Put into Action

Genesis 31:14-21

14Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? 15Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. 16Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”

17Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. 21So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.

Introduction

Someone said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” Another person said, “A good plan implemented today is better than perfect plan implemented tomorrow!”

And it was told, “If plan ‘A’ fails, the Alphabet has 25 more letters (B to Z).”

Planning for A, B, or C implies guessing game. Such planning has no certainty to the will of God. Even if we don’t agree with the result, God’s design is always certain. And, it says in Romans 8:28, 28In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Does it teach failed plans? Does it imply that with God there are no failed plans?

Often, when expectations fail, we consider them as mistake. But if we do things for God’s glory, trust that He will use the outcome for our good. Many times we can’t perceive it but God’s great design for those who love Him will prevail.

It says in Colossians 3:17, 17Whatever 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.

And in Colossians 3:23, 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Our concern of doing what’s right and proper, others may take advantage.

Such was the experience of Jacob when he properly informed his father-in-law about his plan to return to his own homeland. Laban did not readily allow him to go, asked him to stay, and changed his wages ten times.

Nonetheless, being a considerate son-in-law, Jacob served Laban, and God made him prosper. Unsurprisingly, it did not please Laban when Jacob grew richer than him. That was also God’s “Go” signal for Jacob to put his plan into action to return to his homeland. This time he did not inform Laban about it.

Jacob explained his plan to his wives, and they were convinced to go.

1. Convince

14Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? 15Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. 16Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”

Rachel and Leah were convinced that it was for their own betterment to go to Canaan. They supposed that their father took advantage of Jacob to enrich himself. Jacob served 14 years in exchange for the right to marry them. Rachel and Leah felt like Laban used them to pay Jacob’s 14 years of services.

Is it possible that God instill such miserable thought in the mind of Rachel and Leah so that they were convinced to travel west to Canaan willingly?

One thing that we may consider when we put our plans into action is that, “Everyone who should be involved in the implementation of a plan should be convinced to execute the plan.” Jacob planned for the welfare of his family, his wives were convinced that it was a great plan for them, and they implemented it.

It says in 1 Peter 3:7, 7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

When planning for the family, husband should not dictate. It is much better that wives are convinced before execution of plan. Well, people want surprises. Surprises are cute but when implementing major decisions like buying a house or move to another city, convince all concerned parties to avoid “blame games.”

In the Bible, the word “caught by surprise” is a term mostly associated with thieves or enemies. God does not surprise anybody about His plan for us. He warns even before He punishes wrongdoings. But when it is necessary, or when He sees trouble ahead of us, or if it’s for our good, He would act accordingly.

Squall

It was recorded in Luke 8:22-25, 22One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

A squall is a sudden, violent gust of wind, often accompanied by rain. If the disciples knew there was storm coming, they would not sail. God may have ordered the squall to burst suddenly to show how little faith the disciples still had.

The squall represents sudden troubles ahead of us that God would not need to tell, why? If we knew the trouble ahead, we can be scared and decide to do otherwise instead of following the will of God.

Truly, it is easy to claim that we have faith when everything is going great. Often, God allows sudden challenges to bother us to test the level of our faith in Him. When we implement a plan that we believe as God’s will, the idea of “What ifs” or unexpected concerns like squall will try to shake or prevent us. The level of our faith in Christ determines the intensity or willingness to take an action.

The Lord gave His “Go” signal for Jacob to execute his plan to return to Canaan. Jacob could have asked, “What if Laban won’t allow us to go?” “What if my brother Esau is waiting to attack me?” “What if bad elements ambush us along the way?” Such unnecessary “What ifs” can discourage obedience to God.

Jacob’s wives were convinced to go to a land they haven’t been before?

When Jacob had convinced his wife, it was another practical assurance of God that He watched over him and his family. They did not just agree with him, Leah and Rachel even encouraged him to do whatever God has instructed him.

Those were practical assurances for Jacob to launch their journey to his homeland at once. So, they secretly commenced their journey to Canaan.

2. Commence

17Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

Jacob he put into action his plan after he had convinced his wives to travel west to his homeland. He put his family on camels—the best ride available, and commenced their journey from Paddan Aram going west to the land of Canaan.

When Jacob and his family traveled with the goods he accumulated in Paddan Aram. Jacob was exceedingly prosperous, and it could have attracted danger or threat from bad elements who may rob them along the way.

It described Jacob in Genesis 30:43, 43The man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Let us recall when Jacob informed Laban of his plan to return to Canaan. He was persuaded to postpone it. Jacob served Laban, and he prospered. And God gave him the “Go” signal to implement his plan to travel west to Canaan.

Traveling as a family could have placed them in probable danger if Jacob insisted on returning to Canaan without God’s “Go” signal. The delay of Jacob’s travel allowed him to buy servants and have more people traveled with him and his family. More people could discourage bad elements from attacking them.

Sometimes, when we have seemingly great plan, we wish to implement it immediately. But there are also times when we’ve to delay our plan and wait for God’s timing. Jacob postponed his plan of returning to Canaan while he waited for God’s “Go” signal. And when the Lord told him to go, he obeyed at once.

