Plan by Faith

Genesis 30:31-43

31“What shall I give you?” he asked. “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

34“Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

37Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Introduction

While waiting for God’s call, I started two businesses. With little capital and little knowledge in business, I joined a popular MLM (Multi-level-marketing) enterprise. I had little gains but it did not progress. I had no enthusiasm to continue, even when I saw some promising improvement.

Many times we plan for our future which is noble but not necessarily come out as we desired, why? If it is not within God’s will for you, it won’t progress. You could be forcing yourself but you may not have enthusiasm or enjoyment in what you do. Such life is torture, not fullness of life that Christ has promised.

Christ declared in John 10:10, 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

We often attracted by what others do and misled from God’s plan for us. Be prayerful and do things that please God. God knows the best life, the fullness of life. He is the author of life. He designed a unique life suitable for each person. We can be emotional in what we do or not do. But if Christ’s Spirit leads us to His plan, we sense joy and peace even when things contradict our notions or ideas.

It teaches us in James 5:14-15, 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

To consider and regard the Lord when we plan for ourselves, family or ministries, we shouldn’t worry much about the outcome. Instead, we should trust that whatever direction God would divert our attention into, it’s for our betterment.

We commonly hear believers quote Proverbs 3:5-6, 5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Many believers have proven that trusting in the Lord includes asking Him for direction of lifestyle, which includes personal and family matters. We can be easily persuaded to imitate suggestions of well-known people and consider them as Bible truth. Their ideas could be true to others but not realistic to everyone.

It could be that the less impressive idea is what God designed as better path for you and not the popular ones. God’s idea cannot be easily understood or accepted by others but with God’s guidance and inspiration, we want to do it.

When Jacob told his father-in-law Laban that he wanted to go back west to his own homeland in Canaan, Laban requested him to stay. He told Jacob to ask whatever wages he wanted and it will be given him. Jacob could have asked for any amount but he may have wanted to see how God prospered him.

He could have asked for the current wages of shepherd in that place at that time but he did not. Jacob proposed a scheme that would reflect his honesty.

1. Propose

31“What shall I give you?” he asked. “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

Jacob did not choose to have a fixed income. He proposed an agreement that would reflect his honesty but personally, it reflected his faith in the Lord. Jacob may have interpreted it when God promised to watch over him, he would also provide not just for his needs but also for the needs of his family.

So, when he agreed to tend and watch the flocks of Laban, Jacob may have reminded of God’s promise to watch over him. It was not coincidental that Jacob used the term “watch.” It should have been acceptable for Laban when he said that he would look after Laban’s flock. Laban trusted him.

Jacob added much emphasis when he used the term “watch.” He may have reminded himself of God’s promise to watch over him. So, as he watched over the flock of Laban, Jacob may have sensed God watched over him.

When God’s grace is at work in our life, we sense His peace even in the midst of stormy life. Christ offers us not just eternal life but also practical life. If He can give us eternal life, is it too much for Him to give practical life?

The life of Jacob was a biblical example of trusting God even for the needs of his family. Jacob wanted to do something for his family. His father-in-law Laban understood it. Jacob’s proposal of his wages exemplified his faith in God.

Time Management

Is it troublesome to manage your time? Many people try to manage their time. Well, that could be one practice of becoming a manager one day. Managing time can be a symptom that a person has control freak tendencies also. There’s obsessive need to control themselves and others.

“But, I don’t want to waste my time!” someone might say. Since you control your time, it means that you control your activities, right? If you are in control of your activities, it implies that you are also in control of your life, right? So, if you are in control of your life, Christ is not in control, not the Boss of your life, right?

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

This is where prayer comes in. Before planning for time management, ask God for wisdom on how you may allocate your time. Many times we freak out or worry when our time is short for a particular activity. Keep praying, ask wisdom even when it seems that the allocated time is not enough for a particular activity.

God may allow you not to complete what you wanted to do. He may want to divert your attention to Him and His will for you. Keep praying for you to realize, to understand and to trust that He has prepared a better design than what you expected or what others expect of you.

Undergraduate

There was a smart young man with promising career. His parents and love ones were dismayed when he quit school and worked in a minimum wage job.

Few years passed by, he got married and had children.

At that time, he came to know Christ personally, and returned to school. The courses he enrolled in were not what others expected him to take. He prayed and followed what God put in his heart. Few years later, his life was practically much better than those who were dismayed when he quit school.

If we trust that God has a wonderful plan for us individually, our family or church, then, we’ve got to accept when things seem slow from our perspectives or point of view. Sometimes, God delays us or diverts our attention when our plans or activities are moving away from His plan He had designed for us.

It says in Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If you say Christ is your Lord, then let Him manage your time and activities. Your plan is not wasted. Whatever plan you have for your future, make sure to adjust when God tries to divert you to another direction. God can still use your plans as learning process to compare trusting Him and trusting your instinct.

