Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Wrestling With God - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Wrestling With God - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Wrestling With God - Part 2

See, I think we believe we need an awakening or a revival, but we think the change has to start with somebody else. Genesis 32: maybe the most celebrated wrestler in the Bible, Jacob. Jacob's a mess. All right, who's Jacob's brother? It's not a trick question. I saw you looking at one of... he's trying to trick me. Esau. Jacob means twister. I mean, in the simplest definition, he's a twister. He'll twist the rules, bend the rules, he wants an advantage. He'll take your birth right. He'll take your flocks. He'll steal your idols. He's a twister. And God loves him. Should give every one of us great hope. Look at the person beside you and say, "You look a little bit like a twister to me".

Jacob is on his way home. He's been gone for years because he's afraid his brother would kill him. And he's on his way home. And that night Jacob got up and took his two wives and his two maid servants and his eleven sons and he crossed the fjord of the Jabbok. "And after he sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions so Jacob was alone. And a man wrestled with him until daybreak. And when the man saw that he couldn't overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was ringed and he wrestled with the man. The man said, 'Let me go for it is daybreak,' and Jacob replied, 'I'll not let you go unless you bless me.' And the man asked, 'What's your name?' And he answered Jacob. And the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel, because you have struggled with God, with men and have overcome.' Jacob said, 'Please tell me your name?' 'Why do you ask my name?' And he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel 'It is because I saw God face to face. And yet my life has been spared.'"

It's the Hebrew for meaning I saw the face of God. Who did Jacob wrestle with? I give you my opinion. I believe it was the Lord. Jesus didn't just step into time for the first time in a stable in Bethlehem anymore than when he ascended back to heaven in Acts chapter one. He didn't step out of time. He's back in the Damascus Road grabbing Saul of Tarsus by the back of the neck, shaking his fillings loose going, "Just exactly what is it you're doing, young man"? "Who are you, Lord"? And he shows up for a little evening encounter with the twister. "Just what are you doing? Your wives are gone and your possessions are gone and your flocks are gone. It's just you and me now. What exactly is it you're doing"? And Jacob said, "I won't let go until you bless me".

Look at Exodus 3, it's a familiar story. It's the recruitment narrative for Moses. Moses grew up in Pharaoh's palace, he learned all of the science and the knowledge of Egypt. And then in an in a arrogant fit of anger he forfeited all of that. And for 40 years he worked from home. He did, and one day God showed up in Exodus chapter 3 at the burning bush, and he said, "I'm sending you back to the office". And Moses said, "I'd rather not go. It's a hostile work environment. We don't get along well. I work better from home". And God said, "I know I really I need you to go to the office". And Moses said, "No, I really would rather not". You know the story. I put a little bit of it there.

Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go back to the office"? He grew up with Pharaoh. "Who am I? He's not gonna listen to me. He's got a throne and an army and magicians. Who am I that I should go bring the Israelites out of Egypt"? And God said, "I'll be with you. This will be the sign that to you that it's I who have sent you". This is very personal, God said, "I am sending you". And Moses is going, "Mmm no". Moses said, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your forefathers has sent me?'" Moses isn't questioning whether God sent him, Moses is questioning what the people are going to say. Moses is okay with God. "God, I got it, that's you, I believe that's you. Bush not burning, I hear your voice, shoes on the ground, holy space, that is God. But they're not gonna believe me. They'll say, 'What is his name?' Then what will I tell them"?

So God gives him his name and says, "Go tell him I am that I am sent you". Moses says, "They're not going to believe that either". So I mean he gets some parlor tricks, he gets a staff and a snake and a hand and some leprosy and a hand again. And I mean. Then Moses answers in chapter 4 and now he says, "What if they don't believe me or listen to me? What if they say, 'The Lord didn't appear to you?'" because you know what some of them are going to say, right? "The Lord didn't appear to you". What's the chance 100% of the people are going, "Oh, we believe you".? Slim and none. And the Lord said to him, "What's in your hand? Throw it on the ground". He threw it on the ground. You know the story. Moses keeps arguing. He's wrestling with God. "I don't wanna go," until finally it says, "God's anger burned against him". He said, "All right, take Aaron if you need to but you're going. You're going".

Folks, we have lost this. This is not in our faith portfolio anymore. I could tell you example after example from my journey, from our journeys. It's been several years ago now a church called, they wanted the tour of the facility. They brought their board and the chairman of their build, they were planning an expansion. I don't remember where they were from. And I was the one that gave them the tour. We walked them through and we were done with all the buildings and stuff. And we sat down and they wanted to ask some questions and one of them said, "Well", I mean, I spent with them an hour or more by this point and the spokesperson raised his hand and said, "Well, we don't intend to be a big church".

Now, I know I'm supposed to be polite, I was a host. And it really slipped out on me before I the filter got in place. I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know you and I got to determine the size of the church that the Lord was building in the earth". They were done. They loaded in their van and off they went. We don't wrestle with the Lord so much anymore. We wrestle with him when we want him to do out will. You see, God invites us to difficult things. What did Paul say? "I've been hungry and thirsty and naked. I face daily the pressure of my concern for the churches. I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart". Epaphras is wrestling in prayer. Moses is saying "I don't want to do this".

