Monday, February 27, 2012

"Grace or Works?" Ephesians 2:8-9

2/26/12  FBC RB

An elderly woman was standing in line at the grocery store about to pay for her merchandise and opened her purse and realized she had left her wallet and checkbook at home.  She was about to ask the cashier to put her things back when the man behind her saw what was happening.  He said, “Excuse me but I was recently shown some grace and I would like to pay it forward to you.  I’ll pay for this.  Go on.”  Then the man paid for her merchandise and his own.  A week later the woman went back to the store and the cashier recognized her.  She greeted her and said, “I thought you might like to know.  The man’s check bounced.”

Doesn’t that just ruin a good story?  My Dad was telling me one time about a man in his church that called him up and told him he had some peaches for him.  So Pop goes over there and the man puts a big basket of peaches in his trunk.  Pop politely asked the man how much he owed him and the man said $10. That’s worldly grace for you. 

Worldly grace is somebody doing something nice for you and it comes back to bite you.  Most of us have been there in some form or fashion.  Worldly grace says, “I want you to think I am doing something nice for you but really, it’s all about me.  I want you to think well of me but I don’t want to be out anything.”  And that just makes sense to us as humans.  The world tells us to look out for #1 and that there is no free lunch.  Protect yourself and get all you can get.  If people think you are a nice guy as you do it then so much the better. 

The opposite of worldly grace is divine grace.  Divine grace is hard to fathom for most of us.  In fact, if you really understand the gift and Who is giving it and to whom it is being given then it will be hard to fathom.  I mean, who can truly comprehend a perfect and holy God allowing sinners into Heaven without having done anything to earn it?  That just doesn’t make sense to us.  There must be something we have to do to earn the blessings of Heaven and the Creator, right?

Our passage this morning is Ephesians 2:8-9.  I want to compare those verses and what God says we have to do to be saved with what worldly men say we have to do.  Turn there and read with me.

God makes it pretty plain there through the author Paul that the only way we get to Heaven is through the grace of God but even though that is very plain, it is hard to believe for a lot of people.  All of our lives we are taught to work for what we get and that nobody (outside of maybe mommy and daddy) are going to give us anything for nothing.

So, I want to acknowledge 4 other ways that make better sense to men than totally relying on God’s unmerited grace.

1)      The first is by human sacrifice. In reading through the Old Testament one will find that Ahaz, king of Judah sacrificed his son to the idol Molech. Manasseh did the same. This horrific form of sacrifice is not just found in the Bible. The Ganges River in India has had maybe thousands of babies thrown into it. The Aztecs used to cut out the heart of great warriors. All of this was done to appease the gods; trying to make some sort of sacrifice worthy of favor. 

2)      Secondly, there is self-affliction. When Martin Luther was a monk he would whip himself with a leather whip until when he laid down at night he was covered in blood. You have seen pictures of Hindus tormenting themselves with whips or chains and that torment, the grieving, the afflicting of the body is done to be delivered from the penalty of death and sin. 

3)      Now, those first two were just ridiculous, right? We would never do that sort of thing. When modern man wants to appease the gods he will often times do so with his good works. They look at their lives a ladder with rungs that are good, better and worthy. They give up this and they stop doing that until finally they think they will place that ladder against Heaven itself. 

4)      The fourth thing people do to try to earn their way to Heaven is by being religious.  Now surely this will work, right?  Because this kind of incorporates all of the previous 3.  Surely God wants us to sacrifice our Sunday morning, afflict our bodies with uncomfortable clothes and sit in uncomfortable pews and do good things like staying awake through the sermon.  All the while looking like we are worshiping and sometimes even taking some of it to heart.  Surely that’s plenty to get us in good with God!

Isaiah 64 says all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.  The very best things you do, the very best way you look, the very best way you act, when done to work your way toward God’s favor, is disgusting to Him.  And most of you know that but you still sometimes have a hard time wrapping your brain around it and find yourself slipping into a works-based way to Heaven.  You sometimes slip into the thought that yes, grace is how I am saved but I still need to do good to deserve it.

