“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 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. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.””
Genesis 32:24-30 NKJV
When I consider the adjectives that I have been used to label me over the span of my life, I also remember some of the contexts that earned me those descriptors in the first place. I was called evil, mean, prideful, perverted, violent, a liar. All were appropriate in describing me and affixed to my name, as I was one in the flesh, not knowing the Lord.
Jacob was also one who had a checkered past. He was called “heel-catcher” from the womb, and he was a liar and a supplanter. He was all those things and probably more.
On a night, facing uncertainty, and filled with dread, he encountered a Man and wrestled Him. We know from the text that Jacob was wrestling God, a christophony, the preincarnate Jesus. He wrestled God, and just when he thought he would win, the Lord touched the hip, He designed, and brought Jacob low.
I too, wrestled with God. I tried every move I knew, every rationalization, every justification for the sin in my life. I extolled my belief that I was a good man, that I was virtuous. I compared myself to the next guy, as I had to be better than they were.
I even tried to redefine the nature of God, remaking Him to not be concerned about my sin. Still God prevailed.
Just when I thought I was in the clear, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sinfulness, and I was made lame. I could no longer go into my day to day life thinking I was superior, for I now knew that I was truly a wretch, bound for hell and deserving all the damnation I was due.
In that moment, I cried out, “Jesus, save me!”, “Forgive me of my sin!” I received a new Spirit and a new name. The old Bernie died, and I was born again.
With my new name, I have new adjectives, as the Lord has transformed my heart. I have empathy, where I did not care about anyone, I love, where I hated, I mourn, where I was ambivilent, I and chaste, where I was a fornicator.
God has changed my thinking, as I relinquish my old, dead, thoughts of myself, and my expectations are raised to reflect His holiness.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:8-10 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us embrace the new name that God has given us. Let us be described by new adjectives, as we take new actions in our ministry.
Many of us continue to wrestle with God, and seek to hang on to that old name. The people that Jesus has sent us to reach to need to see the transformation that God has brought into our lives. They need to know that God makes all things new.
When we look around us, we know that God is about to complete His work in this world, and we must be about the Father’s business with an urgency, as many do not know the Lord. The Gospel must go out, many need to hear. Let us endure and be about the work, demonstrating the change that God has brought.
Time is running out.
“And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.””
Revelation 21:6-8 NKJV
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