In Genesis 32, Jacob has an encounter where he wrestles with God all night. Obviously Jacob was not a slacker that was easily discouraged! Could you imagine wrestling with God all night? It seems like it was God’s plan for Jacob to think that he could possibly win by allowing him to wrestle with Him for such a long time! God could have defeated Jacob at any time!
In the midst of this wrestling match the bible says that when God, “…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.” Jacob was a young arrogant man who thought that he could accomplish just about anything on his own including God’s plan for his life. After all he was successful in stealing his brother’s birthright and manipulating his father into speaking his brothers blessing over his own life. The only problem is that no matter how hard he worked and strived to be successful things never seemed to get any easier.
Now Jacob was trying to manipulate God into blessing Him by saying, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So then God asks him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob. 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.” Then Jacob say’s to God, “Tell me Your name, I pray. And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.”
Why did God want to know Jacob’s name? The name of a person represented a person’s identity. In the Old Testament knowing someone’s name was to essentially have control over that person’s life. In essence, when Jacob finally surrendered his name to God, he was surrendering the control of his life to God!
God would not give Jacob His name. Jacob is beginning to receive a revelation here about relationship, dependency, and having strength in Him during weakness. It’s when Jacob finally surrenders control that he receives his blessing from God. . So, “…Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
In other words, it was a place of revelation. Jacob received a revelation of God. He received a revelation that he belonged to God! He also received a revelation of His spiritual resources when God blessed him with His promises, and preserved his life.
It was an event that Jacob or the children of Israel would not soon forget “…as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore for to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle shrank.” The word shrank here is the Hebrew word nasheh. It means in a sense of failure, rheumatic, or crippled.
As a result, Jacob goes on to accomplish more for God as a crippled man with a dislocated hip, than he was ever able to accomplish in the full strength of his own abilities. It’s in a sense of failure that we develop a genuine relationship of friendship with Jesus. It’s that place where we realize that we are crippled in our own abilities. It’s where we can learn to be dependent upon God and His accomplishments.
As we surrender the control of our lives we can finally be trusted with the authority and power of His promises. As His heart and agenda becomes our heart and agenda, Jesus says, “I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what the master is doing (working out). But I have called you my friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. (I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.)”
Just like Jacob, many of us find ourselves wrestling for control of lives in relationship with God. Often we want to be relationally independent thinking that we can accomplish just about anything on our own including God’s plan for our life. We tend to leave our state of relational dependency on God to take back the control that we once surrendered to Jesus. It’s like we tell the Lord, “Thanks for the help when I really needed it, but I can handle the rest from here!” The only problem is that no matter how hard we work and strive to live the abundant life, it never seems to become a reality.
As a result, we often settle for what looks good now, rather than waiting in dependence on Him for the fulfillment that is only found in His promises. We make major decisions in regards to the direction of our lives based on our current circumstances, perspectives, and feelings. Often it seems that we settle for less than the abundant life just so that we can live where it’s comfortable, convenient, and familiar. There are things in this world that appear to be good for our lives, but they aren’t the promises of God!
Many Christians just want their life to get a little better. They settle for less than God’s promises for an improved way of life. They are willing to trade the promises of God, if they can find relief from their current set of circumstances. They just want to experience a little more peace at home. They just want to experience a little less pain in their body. They are willing to forfeit the promise of God, if things could get a little better!
Children of God
John 1:12 says “…as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.” AMP When we receive and welcome Christ into our heart and life it says that we are children of God. As sons and daughters of the living God we have been given authority to receive the abundant life. We have been given His authority to destroy every obstacle that opposes the promises of God in our life. We don’t have to settle for things to be a little better in our life. We have a right to the privileges of God. He has given us the power to possess our promises by trusting in Him!
The New Testament word for believe in this passage of scripture has nothing to do with the existence of someone or something. It is the Greek word pisteuo. It means to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing). It implies entrusting one’s spiritual well being to Christ by adhering to, trusting in, or relying on Him.
