91, probably, Jacob may have married Leah and Rachel at the age of 77.

Jacob has completed his mission to get a wife legally and honestly from the relatives of his mother. And he desired to return to Canaan to present his wives to his parents. He told Laban about his plan to travel back west to his homeland. He had no more obligations to fulfill in the land of eastern people.

Jacob was thinking of moving on to the next stage of his life—to raise his own family which is proper and appropriate.

The Lord Jesus teaches in Matthew 19:4-6, At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

When married people move out from their parents’ home, it challenges them to discover more of the will of God for their own family. While it’s very beneficial for parents to help young couples, such situation may also limit married people from exploring their God-given ability to raise their own family.

In addition, there are many instances when relationship between in-laws is unpleasantly affected when young couples live under a single roof with in-laws. Whether to live with in-laws or not, it is a very crucial decision for married people.

To maximize their experience as one flesh, it’s biblical for married couples to leave their parents behind. Whatever decision that has been made, there are sure consequences to be addressed. Emotions, sentiments or practicalities are important factors, but remember to pray for God’s guidance before you decide.

It says in Psalm 37:1-7, 1Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 7Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Do not be misled when applying Psalm 37:4. It is possible but don’t hope that God would readily give worldly desires. The context of the word “desire” in verse 4 is not about “desire” prompted by human sinfulness but a desire that originated from God which is contrary to the lifestyle and pattern of this world.

When Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob sensed the desire to return to Canaan but his father-in-law offered a deal with him to stay a little bit longer. Jacob was caught in a moment of choice whether to return to his homeland or to accept the deal that his father-in-law Laban had offered him.

3. Deal

27But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

Laban offered a deal that Jacob would decide about his wages. He did not offer any amount. He let Jacob chose what he hoped to receive. He trusted that Jacob would ask for fair wages. Laban was very sincere in his request for Jacob to stay for a while. He confessed that the Lord blessed him because of Jacob.

Jacob did not insist to go. He decided to postpone his return to Canaan. Did Jacob interpret that Laban’s request was God’s way to delay his plan for a while? Jacob may have considered that he cannot make decision for the future of his family as long as he was living under the roof of his father-in-law.

All about my Mom

Some of you can identify with this. An Asian TV Series featured a mother who is well-known for her cooking skills. The financial support of their family comes from selling food she cooked. Her children love her food so much.

When her son got married, he and his wife decided to live with his mother-in-law. His mother-in-law cooked for breakfast but when he tasted the food, he just missed the food his own mother cooked. His mother-in-law is very kind but he did not like the food she serves. He was trapped in a challenging situation whether to stay with his mother-in-law or to find a place for him and his wife.

Such problem is an example of difficult challenges when living with in-laws.

Jacob did not complain of any difficulties during the 14 years of service to Laban. When he decided to accept the deal that Laban offered, it implies that their relationship was just fine with him. It also implies that he trusted God to honor his decision when he accepted Laban’s offer to stay for a while.

It says in Proverbs 16:3, 3Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Jacob had certainly committed his plan to postpone his return to Canaan. God must have given him peace to decide whether to stay or return to Canaan. God has blessed him even more when he decided to accept Laban’s deal.

4. Decision

29Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”

Jacob made it clear that he desired betterment for his family. Laban did not mistreat him unfairly. Jacob’s family was growing in numbers, and it’s proper for him to make a living, to earn more so that he can support his family. Jacob implied that he had to be a responsible provider for his family.

It teaches us in Titus 3:14, Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.

In 1 Timothy 5:8, Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The lifestyle of Jacob, his adventures and decision making teach us how we rely upon God in everything we do for personal or family matters. There are times when we are caught in a challenging situation that may define our values.

Someone said that it is easy to make decisions if you know your values.

Our lifestyle is patterned to what we believe. Do you live like Christian? Does your decision making at home, in school, at work, somewhere reflects your faith that Christ is active as Lord of your life?

Those are significant question we have to address if we are intentional in our purposes to testify about Christ as the Master of our decision making.

Board of Trustees Election in the church and election of city official are opportunities for us to check if our decision making is inspired by Christ or our personal choice. May Christ fill us with His Spirit so that His will be done when we make our decision for His church and for our city Winnipeg!

As we celebrate the Lord Supper, we are reminded of Christ’s death of the cross. The Lord has taken our sins, guilt, regret, resentment, and disgrace, and nailed them together with Christ. May God enable us experience freedom from those sinful nature that may try to enslave us.

When we accepted Christ as Lord, it is proper to seek His guidance whenever we make decision of some sort.

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