Sun, Jan 06, 2008


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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
GENESIS 32:22-32

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis chapter 32 as we look at the topic I call: “I surrender to no one!” You see, we tend to look at battles, at conflicts as being external and many times they are. But I believe the biggest battle, the biggest conflict we face is not external, but internal!  Let me explain it this way with the following story. We are told:

            The captain of a ship looked into the dark night and saw lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south."

Promptly a return message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north."

The captain was angered. His command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south - I am a captain."

Soon another message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north. I am seaman third class Jones."

Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: "Alter your course 10 degrees south - I am a battleship."

Then the reply came: "Alter your course 10 degrees north - I am a lighthouse."

- Source Unknown

            What do I mean by this story?  We tend to see ourselves as a giant battleship and nothing is going to get in our way, nothing is going to stop us from what we want to do. And thus, when something tries to get in our way we fight back, we are ready to roll them over and we refuse to let go and the problem is, when we are wrestling with God we won’t win until we surrender to Him!  You see, He is the LIGHTHOUSE!

            In our study this morning Jacob is heading home with his family, with his servants and with his livestock that he acquired while working for his uncle and father-in-law, Laban. Now he is heading back to the land that God promised his grandfather Abraham, his father Isaac and now him, the land of Canaan. You see, the Lord promised Jacob that He would bring him back into this land and now that is happening.

            Back in Genesis chapter 28, as Jacob was running away from his troubles he had an encounter with God and we are told, And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.’  Genesis 28:13-15.

            Then, after spending 20 years at his uncle Laban’s house, in Genesis 31:3 we are told,Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.’  So Jacob is obeying the Lord and there is only one obstacle in his way – his brother Esau.  You see, 20 years earlier Jacob stole the blessing for Esau from his father Isaac and because of that, Esau wanted to kill Jacob!  Now Jacob did not need to steal this blessing, for while these twins were in the womb, God told their mother Rebekah that the older would serve the younger or that Jacob would get the blessing.  But Jacob and his mom had their own plans and this is the mess they got themselves in because they did not trust the Lord!  Now, 20 years later Jacob is not sure how Esau feels and I believe Jacob still thinks that Esau wants to kill him, that Esau wants him dead!

            So Jacob sends out some of his servants to see how Esau felt, to kind of butter him up a little and before they even got to Esau, they saw him heading towards them with 400 men! That could only mean trouble, at least that is what they thought and they told Jacob of this bad news. So Jacob comes up with his own plan but is totally unsure if it will work. He has no peace, no comfort and thus, he can’t rest.  He then separates from his family, he puts them on one side of the river and he is going to stay on the other, all alone, all by himself maybe to think things over. Maybe he wanted to be alone so he could come up with another plan. Maybe just to get a good nights rest, if that were possible before he has his encounter with his brother Esau.  That is where we will pick up our study this morning, in Genesis chapter 32, starting in verse 22 and lets see what the Lord has for us this morning as He shows us things we might need to surrender to Him!

GENESIS 32:22-32

            When I first read this story years ago I thought to myself, “How could Jacob wrestle with God? He is just being a fool!  That Jacob truly lived up to his name!”  Now, as I read this story I see it a little differently, “Joe, how could you wrestle with God?  I am just being a fool!  I guess I am just living up to that old nature!”

            You see, when each of us examine our lives, we can see those times where we were wrestling with God to get our own way and in the end, we either surrendered to God and won, or we continued to fight against God and do it our own way and we lost!  Thus, I truly believe this is an important study for each of us to help us to grow, to mature in the Lord.

            In these verses I see three main points that we will be looking at this morning. They are: THE CONFLICT – GENESIS 32:22-24THE VICTORY – GENESIS 32:25-26. And, THE RESULTS – GENESIS 32:27-32.  So with the rest of our time this morning we are going to examine these points and see what we can glean from them to help us in our walk with the Lord.


