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Saturday, April 11, 2020

4-11-2020 Wrestling With God


Jacob served Laban for twenty years, 7 each for Leah and Rachel and another six for livestock (Gen. 31:41). 

Gen. 32:24-30

Jacob had decided to go back to his homeland and ask his brother’s (Esau) forgiveness.  On the way, Jacob and his family came to a brook where he sent his family across while he stayed behind, alone.  It was here that he wrestled with a ‘man’ until the break of day.  As they wrestled, the man touched Jacob’s thigh and put it out of joint and said “Let me go for the day is breaking.”  Jacob refused unless he received a blessing.  The man asked Jacob (supplanter, trickster) his name then said not any more, now you shall be called Israel for you have power with God and man.  Jacob asked the man his name and the man asked “Why do you want to know my name?”   The man blessed him there.  Jacob called the place where they wrestled “Peniel” for he saw God face to face and lived. 

Jacob declared that He had seen God face to face and lived.  Later, God explains to Moses that no man can see His face and live (Exod. 33:20), yet He let Moses see His back (Exod. 33:22-23) and Jacob wrestled with Him and lived.  Why do you suppose God said this? 

His presence is so awesome, we can’t begin to imagine.  In the natural, we cannot contain His glory, that is comprehend it.  Years ago, I asked God how BIG is He really?  In a split second, my mind started seeing and was racing through galaxies, faster than I could imagine.  Multitudes of stars just whizzing past me at incredible speed,  countless behind me and limitless more still ahead. Then it came to a sudden stop (screech!).  It just stopped!  I felt like my brain (head) was expanding in all directions.  Had it continued, I felt as though my little, pea-pickin’ brain would have exploded!  I was a little sad, but thankful.  Sad that I couldn’t see more, but thankful that I was still alive.  So, did God lie about dying if we saw Him?  Not because He might kill us, rather because we just can’t contain His glory.  But God can give His grace and favor to whomsoever He desires (Rom. 9:15-16), whenever He desires.  Yes?  I think that on that day, Father gave me an understanding about what He meant (to see Him = death), the racing through the galaxies.  Had it lasted even a split second longer, I have no doubt I surely would have died.  My mind couldn’t even begin to contain what I was seeing.

However, think about it, in the Old Covenant man could not look upon the face of God and live (save by special grace), but in the New Covenant, with the Holy Spirit in us, Father invites us to come in and sup with Him (Rev. 3:20).  To be in His presence?????  Hmmmm.  Seems to me that with Jesus in our hearts and the Holy Spirit in our lives, something has changed!  We may not be able see God with our naked eye (though some have claimed) but we surely can experience Him!  Feel His 
presence.  Know that He is there, with us.  And live!

So do we literally wrestle with God. 

The Apostle Paul tells us that we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood but against powers, principalities and the rulers of darkness in this world and spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12).  So our battles are not with things which we can see, but with things we can’t see with the natural eye.  God is a Spirit (John 4:24).  And because God created all things through Jesus (Col. 1:16-17), I think that we may say ‘that makes Him (God) the ‘Top Dog’ in anything and everything that is.  So nothing else can possibly be above Him (Jer. 10:6).  Yet, Father gives us (those who have received Jesus) access to Him personally, in His throne room, through the torn curtain in the ancient temple (Matt. 27:51) upon Jesus’ death upon the cross.  The veil separating man from  God was torn in two.  His blood was shed that we might live (Matt. 26:28), that is, have eternal fellowship with the Father (John 17:20-23). 
For us, today, we can see Him in the Spirit, yet Father tells us that we shall see Him as He really is (1 John 3:2).  God is Spirit so we experience Him, in this world, in the Spirit and in the Spirit  we worship Him (John 4:24).

Do we wrestle with issues today?  Do we just give up and wallow in our self-pity (woe is me)?  Or do we press on through the situation.  Therefore we have to remember that our ‘fight is always spiritually based.  Whether someone is physically attacking us or a situation seems more than we can handle.  Whether it’s resisting the enemy or yielding and receiving blessings from God.  Whether it’s illness or issues.  It is spiritual!

