Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Do I Know God is Real?

I've been asked that question a few times lately. Well, the answer is simple. I have experienced proof of His existence, that is how I know. Would you like to hear my proof?

In 2001 I discovered "personal relationship" for the first time with God. Before I always knew about God but then I was discovering that I could actually know God. In order to get to know him I felt like I should read the Bible for the first time, front to back. (Looking back now I can see that was the Holy Spirit moving me.) Anyhoo, as always God's timing is PERFECT. I was in Genesis about the time that Moses was in Egypt chatting up Pharaoh when I was in desperate need of a job. I had applied for a job at Publ!x where I had worked for 12 years previously when they told me that I may possibly be hired back into management instead of hourly. I had the hourly job if I wanted it or I could go for the management position. I went for management again as it would solve all my financial needs perfectly. The problem? Everything was going perfectly smoothly for me.....the District Mgr who was in need was my old store manager from my days in Florida and I was his back door vendor receiving/accounting girl. Ahhh, he loved me back then....surely this was going to be a piece of cake.

But, after great phone interviews with him he said he would call me back with an answer in a day or two. Guess what, two weeks later I still had no phone call. I was about a month from being in the worst of worst circumstances with money. I needed him to call immediately with an answer in the worst way.

I knew I was going to have to call him. It was the only way to find out for sure so I could take the hourly position if I had to. The big problem with this is when I get nervous I cannot speak worth a lick. I stammer, my voice quivers like you just can't imagine, gets ugly. Plus, I am not good at selling myself or pushing people (back then at least). I knew my phone call would not be a welcomed intrusion as he told me not to call him and that he would call me. I was scared to death and it was the very last thing I wanted to do. I was sitting in my bedroom reading my Bible and studying Moses talking to Pharaoh with his brother. Then it hit me.....

This is the proof part. Moses had a speech impediment and God called him to speak to Pharaoh. Moses begged God to let his brother come along with him to help him speak because this impediment was keeping him from being a good communicator. God gave Moses permission to do just that. This was my big moment with God. I got down on my knees and prayed. I told God that I was like Moses. I can't speak when I get nervous. I said "Lord, I will make this phone call if I have to but you know that I will mess it up and it won't go well and I will not end up getting hired. Lord, I'm asking you to have this man call me as I will be confident and not mess up if he calls me. I am asking you for an Aaron in the way of him calling me instead. I will wait until 12 noon and if he does not call by then I will make the phone call myself. I believe you hear me and will help me." And that was my prayer. I finished studying my Bible and anxiously waited for the phone to ring. It was the first time I ever read the Bible and put what I read into practice. I was stepping out of "religion" and into "relationship".

At 11:30 am I was still fully believing that God was going to show up like He did for Moses. I just believed, don't ask me why. I just did. Now remember this phone call is two weeks late in coming and I was in no way expecting him to call me for any reason that day except that he was two weeks late calling already. Well, at 11:45 the phone rings and it is the District Manager from Pub!ix. Do you know what he said to me? After apologizing for not calling me back he said he was going about his day and I just popped into his head and he realized he forgot to call me. He was going to call me later in the day and he said it was just nagging at him to call me so he finally did. He wasn't even in his office and said he'd have to call me back to schedule anything but he wanted to let me know I was hired.

Oh MY. Y'all I dropped right to my knees in holy reverence for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who just showed up and proved His existence beyond a shadow of a doubt for me right then and there. That nagging feeling to call me was God putting me in his mind. That was God answering my prayer and nobody can tell me otherwise. I said by noon and he called at 11:45, no way was that a coincidence.

Now to me, that's a pretty good proof God exists story. I like to look at this transition in scripture this way:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New International Version)
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Women Love The Twilight Series. Answers for men.

Okay, I have heard a man for the umpteenth time ask why women love the Twilight series so much. seems so obvious to me.

1. Women love romance. (this is one of the ways women reflect God's image. He is the ultimate romantic if you think about it.)

2. Women love to feel wanted. Most of us NEED to feel wanted and I mean that in the romantic sense. Not that he wants me because I am a great wife or whatever else, but want me as a woman. That RAWKS our world to feel like someone wants us. The whole thing about the Twilight series is an overwhelming sense of WANT. She wants him, he wants her....B.A.D. Because they can't truly come together....there is a whole lot of romantic want happin here. Excitement is always a plus and Twilight has the whole excitement and want thing all rolled into one. Yes, please.

