"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
A Storm On The Horizon
A few weeks ago, I had a dream that awoke me from my sleep for the rest of that day. I don’t normally get up at 5 a.m. on my day off, but this dream was different than all the rest. I can still see the debris in the air flying around, the twister ripping up the gravel off the ground, and the people running with fear. I am watching what seems to be people I was familiar with, but at the same time could not remember or recognize any faces. It was as if I knew them, but the exact identity was concealed. It had to have been some family, friends, and their close friends and family all running for dear life. This was all in what seemed to be HD, 1080p, or maybe 4k ultra, so it was as clear as one could imagine any image being.
As everyone who was afraid ran for their dear life, this storm seemed to destroy the surroundings. Nothing was left standing, and no person who was lost to this storm was seen again in this dream. This storm was literally consuming everything and everyone in its path. At first, I did not understand why it seemed to not affect me as I was thinking I was there in the moment, however I noticed that I was not actually there in body, just in spirit. I realized quickly that this storm represented the world and its corruption, followed by God’s swift judgment. It is time to heed the warnings of the Lord. The time is near when the trumpet will sound and God’s children will be called up in the “twinkling of an eye.” There isn’t much time and this could happen at any moment, perhaps before this recording has ended. When this calling up takes place, everyone who believes in the Lord shall be called up to be with Him, however those who do not will be left behind.
What follows the rapture is surely judgment. If you do not believe me, just check out what Revelation 6 has to say about this judgment. It will not be an easy thing to witness and surely not to live through. Those who survive (although unlikely) will suffer if they come to faith during this time period. Waiting to serve the Lord isn’t a realistic option. If we refuse to make this commitment now due to laziness, do we really believe we will make such a commitment when our lives are on the line?
You know a nation is in decline and judgement is near depending upon the level of violence present and the amount culture instability. We must separate ourselves from this instability and find our refuge in the rock of ages. The waves of society no matter how hard they beat against the shore can’t move the Rock! If we are rooted and grounded in the Lord, we shall not be moved!
Psalm 62:6 (KJV)
He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
The leaders within the nations of today should understand this warning from God!
Nahum 3:1 (NLT)
What sorrow awaits Nineveh,
the city of murder and lies!
She is crammed with wealth
and is never without victims.
Ezekiel 22 New King James Version (NKJV)
Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Now, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Yes, show her all her abominations! 3 Then say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “The city sheds blood in her own midst, that her time may come; and she makes idols within herself to defile herself. 4 You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and have defiled yourself with the idols which you have made. You have caused your days to draw near, and have come to the end of your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all countries. 5 Those near and those far from you will mock you as [a]infamous and full of tumult.
6 “Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his [b]power to shed blood in you. 7 In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the [c]fatherless and the widow. 8 You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. 9 In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten Me,” says the Lord God.
13 “Behold, therefore, I beat My fists at the dishonest profit which you have made, and at the bloodshed which has been in your midst. 14 Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken, and will do it. 15 I will scatter you among the nations, disperse you throughout the countries, and remove your filthiness completely from you. 16 You shall defile yourself in the sight of the nations; then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”
17 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. 21 Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. 22 As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you.’ ”
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that is not [d]cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’ 25 The conspiracy of her [e]prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured [f]people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have [g]violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy [h]people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.
Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV)
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
What surprises me about the storm however is its timing prior to God’s return. This storm is clearly cleansing the Earth of all things and individuals considered unclean. The corruption of the world is literally being swept up just before my eyes. I can think of no better comparison than the established authorities of many of today’s ruling countries. America, Europe, Russia, China, and many others, your corruption causes judgment to come against you! “Vengeance is mine” says the Lord. He will not allow his people to continue to suffer under the abuse of authority without restitution! While 2018 was a year of restoration as it was prophesied in many congregations around the world, 2019 shall be the year of increase. Some of that increase will be taken out of the hands of those who have taken it without authority and placed into the hands of those children of God that it rightfully belongs.