Jacob wrestled all night, he's terrified. He's going to meet his brother. His brother could kill him, he's a better woodsman than Jacob is. Jacob's a twister, Esau is a hunter: you're not going to fare well in that conflict. The hunter will hang the hide of the twister. We have to wrestle with God. I have wrestled with God in these last months. I didn't want to be engaged in this. It's time consuming. It takes focus and attention and people look at you differently and it just brings it just I didn't deal with it. I've done it before, I know what it takes, I know the the meetings I have to go to and the permissions that have to be gleaned and the budgets that have to be reviewed and the accountability that comes and the scrutiny that comes from within and without and from every place else, and I go, "Lord, nah... There's too many, we have too many opportunities, there's too many ways I can I can preach the Gospel. You've anointed me".

When you get really desperate, you start pointing to your gifts and telling God, you know look, I'm far more useful in this way. Moses is going, "Look, I'm doing really good working from home. I got kids and a family. I'm a good family guy. In Egypt, not so much. Look, look". And then I said, "No Lord, what? If you're moving I'm going. Let's go. How? What is it I'm supposed to say? Where do I need to stand? I will be delighted. Unity to community of faith. A vision for next. I would be honored to be a part of that. Tell me where to stand". But I had to wrestle with it a little bit. I hope you're wrestling with it a little bit. In the book of Hebrews, when the author of Hebrews is trying to establish the uniqueness of Jesus, his primary comparison is Moses. He said Jesus did even better than Moses because he understand that the audience he's speaking to thinks that the epitome of the person of godliness and faith is Moses.

It's okay to wrestle with God. Luke 22: "Jesus went as usual to the Mount of Olives. And his disciples followed him". I was there a few days ago. There's still olive trees on the Mount of Olives. Some of them they say, could be old enough to go back to when Jesus was there. On reaching the place, yeah, he said to them his disciples, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation". That is intriguing to me. Jesus didn't say, "I need your help, pray for me". He said, "Look, pray that you won't fall into temptation". "And he withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, and he knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you're willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done.'" He's wrestling, "God, I don't want to do this. I really don't want to do this".

We make Jesus out to be some superhuman hero in blue tights with a cape. That's not the presentation of the Gospels. He gets tired and hungry and rejected, he's tortured to death. And he knows it's coming and he's saying to the Father, "Look I really, I don't know, if there's any other way, if you are willing. The only way I'm going to say yes is if this is your will and there is no other option.' An angel from heaven appeared to him and said, 'Oh we have another plan.' And the angel strengthened him". He's going to need strength to do this. Do you know you're going to need strength to complete the will of God? Do you plan to serve the Lord in such a way that if God doesn't strengthen you, you will fail? Or do you think you're going to serve the Lord from your excess?

After I've played 36 holes, after I've finished my day at the lake, I like my little devotional time. "The angel strengthened him and being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly. And his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground". This was Jesus, water walking, dead raising, blind-eye opening, multitude feeding, wine making, storm stilling Jesus. And he is in anguish. Do we have the imagination that you could know the power of God, the authority of God, that you could stand uprightly before him? Jesus is sinless, perfect, obedient, righteous, and he is in anguish, wrestling with the will of God.

Why do we think it's going to be easy for us? Why do we tell our stories as if once we understood the will of God, it was just a delightful thing for me? Why have we tried to structure our spiritual journeys like that? Not because they're informed by Scripture, because they've been informed by our carnal nature, because we've pointed to the fact that we're born again, that we've been converted and saved, and therefore why would there be any anguish in serving the Lord? It's just a joyful journey. We're gonna join hands and skip down the yellow brick road while we hum "Kumbaya". And yet the sinless, obedient, perfect Son of God is in anguish, praying more honestly, saying, "God, I don't wanna do this". Sounds a lot like Moses going, "I'm good". "When he arose from prayer he went back to the disciples and he found him asleep".

Now Luke is a little more compassionate than Matthew and Mark. Luke says, "The disciples were exhausted from sorrow". They've had their last supper, Jesus washed their feet, he identified Judas as a betrayer, he's told them once again what's coming. It's beginning to sift into them, maybe, somehow. They're exhausted, they're emotionally spent. Remember what Jesus said to them? "I have much more to say to you but you can't bear it right now". And Luke gives us this little parenthetical, he said, "They were just exhausted from sorrow". But Jesus doesn't let them off, he said, "Why are you sleeping? Why are you sleeping? I asked you to pray. Why are you sleeping"? Luke says, "They're really, really tired". Jesus says, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray. Get up and pray. I know you're exhausted. Get up and pray. Are you going to fall into temptation"?