3. Women love security. There is nothing more cooler than being with someone who wants to and can protect you. I can remember loving that my husband never sat with his back to a door, he is always on the lookout for danger, etc. He is very protective of me. We like our security and feeling all wrapped up and protected. Not in a chauvinistic way, just a knowing that the man we are with can, will and is able to keep us safe. Edward is all about keeping Bella safe. Us ladies like that, even if it only registers subconsciously. We like that.

It's pretty simple. Lots of excitement, lots of romance, tons of WANT, and the sense of security by Edward's protectiveness and Jacob's too for New Moon. Every woman pretty much just wants to feel wanted and this series fulfills that need VERY MUCH. Yes and thank you.

It does not hurt that they picked great looking males to fill the movie roles BUT, before the men say we like it 'cause of Jacob's abs. Let me say this whole Twilight series was a HUGE hit as a book series. My teenager couldn't get enough of reading these books and neither could her friends before there was ever talk of a movie. They were already in love with Bella, Edward and Jacob before anybody saw the two leading men. We all like a little adventure. Mostly we just love to feel wanted and even reading the books nails that bad boy dead on.

So. Men, do you make your woman feel wanted? If not, please stop complaining about our lunatic desire to watch these movies on DVD a thousand times and read the books at least twice. Now you have your answers.

I am sure there are a hundred other smaller answers that will also answer this question but these are the main biggies.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Holy Spirit Bible Study

The Holy Spirit

What is the Holy Spirit?

1. John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” It is our teacher.
2. Acts 2:38 It is a gift from God.
3. Acts 8:15-17, Ephesians 1:13 It is something that we receive. It is not a right but a gift.
4. 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” It is the Spirit of God that lives in us!
5. John 14:16-20” 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” It is our helper and our source of truth.
6. Ephesians 1:13-14 It marks us in Christ as a seal. It is a deposit of Christ guaranteeing our inheritance with Christ. In other words we are sealed with the spirit of Christ in us.
(Spirit of God, a gift we receive, that teaches, helps us, is a source of truth and seals us)

What does it help us do?

1. Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12, 1 Cor 2:13, Matt 10:20 It helps us speak what God wants us to say.
2. Luke 2:26, Acts 20:23 It reveals things to us.
3. Luke 4:1, Acts 16:6 It leads us where God wants us to go & out of places He does not want us.
4. Acts 1:8 It gives us power.
5. Acts 2:4 It helps us speak in tongues.
6. Acts 4:31 It helps us speak God’s word with boldness.
7. Acts 9:31 It comforts us.
8. Acts 13:2, Acts 21:11 It speaks to us. Sometimes God has a word for us.
9. Romans 14:17 It helps us live righteously, finding peace and joy.
10. Romans 15:13 It gives us hope.
11. Hebrews 2:4 It gives us gifts according to God’s will.
12. Luke 24:45 It helps us understand the Scriptures.
13. Romans 8:26 It helps us pray.
14. John 16:8 It convicts us of our sin.
15. John 16:13-14 It can only speak to us what he hears, it cannot speak on it’s own. Only truth.
16. 1 Cor 2:15-16 It helps us know God’s thoughts. It gives us the mind of Christ.
17. 2 Cor 5:17 It helps us become a new creation in Christ.
18. Galations 5:16-17 It helps us overcome our desire to sin.

How does the Holy Spirit know what to tell us?
1 Corinthians 2:10-11
(New King James Version)” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God”. How incredible is that? You have inside you a Spirit that knows the mind of God. It knows His thoughts and His will; you have complete access to all of God/Jesus through the Holy Spirit! It is through His Spirit we receive what we need. Why do I not feel tapped into this you may ask? Well, now that we know what the Holy Spirit is and what it does let’s look at how we can live by the power of the Holy Spirit and what may hinder us.

Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Oops! You mean we can distress the Holy Spirit? Yes, we can.

How can we grieve the Holy Spirit?
Ephesians 4:31-32 (New International Version) 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Notice a theme with the above? Peace. A loving, kind, compassionate & forgiving life is pleasing to the Holy Spirit. Negativity, anger, bitterness, fighting is a source of distress to the Holy Spirit.

