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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A Half-Empty Glass – Philippians 4:11-13

glass half empty“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13, NKJV).

Is the glass half empty or half full?  This expression is commonly used as a litmus test to determine an individual’s worldview. Half full expresses optimism and half empty expresses pessimism.

The Apostle Paul seems like a “glass-half-full” type of guy. Unfortunately, I often fall into the “half-empty-glass” camp…

Sure, I try to look at problems as challenges, troubles as opportunities. But hard as I try, problems are just problems, trouble is just trouble. Although I don’t consider myself a pessimist, I try to avoid problems and trouble, not embrace them!

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When God’s Not Speaking – 1 Samuel 3

How-God-Speaks“And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent…Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him…Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle…What is the word that He spoke to you, Please do not hide it from me…And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:1,7,11,17,21, NASB).

In ancient Israel the presence of absence of God’s prophetic voice was considered to be evidence of the presence or absence of God and the presence or absence of His favor.

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Irreverent Faith – Mark 10:46-52

Jesus_Looking_BackAnd Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.’ And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus” (Mark 10:49-50, ESV).

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease!” This story from the gospel of Mark is a case in point for that saying.

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large entourage, blind Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was approaching, he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47).

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