            The conflict here is not with Esau but with God. You see, the battle was really over, God said, God promised Jacob that he would return to the land but instead of trusting in the Lord, surrendering himself to God, he was anxious, worried and he was willing to wrestle against Jesus, wrestle against God over this issue!

            Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in her book Surrender, tells us this story regarding conflict and battles. She writes:

            On March 10, 1974, almost thirty years after the end of World War II, Lt. Hiroo Onoda finally handed over his rusty sword and became the last Japanese soldier to surrender.

            Onoda had been sent to the tropical island of Lubang in the Philippines in 1944, with orders to conduct guerrilla warfare and prevent enemy attack on the island. When the war ended, Onoda refused to believe the messages announcing Japan’s surrender.

            For twenty-nine years, long after all his fellow soldiers had either surrendered or been killed off. Onoda continued defending the island territory for the defeated Japanese army. He hid in the jungle, living off the land, stealing food and supplies from local citizens, evading one search party after another, and killing at least thirty nationals in the process. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent trying to locate the lone holdout and convince him that the war was over.

            Leaflets, newspapers, photographs, and letters from friends were dropped in the jungle; announcements were made over loudspeakers, begging Onoda to surrender. Still he refused to give up his fight.  Some thirteen thousand men had been deployed in the effort before Onoda finally received a personal command from his former commander and was persuaded to give up the futile, solitary war he had waged for so many years.

            In his autobiography entitled, No Surrender: My Thirty- Year War, Onoda describes the moment that the reality of what had transpired began to sink in:

            I felt like a fool. . . . What had I been doing for all these years? . . . For the first time I really understood. . . . This was the end. I pulled back the bolt on my rifle and unloaded the bullets. . . . I eased off the pack that I always carried with me and laid the gun on top of it.

            The war was finally over.

            From our vantage point today, Hiroo Onoda seems to have been sadly mistaken at best, absurdly foolish at worst.  The best years of his life – thrown away, fighting a war whose outcome had already been determined.

            Yet, in a sense, Onoda’s story isn’t unique to him. It’s our story as well. We all begin life as members of a rebellious race, fighting our own personal war against the sovereign King of the universe. For most, that resistance unfolds into a lifelong story that could be titled No Surrender.

            Some express their resistance overtly, perhaps through a lifestyle of unbridled lust and perversion. Others are more subtle – they are upstanding citizens and community leaders; they may even be active in church work.  But beneath the surface, every human being has an inborn determination to run his own life and an unwillingness to be mastered by Christ, the King of kings.

            The decision to give up the fight is no small matter, especially after years of resistance. In Onoda’s case, he had become accustomed to living as a lone guerilla soldier, moving from one jungle hideout to another, dodging all attempts to subdue him.  By the time he was fifty-two years old, he scarcely knew any other way to live. Resisting, running, and hiding had become the norm – the way of life with which he was most familiar and comfortable. For Onoda, surrender meant nothing less than a radically altered lifestyle.

            Surrender to Christ as Savior and Lord is no less life-changing. Whether we first wave the white flag at the age of eight or eighty-eight, that surrender involves a transfer of allegiance and a transformation of perspective that ought to affect every aspect of our lives.

- Nancy Leigh DeMosss, Surrender, pp. 17-20

            And for us as Christians, it truly is a battle, a battle of the wills!  Paul, in Romans chapter 7 had this struggle between the old nature and the new nature and it was a battle. He put it like this in Romans 7:14-24, For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

            Do you see the battle he is having and that same battle we also face. We want to do well and we don’t. We want to do what is right and we do what is wrong. And you end up coming to the point where you can’t take it any longer, the conflict is too much, the fight too strong and you throw your hands up in the air and say, “I surrender!” And God says, “Great! Let’s talk. Now you are at the place where you are willing to surrender, you are willing to trust Me!”

Paul goes on to say in Romans chapter 7, I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 7:25-8:11.  And that truly leads us to our second point this morning, THE VICTORY!

