Time To Move On

Genesis 31:1-13

1Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

4So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, 7yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. 9So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

10“In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”

Introduction

Do you love your work? Whatever task you’ve got, you love what you are doing if you’ve exerted much time and effort to improve. You do more than what’s required of you. You work to be the best in your area of responsibility.

If you’ve loved your work, did your best, but still you were laid off, how would you react? Changing jobs or starting a new career is common but not everyone can easily adjust when laid off. Why would God allow it to happen?

Sometime ago, a Christian employee had great employer who sent him to attend seminars and advance training. His employer observed his potentials, and promoted him. Few years later, the management was reorganized, and he was terminated for a reason that his new boss cannot agree with him.

Instead of taking legal steps to fight for his right, he perceived that it must be God’s will that he had to move out from that institution. As he waited for an opportunity, he studied and trained. Now, he found himself in greater workplace.

In Psalm 106:3, 3Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

Truly, it must be tough when suddenly laid off with monthly bills coming. How much more if one has a family? It’s true! Nobody knows what future brings. But, there’s blessing for the righteous. And if we do what’s right in accordance to our faith in the Lord, trust God even in trials, It says in 2 Peter 2:9-10, 9The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Do you agree that Jacob worked honestly? Laban believed that he was blessed because of Jacob but his attitude toward him has changed. Ten times he changed Jacob’s wages. Jacob didn’t complain or despise his boss. And, God blessed Jacob even more, but his brothers-in-law suspected him of dishonesty.

1. Suspect

1Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.

It’s not mentioned that Laban’s sons, the brothers of Jacob’s wives helped in watching the sheep of their father. So, they didn’t know how Jacob prospered. How did the livestock of Jacob multiply? How could an ordinary shepherd afford to buy servants for himself? How could a shepherd grow wealthier than his boss?

There must have been illegal activities they didn’t know. They suspected that Jacob has cheated their father. And, their suspicion reached Jacob.

3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

Previously, Jacob told Laban, “Let me go back to my own homeland!”

Laban requested, “Please stay here because I observed that I’m blessed because of you!” Jacob agreed to extend his service for Laban, but the time has come when God signaled him to proceed with his plan to return to Canaan.

When the attitude of Laban and his sons toward Jacob has changed, God used that as a timely practical signal for Jacob to return to Canaan. God may have allowed him to stay with Laban a little bit longer for him to prosper.

Does God reveal the secret of progress if you ask Him for wisdom?

It teaches in Deuteronomy 8:18, 18Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.

Wisdom to progress comes from God. Ask God for wisdom to progress.

Before Jacob came to Harran, the Lord appeared to him in a dream. God promised to be with him, watch over him and bring him back to his homeland in Canaan, and Jacob believed it. He interpreted what God told him as a promise of provision also. And, he responded to God in Genesis 28:20-22:

20“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 Jacob promised to give 10% of all that God gives him, he expressed practically his trust that God will help him prosper. He believed God gave him the idea how to multiply his livestock when he decided to stay with Laban for a while.

Wisdom is needed for progress. The wealthy spends wisely. To spend recklessly is not wise. Jesus warned against prodigal or reckless lifestyle. To be “Prodigal” is to have extravagant lifestyle, reckless or wasteful expenditure.

It says in Luke 15:13-16, 13The younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!”

Sometimes, God allows us to experience some form of setbacks to bring us to our senses, and return to Him. Jacob may have been enjoying his life while serving Laban. He was progressing, and he forgot his plan to go back to Canaan.

And, God may have allowed the attitude of Laban and his sons toward Jacob to change as timely signal for him to return to his own homeland.

Jacob may have sensed the hostility of Laban but he waited God’s signal. Laban did not harm Jacob because God has secured him.

2. Secure

4So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, 7yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. 9So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

If you were Laban, and you employed a shepherd. After few years, your shepherd grew richer than you. How would you react? Jacob believed that God secured him when Laban and his sons were hostile to him. Their hostility was God’s prompter to move out from Harran and return to his own homeland.

Earlier, Laban agreed with the condition Jacob told him about his wages.

Jacob responded in Genesis 30:33, 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.

Laban did not find sheep or goat that were not speckled or spotted in Jacob’s livestock. Of course, Jacob never took anything belonging to Laban illegally. He was satisfied with his wages. When Jacob progressed, Laban did not become poor. But, why was Laban hostile? Jacob grew richer than him.

