Ripples of Behavior

Genesis 49:1-7

1Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. 2“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel. 3“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. 4Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.

5“Simeon and Levi are brothers—their swords are weapons of violence. 6Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. 7Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.

Giveaway Exchange!

Can you agree that behavior can affect our lifestyle? Our behavior today has effects in our life tomorrow. Life practices reveal our mindset and priorities in life. Others will know if we prioritize our beliefs with Christmas practices.

What is the essence of exchanging gifts if you gave a gift and received a gift of same value? If you expect something in return, it’s exchange of items! Do you always appreciate what you get? Why not just buy yourself a gift you prefer?

But if you can’t resist the fun for Exchange Gift, try “Giveaway Exchange!”

How’s that? Bring items from your house that you want to give away (tools, utensils, toys, books, appliances, clothes); put number in each item; raffle the numbers; participants pick items that have the same number from the raffled numbers. In case, you don’t want to bring home the item you’ve got, then give it to someone else who wants it or just drop it at any charity Drop Box.

Testify if Exchange Gift practices have increased blessedness of giving?

If you expect to receive items as valuable as the items you gave, the basic essence of gift has decreased, lessened or cheapened, right? If you give gifts to people in need, they will truly appreciate it. If gift is given to people who’ll also give gifts of the same value, the meaning of gift has been distorted, diminished.

The word giftpertains to “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; a present.” Gift is something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient. Gift is not earned or even deserved.

This Christmas Season, we are reminded of the greatest Giver of gift. God gives the greatest gift of eternal life to all who believe in Christ. Did you receive God’s gift of eternal life? Why would God give eternal life for free? The gift of eternal life practically proves Acts 20:35, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Nobody can outgive God. Nobody can surpass the generosity of God. Nobody can exceed the blessedness of God. But, God wants us to experience the blessedness of giving, and He challenges us to give, especially, to the needy.

So, how can we practice real giving without expecting something in return?

Pray for opportunity to share your blessings to churches, church planters, and seminary students in the Philippines. Short-term missionaries will go and meet possible recipients. We will ship Mission Boxes filled with school supplies to Philippine churches with children ministry. Mission Box is placed at the Foyer.

Learn from Jacob that behavior has effect on blessings. When he sensed that he was about to die, he gathered, blessed and declared visions for his sons.

1. Vision

1Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

2“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel.

Jacob gathered his sons around him, and declared his vision for them. His blessing was exclusive for his sons only. No blessings intended for his servants.

When Jacob exclusively blessed his sons, it’s a picture of the Lord when He exclusively blesses believers He calls His children who gather before Him.

When we gather as children of God, and listen carefully to what He tells us specifically, our heavenly Father will certainly bless us. Agree? We believe that the Lord speaks to us very personally through every part of or worship services. The Lord’s personal message to each of us is His godly instruction to bless us.

It says in Hebrews 10:24-25,  24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Every generation faces unique challenges. Problems in previous centuries or millennia may not necessarily similar in this generation, but eternal creativity of our Creator to help us solve problems can be manifested. Many Christians in this generation have been discouraged. Similarly, Christians in the first century have their share of discouragement. Believers can encourage other believers, right?

Character Reference

Regular fellowship encourages others. Practically speaking, fellowship with fellow believers has advantages when you apply for employment. How? You can have fellow believers for Character References. Here are frequent questions that potential employers usually ask: “What can you say about the work ethic of this applicant? How much supervision is needed for this applicant? Would you recommend this applicant for us? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this applicant? How does this applicant get along with co-workers and management? What else do I need to know about this applicant that I didn’t already ask?

See? If you frequently fellowship with other believers, they can learn more about your positive attributes and give better recommendation statements, right? Furthermore, learning and taking time to listen to the word of God will certainly make you much wiser more than what you can learn from secular institutions.

It says in Psalm 19:7, The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

And in Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

And still in Psalm 119:130, The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

King David did not have the luxury of university education but he was wiser than all his enemies. He was the greatest king of Israel and his best training guide was the word of God. Know God’s will. It helps us make great decisions in life. To follow the will of God affects our behavior and our lifestyle and our future.

Jacob had personally learned that obedience to the Lord brought blessings to his life. As a father, he desired, for sure, that his sons would follow his lifestyle.

He expected his firstborn son Reuben to be the symbol of his strength or vigor.

2. Vigor

3“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. 4Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.

Jacob had expected that Reuben his first born son would become a living symbol of excellence and might. Firstborn child has a special place in the heart of most parents or fathers like Jacob. Jacob said verbally that Reuben his firstborn son was the first sign of his strength, his vitality or vigor. What does that mean?

