“Isn’t God amazing!” this is how Eirwen began her sermon this week. Often, we get so caught up in the noise of worshipping God, and in the sound of our own voices, that we don’t realise how much of God we are missing, by not allowing those moments of silence, where we give God the chance to speak to us personally.
Last time Eirwen spoke, she talked about Joshua becoming a new leader, as a whole generation of Israelites had died. In Joshua 3:5, Joshua tells the people to consecrate themselves. Consecration is translated as “to purify”. They had to wash and change clothes. It can seem as if this was simply a ritual, but it was never about rituals for God. He was not interested in the ritual, but in their obedience to what He told them to do. It is the same with us. By being obedient, they were showing God their hearts. The truth is that the laws were never just rituals, but tests of obedience to Him. In this piece of scripture, it is interesting that God is the one who initiates the fight. He wants us to cross over into our promised land, and live up to our potential.
So, what does purification mean for us? If we look at the story of Jacob in Genesis 32:24-32, we see a “mammy’s boy”, the second born of twins, who came out, grabbing at his brother’s heel. He was a bit of a control freak. He wanted things all his way, and manipulated the situations presented to him, to get both the blessing and inheritance, which should have been his brother’s.
Eirwen tells us that there are three things that Jacob had to wrestle with to purify himself and reach his destiny. She says that she does not believe that it is any different for us, the only question is whether we are willing to wrestle with ourselves, with others, and with God, in order to reach our destinies. Will we fight our fears and obey Him?
Firstly, we must wrestle with ourselves. We cannot lie to God. We cannot make excuses for our bad behaviours. The truth is that God will bless all of us, not just the parts that we show to others. He sees the parts that we hide. He wants those parts. He wants all of us, and when we confess our weaknesses, it changes us. We can’t put on our acts for others and expect to fool God, because He sees. He knows us too well. In the end, God can’t work on our weakness, He can only work on us. We have to change the real us, which means that we have to own the real us.
God us the one who will initiate the wrestling. Sometimes, we think that if we just ask when we want something, that God will give it to us, but we don’t “delight” in Him. The truth is that God is not Santa. He looks for the best in us. Eirwen said that there is no bigger manipulator than social media. We tend to put all of our desires on there. The question is why? It can be manipulative. In scripture, Hezekiah refuses to die, as she has no children, so God grants her her request, but her sons were two of the worst kings Israel has ever seen.
We must also remember, when we get to the promised land, not to forget God. We are to “delight in the Lord”. The question is, how much do we want our promised land, because it will take prayer and getting to know Him, if we are to get there. The truth is that Jacob only changed when He saw God as God was.
Some of the hard things that we go through can make us feel like God isn’t for us, when actually, in those moments, He is more for us than He has ever been. We just need to spend time with Him; own who we are before Him, and delight in Him always.
Secondly, we must forgive as we are forgiven. Jacob had to be prepared to make up with his brother Esau, in spite of the fact that he was scared Esau would kill him. He had to take that risk. The fact is that we can’t treat others as we should unless we’ve met with God first. Joyce Meyer says that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Talking about Jacob wrestling with God, and having his hip put out, Eirwen tells us that we have to limp if we have faith. We must forgive, and just keep on going.
In his book, “Giants Must Fall”, Louie Giglio says “The antidote to fear is faith, and the soundtrack of faith is worship”. We have to worship God in the good and in the bad times. We must walk in fellowship with Him. No man, woman, or child has control over out lives, only God. We actually give other people far more credit than they deserve. They can do nothing to effect God’s blessing on our lives. They can make things uncomfortable, but they can’t stop God’s will. The truth is that we must get up and go again. We must forgive and move on, not fearing the past, but loving every minute of our lives and making the most of it.
Thirdly, we must wrestle with God. We must look to Jesus and keep our eyes upon Him. We have to find God for ourselves. It isn’t enough for us to just know about Him, we must know Him personally. We need to seek Him with all our hearts and we will find him and have a taste and see that He is good, based on our personal experience, rather than on theory. We must live on God’s revelation, rather than someone else’s. Jacob found, once he walked with a limp, he was unable to trust and rely on himself, and it is then, that he trusted God.
Finishing her sermon, Eirwen reads from Philippians 4:4-9, instructing us that we must praise Him, thank Him, worship Him, before we can ask Him, and then, we must thank Him again.
If we are to reach our promised land, we must go back to basics. We must go back to wrestling with God.
Scriptures: Joshua 3:5, Genesis 32:24-32, Psalm 37:4, Matthew 6:33, 1 John 1:7, Psalm 27, Philippians 4:4-9