I’ll be very honest here. A few years ago I was seeking hard after God and truly focusing on staying plugged into the Holy Spirit but I could just feel something was not right. I asked God to show me where I needed correction so I could truly live life by the Spirit. He took me to passage that tells us how we grieve the Holy Spirit. I immediately recognized a description that defined a part of me and I immediately set out to rid myself of, in my case bitterness, and I did this through a concordance study, lots of prayer and calling upon the Holy Spirit to help me overcome and live truly by the fruits of the Sprit Gal 5:22. Together we were able to overcome this terrible trait I displayed at that time and I can tell you honestly that there is a big difference for me personally after I rid myself of something that was grieving the Spirit inside of me. I would love to encourage you to look at those things that grieve the Spirit and look deep inside to make sure these are not present in your life as to hinder/grieve God’s Spirit inside of you.

What the Holy Spirit Produces in us.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version) 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Romans 8:12 We have an obligation as believers to live according to the Holy Spirit within us. Romans 8:13 …but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can put aside, defeat and overcome the sinful things we struggle with. How you may ask? Struggling with a desire to sin? Pray and ask God to help you overcome this “thing” and help you to live with self control. Look in your Bible’s concordance and look up every scripture on self control. Study them, pray them back to God, memorize them, think on them and ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome your lack of self control. Through the process of prayer, study and allowing the Holy Spirit to help you overcome, you will have the victory. The fruits of the Spirit are traits we should all display. If something is lacking pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to show you how to live this way. After all, it is there to teach us. Ask God to teach you what you need to know to live this way. Then pray, listen and study the Word. You will be guided. “Fruit emerges by no effort of your own. It grows as you abide in Him.” Wendy Blight. We will discuss abiding a little later in the study but it is essential if we want to live by the fruit of the Spirit.

Tuning into the Holy Spirit.
I love this prayer by Lysa TerKeurst. She prays this every morning before her feet hit the floor. “God, I want to see You. God, I want to hear You. God, I want to know You. God, I want to follow hard after You. And even before I know what I will face today, I say yes to You.” Lysa says “this simple act of surrender each morning will prepare your eyes to see Him, your ears to hear Him, your mind to perceive Him, and your heart to receive Him. This is how to live expecting to experience God. You see, we have become so familiar with God yet so unaware of Him. Women who say yes to God daily live expecting to see God, to hear from Him, and to be absolutely filled by His peace and joy-and, therefore, they do and they are. Also, a woman who says yes to God isn’t afraid to be honest with God.” –Lysa TerKeurst
“I am the vine,” Jesus said to His disciples, “(and) you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) We are not simply followers, we are connected to Jesus literally, just as branches are connected to a vine. The KJV uses the word abide instead of remain. In the original translation the word is meinate, which means to remain or stay. The dictionary defines abiding as “remaining in a fixed state or continuing in one place for a significant amount of time.”- Wendy Blight, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner. I want you to really get this next part. How does the Holy Spirit communicate with us? Is it through our body? No. So it is not our bodies that must remain fixed on Jesus. That is where we slip perhaps? We focus on Jesus when our bodies are in Church or in our special prayer time. It is through our minds that we hear from the Holy Spirit! Our minds must “remain in a fixed state or continuing in one place for a significant amount of time”. It is through an abiding relationship with God that we will come to know Him more and His will for our lives. It is through keeping our minds fixed on God, fixed on Jesus, fixed on hearing from the Holy Spirit that we can expect to actually live those things out.” It is through this fixed connection that we will receive His “sap”. –Wendy Blight What a revelation that is! Our minds are to remain fixed on Jesus wherever we are. The more fixed we are on Him, the more we will become like him. (Fruits of the Spirit)
I like what Wendy Blight says here “I had surrendered my life to Christ. I knew Jesus lived in my heart. I knew the Word of God. I prayed. My heart was connected, but it was not altered by His presence. Accessing the power available in God’s Holy Spirit requires that we tap into His power. Tapping into His power can only happen when we abide in Him. Through His Spirit, He moves you to discern, to pray, to cry, to worship, to love, to rest, to act, and to obey. The more you abide in Him, the more He continually pours Himself into you”. Basically, the more we are focused on hearing from God, the more we will be able to hear from God through His Holy Spirit. If you want to hear more, listen more. This requires keeping a part of you always alert to hear from Him. If we aren’t listening it’s a little hard to hear, right? If you are married I am sure you can recall several conversations with your spouse when you were talking right next to them and they never heard a word you said.

