Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How To Pick a Fight With God and Win! Part 2

The last time I wrote to you I told you that I was in the middle of my fight with God. I am determined to strive with God until I receive the blessing that He spoke to me. Jacob is not our only example of Biblical characters fighting with God but the story of his all night struggle with the angel is a great example of what it takes to win a fight with God. So, while it is my desire in this blog post to inspire you to fight there are a few things you need to know before you go picking fights with God.

First, you must remember who God is and what He has told you. In order to strive with God concerning the blessings and promises He has made to and for you there must be an understanding that He is able to fulfill those promises and what they are.  The struggles of this world and our tendency to withdraw from Him when in the middle of our earthly struggles can overshadow the knowledge we have of Him causing us to see Him and His desires for us incorrectly. We must remember that He is God and we are not. We must remember that He is for us…You must remember that He is for you!

Once you remind yourself of who you, who He is and whose you are it is imperative that you know the blessing He has promised to you. Otherwise, you will begin to believe the lies of Satan that says He is against us or that we have misheard His promises. This is the same method the serpent used on Eve. The lie told to Eve in the garden was that God was for Himself and that she misunderstood. This lie implied God withholds something of Himself from us in an effort to remain above us; separate from us. This is the lie Satan still uses today.  If we adopt this concept it won’t matter what He tells us or does we will interpret His motives and desires incorrectly.  

The next part of Satan’s lie is that we either have misunderstood or cannot understand. If we adopt this part of the lie then we will always live a life on shifting sand. To say that God never changes but not know who He is leads us to instability. To say God gave us His Word so that we can know and be sure of Him and then say we cannot understand His word is to build a house on shifting sand. Jacob knew God and the promises of blessing God had spoken to Him. He was not afraid to call God out.

Is God far above us? Yes.

Are His ways like our ways? No.

Is God far beyond mere human comprehension? Absolutely.

Is it arrogant to say I can know God and understand His Word? No!

To say that I as a child of God cannot know Him or understand His Word is arrogance.

Why?  

We have been given the Holy Spirit. We have been given the mind of Christ. We have been given everything necessary for life and health and peace. We have been given the spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. Through the death and resurrection of Christ we have been reborn. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we have been given the ability to know and understand God and His Word. 

To say that I cannot know these things makes us more powerful than God because we are claiming that our fallen limited human state is more powerful than the ability of the Holy Spirit to overcome it. We have become more powerful than God.

We also make God a liar we when claim these things. Look at all the scripture that talks about our ability to know God and His Word.

1 Chronicles 28:9, Jeremiah 29:13, James 4:8-10, Matthew 7:7-8, Jeremiah 24:7, Proverbs 2:1-6, 2 Chronicles 15:2, Jeremiah 17:10, Psalm 9:10, Jeremiah 9:24, Isaiah 45:19, John 17:3,
2 Corinthians 4:6, John 14:26, John 16:13, 1 John 2:27, Luke 12:12, 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12-13,
Isaiah 30:21, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 1:16-17, Proverbs 1:23, Hebrews 10:14-16

We see in scripture example upon example of God’s desire to be known by us both personally and for us to know His Word. We see countless examples of those who did understand and know Him both on a personal level as well as His Word.

The key verses from the list above that should end this debate of whether or not we as born again believers can know and understand God and His Word for me are found in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16

For TO US  God revealed them THROUGH THE SPIRIT; for the Spirit searches all things, EVEN THE DEPTHS OF GOD. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that WE MAY KNOW the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.

Jacob knew this and was confident in it. He let God know that he understood he had a knowledge of and history with God. He also reminds God of the blessings He has spoken over his life and in this confirms the he himself knows what has been spoken over his life by God.

Jacob then finished with an acknowledgement of his understanding of who he is on his own. Through Jacob’s own confession he acknowledges that God is loving and faithful and that he is not. He acknowledges the provision that God has already provided for him and that he would not be where he was without the power of God on his side. He then goes on further to acknowledge his fear and complete dependence upon God for deliverance.