Isaiah 61:7 (KJV)
For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
Nahum 1:7 (NKJV)
The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
The Christmas Story Retold: The Perspective of The King’s Expecting Parents!
Many of us by now have heard the Christmas story and how the Savior of the world was born as a flesh man (but also God) and came to die for our sins, to be placed in a tomb, but also rise on the third day, forever erasing the debts of our transgressions if only we have faith in Him and ask for it. However, tonight on Christmas Eve, as I sit in a very different environment at my job, where many individuals I come into contact with are not as fortunate, I look at Christmas in a very different light. We take this wonderful occasion to celebrate the coming of our Christ Jesus for granted many times and in many ways in the United States. It has gotten to the point where everything that used to be about a time centered around focusing on God, is now an opportunity for companies to commercialize the season. Let us place ourselves in the shoes of the individuals involved in the Christmas story for a moment and think about how the events leading up to, during, and after the birth of our Lord and Savior must have felt. Let us examine what they were thinking, the questions they must have pondered, and the concerns that they would have had in a situation such as theirs.
Luke 1:26-38 (NKJV)
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; [a]blessed are you among women!”
29 But [b]when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I [c]do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 2:1-20 (NKJV)
2 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed [a]wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a [b]manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And [c]behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a [d]manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill[e] toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made [f]widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being [a]a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is [b]conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name [c]Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and [d]did not know her till she had brought forth her[e] firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus
Here is a depiction of what I could imagine the experience being like for each individual:
Mary (Jesus’ Mother):
Mary is pledged to be wed to Joseph in just a short while and is suddenly visited by an angel. He tells her that she is “highly favored” and that the “Lord is with you.” However, Gabriel the angel goes on to tell her that, “she will conceive and have a son, but not just any son, but the Son of God Himself.” She has to be worried at this point. After all, she is human. What will her husband think? How does a woman conceive, but not take the action necessary to do so just by the Holy Spirit? Besides, Who is the Holy Spirit? What kind of ruler will this child be with no earthly father (which are very important and determine everything about a child when born in ancient Israel)? What will people think of a woman who has a child out of wedlock and can’t claim an earthly father? What will Joseph do once he finds out he has paid the bride price of a virgin, but does not receive a virgin? Why does Joseph not tell people the truth, is he ashamed of me and my circumstances? Regardless of the situation and circumstances Mary still says, “I am the Lord’s servant” and “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Later in chapter two I can imagine a whirlwind of thoughts and concerns on Mary’s mind as she goes into labor. “Why must we go back to my husband’s hometown just to pay taxes to a government I never asked for? What happens if I go into labor while I am away? Will there be enough money left for us to live with a newborn once Joseph pays these taxes? Is camel back riding really good for prenatal care? What if he takes me with him, but leaves me along the journey?
Just as she gets good into her worrying, her worst fears become reality: Mary goes into labor!
She must be wondering, “Where will we go? Who can possibly deliver my baby? Is there really no one you can kick out of their room and let me in? Why must I give birth in a livestock barn? Do I really have to lie down in the dirt to give birth? What will I do for pain? Can Joseph help deliver a baby? Can I curse this child’s father even if he is God? Why are all these shepherds and wise men showing up to see my child? If He is indeed the Son of Man, why does he attract all these weirdo’s and outcasts?”
Joseph (Earthly Father of Jesus):
As the future husband to a “expected” new virgin, Joseph finds himself subject to a king that he did not vote for, paying taxes to a ruler that he does not want, and even worse, having to travel across the country just to pay those taxes. To make matters worse, his newly expecting bride turns out not to be the virgin he paid the price for,
I can imagine him worrying about man stuff like, “who will work while we are gone to pay our bills? What will happen if my wife goes into labor while we are gone? What if the child doesn’t look like me and people start to ask questions? Should I even be dealing with this or should I just go and find a new bride who isn’t pregnant with a child that isn’t mine? What can she eat while we are traveling? Does she really need a baby stroller in the desert? Should I ask for her bride price back from her father to cover the cost of this baby? Can I really help deliver a baby? I’m making her come with me because the last time she left my sight, she wound up like this! Do pregnant women really have to complain so much when crossing the desert? How much is all this tax paying and baby going to really cost? If the baby comes first, do I get a tax exemption for it? What will this government do to me if this kid really is God in the flesh?”