2.  THE VICTORY – GENESIS 32:25-26

            Now as you read this it almost seems like Jacob had the upper hand on God, and the Lord had to cripple him to win this battle. Not at all for we are told in Hosea 12:3-5 regarding Jacob, He took his brother by the heel in the womb, And in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us — That is, the Lord God of hosts. The Lord is His memorable name.  I like the way Warren Wiersbe expounds on this incident. He writes:

            It is when we get alone with God that good things begin to happen. Christ came to wrestle with Jacob, and the struggle lasted all night. Keep in mind that Jacob was not wrestling to get a blessing from God; rather, he was defending himself and refusing to yield. The Lord wanted to break Jacob and bring him to the place where he would honestly say, "Not I, but Christ" (Gal 2:20). All night long, Jacob defended himself and refused to surrender or even admit that he had sinned. Then God weakened Jacob, and the wrestler could only cling! Now instead of scheming for a blessing or bargaining for a blessing, he asked God for the blessing-and he received it.

     - Warren Wiersbe, Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament

            You see, it was in his surrender to God that he actually won, that he received the blessing from God that God intended on giving him, He was just waiting for Jacob to come to the end of himself and look up, look to God and surrender! Yes, God does have to go to extremes at times to get our attention. Here we see Jacob crippled and he can’t run away, he can only surrender!

                        Bruce Larson, in BELIEVE AND BELONG, tells how he helped people struggling to surrender their lives to Christ: “For many years I worked in New York City and counseled at my office any number of people who were wrestling with this yes-or-no decision. Often I would suggest they walk with me from my office down to the RCA Building on Fifth Avenue. In the entrance of that building is a gigantic statue of Atlas, a beautifully-proportioned man who, with all his muscles straining, is holding the world upon his shoulders. There he is, the most powerfully-built man in the world, and he can barely stand up under this burden. ‘Now that’s one way to live,’ I would point out to my companion, ‘trying to carry the world on your shoulders. But now come across the street with me.’ “On the other side of Fifth Avenue is Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and there behind the high altar is a little shrine of the boy Jesus, perhaps eight or nine years old, and with no effort he is holding the world in one hand. My point was illustrated graphically.

“We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, ‘I give up, Lord; here’s my life. I give you my world, the whole world.’”

- Richard A. Hasler

            Now, in saying that, how many of you here this morning when you hear the word “surrender” or “submit” get a warm, loving feeling inside?  Be honest with yourself, is this something that you do easily or is it difficult, or maybe you can’t do it at all? I think many of us may not get that warm feeling, but we do get hot over issues like this and we are ready to strike back, to fight!  That is not surrender, that is not submitting.  Why is that? Because people don’t like to surrender, it is their way or the highway!  I am always amazed at the people who leave this church because they don’t agree with me, not on doctrinal matters but other issues. You see, as pastor I have to make decisions some may not like and thus, instead of giving it to God, instead of praying about it, they run away!  Now we probably would never admit something like that but don’t our actions speak louder than our words!

            Oswald Chambers, that great man of God tells us, “Surrender is not the surrender of the external life, but of the will, when that is done, all is done. There are very few crises in life; the great crises is the surrender of the will.” How true that is!

            Nancy Leigh DeMoss goes on to tell us:

            Romanian pastor and Christian leader Josef Tson was exiled from his native country in 1981, after experiencing prolonged persecution at the hands of one of the most repressive Communist regimes in history. He immigrated to the United States, where he ministered for nearly a decade, until he was able to return to his homeland, were he continues serving today.

            I first met Josef and his wife, Elizabeth, in the early 1980’s when he was speaking to a gathering of Christian workers.  I have never forgotten his response when he was asked how he wished to be introduced. Though his academic and professional credentials are impressive, Josef did not offer a printed bio sketch. Rather, this articulate, Oxford-educated theologian, who had suffered so greatly for his faith, said simply, “I wish to be introduced as ‘a slave of Jesus Christ.’”

