Wrestling with God
22 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; [b] 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: [c] “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel[d] 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.
The sermon today is mean for us to destroy the strongholds which have bombarded our lives for years. As children of God we need to know that the victory has already been won. I want you to have a determine mind to stand upon the promises of our God.
Strongholds people struggle with which Christ Jesus needs to break.
When an invading army conquers foreign territory, their top priority would be to remove the power of strongholds. A failure to remove strongholds, would nullify any victory of land. Since an invader could not occupy every square mile of land, as soon as the army moved, the enemy in the stronghold could reoccupy conquered territory.
Many Christians who find salvation in Christ, struggle in their walk, because they fail to remove strongholds. They are constantly besieged over and over again, from the same area. This happens because, the enemy is still occupying a part of their life, and unless these strongholds are pulled down battle will continue to rage.
When conquers took territory, they would locate the strongholds. Secondly, they would gather intelligence on the stronghold. Before operations against the stronghold could begin, the conqueror needs to know the answers to specific questions.
How is the stronghold supplied?
How large is the force within its walls?
Where does it get its water from?
How high and thick are its walls?
What kind of weapons do they have?
Is enemy reinforcement nearby?
Once the commander understands the background of the Stronghold, he can begin preparations of the siege. The warfare against physical strongholds parallels in many ways the battle against spiritual strongholds. For us to have a victorious Christian life, we need to wage war on our strongholds. If we fail to subdue the strongholds, we will constantly be subjected to strong enemy attacks. Therefore, there is a process to being successful in our walk, it does not automatically happen. We need to decide to follow Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The process to pulling down strongholds is as follows.
Identify the strongholds in your land
Develop a strategy to subdue the stronghold
Lay siege to the stronghold
Subdue the stronghold to the obedience of Christ
Identify the strongholds in our lives
How do we identify strongholds? When we come to Christ, an amazing event happens; The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within our tent or body. Our body becomes the Temple of God, when we become saved as God literally takes residence in our body (Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 6:6, I Cor. 6:19). Now the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter, who teaches us (the saved) all things. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the areas in our life, where Satan has established strongholds. In Romans, Paul tells us how the Holy Spirit intercedes with our spirit.
Jacob took Laban by surprise; he did not apply for withdrawal of services, but simply bolted away and left Laban to find out how to decide to react to his action. Secondly God rose up in Jacob’s defence since he authored his rebellion for the sake of fulfilling his planned purpose for Jacob’s life. Therefore it is very important to know why you are rebelling, is it that the righteousness of God can be fulfilled in your life or is it for evil.
Laban became God’s rod of discipline in Jacob’s life. There’s no doubt God was accomplishing His purpose with Jacob despite his stubbornness and conniving (28:15), but Jacob could have spared himself 20 years of grief if he had learned to subject himself.
Genesis 30: 25-39 Jacob used faulty genetics to cheat & trick Laban by breeding all of the best flock for himself. Does God rebuke this behaviour here? No, he does not. In fact, he rewards him by telling him to run away from Laban to protect himself. God uses bad behaviour that good may come out.
Contention, strife, hate and accusation
Contention with Laban’s sons causes Laban to look differently at Jacob. Laban found no evidence of the stolen gods he accused Jacob of taking. The envy of Laban’s sons poisoned Laban’s heart against Jacob for they hated Jacob and were malicious and bitter against him. … For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and walk as men. We should watch and pray against them in ourselves; and turn aside from all contention and strife,
Lies, slander and deception
Just as Jacob’s deception of his father had adverse side effects so Jacob’s newly obtained prosperity produced its problems. Jacob soon learned that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him saying that Jacob had robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.”It wasn’t that Jacob had taken anything belonging to Laban. Rather, it was that his wealth was increasing in proportion to Laban’s wealth. The problem wasn’t that Jacob stole; it was that Laban’s sons were filled with envy. Envy will distort the truth. Jacob had not taken anything of Laban’s, but envy will lie
The story closes with the covenant of peace between Laban and Jacob. Jacob’s return to the land of Canaan represents the entrance upon a higher and more spiritual stage of life. What then shall be the relation of this life to the external things of life in the world? The two should not be hostile but friendly; each has its right place, and each should be helpful to the other. The covenant between Jacob and Laban teaches also beautiful things about the Lord’s relation to the simple external goodness of gentile people.
