River Church NOLA
Feb 10 The fight You don't Want to Win
  • One Way
  • One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)
  • Set A Fire
  • I titled the passage about Jacob today because we can’t afford to win when we fight against God. None of us like to lose… at anything, but there is a battle that we all need to lose. that’s what we will look at tonight.
    Tonight we are going to look at the story of Jacob when he wrestled with God. How many of you have ever wrestled with God? Those that did not raise your hands are fibbing.
    Jacob’s name means heel grabber, trickster, cheat, liar

    Jacob’s name means heel grabber

    I think this story is going to be great for us because there is a little of Jacob in all of us. And how God deals with Jacob is how he often deals with us.
    The Bible says Jacob I have loved but Esau I hate.

    Why would God Love Jacob?

    God loved Jacob for the same reason he loves you and me. God didn’t love Jacob for who he was.
    God loved Jacob for what He could make out of him.
    Secondly you will notice that
    God did not change jacob so that he could love him, He changed him because he loved him.
    He doesn’t change us so that he can love us or even love us more. He loves us so he changes us. He loves us so he keeps working on us molding us more and more to be like Jesus.
    Context
    Jacob has been away from home for over 20 years. If you remember, he left running for his life. He had cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright and he has been running from Esau for 20 years. Esau had told him that after their father died, Jacob was going to die because he was going to kill Jacob.
    So Jacob decided to run for it and he has been gone for 20 years. During that time, he has learned a lot… mostly from living with his uncle Laban… a man just like Jacob. It makes for a humorous story… a cheater trying to cheat a cheat. During this time, God used Laban and the experiences he had with Laban to prune him.
    Somewhere in all of this, Jacob met the Lord.
    Genesis 28:21 NLT
    21 and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God.
    Now Jacob is heading back to home to meet Esau. He knows he has to. You cannot be totally right with God and not with those around you.
    So Jacob is heading home. There are several things we learn about Jacob.

    1. Jacob is a defend Man

    While he is on his way home, God sends two angels to protect him. He had an angel escort. He didn’t know he had angels guarding him until they appeared to him here.
    Genesis 32:1–2 NLT
    1 As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is God’s camp!” So he named the place Mahanaim.
    Angels are ministering spirits to help those of us who are saved.
    Hebrews 1:14 NLT
    14 Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.
    Jacob had seen these angels in his dream going up and down a ladder, and now here they are to protect him. The name Mahanaim means two armies. He named the place that because there were two armies, the one he could see, and then the awesome army he could not see.
    Anyone beside me glad that the angels of the Lord surround us?
    Psalm 34:7 NLT
    7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
    Once in the Hebrides Islands, the natives had decided to burn down the missionary compound and kill the missionaries. All night long missionary John Paton and his wife prayed that God would protect them. They could hear the noise outside but they survived the night. When daylight came, the found that those who wanted to kill them had left.
    Later the chief of the tribe came to faith in Christ. Jon Paton asked him about that night and why they didn’t kill them. The chief replied that they could not attack because there were hundreds of men in shining garments and all of them had their swords drawn.
    God had sent angels to protect them.
    God will do the same for you and I.

    2. Jacob was also a distressed man.

    So Jacob is on his way. He knows God is with him. He has had God give him promises. Let’s look what he does. He know his brother promised to kill him, so he is doing his best Dale Carnegie here.
    Genesis 32:3–7 NIV
    3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’ ” 6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7 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.
    In spite of knowing God was with him… that God promised to protect him. jacob is terrified. He is looking at the circumstances instead of keeping his eyes on the Lord. How many times do we do the same… we focus on the problem and not on the Lord.
    We need to keep our eyes on the Lord instead of our problems
    So his strategy was to divide his family and possessions into two groups in hopes that one would survive.
    Genesis 32:8–10 NLT
    8 He thought, “If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape.” 9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ 10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!
    He prays a good prayer here. But he tried to fix it himself first.
    Prayer needs to be our first choice not our last resort.
    We do that so often. We try to fix it first then pray when we are out of options. Prayer is usually our last resort.
    That’s the way Jacob was. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in prayer, he did. He just believed in trying to arrange things himself. So Jacob makes his plan and then prays. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.
    Jacob sends messengers to Esau… then gifts… Hoping to soften Esau up.
    Jacob was distressed and terrified… He was like a lot of us. He trusted God, but he was worried.

