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Growing In Grace

I only think it be appropriate to begin a series based on the topic of Grace with a great sermon from JD Greear, he is the author of many books including the book “Gospel” which is a fantastic read. This series will have a miss match of original sermons along with sermons constructed and given by other sources, which will all be cited. Hope you enjoy this one it has some amazing incite on Prayer and its role with Grace. Ill see ya guys on Thursday! 

Five Lessons about Prayer from an All-Night Wrestling Match with God

Genesis 32

32 [a]Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.[b]

Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”

When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c] and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”

Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[h] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

J. D. Greear, Ph.D.

Introduction

Genesis 32 contains the fascinating story from the life of Jacob, where he wrestles all night with God. The whole wrestling match comes about in the midst of Jacob praying, and his physical struggle teaches us five lessons about prayer.

1. The blessings of God are released into our lives through prayer.

Before Jacob was even born, God had prophesied that the blessing would be his and not his brother’s (Gen. 25:23). But it was not until Jacob took it in a prayer-wrestling match with God that it really became his. He laid hold of the promise of God through a night of prayer.

The Bible is a book full of promises—thousands of them! And while many of them apply to specific and unique situations, Paul calls all the promises of God yes in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20). So in a Christ-centered way, every one of them is yes for me and for you.

So do not simply read through your Bible. Pray through it! The Bible is our primary prayer book, so read through it and lay hold of the promises of God!

2. Sometimes the blessings of God are released into our lives through persistent prayer.

In a sermon on Genesis 32, Martin Luther pointed out that the story of Jacob wrestling with God gives us a picture of wrestling with a seemingly hostile God in prayer. As another example of this, he mentions the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman who came to Jesus to get healing for her daughter (Mark 7). Jesus’ response sounds rather harsh. He tells her that “it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (v. 27). Does Jesus actually want to send the woman away? No. He is going to heal her, but at first He appears hostile and indifferent.

What is going on here? God is not actually hostile and indifferent: the cross shows us how loving and engaged He is! But Jesus is showing us that praying often feels like that. Why? God often appears hostile to test the strength of our faith in His goodness: “Like a child trying to push against the hand of a parent, the parent gives only enough resistance to test the resolve of the child. So God resists us in prayer, to see our resolve in his goodness.”1

3. The blessings of God are not obtained by our contriving.

At the end of this wrestling match, God asks Jacob for his name. He already knows the name, of course, but He wants Jacob to admit it. When Jacob had stolen the blessing, his daddy had asked for his name, and he lied: “My name is Esau.” But now he tells the truth: “My name is Jacob. I’m a deceiver.2 I’ve tried all my life to obtain these blessings for myself by my own manipulation. Now I am repenting.”

So God gives him a new name, Israel, which speaks of God giving the blessing, not Jacob wresting it for himself. The blessing you are searching for is not going to come from more striving or deceiving. It comes by submitting. Winning the blessing only comes by losing to God.

4. God is Himself the blessing that we seek.

God does not end the encounter with Jacob by assuring him that everything will be fine. He simply says, “God to Esau. I am with you.” There is no promise that he will live through the next day. In fact, God has made Jacob limp, so he cannot even try to run away.

But Jacob got a blessing that was greater than earthly blessing: the restoration of relationship. Whatever you are searching for, I can guarantee you that it cannot replace God. Sometimes God withholds blessing you are seeking in order to teach you just that, because a relationship with God is better than any of his blessings.

God may not promise you that you will get the job or the boyfriend or the healing you desire. But He promises Himself. God does not always change your situation; sometimes He changes your identity. He changes you from a “Jacob” to an “Israel.” So you can say—even in the midst of the shadow of death—that God is with you, and that is enough.

The result of a night of prayer is not the resolution of all of your problems, but the restoration of your most desperately needed relationship.

5. We know that God hears us because He became weak for us.

Jacob’s wrestling match was not an even fight. When you are in a wrestling match with someone beneath your weight class, you must hold yourself back. But what is God’s weight class? How much does omnipotence weigh? Jacob should have been crushed, which means that God voluntarily held Himself back. God became voluntarily weak.

God feigned weakness to bring Jacob salvation, but centuries later, the full weight that Jacob deserved came down on Christ. As Tim Keller says, “Jacob held on at the risk of his life to get the blessing for him; but Jesus held on at the cost of his life to get the blessing for us.”

So we can be sure that He hears us. It may seem like God is not listening. But He is. The cross assures us that He is. God cared enough to come down to Jacob and wrestle with him. God cared enough for us that He came down and took on our flesh, wrestling with our sin until it squeezed the life out of him. And now He has united Himself to us forever and said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Conclusion

God is not distant, waiting for us to say the magic words or to fix our lives before He will hear us in our prayers. He stands ready and willing to hear us even now. So press into Him in prayer, and never, ever give up.

 

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