Now we know who the Holy Spirit is, what He helps us do, what grieves Him, what He produces in us, & how to hear from the Holy Spirit. But wait, what does the Holy Spirit sound like?

We receive from the Holy Spirit in different ways. Sometimes it is an impression of thought in our mind. In other words our mind may just suddenly have a thought pop in, when that happens we need to discern if that was us or the Holy Spirit and ahem, even the enemy. Sometimes it is a scripture or parable that will come to mind. Chances are if you weren’t thinking on these things you are receiving something from the Holy Spirit and you should go look those up and study them. God is probably trying to tell you something. Once you get there His Holy Spirit will guide you to receive what God is trying to give you. Sometimes it is through revelation. When studying the Bible and something just reaches out and grabs your heart, mind and attention & it is suddenly just brought to life in various ways that is the Holy Spirit pouring something into you. It could be pointing you to a direction you need to go in or something to learn. For me, it is mostly though impression of thought. For instance a sudden thought to call someone I would not normally think to call or a thought to go do something for someone that would be out of the ordinary. I now do not dismiss those things as odd; I look to see if that is the Holy Spirit asking me to do those things. Sometimes I am talking to God and I ask questions and I receive an answer back. If you are talking with God and you suddenly have an answer, you have just heard from the Holy Spirit. Mostly, you will learn to recognize the voice of your Father once you are used to hearing it.

How do I know if God is speaking to me? – Lysa TerKeurst
1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture?
2. Is it consistent with God’s character?
3. Is it being confirmed through messages I’m hearing at church or studying in my quiet time?
4. Is it beyond me? (God has called me; therefore, I am equipped. God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways all throughout the Bible. If it is beyond you, don’t count it out as not being from God.)
5. Would it please God?

These are five great questions to ask yourself if you are not sure if what you are receiving is from the Holy Spirit. And always remember, you can’t tune in if you’re tuned out. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Please feel free to email me anytime if you ever have any questions or thoughts. For those of us in class, we will now discuss ways to stay tuned in and live by the Spirit.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Never Underestimate The Power of One

The Power of One.

Have I mentioned lately that I teach a bible study class for women twice a month? Well, I love it. I really do, I just love teaching this class. I never realized what a blessing it is to teach and I am glad that God has given me this gift. One of the perks of this gift is being able to hear from God more. I do not pick the topics we study. I wait until God drops something to me. Usually it is when my mind is empty and I am doing something mindless like vacuuming or washing dishes and suddenly my mind is filled with a topic, a parable, or certain scriptures. I know it is from God also because I've just experienced hearing from Him enough to know most of the time when something pops into my head whether it was me or not. So, it's pretty cool when that happens. I'll get a topic and I get excited about the fact that He loves us ladies at Hillside Community Church enough to pick our topics for us. You know, God is pretty busy but He's never to busy to stop and chat for awhile, right? Then the uber cool perk is putting the study together. Now, it is easy to purchase bible studies and just lead those and I can't tell you how many times I wish I did that too. But, it never seems to work out for us to do a pre written study and I always end up putting them together myself. After this week I have come to the conclusion that every time I suggest us doing a "professionally published study" and it gets shot down it is a God thing. Let me share why.

When I have to put a study together I know that these women are taking time out of their busy lives to come to this study and they come eagerly expecting something relevant. They are expecting a word from God. They are expecting to learn and grow. That is a huge responsibility. So, basically I stay in the mindset that God and I have to put these studies TOGETHER. I look for Him to lead me in the right direction and ask for His anointing for each and every word, scripture and question. So, when I am putting together the study He speaks to me a lot. He guides me and gives me some really awesome revelations, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE REVELATION WAS THIS ONE!!! How cool is that? It's like He is standing behind me whispering over my shoulder "Go to this scripture." "Highlight these words, they will mean something to someone". It is such a special time for me. I am also learning the word like crazy. I don't mean just learning the story either, really learning the history, the Hebrew text or Greek text and discovering the whole story. I am really learning how to take stories in the Bible and make them applicable to our own personal lives and insert that into our studies.