I’m excited this morning to unveil a new breakthrough at FBC Runaway Bay.  I realize just what this church needs to really grow and really evangelize and really further the Kingdom.  Here it is:  2012 Corvette ZR1.  Seriously, nothing says, up and coming, fast-moving and totally sold out to God like a a handcrafted LS9 638-horsepower supercharged V8 with titanium connecting rods and intake valves and a test track top speed of 205 mph, 0-60 mph in only 3.4 seconds a handcrafted LS9 638-horsepower supercharged V8 with titanium connecting rods and intake valves and a test track top speed of 205 mph, 0-60 mph in only 3.4 seconds638 hp supercharged V-8 with a top speed of over 200 mph in Velocity Yellow!  Although I am flexible on the color.  If y’all would rather have torch red or supersonic blue metallic, that’s fine.  We can put FBC Runaway Bay on the side and maybe John 3:16 written out on the hood so when I make visits everyone will know who I am and where I’m from.

The good news is that I am not asking y’all to pay for the whole thing.  I’m going to pay as much as I can as well.  The total price is $114, 750 which is obviously a bargain but I’m going to put in my share.  Here it is:  $20.00.  Now all y’all owe is $114, 730 (plus t,t&l).  That’s fair, right?  We are all paying for it.  What?  Not fair?

It’s the same way when you tell God that His grace isn’t enough and that you are going to be good enough or that your good deeds are going to outweigh your bad deeds and that you are going to do something to deserve Heaven.  “Oh sure God, I know about grace but you need my help as well.”

Do you know about grace?  Do you understand that it is by grace and through faith that you are saved?  The original Greek word used here for grace is “charis” from which we get charisma and charity.  To the Greeks it meant to bestow a lavish gift, unmerited, without thought of reward or return on a loved one.

That describes God’s grace to us.  It is a lavish gift, totally undeserved, with no way to be repaid.  This verse says that we are saved – and that word means to be delivered, protected or made whole – we use it to mean assured of eternal life with God – by grace and through faith. 

Now faith means to be convicted or persuaded of the truth of something so much so that you stake your life on that.  I can’t prove that the bridge going across Lake Bridgeport is safe and secure.  I don’t get out to examine the pillars and foundation of that bridge.  I just drive across it because it has proven itself to be trustworthy over and over again.  I stake my life on that bridge every time I cross it because I have faith in it.

It is the same with God’s grace.  God says His grace is what saves us and so I stake my life on that because He has proven Himself trustworthy over and over again.  And do you want to know what difference that should make in the life of a Christian?  Chuck Swindoll said it well, “knowing grace is one thing, living it is another.”

Similarly, we have been given this grace by God; therefore, it is our privilege as well as obligation as Christians to show this grace to others.  When the world thinks of the church, they do not often see grace. In fact, Phillip Yancey quotes a prostitute who was down and out in Chicago. She was asked if she had ever thought about going to church. Shockingly, she replied, “Church! Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. That would just make me feel worse.”

How come we are not perceived as giving off grace? Where are we missing the mark?

When your friends or your relatives see you, do they see grace?

Do they see you extending favor or kindness to others or to themselves?

C.S. Lewis writes, “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Conclusion- Grace is the best gift Christians can give the world because it is the best gift we have ever received. From an early age we are taught to survive in a world that does not know grace. We are taught mottos such as: the early bird gets the worm, no pain no gain, there is no such thing as a free lunch, demand your rights, get what you pay for.

None of these reflect grace.  The world is hungry for grace.  Let’s leave here today and give the world some grace.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is Jesus the Only Way?

I have a few questions for you. These aren’t trick questions. I just want to illustrate a point so holler out if you know the answer.

1) 110 plus 220= 412

2) How many quarts in a gallon? 3.12 or I would accept 17.

3) What do you get when you mix yellow and red? Cyanide

4) What do you call a baby kangaroo? Jerry

Do you want me to keep going? It is frustrating isn’t it? Let me ask you one more question. Is Jesus the only way to Heaven? Yes, of course, and I would expect you to say so but if you ask people in the world they might give you all kinds of crazy answers. Some people say it is Muhammed. Some say Confucious. Some Buddha or we are all gods or there is no God and there is no Heaven. That’s very frustrating to us as believers in Jesus.

Then you have those people who say that we are being exclusionists or narrow-minded and to those people I say…you are correct. You are correct to say that we are narrow-minded about Jesus being the only way just like we are narrow-minded about 1 plus 1 = 2. I’m not trying to offend somebody. I’m just speaking truth. I’m also just speaking what Jesus Himself spoke and we will see that in John 14:6.

