discover God's goodness, Genesis 32:24, God takes the lead, God's love never fails, grace confounds us, Jacob wrestles with God, opportunity to become broken, surrender our strength and position, walking with God, wrestling is a dance
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. Genesis 32:24
Inside this story of Jacob’s wrestling match with God is an apt picture of the believer’s relationship to God. Walking with God is not some gentle glide in which all things come easily and naturally. Many of our struggles are with God Himself. Not that we are gonna win. But, we think we are correct most of the time or there would be no wrestling. It is only after our wrestlings with the Almighty that we discover… He was right all along.
Just what is wrestling with God about anyway? Wrestling is our opportunity to become broken. It is a slow dance in which the most powerful God enforces His work and will. The stronger prevails and eventually takes the lead in the dance of life.
Wrestling with God is not pretty. In fact, when people give testimonies about how God moved in their life… they usually leave out the wrestling with God part. Hmmm. God’s goal is not to maim, hurt, or kill us. God simply wants us to surrender our strength and position. He wants the strife against Him and His word to cease. What most do not understand is they are not wrestling against God for evil… they are wrestling against God for good… goodness sake. It is God’s infinite grace which confounds us. It is His great love and compassion which brings us to our knees in surrender. The Father wants us to enter into His rest, not become a better wrestler.
There is an opportunity for each of us today. Instead of going around and around with God trying to prove why you are right, discover His grace and goodness. Choose instead to enter into His rest. The Lord wants to bless you today!
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
day and night are alike, dialing 911, dialing a spiritual 911, God has not forgotten us, holding on to a promise, Matthew 4:5-6, overcoming temptation, Psalm 91:10-13, Satan attack God's word, Smith Wigglesworth quote, spiritual promise, striving against God, tempting God to move
Some of you are holding onto a promise – a spiritual promise given to you from revelation born from your time with God. Satan couldn’t stop you from birthing God’s seed. Battle over… right? No, the devil’s attack against your seed has only just begun. He wants you to get the jitters… that is to jump at the false completion or false fulfillment of that word.
Your are in good company! Jesus endured the same temptation and so will you. Just before He entered full-time ministry, the devil was given the opportunity to give Him the spiritual jitters.
5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning You’;
‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:5-6
Most people are instructed to dial 911 in case of emergency. Christians are told to do the same thing in a spiritual emergency… they are instructed to read Psalms 91:1. Guess who else knows Psalms 91? Yes, Satan quoted these emergency verses right in Jesus’ face.
Notice the devil didn’t quote to Jesus the next verse in Psalm 91… it is verse 13…
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. Psalm 91:13
Satan didn’t quote the remainder of these verses to Jesus… He knew them already and would soon apply them! Our victory is found in doing the same. The spiritual jitters are Satan’s temptation to get us to test God by suggesting to the Lord that He must move on our behalf. The truth is … God has not forgotten about you or His promises to you. He knows exactly where you are. None of us need to succumb to the temptation to strive against God’s word by attempting to help Him to move on our behalf. If God needs our help… He will tell us.
I encourage you today to hold on to your word… it is all you need in dark places. As Smith Wigglesworth says, “We want to get to a place where we are beyond trusting in ourselves.”
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
2 Corinthians 5:17, all God's children have a past, good and bad activities, looking back, Lot's wife, Luke 9:62, maps, mercies are new everyday, Philippians 3:13, receiving new information, receiving new revelation, stop counting losses, you are here
The Lord spoke to me one time telling me to “stop counting losses”. These are the things “I used to do, used to possess, or used to be involved in.” In our journey with the Lord, “old things pass away and all things become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Losses” consist of both good and bad activities. The problem with continuing to count losses is it prevents you from receiving new instructions and new revelation because you are constantly facing the wrong direction. As Jesus warned, it is hard to plow new ground when you are looking back. (my paraphrase of Luke 9:62) Lot’s wife couldn’t receive her new location because she was still enamored with Sodom. Many people have had difficulties receiving healing because they couldn’t answer the question, “What do you want the Lord to do for you?” Sounds simple, but one of our biggest problems as believers is letting go the past… both the victories and defeats.