Just like with Mary, when things are just starting to get Joseph worried, Mary goes into labor!
Joseph has to be concerned about how all this is going to work out. He must be wondering, “where will we go? Why is there no room available for a woman in labor? That hotel owner was just too cheap to buy new linens after we leave. Why would God come in the form of a baby that is helpless and needing to be cared for? How will a baby save people from their sin? If this child is God’s, why do I have to let my wife’s baby be born in a manger? I wish I could afford to buy a place for the night so she can be comfortable. What will she do for pain? Why us? Why now? Why here?”
There is one perspective we have left out though and I can only imagine that if God spoke to Mary and Joseph that night, he would have said something along these lines:
“Mary and Joseph, don’t fright, worry, or concern yourselves with man’s limitations and obstacles. The things you ask have already been taken care of. I have chosen you both for a reason. Mary, you are strong in faith and I have found your heart to be pure. Joseph, you are a faithful and loving husband, now father. My Son will be savior of the world. There is an assignment that must be accomplished that no man or spiritual being can stand between or interrupt. Because of this fact, there are those seeking you all who wish to destroy what I have set up for all of mankind. I will send you to a land far from home and unfamiliar to you so that all three of you will be safe. The Son of God will be born in a lowly manner, but in the most respectful way that the creator of man could ever be born, which is on the mud from where he was formed. You will be graced by the presence of all God’s creation, both man and beast and they will bow down before the Savior you will give birth to. Those chosen by me will hear of His coming and stop at nothing to see and worship the Savior. He will attract the outcast and downtrodden because it is they who will be “first in His Kingdom”! Don’t concern yourselves with the opinions of others because I have told you not to “lean on your own understanding.” Don’t worry about finances, because as the creator of all things, your needs I will provide. He will be born as the Son of God, only to die as the Son of Man, hung upon a tree. He will suffer for all man’s iniquities, but will firmly bear the weight of the world on his body by defeating hell and the grave. He will be born and laid in a humble manger, but He will return to sit upon the Throne of the Lord, to rule over all that He has sacrificed to save! For the baby you care for is not a mere baby, but the God of all creation! So, bear the cost and the burden of this promise, because whatever the cost, it is less than what you owe and surely less than what He will pay! Some will give, others will give more, but I have given “my only begotten son”!
Let us remember in this holiday season that what we celebrate and come together for is more than just a time of gathering in memory of a born baby, but the worship of the one true Lord and Savior: Christ Jesus!
You may be the humble parents who live in a residence no better than the nativity scenes surrounding many churches this time of year and you may be the wealthy couple who are highly blessed in the material things. Whatever your situation, know that it is a blessed one because of Who gave everything, so that we could celebrate this occasion in this season. Whatever our issues, whatever our burdens, they are insignificant compared that those Christ had to carry on the cross with Him at Calvary. God knows our concerns and He looks upon us with His awesome grace and mercy. Don’t live beneath your privilege, traveling a road destined for an eternity separated from God. Accept Christ as your true Lord and Savior today! Know what it means to truly celebrate the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the one true King by accepting His invitation this Christmas season!