            During his years in exile, Josef was taken aback by some of the traits of evangelical Christianity in the United States that were foreign to what he had experienced in Eastern Europe. As he studied the historical development of American evangelicalism, he discovered that those contemporary characteristics were the fruit of a series of spiritual paradigm shifts.

            The first of those changes took place at the beginning of the twentieth century, when the nineteenth-century emphasis on pursuing holiness shifted to a desire for uplifting, ecstatic experiences.

            A second change took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s, which Josef identifies as a “shift from the call to full surrender, to the call to commitment.” He explains the difference this way:

            Christian surrender means that a person lifts his or her hands and says to God, “Here I am; I surrender; You take over; I belong to You; You dispose of me!”

            But this is America, the country of the independent people!  This is the place of “Nobody should command me! . . . I belong to myself!”

            A call to surrender, and even more, to full surrender, simply doesn’t go well with such people. Therefore, the preachers, who wanted “results,” and wanted them in big numbers, felt (and gave in to) the temptation to soften the demand, to reduce the cost, to make the message more “palatable.” And they hit the word “commitment.”

            You see, commitment means “I engage myself to do something for you,” or, even lighter, “I promise to do something for you,” but I remain myself and I may keep my promise or not.  We can speak of weaker or stronger commitment, but be it as strong as possible, it is still my independent self that engages itself in a tentative promise.

            This subtle change paved the way for other shifts in the Christian culture. Josef Tson goes on to say:

            One of them came quietly, almost unobserved, through the new versions of the Bible. Translators did not like the term “bondslave” to be applied to people. Who wants to be somebody else’s slave? Therefore, they replaced it with “servant.” Again, a reflection and demand of the independent spirit!

            In the Greek, “slave” is doulos; “servant” is diakonos. In the Greek Bible one never, never diakoneo to God – one never serves God; one only douleo to God – that is, one slaves to God.

            Jesus makes it clear in Luke 17 that however much you do for God, at the end of the day you say: “I am an unworthy slave; I only did what is the duty of the slave to do!” but all that is gone now, by the replacement of the word “slave” with the word “servant.”

            Webster’s dictionary bears out the difference in meaning between these two words. A servant is defined as “a person employed to perform services . . . for another.”  A slave, on the other hand, is a “human being who is owned as property by, and is absolutely subject to the will of another.”

            As Josef Tson points out, slavery is a concept we resist in the West. We can barely swallow the idea of a servant, but the word slave sticks in our throat – as it should, if we were speaking of coerced or involuntary slavery of a person who is owned against his will by another. That is an abhorrent relationship between two individuals, both of whom are created in the image of God. But it is absolutely appropriate that human beings should chose to be the slaves of the Lord Jesus, whom they love and long to serve for all their lives.

         - Nancy Leigh DeMosss, Surrender, pp. 71-75

            Now here’s the thing.  Until you are ready to surrender to God, you will continue to fight against God. And as you fight against God, it will be reflected in how you treat others. If your relationship with God is not right, I will guarantee you that your relationship with your wife, your husband, your children, your boss, your family, your friends, with people will not be right!  Paul put it like this in Ephesians 5:18-21, And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. In other words, submit to others as you submit unto the Lord!

            In Paul’s letter to the Romans he spends 11 chapters dealing with doctrine and then, beginning in chapter 12 he tells us, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2.  In other words, here is where the rubber meets the road. You know the information, you know what God wants, now you need to put it into practice, you need to apply these things to your life! 

            Folk’s, that can only be done as you surrender your life to Him on His altar of sacrifice!  Placing your life there for God to use as He sees fit, for His good pleasure! Andrew Murray wrote, “If there is anything holding you back, or any sacrifices you are afraid of making, come to God and prove how gracious your God is.  Never be afraid that He will command from you what He will not bestow! God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you.”  Andrew Murray also wrote, “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.” That is our God folk’s!

            Jacob surrendered to the Lord and what God did in Jacob would be manifested in his outward actions, which leads us to our last point!