Wrestling with God. Folks, it's a spiritual discipline you need to reintroduce to your portfolio. It's important. It's important if we're going to be triumphant in what's in front of us. It's important if we're going to lead victorious lives in the face of an unprecedented expression of evil. It's important if we're going to hear the voice of the Lord and be able to stand in the in all that he's called us to do and be in what's in front of us. I'm talking about something different than just sitting in church. I know sitting in church is an endurance contest because sermons can be long and dull. And for some of you, that's how you learn to wrestle. You wrestle with your eyelids to stay awake while pastor is talking. It's a good beginning. The disciples joined you in that, they went to sleep.

And you may be exhausted with sorrow that I won't hush and you just collapsed in the chair. But I'm going to model my Lord. Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray. Wrestling with God. So what's in front of us right now? I don't like theoretical Bible studies, if I wanted to do that I'd go to the university, their hours are easier and I can fail you if you don't give me the right answer. I think we recognize what we're in the midst of as a community. We're making some decisions. It's not a lengthy period of time, we're going to bring those to a conclusion really soon. Joshua chapter 5, I'll close with this. They've begun the conquest, they've crossed the Jordan, they're ready to get on with it. Jericho's in front of them; it's impregnable. They don't have the military technology or the manpower to to defeat the city, and Joshua is doing the reconnaissance.

He's out walking. He desperately needs an answer. I mean, God piled up the Jordan River, a little mini version of the Red Sea crossing. God's established Joshua is the leader of the people, but now Joshua needs an answer because they do not have a physical solution for the problem that is Jericho. And Joshua's out walking and praying, I understand that, I'd like to do that. "And when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and he saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword. And Joshua went up to him and said, 'Are you for us or for our enemies?' And he replied, 'Neither, but as the commander of the army of the Lord I've now come.'" I think it's the same person that Jacob wrestled with. "Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence and said, 'What message does my Lord have for his servant?' And the Commander of the Lord's Army said, 'Take off your sandals. The place where you're standing is holy.'"

Sounds a lot like Moses at the bush. This isn't about Jericho, this isn't about their walls or their defenses or their military strategies. This is about recognizing the presence of the Lord, because if you know where the Lord is going, he's going to bring victory. He'll part the Red Sea or the Jordan River, or he'll bring down the walls. You're in the presence of Lord. We've got to understand what it is to be in the presence of the Lord. The fancy biblical word for that is sanctification. Prepare yourself, cleanse yourself, prepare your heart. "Bless the Lord oh my soul, and all that is within me. Bless his holy name. Bless the Lord oh my soul, forget not all his benefits".

I will focus my thoughts, my will, my emotions. Some of you prefer the New Testament. 1 Thessalonians 5: "May God himself, the God of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". He's writing to Christians, he's encouraging them to sanctify themselves. He's not saying you've got all your business done, you can just forget it. I don't think he's trying to dangle them over by a thread over the fires of hell, I think he's asking them to grow up, to wrestle with their with their faith. It's a sacred time for us, we're preparing to cooperate with the Lord and with his purposes. We're trying to understand what that means for every one of us. Nobody can tell us that, that's between us and the Lord. Nobody should suggest they could tell us what that is.

I can tell you this, we're not taking anything out of here. We'll take our character with us. We'll take our expressions of faith with us. Jesus told us to lay up treasure in heaven. You sort that out. It's an honor to serve with you, it's the highest privilege of my life. I like the proclamation the first January we were we were in this building, the Lord gave us a proclamation. You may have heard part of it with us, every stanza of it starts, ends with we will not stop. I didn't understand what I was saying when I thought when we when we moved into this room we could stop. I gotta hush, I want to pray.

Why don't you stand with me? We have Communion, don't we? We better close with that. I had no idea I had talked that long. They've got a clock up here with letters that are about 6 inches tall, you'd think I could pay attention. If you didn't get Communion when you came in, the ushers will bring it to you. Folks, the price that's been paid for us is so remarkable. We don't stand in our strength or our wisdom or our ability, we stand in the strength of our Lord and we come as disciples to receive the benefits of all he's done for us. That's such a gift.

Do you know wars have been fought over the privilege of receiving Communion? We have so much. Jesus put it in place with his disciples, the end of the Passover he took bread and broke it and said, "This bread is my body broken for you. As often as you eat this, do this in remembrance of me". Let's receive together. Then he took a cup and it probably didn't look like the ones we have but he said, "This cup is a new covenant sealed with my own blood. As often as you drink it, you proclaim my death until you see me again". Let's receive together. Let's pray:

Father, thank you, thank you for your great love for us, for your mercy and your goodness and your grace. I pray we will never forget all your benefits. And as we have received the bread and the cup tonight, we receive your life. I thank you that you have forgiven all our iniquities, that you heal all our diseases, that you crown us with your great love and your mercy. I thank you that you satisfy us with good. Father, you have transformed us so that we can be content with your goodness. We thank you for that, that you renew our youth like the eagle's. We praise you tonight for your goodness and your mercy and your grace. We bless your name, in Jesus's name. Amen, hallelujah. God bless you.

Are you Human?:*