In other words, our ability to believe in God requires a relationship with Him. A relationship with someone is a necessary component in order to adhere to something someone has communicated to us. It is vital to have a relationship with someone that we know to be trustworthy before we can trust them. We must have a relationship with someone that has been found trustworthy before we feel like we can rely on them with faith!
A relationship requires that we make some effort to spend time with someone and communicate with that person. It is an exchange of hearts. Sometimes we will talk to a person that we are in a relationship with and they listen to us. Other times a person that we are in a relationship with will talk to us and we will listen to them.
Imagine if I had married my wife and then quit having a relationship with her where I didn’t spend time together talking with her or listening to her! We wouldn’t have a very healthy marriage relationship. My wife probably wouldn’t be happy with the status of our relationship. She would probably feel like we didn’t have a relationship. I wouldn’t really know her thoughts or feelings. We wouldn’t really know each other well enough to trust one another!
The same thing is true in our relationship with God. I have to personally know Him to be trustworthy in order to trust in His name. The true substance of our relationship with God is found in our daily ability to believe in His name. As a result, we are given authority including the power, privilege, and the right to become the children of God. We become heirs in the promises of God. “In Him we also were made (God’s) heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance…” We already obtained an inheritance that can only be found in Christ! This heritage is the key to releasing the favor necessary in order to experience the abundant life!
A Royal Priesthood
There is much confusion in the body of Christ today about what it means to walk in faith, authority, and the inheritance of God. Many Christians just don’t know who they are in Christ. “…You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation (God’s) own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people (at all), but now you are God’s people; once you were un-pitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy.” We are God’s very own chosen people set aside and called for the very purpose of manifesting the light of God that lives within us by doing His works and displaying His likeness.
Many Christians spend more time contemplating the plans of the enemy than developing faith in the plans of God for their lives. It is essentially giving the enemy authority in our lives that he does not have the right to exercise. The one who has all authority lives in us and has already defeated the enemy. He has given us His authority to manifest His works and display His likeness. As Christians we need to spend more time focusing on what God is doing rather than what the enemy is doing! Spending our whole life in spiritual warfare is to settle for less than the abundant life!
A story about Martin Luther helps to illustrate this point. One night he was fast asleep when he heard some noise in his room. In the dark he lit a match in order to see what all the commotion was a about. His response may be somewhat of a surprise. He said, “Oh, it’s just you Satan!” As he proceeded to blow out the match and lay down to go back to sleep!
Living in Deception
Did you know that you are the only one that can give the enemy authority in your life? He has always been successful in keeping God’s people from understanding their true identity in Christ so they will hand over their authority to him. He tried to deceive Jesus in the desert saying, “If you are the Son of God…” He was able to deceive Adam and Eve into giving him the authority that God had given to them by telling them that they could be like God. Even though they had already been made like God in His image.
Essentially, we do the same thing when we acknowledge that Christ has already accomplished everything we need for victory, but then make excuses of why it won’t work for us! “…Be doers of the Word (obey the message), and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves (into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth).”
For most of us there is a difference in what we believe and what we are actually experiencing in our lives. Often as Christians we don’t pray over our children when they are sick for fear that we may fail one more time! God has called believers to a place where we would experience the things that we say that we believe. “Faith without action is dead.” We must walk in the things that we believe in order to experience the abundant life and reveal that Christ is alive in us.
We betray ourselves into deception through our own reasoning that is contrary to the Truth! As we believe that we can live by faith in a relationship with Christ based on information received through our physical senses. The problem with the nature of deception is that we don’t know that we are being deceived. It is the fruit that comes only out of our relationship with Christ that results in revelation to know and understand His purposes. So that we will put them into practice in order to appropriate His promises for our lives. It is the evidence of a genuine relationship with God!
Jesus said, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in Him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me (cut off from vital union with Me) you can do nothing. If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a (broken-off) branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. If you live in Me (abide, vitally united to Me) and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.”
This week one of our partners wrote to us about the manifestation of this abundant fruit saying, “A man you decreed healing over when you were in Moorcroft, Wyoming was just declared healed of aggressive prostate cancer! When he went to the doctor there was NO, NONE, Nothing—all cancer gone…” The Father was once again honored and glorified by His answer to the things that we asked that day!