Our walk with God is a life-long struggle yielding ourselves over to Him.  The devil doesn’t want us to get closer to Father so he does his best to draw, entice, trick us (whatever) to prevent us from doing so.  How hard do we fight to let God’s love reign supreme in our lives?

When we petition Father, there is a sacrifice on our part.  We may have to give up something.  At times, even though we desire to go ‘left’, we may need to actually choose to go ‘right’ –because that’s where God has our blessing or answer.  I’ve struggled with a lot of things over the years (and still do) and at times I haven’t always made the right choice (no comment).  Even though I may have travelled down the wrong road (for a while), Father has made a cutoff path for me so I could get back over on to the ‘right’ path (repentance & making the decision to get back into alignment with Father).  I just had to keep my eyes open to recognize what was going on and get back into alignment in His will.  He always gives us a way out of our wrong choices (1 Corinth. 10:13).  We just have to recognize it, then follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

The hardest time I’ve had is when Father took my wife of 34 years home to be with Him.  That was the first time I had cried in over 50 years (literally).  Later, He explained to me that He used that event in my life to open up compassion within me.  He also told me that He used this as a means of drawing me into the closer relationship with Him (which He wanted).  It also served to bring my daughter and my granddaughter much closer together than they had been.  Hard lesson for me, but I would have learned neither had life gone on as before.  I know this in my heart.  We do have to give up things so God can accomplish what He desires in our lives.  Hold it!  Now I’m not saying everyone has to lose a loved one.  I AM saying that there is a cost, whatever it may be and it could be something we love dearly.  A person, an object, and idea, something.  Just what is hindering our relationship with the Lord?

Want to lose weight?  We have to change our current eating habits and maybe even fast (complete or partial) at times and even get up off our duffs and do some exercising. (whoa!  Now you’ve gone from teaching to preaching!).  Does that mean I may have to give up my bon bons, chocolate ice cream, etc.?  No, no!  Not that item I just bought!  I LOVED it!  Now wait a minute, my time is my time.  Are you saying I might have to give Father MORE TIME?  Mmmm, Could be. 

Once we’ve shown Father how serious we are, He’ll step in and give us the strength (we need) to accomplish whatever we’re striving for.  It is a struggle.  It is a fight, but it is winnable!

Once we’ve yielded the hindrances and taken steps to change we become like the steward who was faithful with his talents.  His master gave him money to keep for him.  The faithful servant went out and invested that money so that when the master came back, he could give him, not only the money he was given, but interest as well (Matt. 25:14-30).  In the parable, the servant who was faithful with much was also given much (for his faithfulness) even that which the ‘unfaithful’ servant had buried and returned (in tack) to his master. When we do what Father expects us to do, He will bless us richly.  Father tells us that there is nothing we can give up that He won’t give back to us, 100 fold in this life and in the world to come (eternity) (Mark 10:29-30).

 Do we wrestle with God?  Of course.  Not because He doesn’t want us to have things but it is our being obstinate to not follow in His will which creates the wrestling match.  The question is do we give up quickly once things get a little tough?  Or, like Jacob, do we hang on until we get the blessing?  How long are we willing to hold on?  Do we wrestle (with life) to obtain the prize (1 Corinth. 9:24-25).  As we stay true with the Lord, this is one race we all win – eternal fellowship with the Father through Jesus, the Son.  We may receive bumps and bruises as we wrestle.  We may experience setbacks.  Yet, in the end, crossing the finish line is more than worth it all.  Holding on for our blessing will have its rewards.  Yes, the hallow of Jacobs thigh withered.  That is it may cost us something, but how determined are we to receive blessings from God. 

Will we stay the course with Father and receive what He has for us?  We know that even if we receive nothing in this life, eternal fellowship with God is more than worth it. (yes?)

Hang in there.  Victory, or blessings, is within our grasp.  How serious are we about receiving what Father has for us?  Serve the Lord and trust the Lord!  We can’t even imagine what He has in store for us. 


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