The Lost Art Of Wrestling – Ps Bruce Claridge [25/08/2019 AM]

Episode Notes

Genesis 32:24-30 (NIV)

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, 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, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Ephesians 6: 12 (NIV)

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

  • Wrestling is a sweaty, strange, claustrophobic sport. Wrestling programs are pretty popular in some US Colleges, but haven’t taken off here.
  • From the biblical account of Jacob’s wrestle with God it seems like it is a Kingdom essential when coming to grips with God’s hold on your life and his desire to bless you. Wrestling that brings you closer to God will have you moving into a new season in your life.
  • Jacob said I will not let you go until you bless me.
  • One of the current challenges of the Church is some influential generational leaders coming to a crisis of faith. They doubt not only the perplexing issues of our faith, but the very foundations.
  • Much of this confusion of truth has come about because they not only refuse to wrestle with the controversial, but they don’t have the tools or equipment to wrestle their way through the challenges which all of us face at some time.
  • Jacob had to wrestle with God to own his own faith, to personally hold onto God. Often, people refuse to wrestle through their faith.

In a previous chapter Jacob says:

Genesis 31:42 (NIV)

“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, certainly now you would have sent me off empty-handed’.

There is a common thread throughout these passages: God is the God of Abraham. God is the God of Isaac. But, it does not say that God is the God of Israel (Jacob) until after Jacob wrestled with God. 

You see, until Jacob had a divine wrestling match with God, until he had a very personal struggle with God, his faith was not cemented. It was not his own. Yes, he knew of his father Isaac’s faith. He had most definitely heard the stories of his grandfather Abraham’s faith. But, he was only living his faith vicariously through their faith, ministry, Pastor, service, programs that he was in; it had not been solidified in his life.

In the end, Jacob does what we all must do. He confronts his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him, and faces God. Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled. It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on in his own struggle without Him, that he received God’s blessing.

Genesis 32:29 (NIV)

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

Bruce encouraged us to know that, like Jacob, you can hang onto God and not let go.

What we learn from this remarkable incident in the life of Jacob is that our lives are never meant to be easy, abundant yes, victorious yes, joy filled yes but easy no. This is especially true when we take it upon ourselves to wrestle with God and His will for our lives. We also learn that as Christians, despite our trials and tribulations, our strivings in this life are never devoid of God’s presence, and His blessing inevitably follows the struggle, which can sometimes be messy and chaotic. You can’t wrestle unless you are in close contact. Real growth experiences always involve struggle and pain. 

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

  • As Bruce looks around our Church family he sees a bunch of “great wrestlers”. He knows some of your “wrestling stories”, but of course not all. Cancer, depression, anxiety, financial troubles, but you are still here. We have to keep on wrestling.
  • Bruce knows however that your walk with God, like his, has been tested and it hasn’t been all “beer and skittles”.
  • ‘Beer and Skittles’ is a great term, unknown to Bruce’s Bible College student’s generation.
  • The proverb is from around 1855 which states that “This Life is not all Beer and Skittles”. The statement was made originally popular by Charles Dickens in 1837 in his book “Pickwick Papers” and it denotes a person drinking beer and playing the game of Skittles in a British Pub after a very long and hard day’s work.
  • The reason the enemy often has it easy when attacking the Church is that many believers who have never wrestled with God are easy targets. Many are devoid of deep conviction and drift from one Christian experience to another aimlessly consuming all they can on the way.
  • They blame the devil, others, even fate and circumstances, ignoring the fact that God is in control even when bad things happen. You need to wrestle through with God to find the blessing. Hang in there.

Pastor Steve Penny calls it the “Silence of The Lambs” or the “Dumah effect”.

Isaiah 21:11 (NIV)

11 A prophecy against Dumah: Someone calls to me from Seir,  “Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?”

  • Dumah is a son of Ishmael- part Faith and part Flesh. His name means deadly silence.
  • A Hebrew proverb was made using Dumah and two of his brothers.

It was: “Hear Much-Say Little-Bear Much”

Steve says sadly today the Church has adopted the wisdom of Dumah.