I know that your Bible probably opens automatically to the Book of Genesis after we spent so long there but this morning I want to look in depth at our Bible memory verse in John 14:6. John 14 is often used at funerals to comfort the family and it is a great passage for that. In fact Jesus was comforting His disciples with these words as they sat in the upper room celebrating Passover just before Jesus was killed. And it should be of great comfort to us as we read, "Jesus answered, [I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.]"

We have talked many times lately about reaching our goal as a church. And what is that goal? To further the Kingdom. To reach that goal, I compared it to all of us being in a lifeboat with 2 oars each. One oar is prayer and the other is scripture. Our prayer this week is that we would be bold in our witness; to be bold in getting others into the boat with us to help us row. As we do that we will hear all kinds of excuses and reasons why people don’t think our boat is the right boat.

You will hear people say that they are religious. They pray every day and meditate and sing kumbaya and they get peace doing that and they probably do to some extent. Some people say they are church members and so they are ok. Mama taught Sunday School and Daddy was a deacon and they have been members of a church for years. Some rely on baptism to get them to Heaven. You hear a lot of people explicate that their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds so that is their way to Heaven.

Proverbs 16:25 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Jesus says, "I am the way…" and the word He uses there means a path or a road. Just like in Matthew 7:13-14 He says, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Just because not many are on this path doesn’t mean it’s not the right way. Jesus said, "I am the right way."

He also said, "I am the truth" but what is the truth? Everybody wants to know the truth. In John 18 Pilate is interrogating Jesus. He asks Jesus what Jesus has done and Jesus just replies that His Kingdom is not of this world. Pilate says in verse 37, "You are a king, then!" and Jesus answers, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

And then Pilate responds with the same question we all have and in the same way too many of us respond. He throws up his hands in frustration and asks, "What is truth?" and turns his back on Jesus not giving Him a chance to respond. He has truth standing there in front of him and he turns his back wondering where to find truth.

The world says that truth is relative. The world says that Jesus stuff may be true for you but not for them. They define their own truth as it fits their lifestyle. All that is is justifying their lifestyle and as my mother says, you can justify anything. You can live together outside of marriage or you can sleep around or you can cheat on your taxes or rob a bank and if you want to you can find some way of justifying it. All you have to do is define for yourself what is truth.

But if you want to know for sure what truth is then listen to Jesus. He just said "everyone on the side of truth listens to me." But how do you know that Jesus is truth? Because Jesus has the authority to proclaim truth not just because of the way He lived but also because of His death, burial and resurrection. He was the only man to ever raise Himself from the dead and He did that because He is God. And when God says that He is truth you can believe it.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life". He is the way, the road, the path even though few find it. He is truth because He is God. And He is the life. If you are driving your car up a winding mountain road you will probably see a sign warning you that the road is winding. That sign is showing you the way your car should go. Just because you don’t believe the sign does not make the road any less winding. The sign is still the truth. And if you do believe the sign then your car will follow the winding road.

It’s the same with Jesus. He is showing you the way and if you don’t believe it then it makes it no less the truth but if you do believe it then your life will be like His. Jesus says I am the life. If you believe that Jesus is the way to Heaven and that He is telling the truth then your life and your lifestyle will match up to the life and lifestyle Jesus.

One of the verses we learned a couple weeks ago was John 10:10 that says He wants to give us an abundant life. It is a life to the full and a life of holiness and righteousness. A few months ago we went through the Fruit of the Spirit. That describes a life like Jesus. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When Jesus says He is the life it does not mean a life without pain but when the pain comes there is peace and even joy. If you believe that Jesus is the way and that He is the truth then your life will bear the Fruit of the Spirit. Your life will reflect Jesus.

In Exodus 3 God tells Moses to go talk to Pharoah. Moses asks God who he should say sent him and God answers in verse 14, "I AM WHO I AM. Tell Pharoah I AM sent you!" God is rightly saying that He was, He is and He always will be and Jesus takes up with the same authority because He is God and He tells His disciples, "I AM the way. I AM the truth. I AM the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Nobody gets to Heaven except through a relationship with Jesus. Nobody gets the blessings reserved for children of the King except through Jesus. Nobody is joint heirs with Jesus to all the good things God has planned without a relationship with Jesus.