I was emailing with a sweet friend yesterday and I got to thinking about what a special gift that is that God has given me. He has helped me through His anointing and wisdom see how to take each lesson we learn and then turn the table and look at each lady in the room and insert her into that story. She then becomes the main character and her life is fully inserted into the story. We then go into great discussion on what decisions we would make or currently do and discuss how we can take that lesson and make it work for our own life. I never realized before yesterday what a treasure that is. So many times we go to a study and hear something wonderful and learn but we walk out the door and it may never get applied to our life. God has taken me in the direction of leading studies that always insert our lives into the study so that not one single person can be in that class without seeing how they can live that lesson out. I really treasure that. I really treasure the time I spend putting these lessons together because He is doing it with me. I don't think I would trade that for the world.

I get so frustrated that so many people don't believe in God or just ignore Him. They say that believe in Him but never talk to Him, never worship Him. I want so much for them to know what so many of us know. Goodness, if they ever would just make it personal. Not something to do, but make it personal. Oh, they would see.

I have also been very frustrated that since we came back from the Christmas break from our bible study that our attendance has been very low. Maybe 5 to 6 ladies each time since then. I am so sad about that, God has truly been giving us some wonderful life changing lessons especially the one I linked in. I want them all to be blessed. Let me make it clear though that I am fully aware that I am a vessel only. He picks the studies, He is right there with me letting me know what to put in, what not to put in, what to highlight.....these studies are all HIM. I know that and I am adamant that they NEVER be about me. So when I say I want them to be blessed, it's not about me blessing anybody with my big bad studies. Everyone who comes says they are loving it. I asked my pastor's wife if I need to change anything or if it is me, she said no. I asked about doing a Beth Moore study so maybe more ladies would join us, they said keep doing what you are doing. So, I have to assume the ladies are honest about loving what are currently doing. I just don't understand why those that were coming have quit or that more don't come. It bugs me, I can be honest about that. I am a big believer about being honest.

These studies are very discussion based, each lady in the room talks, and I mean a lot. That is so wonderful! I ask lots of questions and not ones that people are afraid to answer 'cause you may look stupid. I hate that. My questions never have "an answer" so that someone could possibly say the wrong thing. They are discussion questions, I love that. We share lots and ask lots. This is a fantastic environment to learn in. We share very openly about our failures and what we learned from it. Nobody sits in this room and pretends they are anything close to perfect. Thank you and Amen for that. What a beautiful environment to learn in. We also, fellowship in these studies, girlfriends chit chatting and such. I can't imagine why more women do not want to come into this environment of open discussion, sharing, hot coffee, friendly banter and awesome learning. We always insert ourselves into the study and leave knowing exactly how we can live that lesson out. Why would you not want to come to that? Der, I don't know.

But yesterday I got to thinking about the power of one. How if just one life is changed what that can mean. I was thinking about the "A Woman Inspired" conference about this time last year. I blogged all about it last year but I got to listen to Lysa TerKeurst talk about "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God", her newest book at the time and I asked her a question on the computer, you know it was an online conference so you can do that after they are done speaking. They don't answer all the questions but she answered mine. I asked her how I could discover God's will for my life. I had been searching and searching and never found the answer. Well, she answered me and my life has never been the same since. Thank you Lord. So anyhoo, I got to thinking, even if nobody else at that conference's life was changed that listened to Lysa speak my life was forever changed. My one life. What has that one life changed accomplished? Well, I am not about to toot my own horn but I have taken this one changed life and I know that I know that I know I have multiplied that experience. I also teach now and this teaching I do is a direct result from her answer to me. So, how many lives can God use me to now possibly effect? See, the power of one? Lysa changed mine, even if it was mine only and I am changing lives also. It multiplies and multiplies. What if only 3 women came to class regularly but those three lives were so incredibly blessed by God by a study He puts together with me and those 3 lives go out and multiply that? It just keeps going and going, Amen.

So, I may mourn for the ladies who don't come 'cause I gotta tell you, we are getting our socks blessed off in these studies and I don't want anyone to miss out. But, I am so happy for the opportunity to share God's word with those that do and I am just going to concentrate on that and NEVER EVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF ONE.

