Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanks, Amanda!

Genesis 32 = Wrestling With God in Prayer

• There are many reasons to pray
• Verses 22-32 in this chapter show us the importance of "praying boldly."
• These verses tell the story of Jacob wrestling with God. Jacob was not eager to "go home" to his brother Esau. Since he had robbed Esau's inheritence causing Esau to become angry and wanting to kill him, Jacob was not excited to approach him again.
• So when Jacob heard that he was going to meet up with Esau, he tried to prepare for the visit. He gathered gifts for Esau and referred to himself as Esau's "servant."
• While preparing for this visit, Jacob wanted to be alone...but he wasn't. A *man* wrestled with him, and neither one gave up.
• When wrestling Jacob refused to let go until the other man blessed him. The man gave Jacob the name Israel (meaning both "Prince of God" and "one who overcomes a struggle with God"). He also blessed him.

A question to ask is, who was this man? The man was never named, but can be assumed to be God in human form. So this passage shows Jacob wrestling with God, and him overcoming this struggle and being blessed in the end.

Some main ideas to be taken from these verses:
1. God intends to engage with people
→ He engaged with Jacob through being the other man wrestling with him
→ He reached down to humanity through Jesus Christ
→ He called Moses to action and to lead His people

2. What is our response? We engage on the basis of God's Grace and Promises
→ Gen. 32: 9-12 (Jacob's prayer begins with worshiping God, he then calls on God to help him because of His grace and because of the promise God had made to Jacob before)
→ Jacob understood that he was unworthy (he's facing consequences of actions that he had done 20 years ago.) He was desperate and called on God when he remembered that God had blessed him in the past.
→ We are also unworthy, but we need to wrestle with God to receive His blessings that He has promised us.
→ We tend to be self-sufficient in today's culture. We need to wrestle with God so that He can engage with us in our daily lives.

3. What do we wrestle about?
→ We need to wrestle with our fears, doubts and misunderstandings.
→ Wrestle with our understandings of who He is, and what He calls us to do.
→ We are challenged to test our faith, through prayer.
→ Do we believe all that God promises? (that He will always provide for us, that He listens to our prayer, etc.)
→ He tests us, and then shows us that He is faithful
→ We need to give Him our thoughts and let Him deal with them.

4. A Christian life is not passive
→ Gen. 32:26
→ Pray for blessings on us (ourselves, our families, our church, our community...)
→ He gives us the opportunity to engage with Him through prayer.

5. Move Forward by Faith
→ Gen. 32:31, 33:1
→ When challenges are overwhelming, pray, and then move forward

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