Not many people are happy if you are honest with your work, why? They may expect that your honesty will help you get promoted and they are not. Such hostile attitude toward honest people started with Abel and Cain.

It says in Hebrews 11:4, 4By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

When God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected the offering Cain, he killed Abel, why? If not for Abel, he thought that God accepted his offering. Employers want honest workers. Teachers appreciate honest students. Dishonest people crave and do whatever it takes to get recognition. But, when their dishonest efforts are disregarded, they turn and hate the honest ones who received commendations.

Let’s pray that more Christians would live honest lifestyle in this church.

It warns us in 1 John 3:12, 12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

Expect hostility wherever you go if you are living honest and righteous lifestyle. Even among Christian community, hostility is not absent. There are workers who perform out of envy or rivalry. Apostle Paul testified about this.

He wrote in Philippians 1:15-18. 15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

If anyone has the right to complain of unfairness in the ministry, it’s Paul.

He has proven God’s grace to be more apparent during hostile situations. God’s grace becomes more realistic practically during storms of life.

Paul started the church in Corinth. But, after he moved to the next ministry opportunity, some leaders instigated divisions among members, and they were divided who they should follow. It’s heartbreaking when respected church leaders cause divisions in the church. But, what should we do? How should we react?

Paul advised in 1 Corinthians 4:5, 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

The motive of Laban when he persuaded Jacob to stay for a while was selfishness. He wanted more blessing when he observed that God blessed him more when Jacob arrived. Jacob accepted Laban’s offer as he waited for the right timing of God’s signal to travel back to Canaan.

3. Signal

10“In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”

That was the signal that Jacob has waited—an assurance from the Lord.

Jacob thought of returning to his homeland but he was also hesitant. He waited for God’s signal. Jacob may have remembered the angry Esau. If his own brother was hostile to him, why can’t Laban? So, returning to Canaan was risky. He needed an assurance from God. And, when the angel of the Lord appeared to him again in a dream, he knew it’s was about time to move out. It’s time to go!

Is it time for you to go? Then go ahead! Are you called to missions, short-term or long-term? Has God called you to missions, domestic or international? Have you heard God’s signal for you? Then, Go… and God will be with you!

***Few years ago, we have shifted gear in our mission approach from supporting missionaries to supporting churches in the Philippines. Some of our members visited churches in the Philippines that we support financially. It has not been followed up since, but some members joined short-term mission on their own volition or initiative. May God tells us clearly about our mission approach!

***We can hear mission experiences and testimonies from church members.

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20, 18“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Truly, when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, do you believe that God sent the Spirit of Christ into our hearts? Can you personally sense the presence of Christ in your life often? Christ has declared that His presence is much more assured practically when we go and make disciples.

The Spirit of Christ in us gives us peace and joy to obey Him. We shouldn’t force ourselves when we are challenged to go. Obedience to the Lord becomes a reality when the Holy Spirit bear fruit of love in us, for us to love the Lord. It says

in 1 John 2:3-5, 3We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him.

Today, the 27th TMEC anniversary celebration reminds obedience to the Lord is fruitful. TMEC has moved onto the phase of church life. What’s next?

Just as God signaled Jacob to return to Canaan, and promised to be with him, may each of us heed the Lord’s calling to go, make and baptize disciples!

In a little while, we will baptize believers. Baptism is a great step to follow Christ as His disciple. During the baptism ceremony, parents of young people will join me to baptize and immerse their children into the water.

I will be requesting you to join me baptize the person you disciple when they decide to follow Christ in water baptism. Let’s make it as our church culture.

What could be more joyful experience for parents than to watch precious children follow Christ in his death and resurrection through water baptism?

What could be more joyful experience for believers than to baptized believers they help grow as Christ’s disciple?

During water baptism, the baptism candidate testifies of willingness follow Christ in His death and resurrection. When the person is immersed into the water, it signifies death to the old self. When the person comes out of the water, it signifies resurrection to a new life in Christ.

Remember the time when you were baptized.

During your baptism, you publicly declared that Christ has become Lord of your life. You died to your old self and resurrected to your new life in Christ.

If Christ is Lord of your life, His Spirit is in you.

The most practical experience to be assured that Christ’s Spirit is in you is when you sense His prompting to go and make disciples, and you go!

Have you sense the prompting and signal of Christ for you to go, yet?

Pray for empowerment! Pray to be filled with Christ’s Spirit!

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

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