Love ya,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Genesis Chapter 32 Bible Study: Wrestling with God

Wrestling with God

Jacob is returning home and preparing to meet his older brother Esau after 20 years of separation. As he is returning angels of God met him along the way. Jacob sends messengers ahead to let Esau know he is returning and the messengers return to Jacob to let him know that Esau is now on his way to meet Jacob along with 400 men. Jacob becomes very fearful of Esau knowing that when he left home Esau had been planning to kill him for taking Esau’s blessing and birthright. In great fear and distress Jacob divides all the people and animals into two groups so that if Esau attacks one the other can escape. After taking action through his own wisdom he prays to the Lord.

Genesis 32: 9-12 9Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac,” O Lord, 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 groups.” 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.” '

What is Jacob doing here? In a time of great fear and distress he turns to prayer but let’s look at the model of how Jacob prays. First he prays God’s promises back to Him, he humbles himself completely and admits he is unworthy of the past or future blessings, is completely honest with God and admits his fears but stands in faith on the safety of God’s word & God being true to His character & word. He prays God’s own word back to Him.

In his moment of complete terror for not only his own life but for his wives and children’s lives he surrenders completely to humility and God’s promises. He is quick to acknowledge that God owes him nothing and that he deserves nothing. I am feeling more than a bit convicted by this. How many times in my own trials have I approached the Lord in this way “Lord, I have been so good why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this.” 1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Might we pause for a moment and look back at our desperate cries to God in prayer & reflect on whether we were in complete humility or not? If we were not, could our feelings of entitlement affect the outcome of God’s answer to our prayer? Let’s pause for discussion.

Next Jacob sends everyone away with a plan to pacify Esau with many gifts. Jacob spends the night in the camp and is alone at first but then spends the entire night wrestling with “a man”.

Jacob Wrestles With God Genesis 32: 22-32
22.That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants 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 daybreak25.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, because you have struggled with God and with men 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, 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, 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.

“Our Lesson: Wrestle Our Way with God to:
1. A new kind of courage.
2. A new kind of Intimacy.
3. A new kind of Identity.
4. A new kind of walk. – Beth Moore quotation marks with –BM denotes a Beth Moore quote.

A New Kind of Courage
In verse 24 Jacob gets himself alone with God as should we when we desperately need to cry out. Who is this man Jacob wrestles with? Jacob says it is God in human flesh. “Most scholars believe this anthropomorphism, meaning when God endows Himself w/ human form, to be pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.”-BM Either way, this is no human man Jacob is wrestling with and Jacob knows it. He has the courage to wrestle with God and come face to face with Him.

A New Kind of Intimacy
In verse 25 the man sees that he cannot overpower Jacob. It is more than obvious that God could physically overpower any man. “Overpower in this instance is means that he could not make Jacob quit.”- BM “Hosea 12:4 Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us”— Jacob wept & begged for God’s favor. When things got tough Jacob did not quit and run. “This was Jacob’s first honest fight.”- BM Jacob had long used clever trickery to get his way in the past. As he now has the courage to face God and wrestle with him he cannot use manipulation or trickery in this fight. Jacob knows he must face a battle (facing his brother Esau) but he will not go on until he has a blessing from the Lord. He is determined to receive from the Lord and he is willing to hang on until he gets it. In fact, he held on to God for the entire night just until sunrise. Even after the man has touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of it’s socket he would not let go. That my friend is a determination to be blessed. Can we find inspiration in this wrestling match with God? What do we think may have been God’s purpose for wrestling with Jacob? Was God trying to take Jacob to a new place? Was God trying to teach Jacob something about himself? Surely God knew he promised to take care of Jacob as part of the promise to Abraham and he could have just given Jacob His blessing. But, he let Jacob wrestle with him instead. Let’s pause for a moment to discuss why God sometimes lets us wrestle with Him instead of just giving us what He has already planned for us. What might we learn when we wrestle with God?

“In Hebrew text wrestled is abaq. The word embraced is habaq. They have the same root.”- BM Interesting?