These things are the essentials in picking a fight with God. If you don’t know who God is, who you are both with him and without him, the blessings He has already spoken over your life and your inability to deliver yourself in any situation I don’t suggest you pick a fight with God just yet. After all, can you really know what you are fighting for if you don’t know these things? I’m not saying you can’t strive with God if you don’t know these things but I am telling you that your fight will be considerably longer without them. 

The next, essential component in a fight with God is honesty. Jacob was completely transparent with God. He admitted that he was afraid. He admitted that he desired his own personal safety as well as the safety of his family. Jacob wasn’t trying to sound spiritual in order to get God’s attention or gain His approval. Jacob got down to the nitty gritty and God respected it. 

If you are going to win your fight with God you must have honesty. You have to admit to God what it is that you are truly after.

Once again, I feel I must warn you that if you don’ t know what you are after in your fight with God or if you insist on putting on airs with God in an attempt to impress Him with your religion your fight will last a lot longer than you want and possibly can endure. 

You cannot win a fight with God without complete gut wrenching honesty. So God will wrestle with you until He gets you to the point where gut wrenching honesty is all you have left.

The next component in winning a fight with God is probably one of the most overlooked yet most important for endurance. Are you ready for it? Get ready to have your mind blown!

God doesn’t fight fair so neither should you.

This is essential to understand or you may quit the fight believing that what happens next in your fight should be interpreted as punishment for engaging in the fight in the first place. 

Now, I feel like this part needs a bit more explanation than the rest so I want to give you two examples of what I mean. 

The first comes from the lessons Europeans learned concerning warfare from the Native Americans. Europeans fought battles in a way that frankly I have never understood. They would stand in infantry lines at close quarters with their enemy who did the same and fire shots. 

I remember as a child thinking how completely stupid this way of fighting was. 

Native Americans on the other hand used the resources their surroundings gave them to their advantage in warfare. They used trees as shields and hiding places, they would fire off arrows and guns from whatever vantage point best lent itself to their success. They used poison from native plants and animals to inhibit their enemies ability to fight and so on. This makes sense to me. Europeans learned quickly in their battles with the Native American tribes that they had to adjust their fighting style or become accustom to losing. 

One of Washington’s generals, General Forbes is quoted as saying, “We must comply and learn the art of war from enemy Indians.” 

My second example comes from the term street fighting. There is a vast difference between the rules of fighting in a boxing ring versus street fighting. In a boxing ring there are referees to make sure everyone complies with the rules and plays “fair.” On the street however, you do what it takes to win, everyone knows it and no one complains.

God is a street fighter.

Notice in the story of Jacob and the angel they were wrestling and when the angel realized that He was not winning He employed street fighting tactics or Indian warfare. He used the weakness of his opponent to his advantage.

Genesis 32:24-25
When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.[1]

So then what is the exact significance of God’s touching Jacob upon the socket of his thigh?

“The sinew of the thigh is the strongest in the human body. A horse could scarcely tear it apart.” God had to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing with us.
—J. H. McConkey[2]

God when He saw that Jacob was not going to give up in this fight touches him on the strongest part of his body and dislocates it! 

That’s street fighting at its finest!

McConkey had it right in his statement above. God was testing Jacob to see just how much he was invested in this fight he had picked before he would bless him. God wanted to prove Jacob’s commitment. It is said that Jacob limped from that day on but I don’t that that this can be proven. This event did make such an impact on Jacob and his people that the sinew of the thigh is not eaten to this day in Israel.

Genesis 32:32
Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.

If you going to pick a fight with God then there will be pain; God will make sure of it. Why, because it is in the pain that we are purified. Just as McConkey stated God will have to break you down at your strongest part so that He can have His own way of blessing you. So be prepared for it. If you aren’t willing to endure excruciating pain and keep fighting, if the blessing isn't worth the price you have to pay then I suggest you don’t engage God in battle. 