If the Lord discourages “looking back”, then what are we supposed to do? The Christian faith is a “pressing forward” type of faith. God mainly speaks about our present and future. This is why His mercies are new every day. There is only enough grace each day to handle our present activities. If you are having difficulties letting go, then make a once-and-for-all decision to loose yourself and move forward.
Maps are only beneficial if you know where you are. I love looking at those diagrams for malls or buildings when you enter. It always states in big, bold, red letters… YOU ARE HERE! If we do not know where we are (because we are always looking at where we have been) then the Lord cannot move us forward. The old quote, “Don’t look back, you are not going that way” is true. This is why Paul said, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13) All God’s children have a past. God is more interested in what is going to happen to His children, than what has happened. His words and revelations to you will be about your now… so get with His program. Your blessings are waiting for you!
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
Abraham, Adam and Eve, attractiveness of sin, big sins, blood relationship, break fellowship with God, deep sin, father and younger son, free choice, free to go, God didn't stop me, God's voice, inheritance, Luke 15, Noah, the prodigal son, we cannot sever our relationship with God
I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of Christians who have fallen into deep sin. Occasionally, some of these folks have opened up and confessed something like this…“When I first started to drift into sin, I noticed God didn’t stop me. If it was so wrong, why didn’t God stop me? Since God didn’t do anything, I assumed it was alright to proceed. So I kept sinning because God didn’t do anything.” I have even had people tell me after they were married,“I knew I shouldn’t have married this person, but God didn’t say ‘No’. Why didn’t God stop me? Since God didn’t say anything, I thought it must have been alright.”
Why doesn’t God stop people from sinning, especially from participating in “big sins“? Shouldn’t God’s voice get louder when we are about to commit some whopper sized sin? God doesn’t stop us from sinning for the same reason He didn’t stop Adam and Eve from eating the forbidden fruit. God didn’t stop Adam and Eve for the same reason He didn’t stop Noah from making moonshine and exposing himself. God didn’t stop Noah for the same reason He didn’t stop Abraham from lying to everybody he met about his wife being his sister. God doesn’t stop us because He loves us and gives us the freedom to choose.
In Luke 15 we are introduced to the story of a loving father who allowed his younger son to walk out the door with his inheritance in tow. This younger son insulted his father by asking for his inheritance early, long before his father passed. The son basically treated his father like he was dead. I am sure the father was wounded by this harsh demand, but he granted it. He basically said, “If you want to act and live like your father is dead, then go ahead… I will let you. It will hurt and wound me, but you are free.”
God doesn’t stop us from sinning for the same reason the father in Jesus’ parable didn’t fling himself across the door and say, “Stop it son, I won’t let you leave!” It is not the nature of God. God loves each of us so much, He allows us to make our own choices, even though He knows what the consequences will be. Even though some consequences are more devastating than others, He voice will not modulate.
There’s a very important principle all believers need to understand. We cannot sever our relationship with God, but we can break fellowship with Him. The whole time the prodigal son was away, he was still a son but He had left the presence and favor of his Father. Christians can do this. Through Jesus Christ we have a “blood relationship” with God… Jesus’ shed blood. Even though we break fellowship with God, the blood relationship remains… we are still His children.