Jacob traveling with his family and servants toward the promise land was a beautiful picture of spiritual pilgrimage of believers together with family members and other believers with hope to enter heaven one day.

Did Jacob expect to encounter some troubles along the way? He believed that God will be with him, to watch over him until he reached his destination.

And, God kept him and his household safe from bad elements along the way.

Christ promised in John 10:27-29, 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

Sure, there will be troubles, concerns, and challenges we may encounter in our spiritual pilgrimage but our faith in Christ assures us that nothing can separate His sheep from Him. The flock of Christ listens when He speaks.

Do sheep only obey their Master’s voice?

There’s a video posted in the internet, Do sheep only obey their Master’s voice?It presented three strangers tried but failed to get the attention of the sheep. When their shepherd called them, the sheep responded.

Christ compared believers to sheep. Believers listen and follow the voice of the Lord. When the Lord says, “It’s time to go!” the believer whom God has called will respond and obey His instructions. Obedience to the Lord’s call illustrates practically the familiarity of the believers to the voice of the Lord.

Some believers who do not respond immediately to the instruction of the Lord may be new to the flock of God. They are not very familiar, yet. Most of the times, they need somebody to nudge or prompt them to respond. But as we grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord, we respond automatically without doubt.

Jacob was the kind of believer in God who knew how to wait, listen and obey God’s “Go” signal. He had great plans. His plan was in accordance to God’s will because the Lord promised him to watch over him until he returns to Canaan. Although Jacob knew it was God’s will to return to Canaan, he waited until he heard the voice of the Lord very clearly. And without delay, they traveled west.

Before that, when Jacob traveled east to find a wife, his experiences along the way were not mentioned. It was not mentioned if he crossed the Euphrates River. In his return, it was mentioned when they crossed the Euphrates River.

3. Cross

19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. 21So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.

Obviously, Jacob didn’t inform Laban when he took everything he had and traveled west to Canaan because he may have anticipated that Laban would do his best to prevent them, just like the first time he informed him. Moreover, their relationship had already worsened. It would just be pretension to say goodbye.

But, why mentioned they crossed the Euphrates River when they traveled west since it was not mentioned when Jacob traveled east? Did he take different path? Probably! But it could have been much easier journey for them to follow the same path Jacob took when he traveled east alone to Paddan Aram, right?

Together with his family and his servants, Jacob’s journey going west to Canaan teaches us about trust in the Lord together with our family members.

Crossing the Euphrates River illustrates spiritual journey from old life to new life in Christ. Their destination Canaan the promised land, illustrates our eternal destination, the Promised Heaven.

Was it easy for Jacob and his family to cross the Euphrates River?

Was the Euphrates River shallow enough for his children to cross?

Those situations were not the most important information to know.

What’s significant was that they crossed the river and headed to the country of Gilead which was near Canaan or the land east of Jordan River.

When we put our trust in Christ, and believed that He will bring us to our eternal destination, we don’t need to explain if it was hard or easy for us to cross from old self to new life in Christ because we did nothing except to trust Christ.

For learning purposes, many will try to understand or explain the process of what or how God did it when He assured us of eternal life. Yet, most often, it invites endless argument as to how we are saved. It is not easy for them to accept God’s mysterious way when He gave us faith to believe we are saved in Christ.

Some groups who call themselves Christian would require their members to speak in tongue. For them, speaking in tongue is a sign that they are saved.

Still there are other groups claiming that only members of their church will be saved. You may notice that those unbiblical doctrines happened when one tries to explain in human terminologies things that are not mentioned in the Bible.

The journey of Jacob and his household heading to the country of Gilead was more important to know than the way they crossed the Euphrates River.

In the New Testament, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law missed Christ’s offer of eternal life because they tried to exert their training and expertise of the law to argue with Jesus instead of trusting in Him.  Many times, people missed what God wants for them because they want clear cut explanation of everything they need to do which is not a definition of faith. In Hebrews 11:1-2, 1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.

One may still argue that ancient people were great examples of having faith because the Bible has been canonized, or a council has decided which one should be included in the Bible. That’s given! But in the time of the ancient people, the art of argumentation and debate had not become popular yet.

And Christ declared in Matthew 11:24-26, 24I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” 25At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  26Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

By faith, we accept Christ’s warning about eternal punishment. Those who are wise and learned try to explain how, when, or where but God has chosen to keep it secret from them. It’s very terrible for those who claim to be wise but had no fear of the coming wrath of God because their focus is to win an argument.

Budget Proposal

A reminder to all Ministry Teams: Please meet the soonest possible and draft your Ministry Budget Proposal and submit them to the Board of Trustees.

Pray that God would reveal to you which ministry activity He wants us to participate in 2019. You can argue as wise as you wish but it’s more advisable to leave a room for the practice of faith.

Ask the question: Am I practicing my faith in this activity or am I trusting my ability and expertise to perform such ministry activity?

Normally, when the hidden objective is to please other people or to earn praise from leaders or observers, such plan is not a product of faith.

The objective of planning by faith which is inspired by Christ’s Spirit is to glorify the Lord, and to experience the power of God.

Seek to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit when you plan.

May God reveal to us very clearly His unique design for our church to advance His kingdom through each of us! God bless you all!

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

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