John 3:16 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Wrestling With God’s Purpose
Genesis 32:22-32 (NKJV)
And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
27 So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”
And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
Have you ever found yourself wrestling with God, His purpose, or His will for your life? You may ask, well what do you mean? To explain, we need to look no further than the Word of God. As many of us know, the patriarch Jacob wrestled with God, but few understand what this Scripture really means. This wrestling match that got the best of Jacob was not only important, it was essential to God’s will for Jacob. This match should be dubbed as the most famous in history. It is written in the most bought book across the globe as part of the Holy Bible. More than any Smackdown WWE episode or late night pay-per-view wrestling sessions, this match will always be remembered. Without this event happening perhaps God would not have such a perfect opportunity to give Jacob the new name Israel. Reading about this particular fascinating story in Scripture, I wondered to myself, what makes this event so significant? This event was significant because it highlights the process by which God blesses us when we struggle and wrestle with His will in our life. Many times the path that God sends us down isn’t always clear. It is equivalent to being led down a foggy road. We can’t see all that far ahead, but we know that we are safe as long as we stay in the lines that God has provided for us both personally and within His Word. In this story, Jacob seemed to be at a curve in the road. Visibility for him was low, but He knew God was directing his path and sending him into a new place. Jacob had just gotten through a rough patch and conflict with a person who was once a very significant influence in his life in Laban, but now God was calling him to a new place. This moment of unambiguity can be seen through not only his paranoia of seeing his brother who he had previously schemed out of his blessing and birthright, but also by the questions which he asked the “man” in the Scripture.
Wrestling in high school for me was a sport I honestly have no idea why I go into at the time. Maybe it was because the coach called me up on the telephone and recruited me. He knew I was a basketball tryout flop who was searching for a new place in life as I thought basketball was surely my sport. I had just finished football season and he was able to assure me that wrestling would not only help me with football, but improve me in many other areas of my life. The coach explained how I would be wrestling in my own weight class and many of those guys were some of the same players on the opposite football team as well. If I could somehow figure out how to handle guys my size on the mat, surely I could handle them on the field. I agreed that those benefits would help me in the long run and I went out for the team against my mother’s wishes and my own conscious when I realized how hard the practices were. We ran distances of 4-6 miles, jump roped, spun on top of each other’s backs, carried one another like a fireman, and even drug each other across the mat for conditioning. Those were the toughest practices I had ever been through in my life. The end result was that I was not the best wrestler that ever graced the mat with my presence; however the sport taught me valuable lessons in life that not even football could teach. This was a sport that truly turned boys into men.
When reading this story about Jacob, I can’t help but remember a few of those valuable lessons I learned during my sweat drenched days of wrestling practice. The first was to never sit. Coach had a saying. It was rather inappropriate for the content of a ministry or pulpit, so I will tell you it had to do with saying that if you sit, you “do a number two.” It wasn’t pretty, but it was surely an easy way to remember it as no one wanted to do a number two on the mat and no one wanted to allow themselves to be pinned. The thing about sitting is that if you were caught sitting your body was in a horrible position that made it very easy to be pinned, not to mention that if you were sitting; your center of gravity was not in the appropriate position to be on the offensive. It is sort of like being on your heels in American football. If you’re on your heels, you can be easily knocked over. It was surely against the rules for any of us to be caught sitting on the mat during practice. Another rule was that we must never lie on our backs. Pinning your opponent on his back was the main purpose of the sport, so why would anyone want to place themselves in pinning position for their opponent. Our goal should be the complete opposite. However, time and time again I watched other matches as guys constantly placed their own backs on the mat. Many times this would happen when the wrestler on top was attempting a complicated pinning move that required him to lean back. In the process their backs would sometimes touch the mat and the referee would call a pin, but not for the wrestler in control, but rather the one in the process of being pinned because the man in control placed his own back in pinning position and held it there long enough to be called.
The greatest lesson I was ever taught throughout my time in wrestling was to never let up or hesitate. I remember one particular match where I was wrestling well above my own weight. The guy I was wrestling was much taller and heavier than me. Even though I was strong, strength could not outmaneuver the weight of this large man. I realized this as I was attempting to pick him up to slam him back on the floor. As I picked up, he used his long legs to lean forward and carry us both across the mat. As he did this, I slipped with my arms around his legs. As one of his legs came loose it popped out and kicked me right in the mouth. I was stunned for a moment and was hoping the ref would stop the match as I was sure it was bleeding and the kick was not legal. Unfortunately he did not stop the match and the opponent escaped with enough time to spin around grab hold of me. He then used this positioning to his advantage and was able to pin me. I remember feeling cheated and frustrated. By the end, I was tired and out of breath and I gave up. After realizing what had happened and how disappointed I was with myself for giving up, I was determined that I would never give up like that again just because I got “hit in the mouth.”