3.  THE RESULTS – GENESIS 32:27-32

            Here’s the point that God is making here. God is working in us, molding and shaping our lives so we can be more like Him and it is a lifelong process.  Now please understand that we are not becoming God, but His nature, His love, His character can flow through our lives and touch the lives of others.  I remember when I was a kid, when the earth was cooling and dinosaurs roamed the earth and I had a real love for baseball!  I watched Willie Mays, at least the replays, I was not born when he made that over the shoulder catch, but I did watch how he played the game and I practiced it and I could do it!  Now that did not make me Willie Mays but I was imitating what he did.

            In a small way that is what God is doing in us, not that we mimic God, but as He works in us, by His Spirit, His nature will flow from us! But here’s the thing. Before God could work in Jacob he had to surrender and once he did, once he recognized who he was, God did a mighty work in him. Folks, that is true in our own lives.  Listen to how Warren Wiersbe’s expounds on this. He wrote:

            We don't truly see ourselves until first we see the Lord. "What is your name?" (v. 27, NJKV) was the question that forced Jacob to confess his true self — "Jacob, the schemer." Once he faced himself and confessed his sin, Jacob could be changed. God gave him a new name — "Israel, prince with God" or "a God-governed man." The way to have power with God is to be broken by God. God also gave him a new beginning and a new power as he began "walking in the Spirit" and not in the flesh. This was illustrated by a new walk, for now Jacob limped. He had been broken by God, but his limp was a mark of power and not weakness. Verse 31 indicates the dawning of a new day, as the sun rose and Jacob limped out to meet Esau—with God's help!

    - Warren Wiersbe, Expository Outlines on the Old Testament

            How important this is for us. Do we want to be Jacob; heal catcher, schemer, or do we want to be Israel; governed by God?  I think that we all would want to be Israel, governed by God, but the problem comes when that old nature resurrects itself in our lives and the results are ugly. You see, there is Jacob again!  Now for this man, even after God changed his name, he is called Jacob twice as often as he is called Israel!

            Here is a question that is between you and God.  What are your refusing to surrender to God this morning? What have you gripped so tightly that you refuse to let go?  “This is they way I am going to do it and that is it!” mentality! Learn the lesson, surrender to Him and receive the blessings of God in your walk with Him. Go from Jacob to Israel, schemer to governed by God!

            As I begin to close this morning, let me share with you this poem called “The Potter’s House,” to think about in regards to what God is doing if we let Him. We are told:

            To the Potter’s house I went down one day,

            And watched Him while moulding the vessels of clay,

            And many a wonderful lesson I drew,

            As I noted the process the clay went thro’

            Trampled and broken, down trodden and rolled,

            To render more plastic and fit for the mould,

            How like the clay that is human, I thought,

            When in heavenly hands to perfection brought,

            For self must be cast as the dust at His feet,

            Before it is ready for service made meet.

            And pride must be broken, and self will lost –

            All laid on the altar, whatever the cost;

            But lo! By and by, a delicate vase

            Of wonderful beauty and exquisite grace.

            Was it once the vile clay? Ah, yes; yet how strange,

            The Potter has wrought so marvelous a change!

            Not a trace of the earth, nor mark of the clay,

            The fires of the furnace have burned them away.

            Wondrous skill of the Potter – the praise is His due,

            In whose hands to perfection and beauty it grew;

            Thus with souls lying still, content in God’s hand,

            That do not His power of working withstand.

            They are moulded and fitted, a treasure to hold;

            Vile clay now transformed into purest of gold.

- Selected

            Folks, I don’t care who you are or how independent you think you are, we all surrender to someone or something and why not the Lord?  You see, God has promised us,being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Or as The Amplified Bible puts, it, And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.  Philippians 1:6.

            May we not get in His way, the work that He wants to do in us, but may we surrender to Him, to His will. May we not say, “I surrender to no one!”  But humbly come before God and lay our lives down upon His altar of sacrifice and say, “Here is my life Lord, do with it as You please!”

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