Jesus has the power and authority to be the way, the truth and the life because He is God but He also has the compassion and love to show you the way, the truth and the life. That's why He comforted His disciples with these words. He wanted His friends to know just like He wants you to know.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus stood before Pilate and was interrogated but one of these days Pilate will stand before Jesus and one of these days you will stand before Jesus and if you didn't decide in this life to have a relationship with Him then He won't ask about your church membership or how many times you got baptized or how good your deeds were because that's not the way, the truth or the life.

Buddha is not the way. Allah is not the truth. The virgin Mary is not the life. You and your good works are certainly not. Will you accept Jesus into your life today? If you already have does your life reflect His? We are not guaranteed another breath. Know for sure today.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Joseph in Genesis--Knowing Grief

I.  Joseph knew grief.
II.  Joseph knew God.
III.  Joseph knew grace.

Open your Bibles and turn to the Book of Genesis.  That's the last time I will be saying that for a while.  We are finishing up the book and that puts me at a bit of a disadvantage, which is actually appropriate for our topic today.  I'll try to explain.  It puts me at a disadvantage because I knew I wouldn't have a long time to preach this morning and so I am preaching a slightly abbreviated message and that's ok if we get to baptize someone.  But I'm also disadvantaged because I need to sum up the book while at the same time introducing a major character.

I said it is appropriate for me to be disadvantaged because that was something our character knew well.  In fact, he was disadvantaged while being in a well.  He was disadvantaged while being sold into slavery.  He was disadvantaged while being in prison.  He was disadvantaged for many years of his life.  Can you figure out who I am talking about?  Joseph.  Son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.

I'm sure most of you know his story already and since it covers more chapters than any other character in Genesis, we will not be reading the whole thing.  To say he was disadvantaged is quite the understatement.  I want to read a few passages to show show you first that, in fact, Joseph knew grief.

His story starts in chapter 37 where we meet him at the age of 17 and the favorite son of Jacob.  While Jacob did some things to bring out the worst in his brothers he is one of the few characters in the Bible that has no mention of him sinning.  I'm sure he did at some point but there is no mention of it.  In fact, there are many, many similarities between Joseph and Jesus Himself.  I won't go into all that but you might keep that in the back of your mind as we read.

In chapter 37 you can read where he has some dreams that make him look good and his family pretty bad.  He is then sent by his father to check on his brothers who are tending sheep and Joseph is wearing his fancy, schmancy coat that his father gave him.  Let's pick up in the middle of verse 17 where it says...  (read 17-20 and 23-24)

He didn't do anything wrong and yet his brothers hated him and threw him into a pit.  Joseph knew grief.  Joseph was then sold to some travelers who then sold him into slavery in Egypt.  He was taken from his home and his family and became a slave in the house of Potiphar, who was one of Pharoah's officials.  He worked hard, was obedient and made wise decisions and prospered there in Egypt until Potiphar's wife approached him one day.  In chapter 39 verses 7 & 8 it says...

He refused and so the wife made a false claim against Joseph and we see in verse 20 what happened.  Read  v.20.  Joseph knew grief.

While in prison, you probably remember that Joseph correctly interpreted dreams that the cup bearer and the baker had.  The dream the cupbearer had meant he would be restored to his former position working directly for Pharoah and so Joseph asked the man to remember him when he saw Pharoah.  In chapter 40, verse 23, though, it says...(read 23)  Joseph knew grief.

Years later pharoah himself had a dream and Joseph was finally asked to interpret and he did so correctly and so Pharoah appointed him to be second in command.  He again made wise decisions and was obedient and prospered in Egypt.  He prospered so much that his brothers came to him for food many years later.  They didn't recognize him but Joseph recognized them and after talking to them for a while it says in chapter 42, verse 24 that...

Joseph saw in his brothers all the years that had been wasted.  All the hurt.  All the pain.  He saw the grief in their own faces and he broke down and cried.  Joseph knew grief.

We see over and over again that Joseph well knew grief but that was not all he knew.  He also knew God.  He knew God because God was with him every step of the way.  When he was in the pit, God was with him.  In chapter 39 verse 2 it says that the Lord was with him in Potiphar's house.  In verse 21 it says that God was with him in prison.  The Lord was with him as Pharoah made him second in command and everything Joseph did prospered.  It was obvious that he knew God because in everything he did he gave God credit.

