Growing up, my best girlfriend, Margie, and I were inseparable. When I wasn’t at her house, she was at mine. We were together a lot! Margie’s dad was a good ol’ Irish Catholic man, born and raised in “Chi-cah-go” near Wrigley Field. I just loved Mr. Mangan. He was more Irish than a box of Lucky Charms and I could always count on him for a warm welcome, a hug and a blessing. That’s right, a blessing. They weren’t necessarily long words of God’s favor and protection, but you knew you were loved and that God’s blessings had been prayed over you.
- “May the Lord keep you.”
- “Go with God”
- “God love ya!”
The whole idea of giving a blessing was actually God’s idea. One of the blessings we are most familiar with, the Aaronic Blessing, is given to us in Numbers 6. This is where God told Moses to tell Aaaron and his sons how to bless the people of Israel.
24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.
I want God’s blessings… Don’t you? But how bad do you want them? Do you want God’s blessings bad enough to wrestle God?
One of my favorite men of the Old Testament, Jacob, did just that. He went “wrestling for the blessing.” This story is found in Genesis 32-33. Jacob is not the perfect hero we might expect. He was wealthy and powerful and earned the grudging respect and even fear of his peers. On one hand, he was a determined, hard worker. On the other hand a selfish liar. Faithful and deceitful. How could he be both? Imperfect and yet, God used him. I think Jacob was a lot like us, trying to please God, yet often falling short.
In this chapter of Jacob’s life, we find him traveling down a dusty road to meet his twin brother, Esau, with whom he has not talked in 20 years. The last time these brothers saw each other, Esau was ready to kill Jacob because Jacob stole Esau’s birthright—his most precious possession. Esau was so angry he vowed to kill Jacob as soon as their father died. On this dusty road Jacob is met by God’s angel army. You’ve heard the song… the God of angel armies… here they are! Jacob soon finds out that Esau is coming with his own army of 400 men to wipe out Jacob.
The first time in 20 years these brothers are going to meet and Jacob is frantic with fear for his life and the life of his family. He was greatly distressed and afraid, but this time, he collects his thoughts and decides to pray.
God, Help me! I’ve got a problem. Esau, my brother, is my problem. In reality, the real problem is something different— the real problem was there was too much of Jacob. Jacob was always “that kid” where something was not quite right. From his childhood on he was a shady character. Always deceitful. Always lying. Always the struggle…
Jacob begins to wrestle with God. Jacob tells God, I will not let go until You bless me. I will not let go… I will not let go…
Nathan was on his high school wrestling team. Have you ever been to a wrestling match? It has to be the ultimate test of strength and perseverance. Opponents are FACE TO FACE grappling with throws, joint locks, pins and other holds… struggling for the takedown… And God allows the struggle to go on. And here, God knocked Jacob’s hip out of joint at the socket… “pop!”
God was saying you are not going to leave here with the same struggles… I am going to so touch you… I am going to change you…
Determined to get God’s blessing, Jacob persevered in his struggle. Through this match, this striving, JACOB IS FACE TO FACE WITH GOD. WRESTLING WITH GOD. I will not let you go until you bless me… I WILL NOT LET GO… I WILL NOT LET GO. Jacob was desperate for God’s blessing… he needed supernatural strength… and this wrestling matching went on all night.
Then finally God says, your name is not Jacob anymore… but “Israel” I will call you Israel which means prince for you shall have power with God and favor with men.
Power with God and favor with men… say it!!!!
Does anyone here need power with God and favor with men?
God will meet you on your dusty road. He will meet you in your struggles. He will closely monitor the fight. God is not interested in destroying you or hurting you. He is interested in changing you. God was interested in changing him so he held on to him and let him struggle until there was no more Jacob left. The reason God allows us to struggle and to weep is not to kill us but to change us. That night when Jacob walked away, he didn’t walk the same. He walked with a limp. He wasn’t the same man. He was changed, transformed. He now had power with God and favor with men.
God has got a plan and a purpose for every one of us. The God of Angel Armies shows up on our personal dusty roads, always on time. He will fight our battles. He has come to our defense:
God is the companion of our solitude and the shield of our defenselessness.
The fear, the depression, the sin, the addiction, the financial crisis—whatever the struggle: we must lose our casual state of mind. We have to get desperate. We have to hold on until the blessing comes. The greater the struggle, the more we have to hold on. We have to get more aggressive with God and get more hungry for God and more thirsty for Him until we are desperate.
We are not prone to change in comfort. We are not prone to change when we are on top of the world. God is more interested in our character than our comfort. We have to let him transform us. The struggle you are in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.
Here is the main thing: The angel (who is God) asked Jacob, “What is your name?” The last time Jacob was asked that question was when his father was dying on his death bed. Jacob lied and said, “My name is Esau.” He stole his brother’s blessing.
So now God is asking again, “What is your name?”
Jacob had to face who he really was. He had to face his life as a liar, a manipulator. If God were to ask you, “What is your name?” How would you answer? Do you still have that old nature? Have you faced who you really are?
The Holy Spirit is ready to change you. Are you ready to say, “I want Power with God and Favor with men?”
Power with God…Favor with men
God will open doors that no one else can open— only God. God will see you reach your full potential. Hold on for the God’s blessing!
Heavenly Father, I cry out to you with hunger and desperation. Give me power with You, God, and favor with men. This one’s for me. I’m tired of how things are in my life. I’m tired of the curse and I’m ready for Your blessing.
No more depression. No more fear. No more holding back. No more feeling like Im a failure. Lord, I receive power with you and favor with men.