Life is like that sometimes. It can surely hit you right in the mouth both literally and figuratively. I can only imagine after wrestling from night until daybreak, that Jacob must have felt the same way in this particular situation. He could have easily given up on his purpose and God’s will for his life. He had recently been in conflict just before this situation came about and had resolved that with peace and compromise. He now faced a brother who he had not seen in some time and wondered what type of animosity that Esau might have for him. Jacob was surely in a sticky situation all together. However, Jacob did not give up. Regardless of what mistakes might have been made in the process, he continued on his purpose, even when confronted with a wrestling match in which his opponent was God himself (Jacob confesses this in verse 30). God in the form of a man did not lack the power or strength to overcome Jacob, rather verse 25 insinuates that He was able to see resolve, strength, and passion in Jacob, therefore allowing the wrestling to cease and the blessing to come forth. There are quite a few lessons for us today that we can get out of this famous match. The lessons can be found in the actions of both God and Jacob in this story.
During Jacob’s struggle with God, he never hesitated or appeared to “sit.” This was important, because there was no time to waste as God’s perfect timing was in play. There is no place in this world for hesitating to act on God’s will and purpose for our lives. On average we only get a few decades of life on this planet and there are a few of them where our productivity is less than what it would be or what it was before (childhood and elder years). Jacob also never once allowed himself to be on his back. He never placed the enemy in a place to defeat him. He never appeared to be in a place of defeat. Some of us need to learn from that example today. We must never place ourselves into a position of defeat for the enemy. There will be times when we are frustrated to the point of wanting to give up, however we should never allow the opponent of evil to coax us into laying down ourselves in defeat. Another lesson we can benefit from in this story is that Jacob never took his eyes off God. It says they wrestled until “daybreak.” When I was wrestling, we were never to allow an opponent to run what they call a half or full-Nelson and continue looking in that direction. This move is performed while on the opponents back and running the hand up underneath the arm pit and placing your hand around the back of that person’s neck. In theory, you should be able to spin on their back into the direction of whichever arm you are using and flip them onto their back, allowing them to be pinned. However, if you could look in the opposite direction and press the arm on that side down on the opponents arm to force it away from around your neck you could possibly break away from their grasp.
My friends, we are to do the exact same thing to the enemy when he comes in between us and God. If the enemy is attempting to “pin you on your back” and stop you from receiving what God has for you, get face-to-face with God. Turn your face away from the enemy, away from the things that can get you off track. Focus on what God has given you, the purpose He has set out before you. Get in your prayer closet, plead the blood of Jesus over your life, and take action on God’s will in your life. Of course as was the case with Jacob, God always leaves his mark on those who look upon His face. The Word tells us that God “touched the socket of his hip.” From that point on, Jacob walked with a limp. By looking deep in the translation from Hebrew, you will find that he was touched on the tendon and for this reason; orthodox Jews do not eat the tendon connecting the hip bone and muscle to this day. Where I am from, sometimes young men walk like this to look cool or as they say, “walk with swag,” however Jacob was walking this way because he had come face-to-face with the Master of all creation. Surely, if we seek to get face-to-face with God, He will surely leave His mark on us as well. This may not be a literal limp and thank God, but it will surely be visible to both the children of God and even those of a carnal nature. Have you ever noticed someone who wasn’t religious, but you could tell this person walked in the presence and grace of God daily? That is a mark of God on their life. Whatever the mark He leaves upon you, know that others will surely be able to tell. Spend enough time in the presence of God and you may even smell of his sweet fragrance, not from the mistress down the street, but the genuine sweet smell of God Almighty! Notice that this blessing did not happen until Jacob refused to let go of God. We must be like Jacob and cling to God in order to ensure our resolve has been made clear, in that we are purposed for His will and we only want what He wants for us.