In verse 26 the man tells Jacob to let him go because daybreak is coming. Jacob, even though his hip is out of socket still refuses to let go of the man. I will not let you go until you bless me. “It is intimacy with God when you are willing to wrestle with God.”- BM Scripture tells us that we cannot see God’s face & live. Possibly this is why the man tells Jacob to let go because it is daybreak and” the light will allow Jacob the ability to see His face. Jacob knows all this & yet he still hangs on to the man. We should also not give up until the blessings come. Hang on. Stay face to face with God. Keep talking to him, be honest with God. God can handle our fears, questions and doubts as long as our heart’s intentions are to understand and stay in relationship with Him. As we are wrestling something out with God we are embracing Him. We cannot fool Him with pretty words in our prayers.”-BM If you are feeling something wrestle it out with Him. If you need to face something, wrestle it out with Him. “Be honest in your prayers. “Do we say all the right things to God or will we be honest. Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Do we tell God what we are really feeling & thinking?”- BM Let’s think about that for a moment. When we are praying are we always honest with God? Let’s pause for a moment to discuss this.

A New Kind of Identity: In verse 27 the man asks Jacob “What is your name?” This may be somewhat confusing at first. But really it is a very important question. In Biblical times many people were named after their identity. Sometimes they even changed their names all on their own due to their circumstances. (Ruth 1:20 Don't call me Naomi, “she told them.”Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. Reference also Luke 10:38-39 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39.She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.) “The Lord is asking Jacob “Who are you?”. “Jacob”. –heelgrabber, supplanter, cheater, deceiver, manipulator.”-BM What would we say our name was if God was asking us to call ourselves by who we are on the inside and how we conduct ourselves? Who are you? Are you willing to confess who you are to God? Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on that.
supplanter: one who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another.

In verse 28 we get to some good meat to chew on. “Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." God had Jacob say his name so God could change it”.-BM Jacob had to confess who he was before he could receive his new identity. God then changes Jacob’s name to Israel and if you were to read the rest of the story you would see a very different Jacob after this encounter with God. He was a new man with a new identity. Let’s look at a few important points Beth Moore makes on this:

1. Through the worst of our struggles it will be wrestling those things out with God which is what changes our identity. It was not the struggle with Esau that was the hardest thing, but wrestling it out with God.
2. It’s not about never doubting but coming out of it with more faith than when we entered through. Stick it out with Him.
3. What do we do when we feel like we have lost our stability with God? Not that he isn’t there but that he has allowed something very unstabalizing to come into my life. What do we do? We wrestle it out with Him, pour our hearts out and hang on tight.
4. Revelation 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." Overcome-a new name- We have a new name waiting on us from God. It is not until we overcome that we receive our new identity. –Walk in your new name.
5. God sees us for what He is making us. (Thank you & Amen to that!)

A New Kind of Walk
In verse 31 we see Jacob limping off into the sunrise after receiving his blessing. Amen to that. Let’s discuss some points Beth Moore makes.
1. We can not ask God the hard questions & keep walking the way we’ve been walking.
2. Sometimes you have to get a wounding to get a blessing.
3. Sometimes only a wound can take us where God wants us to go. Isn’t it by Christ’s wounds that we are healed, saved and set free?
4. We may come out with a limp but we will all have victory if we embrace God and don’t let go.

Additional points of interest:

“The unique message of Christianity is that God is not an impersonal force, or a terrifying presence to whom we cannot relate in any meaningful way. God is not a person who expects only praise and sacrifices and groveling from us and has no further use for us. God is ready and willing and eager to get down and dirty with us.

We are the spiritual descendants of Jacob. We are the people who wrestle with God. It is not presumptuous of us to make this claim. God was the one who gave that name to God's people. That's who God wants us to be.

Of course God could squish us like a bug in a nanosecond. But for our benefit, God is always available to wrestle with us, at whatever level we are capable of wrestling.
God sent Jesus into the world to wrestle with us, and Jesus allowed himself to get pinned to a cross. That's what it took for us to experience the love that flows from God.”-Nathan Aaseng.

“The notion that only good things happen to good people was put to rest when Jesus was put upon the cross. The more crucial question is, in all circumstances of joy and pain, can you trust God to be God? Can you love God without linking such love to the good or bad things that come your way in life? “ Reverend Dr. Robert Dunham

Israel: Etymology: OFr < id="SPELLING_ERROR_16" class="blsp-spelling-error">Ec) < id="SPELLING_ERROR_17" class="blsp-spelling-error">yisrael, lit., contender with God < sara, to wrestle + el, God