  1. See and Hear Much – modern technology with its instant news fake or real has produced a generation of world smart fools! We have worldly knowledge, but are lacking in Kingdom wisdom. Facebook instead of His Book.
  2. Say Little to Upset Others – the three great words of the contemporary Church are kindness-tolerance-patience. They sound so nice, but are producing a generation of conviction-less insipid Christians. Preference over conviction.
  3. Bear Much – to remain silent and allow sin to dominate our world is to allow death to reign in our cities. “Sin is our lot in life”, “what can I do”, is our cry.

This is the “Dumah Effect”.

  • This is the problem of the silence of God’s lambs – His Church – us!
  • The Dumah effect causes blame shifting, expecting others to act, operating out of our flesh and not our spirit – the “she’ll be right mate” cop out.
  • We need to wrestle through these circumstances. The key is holding on to God.
  • Blame is part of our natural DNA, not our spiritual DNA
  • But conversely, wrestling has us holding onto God.
  • Excellence honours God and inspires other people.
  • In the wrestling we are humbled to the point of total reliance on God, limping rather than freely running. He can then trust us with HIS strength and HIS blessing.
    Failure is when we give in to all the stuff that goes on in our lives and temptations by loosening our grip on God. We are no longer relying on ourselves.
  • Success is when we cling to Him with all our strength and perseverance until He commands His blessing on us as Jacob found. Keep on wrestling.

James 1: 2-4 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

  • Sometimes when we want God’s comfort, He sends it in unexpected and even unwanted packages.
  • What is the “unwanted package” that we are wrestling with?
  • Whatever it is, keep on Wrestling. Keep hanging on.
  • When God calls us to wrestle with Him, there’s always more going on than we first understand and God always uses it to transform us for good.
  • We look through the keyhole (we can only see through the keyhole) into the room where the action is taking place and see only a part of the story while God sees the whole thing -the whole room, house, city, country and planet from His heavenly perspective and purpose which is unrestricted by time.
  • The Big Picture is always good. There is a much bigger picture that we can’t see!

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

  • So KEEP WRESTLING! Do not let go until God blesses you.

The 3 dimensions of this tenacious wrestling.

1. Wrestling in the Heavens

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

  • When we wrestle in prayer stay with Him, don’t give up. Do not let Him go until He blesses you. He loves to bless that tenacious faith and transform you in the process.
  • Some things Jan and Bruce are wrestling for in prayer through petitions, declarations, praise, thanksgiving and repetition are in their 10th year of the wrestle…..but w are not letting go…The blessing is on the way. God said In the morning I will bless you. Do warfare until there is a breakthrough.

2. Wrestling in Relationships

  • Wrestling to maintain unity- Local Church, New Levels, New Devils…. New ways to irritate one another, to upset unintentionally, to be frustrated……new facilities, new challenges, a new stake in the ground all demand greater wrestling to maintain strong relationships.
  • Wrestling to maintain friendships and wrestling against our own selfish personal agendas to make new ones. Talk to people, not about them. Matthew 18 (NIV) 

3. Wrestling when contradictions seem to plague your faith

Hebrews 11 (NIV) – the heroes of faith.

Deut. 29:29 (NIV) 

29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

 God promises He will bless us. Keep on wrestling.

  • Wrestle your way forward when confusion creeps in, serve when no one appreciates it, trust when the inexplicable anomalies of the Christian Faith are thrown at you. Don’t ask why, but ask what? Keep your grip on God.
  • g. Cancer, premature deaths, betrayal, Christians acting more like heathens than heathens themselves!
  • Wrestle it though with God. Work out relationships.
  • The front of this building today is a wrestling mat.
  • It is a place to put your total reliance on not letting go of God.
  • It is a place to declare “Not until you bless me”.
  • It is a place to hold onto God when confusion still reigns in your understanding.
  • It is place of full surrender.
  • Make a commitment to “stay in the fight” until victory is secured this side of heaven or in eternity’s certainty.
  • Commit to the fact that you will keep on wrestling.
  • Pray it through.

Suggestions for Discussion Questions

  1. Do you think wrestling with God is a Kingdom essential when coming to grips with God’s hold on your life and his desire to bless you?
  2. Do you agree with the statement that says: When God calls us to wrestle with Him, there’s always more going on than we first understand and God always uses it to transform us for good?
  3. Do you wrestle in prayer with God and don’t give up?
  4. Can you not let Him go until He blesses you?