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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Three Battles We All Must Face

(Part 1)

"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses aid: 'Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan river into the land I am about to give them- to the Israelites. I will gie you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses."

Joshua 1:1-3

For years the Israelites had heard about the promised land. God had led them out of Egypt, through the Sinai, to the edge of the Jordan River. They were now on the cusp of realizing that promise! Strenthened by God, to cross over, Joshua gathered his officers together and gives them an order that sets up the rest of the story...

"So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 'Go through the camp and tell the people', "Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will corss the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own."

Joshua 1:10

When I read that, what stirred in my Spirit was this..."What was involved in Joshua 'taking possesion' of the promised land?"

If we are going to see real lasting victory in our lives, we must disassemble our 21st Century idea of 'taking possession'. Let me use an illustration:

A couple of years ago I moved to a little town closer to the church I pastor. I bought my house in September of 2007. I took possession of it in October of 2007. It belonged to me in September, but I didn't take possession right away. When I arrived at my house in late October I found everything to to clean, in order and the old residents gone. I did not have to evict the old residents or run them out. They were gone and everything was in order for me to step into.

Spiritually, for many, when they come to Christ they anticipate that possessing God's promises works the same as taking possession of a home. You arrive and everything is cleaned up, put in order, and the old resident (sin nature) is moved out.

However, what really happened was this: God, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, secured for us the key to "go in." His promises are fully ours because of the sacrifice of His Son. Nevertheless, WE must take possession of those promises. As Joshua entered the land, the land was fully his, but there were still battles to be fought. In fact, Joshua spent the rest of his life 'taking possession' of God's promised land.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wrestling With God

Part 2

“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.”

Genesis 32:25-26a

As the two men grappled throughout the early morning hours, Jacob struggled to maintain control. Even after his hip had been afflicted, through excruciating pain, Jacob refused to submit. Recognizing Jacob’s resistance the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” In a very real sense the man was saying, “Let me go, I am done contending for you.” Jacob was now forced to make a decision. Jacob could have let him go and moved forward to face Esau without God’s help. He could have, also, stiffened his neck and returned to tend Laban’s flocks rather than face his older brother. Instead, he latched himself onto the Lord and declared:

“I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Genesis 32:26b

At some point, Jacob realized that he was wrestling with the Lord. Even so, it wasn’t until the Lord was willing to walk away from him, that Jacob grasped the implications of his decisions. He quickly realized that he was no longer wrestling for control, but holding on for dear life! As Jacob now lay clenching the man close to him, the man asks him:

“What is your name?

Genesis 32:27a

God was about to further humble Jacob, by causing Jacob to face himself! In ancient days, a man’s name revealed something about him. Jacob’s name meant heel-catcher, supplanter, schemer, swindler, deceiver. He had supplanted Esau’s birthright and obtained the blessing deceptively. He had been wrestling with his own identity for years. By acknowledging his “name“, he was confessing his shortcomings. It is here that God began the work of restoration in Jacob’s life. He gave Jacob a new identity:

“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.”

Genesis 32:28

Jacob walked away from his encounter with God a changed man:

“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.”

Genesis 32:30-31

Be certain of this, that those who wrestle with God walk away limping! They not only have a new identity, but they are visibly different, too. They act different, talk different and pursue different things. They are no longer dependent upon self, but humble themselves and put their trust in God. How long will you wrestle with God?

Pastor Scott Burr

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wrestling With God (Part 1)

“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.”

Genesis 32:22-24

The story of Jacob and Esau is familiar to most of us, but I will condense the story down for those who may be unfamiliar with it. Twin brothers, Jacob and Esau, were born to Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was the first born. Jacob came out second, grasping the heel of his older brother. The two boys grew up very differently. Esau a rugged hunter. Jacob a shepherd. To say the least, there was contention between the boys, most likely created by Rebekah’s favoritism towards Jacob and Isaac’s favoritism towards Esau. The ill feelings were compounded when Esau lost his birthright to Jacob and later his father’s blessing. The enraged Esau sought to kill Jacob and the younger sibling was forced to flee the country. After many years, Jacob, along with his family are returning to finally face Esau. The Bible says that on the evening before their meeting, Jacob was filled with uncertainty:

“ 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.”

Genesis 32:7

He had been running from this problem his entire adult life, but before he could face Esau, first he had to face God! Left alone on the other side of the river, Jacob had nothing to hide behind. Behind him was his family, his possessions and his past. As he stood gazing over the river a man apprehended him and began to wrestle with him. As Jacob grappled with the man in the early morning hours, he realized that the man he was struggling with was the Lord, Himself.

The word wrestle means to struggle for control. The ultimate goal of wrestling is not “pinning” someone to the ground. It is about submission. God wrestled for control of Jacob’s life that night. Jacob fought against it!

“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.”

Genesis 32:25

What? God could not overpower Jacob? That doesn’t make since! He is God Almighty! How is that possible? The answer is simple. God will never force His will upon you if you are not willing to submit. God loves you too much to allow you to stay in a fallen state, so He will wrestle with you, but He will never pin you down and force His will on you. Reluctantly, He will let you stay in control, but He may not contend with you forever!

Pastor Scott Burr