Once you become a Christian, God establishes a love relationship with you. He is your Father and nothing can ever change this. But if you choose to rebel and disobey the Father, He’ll allow it. He will never leave you, but if you walk out of fellowship with Him–He will let you go. One of the messages of the Bible is that God loves us so much we are free to go. He will never force any of us to stay in fellowship with Him. So, if we are bound and determined to do something as foolish as walking out on God, He won’t stop us. This is how so many believers have gotten themselves into their messes. God doesn’t coerce obedience and loyalty; He wants us each to freely love and serve Him.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator
a God related problem, anxiety, conquer not accept it, convicted about worry, divided mind, Jesus and His disciples, Luke 12:22, merimnao, our commitment to Christ, Swindol quote, take no thought of, worry, worry about worrying, worry and medical problems, worry is a besetting sin, worry is a faith killer
Did you know that worry is the number one mental disorder in America? Even in church, it is acceptable to get a case of the worries every now and then. Nobody wants to say anything to you about the issue because they too have fits and spells of anxiety and worry! We now know and understand that many medical problems are closely tied to worry or anxiety… such as heart trouble, blood pressure, ulcers, thyroid malfunction, migraine headaches, and a host of stomach disorders.
Have you done any worrying lately? Have you felt convicted about it? In this particular section of scripture Jesus addresses His comments not to the crowd at large, but to His disciples.
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.” Luke 12:22
Some translations render verse twenty-two “for this reason I say to you.” Since these words are addressed to the disciples, the implication is that worry is one of the besetting sins of believers… and particularly to Jesus’ personal disciples.
- We have seen them struggle about how to feed the 5000.
- We have seen them worry about the storms while sailing the Sea of Galilee.
- We have seen them stumble over demonic issues.
- We have seen them worry about many of Jesus’ personal ministry decisions.
It is interesting to me that many of the believer’s problems are God related! Ouch! If God didn’t give me problems… I wouldn’t have any! Not really. But, many of my problems are God related. Many of my struggles and difficulties have arisen totally because of my commitment to Christ. Hey, if you are like me… I am constantly going through something.
As believers we are not immune to worry because we live under the same pressures of society. In addition, our spiritual commitment adds even more worry weight to our shoulders. It is even possible to worry about being a worrier. We know that we shouldn’t worry, but we just can’t seem to get a grip on the issue.
Worry has now become one of those socially acceptable sins, even in the Christian circles. As Chuck Swindol notes,
We would never smile at a Christian who staggered into his home… night after night drunk and abusive. But we often smile at a Christian friend who worries. We would not joke about a brother or sister in God’s family who stole someone’s car, but we regularly joke about worrying over some detail in life.
Why does God call worry a sin anyway? Worry is a faith killer! The primary New Testament word for worry is (merimnao) which means “to take thought of” or “to be careful about.” Those who let worry reign in their lives ultimately struggle with faith issues. The Greek word for worry actually gives the picture of a divided mind. The worrier has a mind which is torn between the real and the possible, the immediate and potential… heaven’s ways and earth’s realities.
Whether or not worry is acceptable in the Christian circles you live, you should seek to eliminate worry from your life. If you really desire to be a man or woman of faith, then worry must be conquered…not accepted. I will offer more help next time.
altar ready, christianity, crucifixion, Genesis 22:6, hammer and nails, Isaac, jewish historian josephus, Luke 9:23, major sacrifice, Mount Moriah, take up your cross daily, Teresa of Avila quote, the Holy Spirit's conviction, the power of obedience
Sometimes the analogies of the Lord are hard to grasp. This one isn’t. One day Jesus explained to His followers that in order to be His disciples, they each must “take up their cross daily and follow Him.” (Luke 9:23) Everyone knew this meant carrying the wood of their own crucifixion. It must have shocking.
This wasn’t the first time the Lord requested someone to carry wood for their own sacrifice. Abraham asked his son Isaac to carry wood up Mount Moriah. (Genesis 22:6) We often think of Isaac being a young boy who didn’t know what he was doing. But from the Jewish historian Josephus, we learn that Isaac was in his mid-twenties and knew exactly what he was doing. In obedience to his father he carried wood knowing he himself would be laid upon it and sacrificed. He lovingly surrendered his life in obedience to God’s command.
