Annoying God – Genesis 32:24-30

“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.’ … 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.'” (Genesis 32:22-30, NIV).

The method Jacob used here to obtain God’s blessing seems rather counter-intuitive to our innocuous efforts in seeking God. While we think we must approach God with religious formality and terminology to obtain His blessing, Jacob used an alternative methodology.  Jacob wrestled with and held on to God until God blessed him.

Prior to his wrestling match with God, Jacob was in the throes of a dilemma. God had commanded him to repatriate the land He had promised to Jacob’s father and grandfather, Isaac and Abraham. But, in order to do so Jacob had to confront his estranged brother, Esau–from whom Jacob had stolen his birthright–and Esau’s army of 400 men.

Anticipating a disastrous outcome to his rendezvous with Esau, Jacob had taken his family to a safe place. Then, Jacob proceeded to a place where he could be alone to seek God and plead for deliverance from Esau and reassure himself that he was doing God’s will by returning to the promised land. There, he encountered a man (an angel or theophany) and wrestled with him all night.

Jacob knew that he was wrestling with God (or God’s messenger) and gripped Him until the man promised God’s protection and deliverance on his journey to and settlement in the promised land. Despite the man wounding Jacob’s hip, Jacob continued to grasp the man until He agreed to bless him.

Jacob was what you might call indefatigable. Indefatigable means not yielding to fatigue, incapable of being tired out. Tireless or persistence is the more common way to describe this trait. Annoying and even obnoxious is this attribute carried to the extreme.

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Taming the Monster – 1 Timothy 4:7-8

taming-the-monster“I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. At last the champion’s wreath that is awarded for righteousness is waiting for me. The Lord, who is the righteous judge, is going to give it to me on that day. He’s giving it not only to me but also to all those who have set their heart on waiting for his appearance” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, CEB).

Recently, a friend congratulated me for getting a project started that I had been working on for some time–years, actually. He told me that getting this project going was like “taming a monster.”

I appreciated his kind words and encouragement.  I was quick to note, however, that it wasn’t due to any exceptional skills I possessed but because of the participation of others with expertise that this project ever got off the ground.

But, I think I do have the spiritual gift of perseverance!

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Staying Focused – Nehemiah 6:15-16

staying_focused“So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:15-16, NLT).

Nehemiah Chapter 6 recounts the extraordinary political intrigue taking place behind the scenes attempting to prevent Nehemiah and the Jews from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

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Walking in the Light: Getting a Tan or Getting Sweaty? – 1 John 1:7

walking-in-the-light“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, HCSB).

There’s a saying we use quite often in religious circles to describe one’s spiritual transformation. We say “I’ve seen the light.”

In this verse the Apostle John clarifies that being a disciple of Jesus is not just a matter of seeing the light but rather walking in the light.

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Hold On! Part 2 – Hebrews 12:28-29

HoldOn“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29, HCSB).

In Part 1 of this meditation on grace, we saw how the Hebrews writer assembled an argument showing that God’s grace demonstrated to us through Christ is superior to the Old Testament law and temple worship because Christ was its culmination.

So, the new covenant is superior to the old because now we enter into God’s presence through a relationship or covenant based on receiving His grace through Christ (what the Hebrews writer called approaching Mt. Zion), not on adherence to the law (what the Hebrews writer called approaching Mt. Sinai).

When we receive God’s grace through believing in Christ as our Savior, we must hold on to it! And then, the grace of God becomes the source of our strength for serving God and His Kingdom.

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Hold On! Part 1 – Hebrews 12:28-29

HoldOn“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29, HCSB)

Have you ever walked over some rocks that weren’t firmly set in the ground or on a wobbly platform or a floor with rotting wood. Or maybe you’ve been in an earthquake where you could feel the actual ground beneath you moving.

Whenever our footing becomes unsure, our first instinct is to grab something that seems more stable and hold on.

The Hebrews writer points out that in the past, in the Old Testament, when human beings encountered God it was a terrifying experience. When the law was given on Mt. Sinai, even Moses was terrified and trembled at God’s appearance (vs. 21).

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Think Carefully About Jesus – Hebrews 3:1

thinking_man“And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest.” (Hebrews 3:1, NLT).

The Hebrews writer is preaching about Jesus to people who are already believers. According to the Hebrews writer, Christians should give careful consideration to Jesus.

But haven’t we already done this when we believed and received His salvation?

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Today! – Deuteronomy 27:9-10

Today_Logo“O Israel, be quiet and listen! Today you have become the people of the Lord your God. So you must obey the Lord your God by keeping all these commands and decrees that I am giving you today” (Deuteronomy 27:9-10, NLT).

Israel was preparing to enter the promised land when Moses made this declaration to the Israelites.

Although the Israelites were already God’s people, each time they affirmed themselves to be God’s people and renewed the covenant with God, they became God’s people in a fresh, new way!

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See the Glory – Exodus 33:19

“He said, ‘I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name Yahweh before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion'” (Exodus 33:19, HCSB).

God spoke these words to Moses in response to his request that God show Himself–His glory–to Moses. Moses made this request because he was concerned that Israel’s standing with God was in question.

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Finding God’s Will – Part 1: Looking for God’s Will – Psalm 25:14

“The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them” (Psalm 25:14, HCSB).

Ostensibly, what most of us want to do most is God’s will!

While we have good intentions, we don’t really know how to go about doing God’s will–or at least put into practice the patience, perseverance, and obedience required to do it!

But for those really, really looking for God’s will, Psalm 25 provides some practical guidance and apt advice!

While the psalmist doesn’t furnish us with a formula or step-by-step methodology, he does identify a strategic approach to looking for God’s will based on reverence, adoration, and veneration for God.

The psalmist begins by advising us to turn to God, trust in God, and wait on God. When we turn to, trust in, and wait on God, then God will forgive our sins and teach us truth because of His faithful love for us (vs.4-7).

And God will reveal His will to us and definitely direct our lives when we realize our dependence on Him and seek His will penitently and humbly: “He shows sinners the way” (vs. 8) and “He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way” (vs. 9).

God’s way, His secret counsel, His will, is revealed to people who trust in Him and are faithful and obedient to Him.

Looking for God’s will is an act of worship by people who depend on God!

While God reveals Himself and His general will to us through His Word, the Bible, God makes it personal for us by revealing specific details of His will and attributes of His character that are appropriate to our need and situation.

So, if I were to pack into just one sentence what the psalmist is telling us about looking for God’s will, it would be this: God reveals His will to people who are desperate to know it!

My pastor says that unfortunately, the approach we more often use in looking for God’s will is: “I’m going to do this, this, and this and, by the way, God, will you bless it?”

But the psalmist reminds us that looking for God’s will is so critical that we must be willing to wait on God to reveal it to us.

And when God’s will is finally revealed to us, then God protects us with the assurance of doing the right thing and helps us remain in His will: “May integrity and what is right watch over me, for I wait for You” (vs. 21).