Broken Spirit (Proverbs 15:4)
Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. … A good tongue is healing to wounded consciences, by comforting them; to sin-sick souls…
Never give up on your dreams; no one can ever take them from you, but yourself! Perhaps you may have to come up with a new “path”, but don’t abandon the journey, getting there is half the adventure…
If it was not for disappointment, we would not know the sweetness of success!
King David in Psalm 51 said the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. We should understand that our hearts must be given to God. God does not require sacrifices or burnt offerings, if you come before God broken he will baptise you with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
Christ Jesus’ life offers us the perfect example by being submissive to his Father’s will. He said to his disciples and he is saying to us today “learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart (Matt 11:29)
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving
Mark 9:25 The demon is called an “unclean” spirit, “impure” and “lewd.” In Scripture, demons are well-known for being unclean, as representing the work of sin, which defiles the sinner. Curse words are “filthy language,” and some people love to tell “dirty jokes.” Moral filth often goes along with physical filth; evil people are dirty in mind and often in body and dwelling
The Bible describes demons abusing those they possessed by causing them to convulse, fall, break a limb, foam at the mouth, roll, and gnash their teeth. To be controlled by sin is a horrible experience; it is a brutal, distressing taskmaster. Sin’s delights are brief and small, while its severe discomforts can last a lifetime.
Spirit of Heaviness caused by sorrow, grief, inner hurt, Low Self-esteem, despair, hopelessness Depression, rejection and self pity 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
THE EFFECT OF A SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS
It darkens our countenance: Our hearts are down cast. This spirit brings”heaviness” over us…
It dims our vision, robs our hope. The room may actually look darker.
It brings a heavy, oppressive feeling. It quenches our faith.
It may come over many at once, like a plague. It can be like a cloud, hanging over a place.
It causes us to isolate, it steals our love, makes us feel alone.
1. Recognize it. This is not you; you are a child of God. This is not God’s will for you?
2. Don’t believe anything negative you think under its influence. Accept no criticism of yourself or others.
3. Put on the Garment of Praise (Is. 61:3) this literally means to be “Wrapped up in Praise” God has given it to you to put on. Take action including adoration, thanksgiving, singing and glorifying. .
Spirit of Whoredome: Unfaithfulness, Adultery (Proverbs5:1-15) Chronic Dissatisfaction Ezekiel 16:28
You are in a spiritual war whether you want to be or not. There are high level spiritual assignments against you and the Church. One of the most powerful is the Jezebel spirit. That spirit works with a network of demon spirits to steal, kill and destroy your life, marriage, family and ministry. Your success depends on your ability to see this spirit’s operations. You can’t fight what you can’t see.
Spiritual warfare is part of Christianity and the spiritual warfare is not over. Jesus did not ignore demon powers and he didn’t teach his apostles to ignore them either (Matthew 10:1). The Apostle Paul pulled the natural curtain back to see what really goes on in the spiritual realm. He taught the church in Ephesus how to battle unseen spirits saying,
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand (fight back) in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:1
The man at the pool of Bethesda
There was paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda He was invalid for 38 years. This is almost a full lifetime. He has spent most of his life on a bed paralyzed. One can imagine his plight
His entire focus is on himself and the pool: He does not even recognize Jesus When Jesus asks him a question; he does not answer the question but complains about how no one will help him get into the pool.
What is your pool? The place where you are stuck. The thing on which you are fixated. The false hope that takes your eyes off the Lord.
Jesus asked him a question: Do you want to get well? Of all the people there, Jesus singled him out. Even though he did not recognize Jesus, he was the subject of God’s sovereign choice.
Jesus was mistaken for a helper to get him into the pool: His answer is to get Jesus to volunteer to help him into the pool. Jesus is not going to follow our plans – we must follow His.
The command and the obedience: Jesus gave a threefold command: get up, pick up your mat and walk. Jesus may have discerned that he had the faith to be healed. He obeyed and was healed. Jesus wants to meet us at our Pools of Bethesda!
From the Pool to Jesus: Jesus extends his mercy by meeting this man a second time. Perhaps this was because the man was at the right place after being healed: the temple. He came with his back on a bed; he leaves with the bed on his back! His vision has moved from the Pool to Jesus. What is your vision on?
Stop sinning! Sin is a doorway to the enemy. It’s not enough to have this life changing experience
Jesus is ready to visit your Bethesda: This place speaks to us of our condition of spiritual paralysis as we are stuck looking at an object (the Pool) of false hope. Jesus loves us enough to enter our situation of misery and to heal us.