I hope you are getting this. Each believer is required to carry the wood of their own crucifixion. I can’t carry yours and you can’t carry mine. We walk up the mountain alone in our obedience to the Lord. Some days not many sacrifices are made. We may even go for a time forgetting our obedience and commitment to carry wood. Then it happens… we are called to make a major sacrifice for the Lord. It may be a relationship. It may be a career adjustment. As the wood on our back grows heavy, we are reminded of what it means to a true follower of Christ.
Carrying wood always means you are altar ready. You don’t have to spend days or weeks getting ready to turn things over to the Lord. The Holy Spirit doesn’t have to keep convicting you of the same old issues. No, you are ready daily to sacrifice yourself in complete obedience, because you carry around with you the wood of your own crucifixion. Are you carrying wood today?
A few years ago someone passed out some large spiked nails with a purple ribbon attached to them on Easter Sunday. We were supposed to carry a nail with us to remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice. Nothing wrong with doing this. The truth is … I don’t have problems in remembering what Jesus did. His sacrifice on the cross is fresh with me everyday. The area I neglect is in carrying the wood of my own obedience. Hammer and nails are not my responsibility. I am only responsible for carrying wood… carrying my cross daily. We are called to be altar ready twenty-four, seven. Jesus’ obedience is complete, but ours is not. We will not be judged on how many nails we carried… only wood. What are you carrying today?
another brick in the wall, challenged the throne of God, check your mouth, complaining, confess your sin, defection of the heart, discipline, gormandize yourself, graves of lust, jealousy and disbelief, manna, meat, Numbers 11:18-33, plague, quail, roots, satan, sick, Thomas Fuller quote
I am wrapping-up this three-part series on complaining with a somber note. I don’t believe God ever wants to discipline His children. As every parent knows, sometimes godly discipline is the best course of action. While we might not think complaining is a serious issue, God does. Why? Because low-level complaining is a heart issue. Complaining is an activity Satan participated in when he challenged the throne of God. When we revel in venting our displeasure, we mimic the demonic world. Thus a wall begins to grow between us and the Lord. Every time we choose to complain, gripe, and grumble, we lay another brick in that wall. Since complaining is a heart-issue… it develops into other sins. Complaining leads to rebellion, passing judgment on others, greed, jealousy, and disbelief. What we do not realize is a complaining spirit has roots which grow quickly into the fabric of our hearts. This wicked spirit eventually takes over and permeates our life. God knows the only way to correct the issue is by discipline and chastisement.
God Takes Action…The People Became Sick
18 Say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, “Oh that someone would give us meat to eat! For we were well-off in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat and you shall eat. 19 You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” Numbers 11:18-20
How did God know the people would get sick eating meat? It wasn’t tainted. It was good meat. The Lord knew they would treat the quail like they treated the manna. They would run, snatch, and grab. Each quickly grabbed up 10 homers…that is 10 donkey loads. As one commentator noted, a homer is an “ass load.” What a description. They spread their loot around camp and commenced eating.
Have you ever fasted for any length of time? I have. It is always a delicate issue coming off a lengthy fast. My stomach always needs a transition period. If I stuff my belly full after fasting… I will be one sick puppy on the backside. God knew his children would sicken themselves. God didn’t have to do anything… He simply didn’t warn them about the dangers of eating too much… too fast. They had a steady diet of manna for a while. He knew they would gormandize themselves with the new-found meat. They did! Moses and the nation buried these folks where they died. Listen to the description….
33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague. 34 So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy. Numbers 11:33-34
For the record, not everyone was struck with this plague. Only the greedy were touched by it. They named this burial site, “the graves of lust” or “graves of those which lusted.” How would you like this epitaph on your marker? As noted before, complaining doesn’t evaporate into thin air. Complaining leads to “bigger and badder” sins. It causes a defection of the heart. God knows it must be dealt with immediately or our sin will eventually affect our family, church, friends, and world.
The good news is you can do something about a complaining spirit right now. You can confess your sin and ask God to help you check your mouth and heart. He will. The Holy Spirit will remind you early and often when that ugly spirit begins to rise up with in you. Take action do today… while it still is today.