Wrestling with God

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

Good morning!  I hope everyone is doing well in the new start to the year.  I hope and pray that you are reading and studying and living out God’s Word each day.

In Genesis 32:22-32, the account of Jacob wrestling with God is given to us.  Jacob is returning home, and he is in fear of his brother Esau.  He sent all his servants and livestock ahead of him to try and appease Esau.

22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had.24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh. Gen 32:22-32

When all was said and done, Jacob the deceiver had become Israel.  There was an immediate change in Jacob.  Instead of hiding behind his wives, servants and children, Gen 33:3 tells us that  “He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.”

Jacob was changed!  He was now Israel! 

Have you ever felt like  you were wrestling with God?  I sure have.  Sometimes in order for God to get our attention, He has to get us down on the ground, get us dirty, wrestle us around until we give up.  It’s a shame that we have to get to that point, but sometimes that’s what it takes.  But then we are changed!  We are ready to do  what God asks of us.

I hope and pray that if you are wrestling with God, that He will keep you on the ground, in a headlock if He needs to, until you say yes to Him.


Yesterday I read from Genesis 16-18. In chapter 17, God gave Abram the name of Abraham, made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his offspring, to be their God and to give them the land of Canaan. Abraham’s part of the covenant (and the people) was that all of the males would be circumcised in the flesh of their foreskin. I will dive more into this covenant soon.

In chapter 18, God gives Sarai,the named of Sarah. God tells Abraham and Sarah that they will have a son in their old age (Abraham has already had a son (Ishmael with Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant). This son would be Isaac. Abraham and Sarah both thought it pretty funny that God would give them offspring at this stage in their lives. (Abraham thought it so funny that he “fell on his face and laughed.”) Sarah only laughed to herself, but she got caught.

9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Genesis 18: 9-15

Sarah did indeed have a son. Is anything too hard for the Lord?

We put our own limits on what God can do! We think things are impossible that God says are not! Do we have faith and trust in God? Do we believe He will do what He says? Apparently neither Abraham or Sarah did in this case.

What do we need to do in our own lives to trust God to do what He says?

This morning, I would like to share a devotional thought written by my friend, Margaret Fleming:


Have you ever felt like you were going through the motions?

You know that feeling; you are present in an activity physically but miles away mentally and spiritually?

The song, Going through the Motions, by Matthew West caught my attention several years ago. As I drove to work, I literally had to pull onto the side of the road and finish listening to it. It was as if God was singing it to me. Later that day, I found it on YouTube and listened continuously to it.

That day brought a change in my life in many ways…

I felt that I had not done enough of His kingdom’s work, not loved enough, not shown enough grace, not witnessed enough, not held someone enough in their time of discomfort. It began a chain of events that changed my life completely.

Now I am reflecting on my next step in life…

Today, as I seek His will and search scripture, my eyes are lead to read in the book of Luke.

Luke 18:29-30 says:

“I tell you the truth”, Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brother or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life”

Are you going through the motions? If so, seek His will… where will the Lord take you and I and what will He have us do in this New Year. Maybe He wants us to stop “Going through the Motions”…


What Would You Do?

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

As I shared with you on Tuesday, I have begun a reading plan to read through the entire Bible this year, and today’s reading is from Genesis chapters 12-15.  A great deal has happened in the first  11 chapters of Genesis.

The world and everything in it has been created, including man.  The perfect image of God that man was created to be has been marred by sin, God has destroyed all living creatures except those on the Ark and started again with Noah and his descendants.  Now that is a very short synopsis of where we are.

A new literary section begins in chapter 12.  God speaks to Abram, who later becomes Abraham,  and calls Abram to go.

12 Now the Lord said[a] to Abram, “Go from your country[b] and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[c]

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

I wonder how I would have handled this calling,  and I wonder how you would handle this calling.  I think most of us would probably respond something like this:

“Sounds good God, but will you tell me where we’re going first?  When are we leaving?  I’ve got to handle some financial issues before I go, so can we do this later?  When are we coming back?  What do I need to pack for the journey?”  You know God, it really doesn’t make sense just to pick up and leave.  I don’t know if I can do this.  are you sure you want me to go? And many more questions and comments.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Verse 4 tells us “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”

What would you do?  Has God called you to “go” and you reasoned your way out of it?  Have you tried to make it logical, to make sense?

Do we really trust God to go where He sends us?  Or can we have the faith of Abram and just “go?”

Pray : “Faithful God, help us to walk by faith and not by sight.”


Happy New Year!

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

As we enter into a new year, it’s a good time to reflect on last year and see where we can change some things so that this year will be better. We all seem to strive for better health (lose weight, get in shape, eat right), for better financial health (get out of debt), a better family dynamic (spend more time with our families, be kinder), to be more generous(help others), and hopefully and most importantly, a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

I would encourage you this year to make a habit of reading God’s Word in a systematic way. There are many good reading plans available that guide you through reading the entire Bible in one year. Find one that you are comfortable with, and a version of the Bible that you are comfortable with and discipline yourself to do it. Spend time with the Word, and in prayer and meditation with God each day.

