The fight of my life
Synopsis of Sermon 11/29/09
Delivered by Bishop Walker III
Text: Genesis 32:22-31: 22And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. 23And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. 24And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. 30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
We are all under construction. God is molding us and working with us to get us to our place of purpose and destiny. It is never easy, because often we are our own worse enemy. The resistance is often within us. There is so much that God wants to do in and through us, but he must first get some stuff out of us. This may require the stretching of us. In Jacob’s case, it is wrestling with God. It really doesn’t take long, after reading about the life of Jacob, to see that you and I begin to see much of our own selves in Jacob. Jacob’s life or biography at first is not one to be proud of, yet it later becomes an indication of how God can transform a life. Jacob is a trickster. His whole life has been one struggle after the next. Even from his birth, Jacob spent time fighting with his own twin brother. Jacob’s twin brother Esau was about to be born first and the bible says Jacob reached up and grabbed the heel of his own brother’s foot and pulled him back into the womb so he could be born first. We are talking about a prenatal fight.
Jacob has been struggling all his life. You know the story about Jacob where he later on with his own mother Rebecca, tried to pull one over on his own father’s eyes by fooling him into thinking he was Esau. We also find that Jacob allows his brother to sell his birthright over a bowl of soup. It is interesting because all of Jacob’s relationships are birth out of manipulation. They are birth out of trickery. He doesn’t even know what healthy relationships are. Even his relationship with Leah was birth out of dysfunction. He continues to birth children with a woman he doesn’t love. Jacob loves Leah’s sister but he continues to birth children with a woman that he doesn’t love.
Later, Jacob is on the run and his life is constantly hurting people. He keeps on running from this and from that. Jacob is on the run yet trying to get home to his father Isaac, but he does not want to deal with his brother Esau. He wants to get to his father, but he doesn’t want to deal with issue with his brother. We are like this. Many of us are like this. We can’t wait to get home to our father, but we won’t deal with the issue with our brother. How can you say you love God whom you have not seen, yet you have problems with and hate your brother you see every day? We need to work these interpersonal relationships before we get home to our father. The bible says Jacob comes to an interesting place. He comes to the river of Jabbok. The bible says Jacob sends his wife, his servants, and his cattle ahead over the river, but Jacob is left alone. The revelation of this is Jacob is left alone at the river of Jabbok and Jabbok means empty! God is about to empty some things out of Jacob. When we look back over our lives at all of the dysfunctional relationships we had and everything that is in us, we will realize that every now and then God needs to empty some stuff out of us. It is here Jacob was left alone and he wrestled with a man until the breaking of the day. God has to put you in a place to get you into the fight of your life because you are at a pivotal point in your life. God knows when we are on a path of destruction. God is about to make a shift in your life. Many of you wonder why your crowds have gotten smaller. God is going to get you to a place of shift. He is going to move you to the fight of your life. He is about to do something new and fresh. You know when you are about to outgrow the foolishness around you, you are ready to go to the next dimension. God says you are about to enter the fight of your life. How you come through this will define your destiny. How you come through this will determine the next season of your life.
I. He proved he is Lord of our life
1. God will do what he has to do to move you to your place of destiny. Jacob is arrogant and self serving. He lived his life as if he was master of his own faith, but God will prove that he is Master. Jacob is left alone and he is ambushed by God.
2. Theologians wrestle with this text wondering if Jacob was wrestling with a man, with God, or an angel. It was really about Jacob’s perspective. Your bible declares that Jacob wrestled with a man in verse 24. Genesis 32:30 says 30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.- Verse 30 says Jacob saw God face to face. Some people wrestle between whether Jacob wrestled with a man or God. We don’t’ have time for this. The issue is much bigger than this! People act the same way when it comes to us coming to church. They are still wrestling with a man. Ex: Some people say, “You just going to that church just to follow Bishop Walker or whomever your Pastor may be!”Just like the issue in scripture (verse 30), this is bigger than Bishop Walker! This is about our relationship with God and our being fed a relevant word.
3. It is about progressive relationship. Jacob is wrestling with God’s will verses his own will. Up until the point of wrestling in the brook, Jacob has always been in control. Now Jacob is no longer in control!
a. Control – God has to prove to Jacob who is control. God will prove to us who is in control. Genesis 32:25 says 25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.-Ex-Bishop Walker explains that he sometimes wrestles with his nieces, his nephews, and his cousins. He explains that he will sometimes lets them win. He knows his is stronger and wiser, but he lets them win, but every now and then, he will flip them back over and pin them down. This is to remind them who is really in control. God will do the same thing to us sometimes. He will let you think that you are in control, but then he will flip us back to remind us that he is still in control. There is always a wrestling with our will verses God’s will. Remember in the garden, when Jesus said let his bitter cup pass from him? Jesus even had a point where he wrestled with God’ will. It is not a sin to wrestle with God, because all of us wrestle with God. All of us wrestle with God when he is trying to get us to submit.
b. Always submit-the path of success begins with the place of surrender. It is at the place that you say you give up and put it all in his hands.
