Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wrestling With God

As is his custom, Pastor Brad enjoys tipping his hand with regard to his theme during his welcome message. After a warm greeting he added today, "We have a seeking God who seeks us out and who longs to give us healing…. A new name, a new identity with new values and a new mission."

1. "Forget Winter" Potluck Picnic Party, March 9, 5-8 p.m. with BBQ Food, games, and prizes. Wear summer attire. Bathing suits O.K.
2. Girls Art Club starts today… ages 9-14… the fourth Sunday every month after church.
3. A new baby has been born to Jake and Leanne. Anyone who wishes to help make a meal contact Brooke.
4. New members class started today… not too late to join. Contact Pastor Brad.

The kids percussion choir opened the service with Heaven On My Mind and I’ll Fly Away. Chuck, Ken and Darlene then sang Rise Again by Dallas Holme. During the offering they also shared another special song from the Seventies, He Died On The Cross (For You and Me).

Joel Osterlund of Covenant Park Bible Camp shared with us some thoughts about youth camp and its value in so many lives, a place where many find Christ for the first time and many more grow in their faith as they learn about who God is. Joel reminded us that there is day-camp for very young, mini-camps for slightly older young people and the week-long experience which is most common. A video titled Search and Rescue was shared to help us see some of what Covenant Park Bible Camp is about.

Joel not only made an appeal for summer staff if anyone is interested or volunteer adults with medical experience. Cheryl Borndal stood and mentioned that this Friday is the deadline for the cheapest rate for summer camp.

Our prayer needs vary, but we are all needy. Brad prayed for our broken relationships, for those bound by addictions and those suffering with medical issues.  

Wrestling With God

Brad introduced his message by reading the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel that begins at Genesis 32:22.

And then he began with a personal story. Shortly after he and Brooke were married they were moving into a new place and Brad had it in mind to place a tea-leaf plate on a certain spot on the wall. After negotiating a bit on the matter it became a point of contention and at the end of their dispute the reality set in that he simply wanted his own way.

Too often, when things go bad it is because we want our own way more than anything else. We connive and coerce to get the tea-leaf plates where we want them, to have things the way we want them to be.

Often we use language games to get our way in ways that do not look so self-serving. When Jacob was young, he connived to get a blessing from his father. In Jacob’s family this phrase had a significant meaning. His grandfather Abraham had received a blessing from God, and knew his father valued it.

Jacob's name meant heel-grabber. He was born along with a twin brother, the second of the two. As his life unfolded he lived the very way he was named. To get the blessing he sacrificed all the close relationships that were important to him in order to obtain this.

At the core of our lives we are the same, we want our own way. “What must I do to be saved?” is a question so many ask… We want our way even when it comes to God’s blessing.

Jacob deceived his father to get the blessing and yet after he got it he was still not satisfied. The blessing was not a story of rest and blessedness. His whole story has striving at its core.

As he returns back to his homeland years later he has an encounter. “A man wrestled with him until daybreak.” It’s a sketchy story, but we do get a few details that tell us something. First, they wrestle all night. At daybreak the man says he must go. Finally, the man asks Jacob’s name. And the man gives Jacob, the heel-grabbing conniver, a new name. “You shall be called Israel.”

The story suggests that to encounter God, to wrestle with God gives us a new identity but it does not leave us unscathed. Jacob is changed, and scarred. Touched on the hip he walked with a limp from then on.

No one could change Jacob’s identity except God. Jacob asks what the man’s name is, and the man says, “Why do you ask my name?’

Like Jacob, you and I are desperately in need of a blessing, a new set of values. Who can change us at such a fundamental level? Only God.

When you wrestle with God He will stay with you all night long. God alone can change your name, your fundamental identity.

This story says to us, “Wrestle with God.” He is a God who longs to encounter us, to be found, to bring us a new blessing. The New Testament states that in our weakness God’s power is made perfect. Wrestle with courageous honesty. You will not find the blessing in a job, in money, in other people.

Open yourself to receive the blessing of Jesus Christ that only God can give.

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