In chapter 41, verse 16 Joseph tells Pharoah, "I cannot do it but God will give the answer."  In chapter 45 verse 7 Joseph tells his brothers, "God sent me ahead of you to save your lives."  He always gave God the credit for everything good in his life and even though he knew grief intimately, he knew God and because he knew God, he also knew grace. 

Joseph knew grace.  He knew grace when his brothers didn't kill him.  He knew grace in Potiphar's house.  He knew it even in prison.  It even spilled out of Joseph's life and into the lives of his family.  Over and over again God showed Joseph grace.  Over and over again God proved Himself trustworthy.  It's the story of Joseph and it is the story of Genesis.  And you know what I am going to say.  It is the story of our lives as well.

Many of you are intimately familiar with grief.  You know it all too well.  Sometimes it is tempting to blame God for your grief.  Sometimes you wonder where He is or why He would allow you to go through such a thing.  Turn to the last chapter of Genesis.  Let's all read what Joseph tells his brothers years later in chapter 50, verse 20.

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
I can't explain why we all have to go through grief, discouragement, heartbreak and pain.  We all go through it though.  Job 14:1 says, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble."  And no matter what happens or why it happens, God is there.  The same God that Abe, Isaac and Jacob served.  The same God of Joseph, the same God of David, Paul, Peter and John is there with you waiting to show you grace.  Do you know Him today?

