Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Surrender to Win

At the end of World War 2, the nation of Japan was devastated. They had poured all of their resources into their war effort. The destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima devastated their economy. It was the destruction of these cities that led to Japan’s surrender. Japan was a ruined nation at the end of World War 2.

But after their surrender the United States began to pour money and resources into rebuilding Japan. And after that they became one of the strongest economies in the world. They went from a destroyed economy to the second largest economy in the world because they surrendered. Sometimes you have to surrender in order to win. Today, I am writing about surrender.

Genesis 32:24-31
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”29 Then 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.30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.

The Struggle

This moment takes place as Jacob has left the home of Laban, his father-in-law. Let’s refresh the story. Jacob and Rebeckah conspired to usurp the blessing of Isaac that was meant for Esau. Jacob was sent to Laban to find a wife from among the people of God. When Jacob arrived there he fell in love with Rachel and worked seven years for Laban in order to marry her. But on the wedding night Leah, Rachel’s older sister was switched for Rachel and Jacob had to work another seven years to receive Rachel’s hand in marriage. Then he worked another seven years to gain a flock. Finally after twenty-one years Jacob, was told by God to leave the home of Laban and return to the home of his father. Jacob left, but he knew that there would be a confrontation with Esau as he traveled home.

So as he is traveling he gets word that Esau is traveling toward him with four hundred men. Jacob is afraid of what Esau will do and so he comes up with a strategy. He separates himself from his family in the hopes of protecting them from Esau’s anger. he begins to send gifts to Esau in order to turn aside that anger.

Now he finds himself alone on the night before his encounter with Esau and a man wrestles with him until the breaking of day. He was fearful, he didn’t know what to expect and now he ends up wrestling with God.

This is something that God has sent him to do. This is the will of God for his life.

Genesis 31:13
13 ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’ ”

Just because we are in the will of God doesn’t mean that we won’t face difficulty. When we recognize that the direction we are going will result in difficulty, we have a tendency to struggle with God. Have you ever done that? Some people struggle with giving. It’s God’s will that we give and support the work of God, but times are tough. The economy isn’t great. Our finances aren’t what we think they should be. We’re worried about the future, about having enough to meet our own needs and we struggle with God about giving to the church. Or we struggle with God about his call on our lives. Or we struggle with God about _______________. (Fill in the blank with your own struggle.) The struggle is really about who’s will, will prevail.

“ Okay God, I know you expect me to give to your work, but what about the things I need and want?”

“Okay God, I know you’ve called me to preach and to pastor a church, but I need to make more money than that.”

What we’re saying is, “God I know what you want, but it doesn’t really fit in with what I want.”

Jacob wrestles with God for one whole night and God is unable to prevail against Him. Believe it or not, this is pretty common. God deals with us about His will for our lives and we begin to wrestle with God about that. God cannot move us against our own will. He has given us a sovereign will and won’t violate that.

We know that because if He was willing to violate our free will He could have prevented Adam and Eve from sinning against Him. He could have prevented the Jews from crucifying Jesus. But that isn’t how God works. God lays His will out to us and then looks for our reaction. Sometimes, we respond to God’s call, easily, especially when it meets with what we want to do. But other times we struggle with God wanting God to conform to our will rather than us conforming to His.

For example, God has promised us He will bless us if we will give.

Malachi 3:10-11
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. 11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the LORD of hosts;

But, any pastor will tell you that people often struggle with that and don’t give. Those people are unable to receive the promises that come with giving. We want God to bless, but his will is that blessing comes through our faithful giving. He can’t force us to give and so we, through our struggle with Him are the stumbling block to blessing in our own lives.

Jacob Finally Surrenders

This Man that Jacob is wrestling with has injured him. He put his Hip out of socket. Jacob realizes that he is unable to beat him in a fight with this injury.

How many know that God often causes surrender through injury. We are injured in some way that causes us to surrender to God. I know that this is true because it was true in my own life. I fought with God for many years. But it wasn’t until I was wounded that I became humble enough to surrender. It wasn’t until I could see that I couldn’t win that I grabbed a hold of God and just held on. I surrendered and because of that surrender I won. Sometimes, surrender is just grabbing hold of your opponent and hanging on.

Have you ever seen a boxing match? The two boxers are fighting and there are blows being exchanged and when one man begins to really beat the other up. That man who’s being beaten will grab the other and hold on to him. Then the referee will split them up.

This is a picture of surrender. “I can’t keep away from you. I can’t block your punches anymore; I can’t do anything,” so he grabs him and just holds on. The other man fighting him is then powerless to punch him.

This is what Jacob does. He grabs Him and just holds on. “I give up. I’m not letting go until you bless me.” He surrenders right there ,”I’m done fighting…” and then what happens? He gets blessed.

"What’s your name?”

"Jacob, (thief, con man, liar)”

"Not anymore, now your name is Israel…You have prevailed with God.” Israel means literally, prevailed with God. Prevailed means won over. He won God over to his side, his point of view. “Okay I’ll bless you.” But how did he win God over? Did he defeat God in the wrestling match? No he didn’t…he won God over by surrendering.

How do we surrender? By saying, “God I’m not going to fight anymore. I’m going to hang on to You and live out Your will, Your calling and Your commands.” You do that and guess what happens.


God Will Change You Permanently

As he crossed over the river he limped on his hip. There is a permanent mark on him from his encounter with God here. He is physically changed from this encounter with God. We never see Israel in the same way again. He isn’t Jacob anymore. He isn’t a liar or con man, he becomes a man who is honored.

Genesis 50:7
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,

Pharaoh’s household went up to bury him. When was the last time you heard of a thief getting an honor like that? Israel was not the same man Jacob was.

And we are permanently changed when we surrender to God. I’m not talking about saying a prayer and repenting. I’m talking about saying, “Not my will God but yours.” That’s surrender. “I desire nothing…but the will of God. That’s surrender. And if you live that way, you’ll never be again what you were before. You’ll be Israel, because you will have prevailed with God. You will have won. Sometimes we need to surrender to win.

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