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. Genesis 32:29
Jacob was a scoundrel, family divider, and liar. But one night, he was ambushed by a Stranger who wrestled with him all night. The Stranger finally touched Jacob’s hip, causing it to come out of joint. The pain must have been incredible, yet Jacob wouldn’t give up. Somehow by then he knew he was wrestling with God. “Tell me Your name?” he cried. The Stranger said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed Jacob (Genesis 32:29).
What a strange story!
Jacob’s question implied he knew he had to change and that only the God of heaven could really change him. He wouldn’t let go of God until the change came. God literally wrestled him into submission, faith, and obedience. From that time on Jacob walked with a limp, but he walked by faith. The Lord is able to subdue the part of us that resists Him. Seek out His Name, don’t let go of Him, and let Him change you and bless you.
When God calls you to wrestle with him in prayer, it is an invitation to receive his blessing…. Do not let him go until he blesses you! Jon Bloom
Genesis 32 Jacob Wrestles with God
He did not say anything to them without using a parable. Mark 4:34
Once upon a time. Those four words just might be among the most powerful in the entire world. Some of my earliest memories as a boy contain a variation on that potent phrase. My mother came home one day with a large, hardcover illustrated edition of biblical stories—My Good Shepherd Bible Story Book. Every evening before lights-out, my brother and I would sit expectantly as she read to us of a time long ago filled with interesting people and the God who loved them. Those stories became a lens for how we looked at the great big world.
The undisputed greatest storyteller ever? Jesus of Nazareth. He knew we all carry inside us an innate love for stories, so that was the medium He consistently used to communicate His good news: Once upon a time there was a man who scattered “seed on the ground” (Mark 4:26). Once upon a time there was “a mustard seed” (v. 31), and on and on. Mark’s gospel clearly indicates that Jesus used stories in His interactions with everyday people (v. 34) as a way to help them see the world more clearly and understand more thoroughly the God who loved them.
That’s wise to remember as we desire to share with others God’s good news of mercy and grace. The use of story is almost impossible to resist.
Reflect & Pray
How could you weave a story or parable into your conversations this week? Maybe something like, “Once upon a time, God answered my prayer in a surprising way . . . .”
Jesus, You’re the Wonderful Counselor and the Great and Mighty God. Give us creativity in the ways in which we share Your love with a world that still slows down to hear a story.
Why do bad things happen? Honestly, it’s a question I can’t answer, but I believe God has a purpose for everything. My faith is in the fact that the Lord is sovereign (Psalm 22:28).
When we’re in the middle of a trial, it’s hard to resist crying out, “God, why is this happening?” Sometimes we get an answer and sometimes we don’t. But we can be sure nothing happens by accident. We have His promise that He’ll cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).
Seeing in advance how God will work all things for our benefit can be very difficult, if not impossible. Our limited human perspective often doesn’t allow us to grasp His greater plan. However, the Father’s good handiwork is in everything—even our pain, hardships, and losses. He turns mourning into gladness and provides bountiful blessings and benefits from our darkest hours.
As believers, we must accept that things won’t always make sense to us. Isaiah teaches that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our own (Isa. 55:9). He sees the beautifully completed big picture. We can rely on the fact that God is in control, no matter how wildly off-kilter our world seems to be.
“He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.” (Psalm 135:7)
This striking verse is practically identical with Jeremiah 10:13 and 51:16, suggesting the possibility that the prophet Jeremiah may have written the otherwise anonymous Psalm 135. The two Jeremiah passages do preface this statement with the note that there is “a multitude of waters in the heavens” in connection with the processes described in the verse.
In any case, this thrice-mentioned mechanism beautifully summarized what we now call the hydrologic cycle, and it did so over 2,000 years before the cycle began to be understood by modern scientists. In order to provide rain to water the earth, there must be vapors ascending all over the earth (that is, evaporation from the world’s great oceans), winds then blowing from God’s unseen treasury (actually the global atmospheric circulation), and, finally, lightnings for (or “with”) the rain (electrical discharges associated with the condensation and coalescence of the particles of water vapor in the atmosphere). All of this repeatedly transports purified waters from the ocean back over the lands to fall as rain and snow, there finally to run off back to the oceans after performing their life-sustaining ministries on the lands. “Unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
Not only does this hydrologic cycle sustain physical life on Earth, but it also is a type of the spreading of God’s Word, giving spiritual life. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,…So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please” (Isaiah 55:10-11). HMM
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
I preach to my congregation week after week. And I pray that I may be able to preach with such convicting power that my people will sweat! I do not want them to leave my services feeling good. The last thing I want to do is to give them some kind of religious tranquilizer—and let them go to hell in their relaxation.
The Christian church was designed to make sinners sweat. I have always believed that, and I still believe it. The messages preached in our churches should make backslidden Christians sweat. And if I achieve that objective when I preach, I thank God with all of my heart, no matter what people think of me. JIV061-062
Lord, help me to preach with boldness—not concerned with “what people think of me.” Amen.
How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
We must admit that the true Christian is a rather strange person in the eye of the unbeliever. I use the adjective true in regard to the Christian not only to point out the necessity for the new birth but to indicate, also, the Christian who is living according to his new birth. I speak here of a transformed life pleasing to God, for if you want to be a Christian, you must agree to a very much different life.
The life of obedience to Jesus Christ means living moment by moment in the Spirit of God and it will be so different from your former life that you will often be considered strange….The true Christian may seem a strange person indeed to those who make their observations only from the point of view of this present world, which is alienated from God and His gracious plan of salvation.
Consider now this glorious contradiction….The Christian is dead and yet he lives forever. He died to himself and yet he lives in Christ. The reason he lives is because of the death of another. ICH159-160
If we truly want to follow God, we must seek to be other-worldly….Every man must choose his world. POG052
1 Corinthians 1:28
During one year, 1882, the number of soldiers of The Salvation Army who were known to have been knocked down or otherwise brutally assaulted in the United Kingdom was 642. More than one-third of them were women. In addition, 23 children suffered. Some of these people were injured for life. And all because they attended religious meetings in their own buildings or in the open air. In that same year 60 of our buildings were practically wrecked by the rabble. There was no redress. We could obtain neither protection nor reparation.
The most persistent and unrelenting opposition that The Salvation Army had to encounter in what we sometimes call the lawless years came less from the drinking saloons than from the parsonages. The children of this world were for once outdone in malevolence by the children of light! Always the chief opposition to the Army was from the churches. Every conceivable calumny was spread abroad against us. And men tripped up our processions, insulted and assaulted our women, threw sticks and stones, not to mention dead cats and dogs, refused us even the peaceful burial of our dead, invaded our halls and smashed our furniture.
The denunciation reached its height of absurdity when the great Earl of Shaftesbury solemnly stated that, as the result of much study, he had come to the conclusion that The Salvation Army was clearly the Antichrist.
Our officers were refused admission to well-known places of worship at the hour of service, because they were accompanied by poor, unkempt and broken creatures whom Christ came to save. The trouble with the Army was that it was not respectable. A deeper reason for the obloquy which met us was that we were intruders, disturbing the unruffled calm of lip-service which many nice people had mistaken for the religion of Jesus.
Ours was a practical faith. It offered a spiritual charter to the ecclesiastically disfranchised. Because we were what we were, religion which mistakes refinement for abundant life in Christ, or thinks that fine preaching or good music and ornate ceremonies can somehow be a substitute for surrender to God and the service of others—that religion was bound by its very nature to oppose The Salvation Army. And it did. “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27 NKJV).
Bramwell Booth, Echoes and Memories