- Sermon Notes
Hold onto God
Intro: Holding on!
Read: Genesis 32:24-32
Jacob has found ways throughout his life to plot and strategize his way into blessings and out of difficulties. It is in these scriptures that we find him wrestling with God. Stuck between what was and what will be, Jacob wrestles with God all night.
Jacob had been holding onto his own strategies at this point, however, in light of his current situation and encounter with God, he realizes the importance of God’s blessing.
I. The Lord has a better way
- Jacob had a history of trying to make his own way. This is all too familiar to many of us as well. We can end up applying the statement, “God helps those who help themselves,”
in every aspect of our lives.
- The Lord wants us to live our lives and be continually reminded that he is our helper.
Psalm 121:1-2, I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord.
- The Lord has a better way; often however, it is easier to respond how we always have, using our own tools.
Illus. The right tools make the job easier.
- Jacob has displayed his ability to figure out, or devise a plan for his own solutions up to this point.
Illus – Jacobs life:
- Jacob was born holding his brothers heel, his name means supplanter.
- Jacob devised a way to get his brothers birthright, and alongside his mother, the blessing of his father, Isaac.
- Esau then vowed to kill his brother, and Jacob flees to his uncle’s house.
- On his way, God gives Jacob the blessing of Abraham and Isaac and he called that place Bethel – the house of God.
- Jacob meets and falls in love with Rachel. He works for her father, Laban for 7 years in order to pay a dowry. Jacob is tricked and works another 7 years.
- He then strikes a deal with Laban and becomes wealthy.
- After being at the house of Laban for over 20 years, God tells him to head back home. There is just one problem, Esau was back home.
- Jacob would end up leaving the house of Laban in a secret way and would head toward home. Heading home meant confronting an issue from the past, a big issue. After sending word to Esau that he is coming home, it is reported back to Jacob that Esau is on his way towards you, actually, with 400 men.
- Jacob’s response after praying, is to find a way to win Esau over.
- He sends gifts out to Esau ahead of him and after sending everyone out ahead, he is alone.
- God had more in store for Jacob than the narrative as supplanter. He wanted him to be a man of true surrender before the Lord.
- In what we face today, we have to come to the end of own plan and allow God to transform as well.
- He has a better way.
A. He will meet you as you seek Him
- It can be easy to try and figure out solutions for ourselves, however, God wants us in a place of surrender to His will. Likely, He has a strategy
in place that is altogether different and more effective than our own.
- Our strategy often seems most appealing because it involves immediate action, it gives us a sense of peace because we are able to do something about
what is happening.
Illus. Driving the long way home.
- Jacob sends word to Esau that he is coming home and gets word back that Esau is actually headed toward Jacob, with 400 men.
- God wanted Jacob to rely on him for what was to come next, for a solution. His plans had brought him to this place, he now needed the Lord to take
- We don’t see Jacob as a man who prays prior to this situation, but he turns to God, praying the promises he was given.
- Jacob knew his brother and 400 men were coming his way and he decided first, to pray.
- He looked to God’s word, and prayed the promises of God.
- After praying, however, Jacob goes back to plotting and devises a plan to give Esau three rounds of gifts!
- He started well, but, moved back to plotting his own plan.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
- God knew it was time to face the past; it was time to turn around, time to reconcile.
- Jacob had sought the Lord, but was only able to trust his own ability to see this situation through.
Jeremiah: 29:12-14, Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.
- The Lord wants us to seek him, we will find him when we seek him, but it has to be with our whole heart.
Illus – Losing my ring.
- The Lord wants us to seek Him with that kind of intensity, seeking Him earnestly so that He can strengthen us.
B. He will change the way you are
- God accepts us as we have been, but, He wants to transform us that we might fully rely on Him.
- He stretches us and moves us beyond what has “worked so far.”
Illus. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
- When God comes into our lives, we change in order to more effectively live the life he has called us to.
- Relying upon God will provide a different path to success, a different path to walk in.
Isaiah 43:18-19, Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
- Don’t call to mind former things, what was, rather, God wants to do something new.
Illus – One foot in the backup plan, one foot in God’s will.
- The Lord will answer Jacob’s prayer, but the answer would require him to remove his foot from the backup plan.
II. Run no more
- A man came and wrestled with Jacob all night long. The scripture makes it clear that he had an encounter with God.
- God allowed Jacob to wrestle with Him. He didn’t put him in a choke hold or pin him down.
- The Lord wrestles with us even when he doesn’t have to. Why? So that we get to the point of surrender, no more running, no more trying to be someone
Illus. Jacob, for a season, wanted what belonged to Esau and wore the skins of goats to prove it. The Lord had said Esau would serve him... Who are we trying to be?
- As they wrestled through the night, Jacob refused to give up. Seeing that Jacob would not stop contending, God touches him on the hip, and dislocates
- Jacob would thereafter walk with a limp; a reminder that he must no longer trust in his own strength.
- With this limp, he would not be able to run as he had in the past, he would run no more.
Illus – Difficulty running, plans change.
- This brokenness would surely change Jacob, but it would bring him closer to who God wanted him to be.
Psalm 139:23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
- This involves true surrender, even in difficulty, allowing God to search, know, and lead you.
A. Hold on
- The Lord may prune in order to bring forth fruit, however, in the pruning process, in difficulty, keep holding on.
Hebrews 12:11, All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Illus. Finding loopholes at work.
- After wrestling all night, Jacob is holding on to God and says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
- Throughout his life, holding onto his brothers heal, who his brother was, and to his own plans. Here he holds on to the Lord.
- He held on in the midst of brokenness, that is where God blessed him. That was the only blessing that mattered.
B. Allow God to take over
- The Lord then asked, “What is your name?”
- The answer would reveal who Jacob is, my name is Jacob, and I have been a supplanter, a deceiver and a heal snatcher of men.
- He then said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
- Jacob prevails when he was broken and he still held on. You prevail when you say, “I can’t go through another day without you.”
- The name “Israel” means ‘God rules,’ and “God contends.”
App – God will contend for him, he will also contend with him in love. God did not stop contending with Jacob.
Isaiah 43:1-3, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God.”
Genesis 32:24-32 NASB
24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 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. 26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27 So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." 28 He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." 29 Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." 31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. 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.