    3. Jacob was a defeated man.

    First, Jacob was a protected man. God was going to protect him. Secondly he was a distressed man. Now thirdly, he was a defeated man.
    Genesis 32:22–25 NLT
    22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. 23 After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. 24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
    Remember, God was working on Jacob… just like he does you and I. He never stops working on us. Jacob has done all he can think of to do… even prayed and now he’s over there by himself.
    God brought Jacob to a place of isolation (Gen 32:24)
    God has to get him to a place by himself so he could deal with him. He has to do the same with us.
    That’s not what your flesh or your Old nature wants you to do. Your flesh wants you to handle it yourself… to be surrounded by friends all the time… to stay busy ultimately so you don’t have to be alone with God.
    But God wants to get us alone with Him so he can do his work in us.
    God brought Jacob to a place of confrontation (Gen 32:24)
    God took Jacob to a place of isolation so he could get him to the place of confrontation.
    Genesis 32:24 NLT
    24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.
    The man came and wrestled with Jacob all night. Jacob didn’t start this, God did. Jacob was just sitting there worrying about Esau and suddenly this man comes out of the woods and pounces upon him. The man was The angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord refers to Jesus pre-incarnate.
    Genesis 32:30 NLT
    30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”
    Jacob wasn’t wrestling with Jesus, Jesus was working on him. The Lord initiated the wrestling match. The match wasn’t about Jacob trying to get something from the Lord, it was about the Lord working on Jacob.
    So the Lord is wrestling with Jacob. He has been wrestling with some you as well…
    The Lord brought Jacob to a place of desperation (Gen 32:24-25)
    God has to get us to a place of desperation. Look at this...
    Genesis 32:24–25 NLT
    24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
    Basically, the Lord said, I hate to do this, but… he reached in and touched Jacob’s hip. If you were ever a wrestler, you know you depend on your legs and now Jacob could not. God touched him in his strongest place. He did not touch him in his weakness, but in his strength and he defeated him so that not only could he not wrestle, he could not walk normally any longer. Now he can’t fight nor can he even run. He was totally defeated.
    The Lord brought him to a place of isolation to bring him to a place of confrontation to bring him to a place of desperation and how he is a defeated person.

    4. Jacob was a dependent man

    Not only is he defeated, he is a dependent man.
    Genesis 32:26 NLT
    26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
    If he were wrestling with a man, the man could get away. But he is wrestling with the Lord. You may think, how could a man get away but the Lord could not. He could have, but remember he was working on Jacob. I can imagine that when the Lord said let me go… he was thinking … Jacob don’t do it… hold on…
    You are fixing to learn something about how God works.
    Sometimes God may appear like he wants to go away from us as though he doesn’t want to hear from us as though he doesn’t want to bless us. And if you just deal with God in the surface and he says let me go… you might let him go. If you do, you will miss the blessing that God wants to give you.
    ILL - Syrophoenician woman - lived on the seacoast.
    Matthew 15:21–28 NLT
    21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” 23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” 24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” 25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” 26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” 28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
    ILL - Widow and the unjust judge
    Luke 18:1–8 NLT
    1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’ ” 6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
    ILL The disciples on the road to Emmaus -
    They were walking along broken over Jesus dying, and Jesus in disguise joins them. He is reasoning with them and talking with them
    Luke 24:28–29 NLT
    28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them.
    He would not have stayed had they not asked him to stay… Jacob held on to the Lord.
    ILL - Elisha -
    2 Kings 2:1–10 NLT
    1 When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!” So they went down together to Bethel. 3 The group of prophets from Bethel came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?” “Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.” 4 Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Jericho.” But Elisha replied again, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together to Jericho. 5 Then the group of prophets from Jericho came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?” “Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.” 6 Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to the Jordan River.” But again Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together. 7 Fifty men from the group of prophets also went and watched from a distance as Elijah and Elisha stopped beside the Jordan River. 8 Then Elijah folded his cloak together and struck the water with it. The river divided, and the two of them went across on dry ground! 9 When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.” And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.” 10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.”
    From that point on, Elisha was with Elijah like a fly on flypaper. It seemed like Elijah was trying to discourage Elisha, but he was testing him. That’s what the Lord was doing with Jacob… testing him.
    The Lord did not want Jacob to let him go because he wanted to bless him, but Jacob had to be ready for that blessing.
    Have you let go of God too easily?
    Have you? God wants to get you and I to that place of absolute dependence on HIM… where we will say, I will not go away until you bless me. Most of us have never gotten to that place. We hope that he will bless us, but if he doesn’t we will figure it out and our old nature begins to work again.
    God had brought Jacob to the place of desperation. It where he wants you and I to be as well. God wants us to be like Paul when he said,
    Philippians 3:3 NLT
    3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,
    He put no confidence in human effort. In the USA we put our confidence in self-confidence. Just look at the number of books written in the subject. If there is one thing that you and I do not need it’s self confidence. I know I just lost you because you think… yes we do.
    No, we need to be where Paul is when he said he put no confidence in human effort. I am not saying we should not be confident in our calling our gifts and talents, but our real confidence better be in Jesus.
    Our confidence is in Jesus not in ourselves
    Paul said he had no confidence in the flesh, but he also said…
    Philippians 4:13 NLT
    13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
    That’s exactly where God was bringing Jacob… Jacob was protected, then he was a distressed man, then he was trying to do it himself and now he was a defeated man and that’s where God wanted him because it meant he was a dependent man.
    Like Jacob, we need to say, I won’t let go God until you bless me.
    Maybe your confidence in in your business ability… your physical strength… your personality… ability to speak… sing…
    I am not saying God wants to take those things away from you, but I am saying that you will not be a successful Christian if your confidence is anywhere except in Jesus.
    Have you come to that place? It’s where God wants you to be. He wants to bring you to that place of isolation, that He might bring you to the place of confrontation, that he might bring us to that place of desperation, that he might bring us to that place of dependency… totally dependent on the Lord.
    Because He brought Jacob to that place,