After 14 years of serving Laban, Jacob planned to return to his homeland. But he delayed his plan and accepted the offer of Laban. When he proposed his desired wages and Laban was pleased with it, Jacob knew it was God’s will.

2. Please

34“Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

Laban had agreed with Jacob’s proposal of his wages. It was fair enough.

He may have observed that only a few of his flock were spotted or speckled, and there were only few dark colored lambs. So, Laban was very pleased that Jacob did not take advantage of his leniency of giving him the privilege to present the kind of wages he may take.

Laban did not know that Jacob had a great vision. Jacob had a plan even before he told Laban about his wages. There may be more sheep without spot or speckle in Laban’s flock but Jacob was very strategic manager so that his increased livestock increased greatly.

If a male and female sheep (a ram and ewe) have the same color, they produce lambs with similar color. But, if the male sheep (ram) has different color from the female sheep (ewe), they produce spotted or speckled lambs, right?

Jacob separated for himself spotted and speckled sheep and goats and dark-colored young sheep (lamb) as his wages. He did not take dark-colored male sheep and goats. He let them mixed with Laban’s flock to produce spotted or speckled sheep and goats as his wages.

Laban may have trusted that there were more animals without spot or speckle, so that he did not worry that his flock won’t increase. Anyway, he has proven in 14 years that God blessed him greatly because of Jacob.

Laban was actually thinking of his blessing but when he kept Jacob as his servant, he did not know what God may do with his future.

If you feel homesick and want to visit your family back in your homeland, and your boss would say, “Please don’t go! Just work for me. Tell me what increase you want and I will give you!” But you were homesick. You want to go home. Do you feel blessed even if your boss increased your salary?

If you were in a similar situation like Jacob remember James 5:7-11:

7Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

10Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Perseverance with peace and joy to keep even in the midst of challenging situations is a practical sign that Christ has become Lord of your behavior, decisions, and lifestyle. Faith dictates that the story of Job is true. God blessed Job and his family even more after tragic events of his life.

Job story should inspire us to keep on trusting God even when life seems worst. Job lost everything he had. His children died. His health deteriorated.

Even with such terrible trouble he had gone through Job persevered. And, it says in Job 42:12-15, 12The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

Many people desire to be prosperous and famous. Christians are not exempted. But Job’s life should inspire us. God won’t oppose it if you become famous or prosper. Many famous and prosperous people believe that their blessing comes from God, and not from their efforts.

Jacob may have felt sad when Laban told him not to go home yet. But Jacob did not insist on his plan at this time. God may have also given him peace to stay put for a while. God may have also been preparing Jacob so that when he would meet his older brother Esau, they won’t fight. We can find that our later.

Jacob persevered and implemented his plan. And, he prospered.

3. Prosper

37Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Female sheep and goats can be choosy with their partners. So, when the female sheep and goats drank, they spent much time staring at the stripe branches that Jacob placed in the watering trough. The flocks directly see those white stripes of branches when they drink and could have prepared them to be attracted to spotted or speckled mates.

Jacob made that strategy when stronger females were in mating season. Stronger female sheep can produce healthier lambs. Stronger female goats have healthier kids. Do you agree that Jacob was honest with what he did?

He did not cheat Laban. He only took the spotted and speckled. He did not even eat from Laban’s flock. The spotted and speckled animals were healthier because of Jacob’s strategy and they belong to him. So, Jacob’s flock may have grown more numerous than Laban because they produce healthier lambs or kids.

Jacob may have believed that if the female sheep or goats stare at the stripes of branches, they would not be choosy about dark colored partners. That was just a presumption but not necessarily scientifically proven strategy. Nonetheless, God prospered Jacob using a non-scientific or simple strategy.

What can we learn from Jacob’s strategy when we plan for our personal, family, or church activities? In church, our budget proposal is our guide of the activities we may do next year. Normally, we do what we have been doing, right?

If we keep doing what we usually do, we should not expect any changes.

As we prepare for church budget proposal, first, seek God’s guidance.

You may have many ideas coming to your mind. You may have been attracted by what other Christians or churches do in their ministries. There will certainly be similarities of what we do to what other Christians or churches do.

It is advisable to have clear vision of what God wants us to do. He has already prepared the things we need to progress or prosper in our activities. Many times it is not the most popular that God wants to use. The road leading to the will of God is believed to be less traveled. The foolish things in the eyes of human are often what God does to shame the wise.

Keep remembering what it says in 1 Corinthians 1:27, 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Don’t decide to do something because it’s popular but because God instilled in your heart to do, whether, it’s popular or not at all.

You will know that it is God’s will for you if you sense the peace of God in you. God’s peace assures us to progress or prosper in our activity even when things seem very challenging and not easy.

Anyway, great challenges would certainly help us grow stronger in our faith in the Lord when we keep persevering by God’s grace.

><(((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec/2018 <‘)))>< … <‘)))><

 

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