When life gives us fog and you can’t see the road in front of you, trust in the Lord and pursue His purpose in life. The Lord’s Word and presence will provide us with the guidance we need to stay in His will. You will know you have reached your given destination and victory when the blessings of God begin to pour out upon you. When we persevere in our purpose, the promises of God will be showered down upon us in heaps. When we seek the face of God, his will shall be revealed to us and obstacles will be removed from our paths. Sometimes we will have to spend quite a while, proving ourselves to Him. We must show that we are here to stay; we are committed to His will, and possess the tenacity to see it through to the end. We must always finish what we start and if we begin to serve God, we must finish this race of life with God’s purpose as our own. While I was never the wrestler college recruiters drooled over, I learned some great lessons about life on those mats. Those lessons continue to follow me in nearly every aspect of my life today. I urge you to have a conversation with God today and see what He has in store for you. Who knows, it just may leave a permanent mark on your life!
News and Social Media Fatigue
According to Pew Research Center, “almost seven-in-ten Americans have news fatigue.” That number is very alarming and something that we as the church must consider in our everyday lives. The article states, “If you feel like there is too much news and you can’t keep up, you are not alone.” That is true, as I often myself feel this way, but how do we prevent this from happening in the first place. I believe it starts with remembering that the enemy makes it a mission to keep us distracted. He uses every resource at his disposal to keep our minds occupied and off of our main calling, which is to glorify God (Psalm 57:2, 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 1:16). When we pray, we should mention the Lord’s Prayer as there are significant sections that allude to factors that impact us even today such as distraction. Matthew 6:13 is a great example that asks God to “lead us not into temptation, but to deliver us from evil.” Leading us away from temptation would include leading us away from the distractions that may not be necessarily bad in and of themselves, but are present as a distraction set by the enemy. In our path to the Lord’s will for our lives, there are many snares such as in Psalm 119:110, 140:5, 141:9; Jeremiah 18:22.
Social media and digital entertainment offers the same type or source of a possible distraction from our purpose. Just open your Facebook, Twitter, or Netflix app and you will find a million and one reasons to stay occupied for the next two hours, but what are we being fed during this block of time? Is anything we are getting out of these distractions positive? Maybe some of it can be positive, but is it helping us live out our purpose, or is it distracting us from the Lord’s desire for our life. I believe that it is more of a distraction than most of us would like to admit. This does not mean that you spend every waking hour pushing yourself to maximum efficiency by only doing occupational, ministry, and family work, but it does mean that we are good stewards with our time. When we lose track of priorities and time maintenance, we begin to find ourselves slipping into activities that become habits. It takes around 21 days to form a habit, whether it is good or bad. Now, think about the last 21 days of your life, has the activity been purpose habit forming, or unproductive habit forming? Everyone goes through seasons of life and adjustments along the way. It’s a part of life and the process of God forming us as his clay into the masterpiece that He wants us to be. Even the world goes through seasons, however we should not force unproductive seasons and periods of time in our lives where God is forced to intervene. As we grow in Christ, we should grow in our ability to be sensitive to the Spirit’s conviction and self-control.
There are several other posts in our blog about what to do when there is unrest in the world and news, as there has been the last few weeks. There are also several others on how to prevent burnout and even the changing seasons in our life. Regardless of where we are habit, stress, or relationship wise with God, we should start by talking with Him. Prayer is how we communicate with God. Before you judge, just remember that prayer doesn’t have to be some religious ritual, but rather a conversation with God. You speak and He listens. However, that conversation feels and goes a lot better when you have made a commitment to God as your personal savior. If you would like more information on how to make Christ your personal Savior and develop a relationship with Him, check us out here. After a relationship and conversation, comes the study and learning about God’s ways via His Word, The Holy Bible. Becoming a part of a regular fellowship would also be a step forward into further developing your relationship with God through His body of believers who can help sustain and lift you up in prayer. As you grow and develop in the Lord’s presence, knowledge, and conviction, the Spirit will give you guidance on how to grow in the Lord and avoid the distractions such as those we have spoken of (Galatians 5:22-23).
