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Prayer 119: Wrestling With God

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Offering

Proverbs 21:26 NLT
Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!
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Prayer 119: Wrestling With God

Let’s get into the word.

Genesis 32:1–12 NIV84
Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim. Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’ ” When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.” Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ ”
Gen 32:1-
Genesis 32:22–32 NIV84
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
Gen 32:22-

Hearing God’s Voice

Genesis 31:3 NIV84
Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
Hearing God’s voice does not mean things will always be easy. God told Jesus to go to the cross.
God’s ultimate purpose for your life is not that you be happy. It’s that you be conformed to the image of Christ. Transforming you to act, talk, love and forgive like Jesus is going to require changing you at the very core of who you are.
Just as an actual physical heart transplant would be painful, a spiritual transplant can be equally painful. We have to die to self, pride, bitterness, anger, resentment, greed and be transformed into the image of Christ.
Jacob hears God tell him to leave, but watch what follows:
He has to convince his wives
He has to pack up his entire household
He has to journey all the way back to Canaan, 500 miles, on foot with his wives, children, servants, sheep, goats and camels.
Laban takes a small army to attack him
Esau comes out to kill him
God wrestles with him
Jacob 100% heard from God, but that did not guarantee the journey was going to be easy. Quite the opposite.
Many times, the more certain we are we have heard God’s voice, the more challenging the task will be.
The problem is focus. We tend to look at the journey, the destination, the outcomes. All the while, God is focusing on us, and how Christlike we are and how to He can make us more like Jesus.
Jesus blessed those who killed Him.
Kissed the one who betrayed Him.
Saved those who defied Him.
Forgave those cheered His death.
What injustice have you suffered lately? How have you responded?
If your response was more derived from the situation than your savior, then God has a deeper work to do in you.
Everything around us is temporary. You are eternal. God is more concerned about the transformation of your soul than He is the accomplishments of your hands.
Just because something is hard does not mean it is wrong.
Just because something is delayed does not mean it is denied.
Just because something fails does not mean you are finished.
Just because you struggle does not mean you are weak. It may mean you are being purified, refined and strengthened for God’s purpose.
What matters most to God is not whether or not you succeed or fail. What matters most is that you grow more like Christ, respond like Christ, live like Christ.
So when the money is tight, when your name is criticized, when relationships are strained, when your health is affected, when danger is everywhere and problems try to drown you- don’t lose perspective. These things are tools that God uses to shape you, to refine your character, to prepare you for His purpose. It does not mean you have failed or been rejected or that you are being punished. It means God is working in you to prepare you for all that He has called you to do.
So what do you do when you know God has spoken, but times get tough.

Hold To the Promise

Gen
Genesis 32:9–12 NIV84
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ ”

9 And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”

God told Jacob to return to his homeland. So he sets out secretly for fear of his father-in-law. Did Jacob make a mistake? It is hard to say. Laban had changed Jacob’s wages over and over. Would he have taken away Jacob’s flocks and wives and children? We cannot say what he would have done if Jacob had approached him before leaving, but we can be pretty sure that is exactly what he intended to do as he was racing across the desert to catch up to Jacob.
As people, we have a tendency to place blame. Well Jacob left wrong. Maybe. Maybe not. But either way, though Jacob obeyed God imperfectly- as all of us surely will- God protected Jacob and helped him. I think that is pretty good news. God appeared to Laban and warned him not to say anything good or bad to Jacob. Wow! God Himself got involved. Pretty powerful. It must have been sobering, because as angry as Laban was- he didn’t give Jacob any trouble the next day when he saw him.
As Jacob returns to his homeland, his Brother Esau gathers a small army and rides towards him aggressively.
Holding to God’s promise leaves us vulnerable. It leaves us in the place that we cannot help ourselves. It leaves us dependent on God and God alone. Returning home exposed Jacob to Esau’s wrath. There has been no relationship or communication between them for 24 years. The last thing Jacob heard from Esau was that Esau planned to kill him.
Yet the word of God is the only thing that will stand. It is the only hope we have.
My daily lifestyle right now is to point out the problems to God and then Praise Him for taking care of them.
But there is power in reminding God of His word. He has not forgotten. He has not failed. But reminding Him of His word strengthens your faith, clarifies your direction and sustains you in difficult times.
Hold to His Word.
Trust God until He fails you and then you do not have to trust Him anymore.

Honesty

Jacob was honestly dishonest.
Yet his trials bring him to a place where he gets honest with God.
Trials have a way of helping us see what is really inside of us.
Silver has to be refined in the fire. It is heated until it gets so hot that not only does it melt, but the different elements within it separate and then the impurities can be easily removed.
God appears to Jacob and begins wrestling with Him. Now come on folks- I think we all know who would have one this match if God had wanted to win. So why was God wrestling with Jacob? To help Jacob become Israel. The help him reach his potential. To help him overcome the labels put on him by people. People had named him Jacob. And he lived up to it.
Jacob Admitted: I am Jacob. I am a deceiver. I am a cheater.
Transformation begins by acknowledging who and what we are.
As long as we are hiding behind masks, we cannot be reconciled to God and receive His love. Coming to God requires being honest about who we are, what we have done, what we are.
But when Jacob finally admits- I am Jacob. I am a liar, a cheater, a deceiver. When Jacob is honest about who he is- then God can begin to remake him into who God wanted him to be.
God gives him a new name: Israel.
Honestly Dishonest

Humble Yourself before God and Man

Genesis 32:27–29 NIV84
The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.

Getting honest is humbling. Acknowledging our failures and faults leaves us no where to hide, and yet it is the first step in coming to know God.
There is a blessing in seeking to know God even when we don’t get the answer we want or fully understand. God blesses those who eagerly seek HIm.
Hebrews 11:6 NIV84
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
But humility brings honor. Jacob had to see his faults and failures before God could change him.
Seeing ourselves for who we really are is painful and powerful.
It left Jacob limping as he traveled on to meet Esau.
We cannot know for sure- but it is possible that Jacob’s limp saved his life. Perhaps God had already softened Esau’s heart. Or perhaps the sight of his younger brother limping prompted pity.
Regardless- when Jacob confronted his potential foe, he was well served by his limp.
Humility is always the right posture.
Pride is always the wrong.
Had Jacob marched in as the patriarch of his entourage, proud and defiant, Esau’s response might have been very different.
Humility is not about despising ourself. That is shame.
Humility is about honoring others.
Humility’s only cost is our pride, and that is something we would be better off without anyway.
When pride is forfeited- all are enriched.
When pride is possessed- all are impoverished.
Without pride, we are free to depend on each other, help each other, draw support from each other. And in the process, we are enriched by the relationships that develop.
Pride always destroys relationships. Humility builds them.
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