Andrew Murray in his work “The Deeper Christian Life,” tells us:

The first and chief need of our Christian life is, Fellowship with God.

The Divine life within us comes from God, and is entirely dependent upon Him. As I

need every moment afresh the air to breathe, as the sun every moment afresh sends down

its light, so it is only in direct living communication with God that my soul can be strong.

The manna of one day was corrupt when the next day came. I must every day have fresh

grace from heaven, and I obtain it only in direct waiting upon God Himself. Begin each

day by tarrying before God, and letting Him touch you. Take time to meet God.”

God grants us new mercies each day.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Today, I would encourage you to confess your sins to Him, so that you are clean!

The reading plan that I am using for this year starts at the very beginning, Genesis 1-3. The Word tells us of the creation story. God created heaven and earth and everything in it, including man. Mankind was created in the perfect image of God! We are intended to be His Image bearer. In the story of the fall in chapter 3, the image was marred by sin. Adam and Eve didn’t trust God to supply their needs. They wanted more.

When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are to work the rest of our lives to try restore the image of God. It can only be done through trusting Jesus with all that we are and have, and living a life lead and filled by the Helper, the Holy Spirit.

Don’t Worry

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25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:25-34

These again are the words of Jesus, not man.

If you notice, the first word in this passage is therefore.  I was taught that anytime you see the word therefore in scripture, you should pay attention to what it’s there for.

Immediately preceding this passage, Jesus has been teaching about giving to then needy, pray and fasting, and how we should do all of these, and as we looked at yesterday, “storing up your treasures in heaven.”

And then we get the “therefore.”

So if we are doing these acts of sacrifice, fasting, storing up treasure in heaven and not on earth, we should not worry about our life, what we will eat or drink or how we will be clothed.  If we are doing what He asks, then we will be seeking first His kingdom and righteousness, and we will be provided for.

Do we sometimes hold back on doing for others, (store up our treasures on earth) because we live in fear that we won’t have enough?  Shame on us!  We need to trust Him for our provision.  Not all we might want, but all we need.

Pray: Lord, help us to do the things that we should and trust you.



Matthew 16:19-24

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e]destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[f]

This passage of scripture speaks directly to fasting from indifference (IMHO).  If we are not storing up treasures on earth, then we are more than likely fasting from indifference, and giving to those who need your help.  This word comes from Jesus, not from man.  Prayerfully consider how you can user your treasure wisely.  Jesus is pretty plain in his Word.

Pray: Lord, help us to use wisely our treasure.

Lenten Discipline

Posted by rickyreece | Uncategorized

I hope that you have thought and prayed about your Lenten discipline.  Many people give up things like eating certain foods, soft drinks, television…. These are all good things do give up.  Spend that time that you would normally spend watching TV to meditate and pray.  Ann, my wife said that she had read this week that Pope Francis had written about fasting from indifference.

Think about this for a minute.  What if we really did fast from indifference?  What if we took an active role in helping others that are hungry (physically or spiritually) or needing clothes or help with their bills.   What if they just need a kind word or a hug?  If we look, we can find these people, even in small towns.  We mostly know someone who needs our help.  Pray that God will make you aware of their needs.  Give to them.  There are people in the world that really need our  help.

Pray:  Lord, please give us a heart for helping others.


“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
the early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection,
and it became the custom of the the  Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a 
forty-day season of spiritual preparation.
During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism.
It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sin and had separated themselves from
the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation
in the life of the Church.
In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the
gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent;
by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting and self-denial;
and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.
To make a right beginning of repentance,
and as a mark of our mortal nature,
let us now kneel before our Creator and Redeemer.”

Let us confess our sins before God and one and our neighbors.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we
have done, and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not
loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.
For the sake of you Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will,
and walk in you ways, to the glory of your name.  Amen.

Good morning everyone!  I hope your week is going well and that your are coming closer to Christ each day.

This past weekend, the lectionary pointed us to the Gospel of Mark, in the story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus: ( Mark 10:46-52)

46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him,“Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

There were many ways to preach this passage, but what spoke to me this week was Jesus asking Bartimeaus, “what do you want me to do for you?”   This was the same question that Jesus asked James and John in Mark: 10:36.  James and John were concerned with positions of prestige and power (sitting at Jesus’ left and right hand).  Bartimeaus wanted something much more practical; he wanted to be able to see.

So, the question becomes, “what do you want Jesus to do for you?”  Do you want Him to lift you to a place of power and prestige like James and John (glorifying you), or do you want something much more practical like seeing?

I asked my congregations this week, “What do you want Jesus to do for you?”  Some of the responses were:

“Make me a better person.”  “Help me to be a better listener.”  “Forgive me.”  “Peace.”  “Assure me that I’m going to heaven.” “Heal me physically.” “Heal my loved ones.”

So, what is is that you want Jesus to do for you?  Do you want Him to do something that glorifies yourself, or glorifies Him? 


Pray: Holy Lord, we all want you do to something for us.  We yearn; we long for you to help us in our lives.  Please let our motivations be pure.