c. Accept his sovereignty-Even if you have to be broken, you realize that there is a blessing in it.
d. Acknowledge him as savior-God will but you in a situation where you can’t help yourself. God had Jacob by the leg. Many want to run in their own direction and get ahead of God. God will let you go for a while, but then he grabs you by the leg. God will not let you go until he is ready to let you go. Jacob struggles with God, until God grabs his thigh. The thigh is a strong muscle. You can’t fight without it, so when God touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh, he went from struggling to just holding on! Jacob said, “Let me go!” in verse 26, but he later realizes that if he has to go through this, he wasn’t going to let him (God) go until he blessed him. Jacob thought he was the man, but now acknowledges that he has to bow down! Jacob wants God’s blessing. Jacob had already tricked his father Isaac out of the blessing that was intended for his brother (Esau’s birthright). He tried to trick his brother out of his birthright with a bowl of soup prior to this. Remember whoever Isaac laid his right hand on, would receive the birthright. When Isaac laid his hands on whom he thought was Esau, he was really laying his hand on Jacob. Jacob was walking around with a stolen blessing. When Jacob was wrestling at the brook, he says to God that he wanted his blessing. Jacob begins to realize that any blessing that God could give would cancel out any blessing that is validated by man. We would rather have God’s blessing than your attention or your money or your favor.
4. In verse 27, God asks Jacob what his name was. Genesis 32:27: 27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. Why would the creator ask the creation what his name was? It is for Jacob’s own good.
5. After Jacob says his name, in verse 28, God says his name would be Israel from then on. Genesis 32:28: 28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. For Jacob to say his name was Jacob was to say he was that trickster and the manipulator that he always was. God had to give Jacob a new name.
6. Jacob then asks the name of the person that he was wrestling? God says it is not about who he was. Genesis 32:29: 29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. -God wants to know why he wants to know his name. After all this blessing has nothing to do with God. It is about Jacob.
II. He personally labeled my legacy
1. Names in the Old Testament came to us as adjectives. Names were descriptive of a person’s predicted character. Names often based on prophetic utterance. When one names you, they are making a statement about you. If you look at the names that Leah gave here children, this is seen.
2. Jacob now must take responsibility. When God asks Jacob who he is, for him to say Jacob was to say he is a trickster, a crook, a liar, or a thief. The real issue is that we all have some interesting names. We are here and we are reading this document as we speak, but what is your real name? What would your name be if they called you by what you acted like? Some of us would be called legion. This is why we don’t call other people names. We have enough names our own self (referring to be called by how we act).
3. What is your name? God is going to remind you of his destiny. Jacob will now be called Israel. Your name is not out of your past. Your name is out of your potential. Remember the woman caught in the act of adultery, but after Jesus came, she was told to sin no more. Lazarus was called stinky, but he refused to be what they called him. He chose to live. It doesn’t matter what people call you, it matters what God calls us. We were beneath, but now we are above. We were sick, but now we are healed God says he will not let us be defined by our issue. We will not be that alcoholic we used to be and will not be that promiscuous one anymore. When God changes us, we will not be what people remember us from.
III. He purposely left me with a limp
1. Genesis 32:30-31 says 30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.-Why would God leave Jacob with a limp. It was a deficiency. Jacob’s limp would be a public deformity, to create divine dependency. God left something (Jacob’s limp) that Jacob could not hide so he has no choice but to depend on God. Our limps have been so hidden and so camouflaged we would call out other people’s limps. Ex- There was a woman who went to this church, who had a limp. She told her Pastor about the limp one day. Her Pastor shocked, told he that he never noticed that the woman had a limp. The woman explained that she walked real fast so no one could see her limp. We do the same thing in our lives. We stay so fast and so busy that no one can see our limp. If we slow down, our limp will show. All of us have limps, but God can use us in spite of our limps. If you don’t’ have limp, then you haven’t truly wrestled with God.
2. To not have a limp, is depending on your own strength. Not having a limp is like walking around saying, “I can do this” or “I got this!” Having a limp is taking one step on our strength, but taking the next step depending on him! We can’t make it without him. He is holding us up! Ex- When you begin to look at this, Genesis 32:24 says24And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. – The keyword here is wrestle. This scripture tells us that Jacob wrested to the break of day.
3. In verse 30, the bible says Jacob named the place Peniel means face to face, meaning that Jacob wrestled with God. Jacob said his life is preserved. This suggests that if you know anything about wrestling, you know that the loser has to be is pinned. God didn’t pin Jacob. God could have killed him, but instead he gave Jacob another chance. God just gave him a limp, though he could have killed him. Jacob said thank God my life is preserved. We give God glory that we are limping, but he saved us!
4. In verse 31 that bible says he passed over Peniel. The bible says he passed over Peniel limping into a new day. I don’t care how much pain was in yesterday, God is about to give you a new season. Limp on into your destiny! Limp on into your next dimension! We preach, we sing, and work for God with a limp! Limp on to the end to see what the end is going to bring!