As we grow in our relationship with God, we develop a desire to share His love and life giving power with others. One-by-one, we can begin to help the neighbors, coworkers, friends, and even strangers around us know the love of Christ. Perhaps they struggle with the negative news and social media of the world such as many others. While the enemy may come to “steal, kill, and destroy,” we can remind others that Christ wouldn’t have us suffer, but to live in “abundance” and joy (John 10:10; Romans 15:13). Let us bind together as the body of Christ and pray for one another, that we might find strength through the mighty God in us, to resist the attempts of the enemy to distract and bind us. May we be resistant to the attempts of emotional sabotage and control of our minds. May we possess minds of Christ and allow our bodily members to be the vessels of His works. In God’s Heavenly name we pray, Amen!
Pew Research Center
Elisha’s Life Giving Bones
2 Kings 13:20-21 (NKJV)
20 Then Elisha [a]died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year. 21 So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
“Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.
2 Kings 2:9 (KJV)
“And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
Gill’s Exposition says, “and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; that being nearest, they opened it, or rather rolled away the stone from it, and threw the body in great haste”
This man’s body was literally thrown into the grave because the Israelites were certainly in a hurry.
Due to the force of his body being thrown into the grave, this man’s body crashed into Elisha’s body and made contact with his bones.
What I find interesting is that during this time period, a loved one would often return to a grave which was usually a cave and place the bones of the decomposed body in a box called a bone box. Obviously Elisha’s bones had not yet been placed in a box or if they had, the box must have somehow been knocked open. Regardless, we see here that the bones must have become exposed because the body of this man touched the bones of Elisha.
The bones have always played a significant role in the Word of God.
God used a rib bone from Adam to create Eve in Genesis 2:22
Not one bone was broken in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Psalm 34:20 and John 19:36
Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Jeremiah 20:9 says “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
Life and anointing has always been associated with the bones in the Word of God. When men are dead, it speaks of dry bones and when living it speaks of bones covered with flesh or having some type of significance.
Just as those bones were exposed, so is your blessing, that new life calling, waiting for you to find it. God has already exposed this renewal, this giving of life, this blessing for you, all you have to do is reach out and touch it.
All you have to do is identify that blessing or miracle, speak it, and grab ahold of it when given your opportunity. Seize this opportunity before you, it’s a blessing of the Lord!
Don’t wait for someone to have to shove you into your calling, be a willing vessel of the Lord.
Isn’t it amazing that this man’s blessing came right at a time when the enemy meant the people harm?
Isn’t it awesome how God can turn a tragedy into a blessing? This same blessing hand is over us today!
Let God Turn Your Misfortune Around For You Today!
Reach Out And Touch The Bones of Blessings, The Bones of Anointing!
This reminds me of an old song!
Song: "Turn It Around" lyrics
God said He would turn it around
God said He would turn it around
What the devil meant for evil God will make it good
Turn around, turn around, turn around
I know it may be midnight But joy is soon to come
I know it may be midnight But joy is soon to come
I know it feels like midnight But joy is soon to come
Turn around, turn around, turn around
Give Him all the praise Cause God is in control
Give Him all the praise Cause God is in control
Give Him all the praise God is in control
Turn around, turn around, turn around
Beauty for ashes Joy for my pain
Praise for my sadness As I remember His name
Mourning into dancing Sorrow into joy
Every day will be sweeter Than the day before
What the devil meant for evil God will make it good
Turn around, turn around, turn around
Turn around, turn around, turn around