But if you are and if God is going to employ street fighting tactics then so must you.

Street fighters have something that ring fighters don’t; Desperation. Street fighters are fighting from something deep within themselves. They are willing to pay any price for the victory because they know they need it for survival. Ring fighters rest in the safety of the referees call for fairness. Street fights aren’t about fairness they are about who needs the victory more. Jacob had been street fighting since before he was born. He was conceived as a soul desperate for the blessing.  From the grabbing of his brothers heal, to the stolen birthright, to wrestling with an angel and telling him,

Genesis 32:26
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Hosea 12:3-4 tells us that Jacob wept and sought the blessing in the fight.

In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor.
He found Him at Bethel and there He spoke with us,

There was something in Jacob that knew the only way to get ahead in life was to obtain the blessing and he was not going to quit until he got it.

What about you? Do you desire the blessing more than life like Jacob? 

Do you understand that the only, and I can’t stress this enough…the ONLY way to get ahead in this life or the next is to obtain the blessing?

Are you desperate for it?

If you aren’t’ then you certainly won’t win because it is precisely this desperation that inspires the determination to see the fight through to the end even in the midst of excruciating pain. It is this desperation along with the understanding of who God is and who you are that will see you through to the end in victory.

There is a price to be paid in picking a fight with God and it will hurt. Consider the cost or you may just come out of your fight with nothing more than a limp. 

The word yaqa that we find in verse Genesis 32:25 means to dislocate but it also means to alienate.

3363.   יָקַע yaqa (429b); a prim. root; to be dislocated or alienated:—

We see that both happened to Jacob in his striving with God. 

First God, alienated Jacob from his brother then he was alienated from his wealth and his family which is how he ended up alone on this side of the river where God began the wrestling match.

Next, God brings the pain by making the alienation very real and personal for Jacob. He alienated Jacob from his own health, personal strength and comfort.  Jacob endured great pain as a result of picking this fight with God and you will too. Jacob on the other hand gained a victory that far outweighed the pain. We can too if we are willing to endure.

Lastly, if you are going to pick a fight with God and win you must be completely committed to the fight. No matter what don’t quit until something changes; exert yourself, persevere; commit to the struggle.

Look again at the conversation between Jacob and the angel in the middle of their wrestling match. 

Use your imagination.

Jacob has the angel pinned to the ground maybe with his hand on his chin forcing his face into the dirt. 

The angel manages to mumble in a strained breathless voice, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.”

Jacob loudly fires back with a determined yet pain filled, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The angel replies, “What is your name?” and he hears a determinedly defiant response from his opponent, “it’s Jacob.”

Then something amazing happens. Jacob wins!

Genesis 32:28
“Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”

From that point on Jacob would be known as the one who strives with God. Not just Jacob but an entire nation of people would be known as the ones who strive with God. 

This is what the name Israel means: he who strives with God; God strives. 

We as believers, Children of God, are to be known as a people who strive. Scripture tells us to contend for the faith. Paul tells us to fight the good fight. We are to be a picture of Christ to the world and Christ was a fighter.

If we look at the progression of Jacob’s fight with God we see the same things in the life of Christ. Christ was alienated from all of these things. He was alienated from His wealth, His family, His brothers and sisters, and lastly from His physical health, strength, and comfort. He didn’t let go until He obtained the victory. We should fight just as hard.

What you will learn in your fight with God, what I have learned so far is that I am not fighting against what I thought from the beginning. I am not fighting for what I thought form the beginning. 

But God knew. He knew what my heart needed and wanted. He knew what I was fighting for and so He was happy and excited to engage in the battle with me because God not only loves a good fight…He loves a good fighter. 

So go ahead, pick a fight with God. 

STRIVE

Do it right and see if you don’t come out blessed!


[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 32:24–25). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[2] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 1404). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.