    5. Jacob was a changed man

    Look at the transformation
    Genesis 32:26–27 NLT
    26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”
    The last time someone asked him that, he lied and said his name was Esau. Now he tells the truth. He said I am Jacob… liar… deceiver… trickster… thief…
    The Lord wasn’t asking for information here. He was asking for a confession. Remember that. He wanted Jacob to confess to him… Now look at the next verse.
    Genesis 32:28 NLT
    28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
    God gave him a different name because he is a different man. God had to break him in order to bless him.
    God delights in using broken things
    We typically throw away things when they are broken, but God uses them in great ways.
    ILL - Jeremiah
    Jeremiah 4:3 NIV
    3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.
    Why break up the ground? God wanted a crop
    ILL - Gideon was told to break a pitcher… why? So people could see the light.
    Judges 7:17–19 NLT
    17 Then he said to them, “Keep your eyes on me. When I come to the edge of the camp, do just as I do. 18 As soon as I and those with me blow the rams’ horns, blow your horns, too, all around the entire camp, and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’ ” 19 It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams’ horns and broke their clay jars.
    The light could not shine until the pitchers were broken.
    ILL - Mary broke the vial of perfume to anoint Jesus.
    Mark 14:3 NLT
    3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.
    The smell filled the house, but not until the vial was broken
    Do you remember when Jesus fed 5,000 people? He took the loaves and broke them. He used those broken loaves to feed 5,000.
    Jesus breaks things in order to bless them
    Jacob was broken and now he was a different man.
    God has to break us in order to bless and use us
    We don’t like the process, but God has to get us to the point of dependence so he can change us and make us different. We cannot be blessed until we are dependent on the Lord.
    God doesn’t have to use troubles to break you to the place of dependence.
    1 Corinthians 11:31 NLT
    31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.
    1 Corinthians 11:32 NLT
    32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
    We can avoid that discipline if we will just humble ourselves and declare our dependence on the Lord. If your heart is right, you can take the Word and the Spirit and it will change you and make you different.
    There is no blessing without brokenness
    No matter how it comes. We can either come to the place of dependence ourselves or god will bring us to that place. You can save yourself a lot of wrestling.
    Proverbs 6:16–17 The Living Bible
    16 For there are six things the Lord hates—no, seven: haughtiness, lying, murdering, plotting evil, eagerness to do wrong, a false witness, sowing discord among brothers.
    Number one is haughtiness or pride. We need to see ourselves as God sees us…
    If we don’t, God will bring us to the place of dependence.
    Look back at jacob. Jacob walked with that staff the rest of his life.
    Hebrews 11:21 NLT
    21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.
    Jacob worshipped leaning in his staff because he was crippled and dependent on the Lord. he was leaning on Jesus the rest of his life. He worshipped leaning on his staff fo rthe rest of his life until he died.
    Conclusion
    Have you learned to lean? or are you still trying to do it on your own?
    Have you become a desperate person, that you might become a defeated person, that you might become a dependent person, that you might become a different person?
    In all of this wrestling, the Lord never pinned Jacob’s back to the mat. Could he have done that? yes. But he did not. What does that tell us today? God will never make you anything you don’t want to be. He will work on you but he will not force you. You have to make the choice. You have to come to the place where you say, I won’t let go until you bless me… until you make me different.
    So when you are wrestling with the Lord, hope to lose, because when we lose that wrestling match, we win.
      • Genesis 28:21ASV

      • Genesis 32:1–2ASV

      • Hebrews 1:14ASV

      • Psalm 34:7ASV

      • Genesis 32:3–7NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:8–10NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:22–25NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:24NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:24NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:24NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:30NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:24–25NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:24–25NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:26NIV2011

      • Matthew 15:21–28NIV2011

      • Luke 18:1–8NIV2011

      • Luke 24:28–29NIV2011

      • 2 Kings 2:1–10NIV2011

      • Philippians 3:3NIV2011

      • Philippians 4:13NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:26–27NIV2011

      • Genesis 32:28NIV2011

      • Jeremiah 4:3NIV2011

      • Judges 7:17–19NIV2011

      • Mark 14:3NIV2011

      • 1 Corinthians 11:31NIV2011

      • 1 Corinthians 11:32NIV2011

      • Proverbs 6:16–17TLB

      • Hebrews 11:21NIV2011

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