Trophies of God’s Grace

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“So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7

You have a story.

I have a story.

There are parts of our story we’d like to hide from but what we attempt to hide will haunt us. No matter how fast or far we try to run from our baggage, it will always catch up with us because it is a part of our story. As a follower of Jesus, your past failures no longer define you but display God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness in your life.

In the book of Genesis, we are introduced to a guy by the name of Jacob. I appreciate the transparency of the Bible as the scriptures do not attempt to cover up the misdeeds of those written about. Jacob was no exception.

Jacob’s name means supplanter, manipulator, and deceiver. He spent his whole life deceiving, lying and tricking people to get what he wanted, yet it did not bring about happiness or satisfaction he expected. He only created more enemies. After tricking his twin brother out of his inheritance and deceiving his father, he runs off to the land of his uncle Laban to wait for things to cool down. Jacob discovered in Laban what he could not see in himself.

“These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flocks, and you have changed my wages ten times.” Genesis 31:41

In Genesis 32, Jacob comes to a mid-life crisis. Tired of all the games he makes plans to return to the land of his father. While on his journey, he is warned that his twin brother Esau is looking for him with what appears to be a small army. When you treat others wrong, your perspective becomes tainted, and your perception is skewed. You automatically assume everyone is out to get you or repay you.

Sending his traveling party ahead to cross the river and he stays on the opposite side as he contemplates his life. This becomes a pivotal moment for Jacob. Suddenly, he is surprised by an unknown person and not knowing if this is a friend or a foe, he immediately engages in a wrestling match.

The words which describe Jacob’s encounter paint a picture of obscurity. It was night time, just before daybreak, and the man would not give his name. The man, whom Jacob later recognized was God, was in the form of a man.

God is spirit and does not have a physical body. If God revealed himself to Jacob, Jacob would die because of his sinful state. In Exodus 33 God tells Moses “I will let all my goodness,” a representation of who God is, “pass before you because no one can see God and live.”

God does judge or reject Jacob but gives him a new name and nature. God said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:28 He was still Jacob in the flesh, but God gave him a new name and a new nature to live by.

There are two keywords to highlight in Genesis 32:28, so we capture their significance in of what was said. The first word is “striven,” and means “to persist and to persevere.” We need to develop the ability to strive with God.

To persist even when we feel we are making no progress.

To persevere even when it feels like there is little visible evidence of change.

The visual of progress may be a frequent hurdle to jump in your spiritual development; so you need to strive for God.

The second word is “prevailed.” This word means “able and to endure.” Against all the odds, Jacob contended with God for the change he needed. He didn’t allow discouragement to convince him change would never happen, but he endured.

“Prevailed” is sometimes translated as “able,” it means there is external help in achieving the desired outcome. In context this tells us how God is the driving force behind the change from our old nature to the new nature He’s prepared for us.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

On the journey of transformation, discouragement will be your greatest hurdle. You may not always see the change God is implementing in your life, but everything God begins He completes. The word completion emphasizes an ongoing, continuous process.

God’s not going to give up on you, so don’t give up on Him. Transformation is a 2-part process. One part God’s power. One part your surrender.

I am a work in progress. You are a work in progress. We are trophies of God’s grace!

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