Dear Friends,

The words “blessing” and “brokenness” don’t seem
to go together and, in fact, seem to contradict each other. But as we see in
the story of Jacob in the above Scripture verses and from the words of Jesus
and the epistles we, as Christians, need to be broken to allow the indwelling
Spirit of God to flow through our lives. “For thus says the high and exalted
One, Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place
and also with the contrite (crushed, broken) and lowly of spirit in order to
revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the spirit of the contrite.”
(Isaiah 57:15) Simply put, water (a picture of the Holy Spirit) cannot flow
uphill (to the proud) but flows down to the humble. “God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) God’s grace is opposed
to earning, and pride in our abilities or spiritual growth or business success
etc., will stop the flow of God’s power in our life. Jesus says, “I
tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it
remains only a single seed (self-centered); but if it dies, it produces many
seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his
life (lives a sacrificial, broken life) in this world will keep it for eternal
life.” (John 12:24-25) Paul said the Lord broke him “to keep me
from becoming conceited” and then the Lord said “My grace is sufficient
for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then says: “Therefore,
I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s
power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7; 9-10) This
is mysterious but nevertheless a reality of the indwelling Spirit of God revealing
His power to us and through us as we repent of our pride and self-sufficiency
and confess our weakness and need for His strength and ability to do His will
and reveal His glory (“for Christ’s sake”).

Jesus wrestled with God in Gethsemane and cried out “Abba, Father take
this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)
Then we see the greatest example of weakness, the Son of God, humiliated and
nailed to a cross, turned to the greatest power and victory this world has ever
seen – the resurrection of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who broke
the power of Satan, sin, death and the grave and gives us eternal life. Hallelujah!!!
What a Savior!!!

Jacob (which means “supplanter, schemer, go-getter’) was a schemer
and grabber all his life and was successful, rich and had a great family (by
the way, go-getters may get what they go after in this world) but he finally
had to face the music of his life of sin against his father and his brother
Esau. In facing Esau he was in desperation and feared for his very life so he
got alone with God and got honest with Him about his sin. When The Man asked
him his name and he replied “Jacob” it was a confession of what
his name and nature had always been, a schemer and grabber trying to make life
work in his own steam. Then the Lord wrenched his hip out of joint (a picture
of breaking his natural strength) and Jacob clung to Him even more strongly
in his now realized weakness and said in so many words: “ please bless
me, help me, I really need you now God.” That is when God changed his
name and his nature from Jacob the schemer to Israel, one who has struggled
with God and man and prevailed – in the strength of God. Jacob/Israel limped
the rest of his life but found God’s strength sufficient and finished
well as he blessed Joseph’s sons and “worshiped as he leaned on
the top of his staff.” (Hebrews 11:21)

The message of grace, meaning I need God’s forgiveness for salvation
and His power and ability to live a life that pleases Him and blesses others,
is an affront to our natural abilities and goodness. Jesus dealt with this with
the “church folks” in Laodicea who said “I am rich; I have
acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But Jesus said to them and He
says to us today “you do not realize that you are wretched (miserable),
pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (our spiritual condition apart from His
grace). So the blessing of brokennness is that we finally realize how desperately
we need God, not necessarily to make life work (i.e., be successful, raise a
family; remember, go-getters can do that) but to live the life God commands
us to live and empowers us to live. Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount (See
Matthew 5-7) by saying we must realize we are poor in spirit, mourn over our
sins and hunger for His righteousness and grace to live the life He taught and
modeled, a life of love and peace, of forgiveness and reconciled relationships
with our families, friends and enemies. To not dehumanize women by
looking only at their body which can lead to adultery and divorce. To keep our
word and really do what we say by letting our yes be yes and our no, no. To
turn the other cheek when insulted (slapped) and go the extra mile for our enemies.
To not be spiritual showoffs and brag about what God is doing through my life.
To be people of prayer. To truly worship God first and more than money and “stuff”,
seeking God’s praise rather than man’s praise (John 5:44) and not
worrying about our needs so much that we don’t spend time with Him. To
not judge others self-righteously. To initiate love and kindness (do unto others)
and to humbly study and obey God’s word. This is the life that Jesus says
is blessed by God. “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek”,
etc., and the blessings of love, joy and peace more so than power and wealth.
Living this kind of life is impossible without God’s power.
Brokenness is admitting that our human, natural love is powerless to please
God or to be a transforming power in the lives of others. And while we confess
that we fall short of loving this way we must be like Paul in saying: “Not
that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect (in
becoming like Jesus) but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind (especially
his self-righteous efforts to please God) and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has call me heavenward
in Christ Jesus.” (See Philippians 3:1-14)

Jacob had a high motivation to cry out to God to help him and change him as
his brother Esau and 400 men waited on the other side of the river Jabbok and
the last thing he heard Esau say was “I’m going to kill Jacob”.
Most of us will probably never face this kind of desperate situation in this
life. But one day we will face Someone who is a lot more powerful than Esau.
Unbelievers who reject Jesus Christ and His atoning blood shed for their sins
will face Him at the great white throne (Revelation 20:11-15) and hear those
awful words : “I never knew you; depart from Me.” (Matthew 7:23)
We as believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians
5:10-11) and, thanks be to God, we will not be judged for our sins, for all
of our sins are forgiven. But we will be judged for our works and only those
works done by His grace and power and for His glory will have any eternal value.
They will be like gold, silver and precious stones and receive an eternal reward.
All works done in our own strength will be wood, hay and straw and burn up and
“he will suffer loss.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) Paul goes on to say:
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.” May
we all be persuaded to put no confidence in our flesh and repent of self-confidence
in our efforts to please God and love and serve others. And may we all be persuaded
to let God deal with the “Jacob” in us and pray for brokenness so
that we too may prevail in the strength of God, “for Christ’s

For He alone is worthy,

Len and Kristen

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