Monday, February 6, 2012

"The Wrestling Match" Genesis 32:22-32

Most of you know by now that I am not a big sports guy. I do know however that the Super Bowl is today. I don’t remember who is playing nor do I know what time it starts but I’m pretty sure we will be out in time to see it if you want. That should make the guys here happy. It’s my understanding that men are happier overall than women anyway. Do you think that is true? That’s what I have heard. In fact, I have a list of reasons here why men are happier than women.
Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack...
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
One mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You almost never have strap problems in public.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, even decades.
Most marriage counselors consider it important to communicate to the happy couple that if the marriage is to succeed, then both must be willing to accept the other as he or she is. Few things destine a marriage to failure quicker than one spouse thinking they can or will change the other once they are married. They are told instead to love who the person is, not just the person they would like their spouse to be.
God’s relationship with us is not like this. While it is true that God loves us as we are, it is His desire and right to transform us. He also has the ability to transform us. (John Walton, Genesis Commentary p.614) The problem is that we very often do not want to change. We read in God’s Word that we should be this way or we should do this or that and we should not have this kind of attitude and we agree with it, at least with our mouths, but we never really get around to making those changes.
How do you think God reacts to that? When we know we should do something or not do something but we just never really get around to it, what is God’s response? Does he act like a wife who can’t change a husband and cry to a friend? Does God the Father go to the Holy Spirit and say, “I just don’t know what to do.”? “He just won’t change!” “I told him plainly what I wanted him to do but he just won’t do it. He’s out of control.”
Or does He act like a wise Father, giving you the opportunity to do what is right and then you have consequences and then He gives you another chance? At some point, a good parent will discipline the child. Unlike most kids today, most of us got a spanking when we refused to obey. Proverbs 3:11-12 says,
11 sMy son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as ta father the son in whom he delights.
We are going to look at a passage this morning where God spanked His beloved Jacob so hard that He dislocated Jacob’s hip. Boy, the CPS or SPCA or whoever they are would not approve of Genesis 32:22-32. As you turn there I want to tell you what has happened since we saw Jacob last week.
First, do you remember what the name “Jacob” means? It means literally “heel-grabber” and figuratively it means “supplanter” or “one who trips up”. He has gone his whole life with people calling him a name that is derogatory. It would be like your parents naming you “Thief Ballard” or “Liar Lightsey”. All of his life Jacob lived up to his name and honestly, so far it has turned out pretty good. Not great but pretty good.
After he swindled Esau out of his birthright that we looked at last week, Jacob then flat-out steals his blessing as well and figures he better make a run for the border before Esau kills him. He has to spend the next 20 years away from his family but even there he seems to do very well for himself. God promised his grandfather Abraham that he would bless his descendants and even though Jacob was a schemer and a cheat God blessed him because of that promise.
But how many of you can relate to the fact that God just won’t seem to leave you alone? God keeps wanting to change you and make you more like Him. That is what happens here with Jacob. All of his life Jacob has been blessed by God because of the promise but here we see God wanting to make Jacob a little more worthy of some of the blessings. So God goes to visit Jacob as we will see and He doesn’t just want to talk.
Let’s read Genesis 32:22-32.
As I said earlier, 20 years have passed since Jacob left his home and now he is headed back there. There is only one problem. He knows when he gets there he is going to have to face Esau, his brother from whom he has stolen the blessing and birthright. So, Jacob the schemer schemes up a plan. He sends all of his people and all of his property ahead of him with huge gifts of livestock for his brother hoping that all of that will placate Esau and then he waits until the next day to follow.
Even with all the scheming and strategizing Jacob still feels very vulnerable. He gets word in an earlier passage that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men. Will all the plans work? Will he survive the next day? Will he ever see home again? He has done all that he knows to do but ultimately there is no safety net. If Esau wants to kill him he can and nobody would blame him.
There are a couple of things I want us to see in this passage. First, wrestling with God reveals who we really are and secondly, wrestling with God allows God to be God. Let’s see first how wrestling with God reveals who we really are.
As we look at this I want to address the elephant in the room that appears out of nowhere and into verse 24. “And a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” Really? That’s all we get? No description. No background. No name. Now, we have seen this kind of situation before and we have learned that if it is not clear then it is because it doesn’t have to be clear. This isn’t a novel written for our reading pleasure.
Jacob and the man both say that he struggled with God but Hosea 12:4 says, “He struggled with an angel…” It may be God in human form or it may be an angel with the right and responsibility to talk and act for God. It doesn’t matter. There was a physical struggle and it lasted all night. Pretty good for a 97 year old man as Jacob was. Jacob had to be pretty proud of himself for holding his own that long. He probably felt pretty cocky at this point.
And then God decides that it is over and it says He touches Jacob’s hip and dislocates it. God had allowed the scuffle to go on as long as He wanted but then it was time for Jacob to do business and so Jacob’s grappling turns into just holding on. He continues to live up to his name and grabs the man however he can.
God tells him to let go and he refuses until the man blesses him. Even to this point he was the same old Jacob. Still wanting a blessing. Still wanting what he couldn’t have. Still wanting something for nothing. So God decides to bless him but not like Jacob is expecting. He asks Jacob his name.
That had to sting. That had to hurt even more than the hip. He had to tell the man his name and his character. He had to say my name is Heel-grabber, Supplanter, Schemer, Liar, Thief. He had to admit who he really was and who he wasn’t. He had to come to the point of admitting to God that he was less than able to save himself from Esau or anything else. It wasn’t until he saw himself as God saw him that God was able to bless him.
When he sees that he lets God be God and God blesses him with a new name; a name he could be proud of. It’s a name that would endure through history. He was now called Struggles with God. Rolls off the tongue a lot better than Heel-grabber. It wasn’t what Jacob was expecting. When he asked for a blessing I’m sure he wanted physical blessings instead he got a physical problem but a spiritual blessing. His hip would always be painful but he had a new start with a new character.
I remember the day I realized I was not invincible. Many years ago I had a ’70 Chevy pickup. It wasn’t much to look at but it was loud and fast and that’s the way I liked to drive it. I was coming back from somewhere I shouldn’t have been and crashed it into a guard rail. I woke up in the passenger side floor board with most of the dash embedded in my face. I wish I could blame the way I look on that but the only scar I got out of it was this tiny one between my eyes. You probably can’t even see it from there.
I see it every time I look in the mirror and like Jacob I have a permanent reminder of wrestling with God. We can continue to fight like Jacob did and get a bum hip out of it or we can let God be God in our lives and receive the physical, emotional and spiritual blessings He wants to give us.
We as Christians wrestle with God every day when we decide we can handle the problems that come our way and we don’t need to talk to Him about it. When we live our lives self-sufficiently. Pulling ourselves up by our boot straps or being a self-made man are terms that Jacob used to describe himself. Does that describe you? Or do you let God be God in your life and realize everything you have and everything you are is in the hands of Almighty God.