Children are proofs of manhood. And when sons are born first, they add more affirmation of the productivity, energy or vigor of manhood. For some, it may not matter most, if boy or girl would come first. But for paternal cultures like the Israelites, sons are cherishes because they carry the name of their family.

In maternal culture, daughters are cherished, and they carry their family name.

It says in Psalm 127:3, Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Parents: Can you agree that children are heritage, reward and blessing from the Lord? Why is it that most parents plan for the number of children they want to have? Does it mean that they don’t want much of heritage and reward from the Lord? Or, we just have little faith that the Lord can sustain our needs?

Our society dictates even the way we plan for the size of our family. The word of God does not tell us what number of children is ideal for each family. It says 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.

So, we’ve got to prayerfully make a choice to provide for our family. We determine the number of children we can support until they can be independent. Others don’t necessarily be bothered about support for children. They just don’t like the idea of big family, especially, if they come from bigger families.

Still others do not want to take care of children. They want to pursue their dream careers. When Christ returns, what will He asked us about parenting?

It says in Proverbs 22:6, Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. And in Proverbs 29:17, Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.

Jacob expected his firstborn son to excel in honor and power, is it right to interpret that he trained his children with godly discipline? As believer of the Lord, Jacob had surely advised his children regularly. But when Reuben was older, his lifestyle may have been influenced by other cultures and followed their practices.

Like most Christian parents who want their children to grow mature as god-fearing people, Jacob did his part, for sure. He trained his children in godly discipline but he did not have the control of their behavior and action. Reuben defiled his father’s bed while Simeon and Levi were consumed by violence.

3. Violence

5“Simeon and Levi are brothers—their swords are weapons of violence. 6Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. 7Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.

When Jacob arrived in Canaan together with his family, his daughter Dinah may have been curious about Canaanite lifestyle and went to visit the women of Canaan. The son of the ruler of the land named Shechem saw Dinah and abused her. Dinah’s brothers were so furious when they heard what happened to her.

Shechem loved Dinah so much. He told his father to get Dinah for her. His father asked Jacob to give Dinah to Shechem as his wife. Jacob’s sons said that they can only intermarry with them if they were circumcised. If they want to have Dinah, they’ve got to circumcise all their men, in which they did without delay. After three days while all of them were still in pain, Simeon and Levi attacked the city and killed every male, including Shechem and his father.

Where did Simeon and Levi get their idea? It says in Proverbs 22:24-25, 24Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, 25or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.

We can only interpret that Simeon and Levi may have been influenced by other people they have encountered while they pastured their sheep or when they traded their sheep for merchandise or items they needed in their household.

Jacob did not like what they did. And, he declared that Simeon and Levi will be scattered in Israel. Indeed, when the Israelites returned to the Promised Land, the descendants of Simeon lived among the descendants of Judah while the descendants of Levi had scattered all throughout Israel.

What can we learn from the declaration of Jacob’s vision for his sons?

What Jacob declared were prophesies of the future of the descendants of his sons. We can interpret that the behavior of his sons had ripples that may have affected the future of their descendants. Can we also accept that our behavior has ripples or consequences affecting our life, future and our children?

For sure, lifestyle and practices of parents affect their children’s lifestyle. When parents are engaged in business, most likely, their children will inherit their business. Parents who loved to serve the Lord, their children will follow them.

Timothy

Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:2-5, 2To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Apostle Paul commended his ancestor for setting a lifestyle of service to the Lord that he followed. He mentioned as reminder and encouragement for Timothy to live his faith just like his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice.

There was not much record about the ancestors of Apostle Paul and the lifestyle of the grandmother and mother of Timothy. But when Apostle Paul mentioned them, it reminds us also that our lifestyle and behavior will certainly affect the lifestyle and behavior of our descendants, one way or another.

Apostle John wrote in 3 John 3-4, 3It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Are you convinced that parents who are genuine Christian have joy when their children serve the Lord greater than to accumulate material abundance?

Joy in our heart comes from Christ our Lord. Just as candle continues to shine as long as there’s light in it, let the light of the Lord keep shining in your life, and you will continue to experience joy that comes from the Spirit of Christ.

Truly, we still have struggle, difficulties, and concerns of life like persistent health problems. It says in Proverbs 17:22, A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Let Christ prevail in our heart and we’ve got joy that shines in our life.

The ripples of joyful behavior will certainly affect our day, our behavior about life problems even behavior of other people around us.

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