After spending a wonderful week down in Tampa, FL for a Bible lectureship, I was supposed to come back and lead a bible discussion that my friends and I do bi-weekly. So after spending the whole week at the feet of preachers and teachers who expounded on the scriptures and fundamentals of God’s nature and Christianity, I couldn’t help but pull from their lessons to make my own. So, I ended up combining a short talk from last Tuesday, with a Sunday night sermon, with an evening lecture to comprise my discussion. So, of course I thought, why not post it on my blog as well?
First off, think of some of the goals you have set for yourself to complete during your lifetime. Spiritual or physical.
My list went something like this:
- Stay a strong Christian
- Be fit / Eat healthy
- Build up my photography business
- To spread love and joy to others
- To evangelize
- Continue to grow academically and spiritually
- To listen and be available for others
Now, think of some of your worries, again, spiritual or physical.
- I worry that I give myself too many cheat days (as far as fitness and healthy eating)
- I worry that I don’t talk to enough people who are lost, and try to spread God’s word
- I worry that I’m not growing, and I’m making the walk of a Christian too easy for myself
- I worry that I’m too concerned with myself
- I worry that I’m too passive about growing my photography
See any similarities? Many times the very things we set for goals are the same things we worry about. I want to be healthy, but I worry I’m not healthy enough. I want to be evangelistic, but I worry that I’m not evangelistic enough. And the list goes on.
Psalm 139, in my opinion, is a great place to go to get a full description of God and His attributes. It easily separates into three sections:
1. Verses 1-6 – God is omniscient. He knows all things, He is concerned with all our thoughts and is always aware of us.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
2. Verses 7-12 – God is omnipresent. There is nowhere we can go where He is not.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
3. Verses 13-16 – God is omnipotent. Nothing is too far from His grasp or power. He is the great God.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Then David comes to a conclusion after saying all of these wonderful things about God.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Not only was God precious to David, but God’s thoughts were precious to David. David wasn’t concerned about David’s thoughts or concerns. He instead chose to think about God’s thoughts. He didn’t leave any room to think about his earthly problems.
So the next thing to ask yourself is, when do you tend to worry? (time of day, circumstance, environment, etc.)
For me, it’s either when I’m laying in bed where it’s dark and I’m alone, or when my mind isn’t occupied with something else. I can’t really worry about things as easily when it’s daytime and there are other things to get my attention. People and my responsibilities distract me. Light pulls me away and distracts my attention to better things. So there is also a better spiritual light is available for us to pull us away from the things of this world.
The lectures theme this past week was about light, and how God relates to this. Almost every time God did something dramatic in the Bible, light was involved. I’ve listed a few below.
- Plague of Darkness (while light still shone over Israel) (Ex. 10:21-23)
- Pillar of Light leading the Israelites (Ex. 13:21)
- Day stood still for Joshua (Josh. 10:13)
- The sundial moves backwards (Isaiah 38:8)
- Elijah’s sacrifice is consumed (1 Kings 18:37-38)
- The stars announce Jesus’ birth (Matt. 2:2,9)
- Paul blinded on the road (Acts 9)
This light that God used indicated that He was with them. But it wasn’t only to say, “I am here” but also to say, “I am here for YOU.”
If we constantly stay in the light, it’s harder to give in to worry. We are illuminated to the truth that there are better things to do than worry. The light shows us what needs to be done, spiritually and physically. The light gives us someone to talk to about our worries. Sometimes if we just talk to a friend about our worries, and get them out in the open, we see them there and realize, “You know, that really isn’t worth worrying about.” Sometimes things get blown out of proportion and made bigger than they really are in our minds. Sometimes all we need to do is bring them out in the open by talking about them and realize they aren’t so big and bad after all. Guess what? There is always someone willing to listen to you talk about your worries, and He created you. His light is always available. Sometimes electricity goes out, or light bulbs and batteries die, and we are left to grope about in the dark. God never leaves us to grope in the dark.
But sometimes we may feel that He has left us in pitch black darkness. Maybe even feel that He is hiding or fighting against us. Jacob is a prime example of this scenario, so let’s focus on his life just a bit.
So, in Genesis 29 is we see Jacob meets the woman of his dreams, Rachel. And of course, we know that “whoever finds a wife, finds a good thing.” So Jacob most likely praised God for this blessing. But as the Bible continues, we see that Jacob is tricked and receives Leah instead. Going on to chapter 31, verse 7, we see that this isn’t the only time that Laban tricks Jacob.
“Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.”
So Jacob probably had a lot to worry about. He hasn’t known when or what Laban is going to pay him with, and he also has two wives vying for his attention and love. God has told Jacob at this point to go back home, and that’s something to worry about as well. Esau was pretty hot the last time Jacob saw him, so Jacob’s not really sure what he’s walking into. So that night on the road, after splitting his camp up for safety measure, he prays to God.
“I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. 11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”
Jacob is asking in complete humility. No bargaining on his part. He recalls the promise God made to him originally back in Genesis 28:14. Sometimes we get in a bargaining mentality when we want reassurance and promises. Not so with Jacob. So God answers and sends His messenger to Jacob that night. But not with comfort or reassurance. Instead, He comes to wrestle with Jacob. The only obstacle between Jacob and the promise is God Himself. But Jacob holds his ground and demands a blessing. The important thing to note here, though, is that Jacob is not wrestling against God, he is wrestling FOR the blessing God has promised him.
Obtaining God’s promise is not always easy.
“strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
Sometimes we get injured on the way to the blessing, just like Jacob in verse 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. “) We can also look in 1 Corinthians 12:7, to see how Paul’s thorn in the flesh was something that pained him for the rest of his life.
God will let our struggle be more than we want, but not any more than we can survive.
Concentration is key
Wrestling takes full concentration. You must watch the opponent closely, with no room for anything else. Jacob’s full attention was on God. If he had started thinking about the quarrels that were going on at home, or about his reception with Esau, or Laban’s deceptions, he wouldn’t have been able to last until the dawn. Jacob didn’t allow anything to distract him from his purpose, and that was to receive God’s blessing.
God will bless us, if we hang on to Him.
Sometimes God is just testing how much we value His blessings. Are we giving everything we have to obtain God’s blessings? Are we enduring until day break, or giving up before the fight is won?
Job had the same mentality as Jacob, as we see in Job 13:15
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
How badly do we want God’s blessings?
Even if it seems as if the darkness is overwhelming and God is nowhere to be found, remember that we need only to hang on until the night passes.