Not Good to Wrestle

It was a number of years ago when my beautiful and fruitful garden was being destroyed by an intruding groundhog. In an effort to rid myself of the varmint, I bought a muskrat trap and set it in the garden. It was not long until I received a distressful phone call from my wife informing me that a “kitty cat”was caught in the trap. I quickly drove home from the office to attempt springing the cat from the trap and setting it free. However as I tried to get close enough to open the trap, the cat fought vigorously and kept me from setting it free. I eventually removed its strength by covering it with a blanket and then released the trap. He eventually ran free. As I pondered what happened, I ask myself, “I wonder how many times I am like this cat: fighting God because I think he is trying to do some unwanted thing in my life when he is really only trying to help me?

Jacob, who later became Israel, was like that. (Gen. 32:25) He schemed and plotted all of his life-that was until he was all alone and ready to face Esau. God was not going to allow Jacob to continue in his way. He confronted him and physically wrestled him from progressing forward until he recognized his weakness and inability. Man’s pride never allows him to yield so God had to break Jacob. He did this by touching him in the thigh which was his greatest place of strength. He did not break him to make him a failure, he broke him in order to make him a victor.

Jacob went from wrestling against God to clinging to him and asking him for a blessing. By asking for a blessing, he revealed his dependence on God and no longer in himself. He gain the strength of a prince with God by being broken as a man.

We too can be like Jacob. Situations in life that we find ourselves fighting against may be the instruments God is using to break us of our own strength and self-reliance. It would be best that we go to God with these situations and then yield ourselves to him for the work that he wants to accomplish. Whether the problems go away or remain, we—like Jacob—will receive God‘s blessing.

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)

What Is a Disciple? (Luke 14:33)

What is a disciple?  Is it merely a person who is a believer in Jesus?  Or is it a person who is mastering principles and practices of life?  Many times in English, the word disciple can refer to a person who is disciplined.  Is that a disciple?

In this passage, a disciple is a person who is a pupil or learner.  He or she is a person who is learning about Jesus.  Learning information is one thing, but a disciple of Jesus is a person who is learning about Jesus.

We all have learned about somebody. Whether it be a spouse, a child you are raising or even a close friend.  The more we spend time with these individuals, the greater the opportunity we have at learning about them.  

As with everything in life, there can always be hinderances.  The hinderances to learning about Jesus occurs when we fail to yield our lives to him.  In this passage, he speaks about forsaking all.  Forsaking all means to say adieu to what you think you have control over in your life.  Remember in Matthew 11:29, when Jesus admonished us to take his yoke upon us and to learn of him?  It is at that time of yielding when we learn of Jesus.

When we fail to yield to him or we refuse to submit our lives to his care, we fail to learn of him and we fail to grow.  Do you want to grow in Christ?  If so, say goodbye to controlling your life and when you do, Jesus can begin to reveal things about himself to you.

No Reputation (Philippians 2:7)

Jesus went from one end of the being spectrum to the other: from being God to becoming a slave. He was not forced to make this decision because he had done wrong by positioning himself as God like Lucifer had attempted to do, but willfully chose to do this because of our need of redemption and his loving desire to meet that need.

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:7)

Jesus set the example and the Father wants us to follow. He wants us to lose our life for his sake. He lost it for ours and now he wants us to lose ours for him. His loss was greater than ours. His loss brought him to a low state of living. Not a low state of living in sin, but of hunger, thirst, weariness and eventual death. When we lose our lives, we only lose the desires we have for them. What God is asking us to do is trifle in comparison to what he has done for us.

What are you willing to lose for God? Can we really say lose? For God says that whoever loses his life for God’s sake will find it. But again, are you willing to step away from your life so that God can gain what he needs from your life?


Why Must I Suffer (Philippians 1:29)

Why do I have to suffer? If I am saved and a child of God, why does not God keep me safe from ill and harm? It just does not make sense. Cannot God receive great glory by keeping me from these evils? Will not God’s deliverance and a better life drawn people to him?

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29)

Do these questions sound familiar? Have you asked these questions? If so, you are one of the countless number of believers who have experienced this struggle. The answer is in the scriptures, but it may not be simple nor easy to receive.

From the fall of man until now, man has always sought to have life focus around him and his desires. Wars have come about because of a clash in desires between people. Nations have tumbled by judgment because the people sought their own way. Religion is the work of man trying to gain the blessing of God based on merits or achievements. Any gain obtained in these situations would be wrought by man and at best sharing glory with God.

God however has a different plan. He has chosen the foolish and weak things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). By choosing the foolish and weak things, God is clearly recognized as the provider of the blessing, strength or deliverance. The lost and the saved experience the same problems in life: the former without hope and the latter by God’s aid. When we were astray and wanted nothing to do with God, he sought us. He worked in our lives bringing us to the point of recognizing our sinful condition and need for a savior. Because he paid our debt on the cross, redeemed us from sin, adopted us into his family, became our father and blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3-7), he has the right to do with our lives as he pleases.

He continues to work in the heart of unbelievers and is drawing them to himself. When Christ is lifted up, all men will be drawn to him. By lifting up Christ in your life, men will be drawn to Him. His strength to you in trials and comfort in the midst of sickness, loss and trouble will lift up Christ before others. Because he does not use our strength, he solely receives the glory that he deserves.

This is why we experience trouble. This is why God allows us to experience sorrow, pain and suffering. We may not like it, but when we yield to him, we gain what truly is best for our lives.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

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