The devil wants your vision, your strength! But the Lord wants your limp.
In 1 Samuel 11, we read how Nahash the Ammonite came against the people of Jabesh Gilead, blockading them and backing them up against a corner, so to speak. With their backs against the wall, they were willing to make a covenant compromise or treaty with him.
“And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, ‘On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.’” (1 Samuel 11:2 NKJV)
Fortunately for the people of Jabesh Gilead, Saul rallied Israel and Judah to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters, and they routed the Ammonites.
But why did Nahash want to gouge out their eyes?
My friend Ray Comfort shared, years ago, that young men in biblical times would learn how to fight with a shield in their left hand, a weapon in their right hand, and their right eye watching the enemy. Nahash—whose name means “cunning one” or “serpent”—was saying, “OK, I will make a treaty with you. But give me your vision. Let me take away what you instinctively rely on when you need to respond in your strength.”
If they had given up all their right eyes, they would have given up their capacity to fight, to see the works of the enemy, and to discern. Their enemy would have robbed them of their strength.
In contrast, when the Lord wrestled with Jacob, it changed Jacob’s destiny. Jacob came in his own strength and wisdom. After wrestling with God, he left with a limp but he also left with a new identity. He was no longer Jacob, but became known as Israel. And we are all beneficiaries of God’s covenant promises because of the moment Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed.
Like Nahash the Ammonite, the enemy or the devil is cunning and deceptive in how he communicates his ways. We have to be people of discernment and those who love the truth if we’re going to win God’s way. There are no shortcuts in life or faith. From our internal wrestlings or battles, and as we press in to the Lord, we can come out different – with a new identity. The narrative and the storyline are changed.
WRESTLING WITH GOD
When I think about the contrast here—wrestling with God or wrestling in the flesh—I would rather wrestle with God. In that wrestling, He works through all those external and internal challenges that I’m going through. With God, I win! Even if I leave with the limp, I’m also strengthened with greater vision, fresh anointing, prophetic clarity, wisdom, and direction for the things I may face.
“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
What are the principalities we face today? There are so many! We cannot fight these principalities in the current conventional ways, and we must not be seduced into believing we must fight according to the opponent’s rules of engagement. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war, according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ.”
At times, we all wrestle with internal struggles, and these are often compounded by external circumstances. We sometimes feel like the enemy has us backed into a corner, and there we are tempted to compromise our biblical convictions.
During these times, it’s important for us to respond—as Jacob did when he was fearing a potential battle in his reunion with Esau—by pulling away and wrestling through our fears and struggles with God. When we wrestle first with God and prevail, we are then given authority by God—as he changes our identity—to prevail over the principalities that are coming against us, trying to distract us and disillusion us from our destination with God and His purposes.
We, like Jacob, need to quit running from our past. We must come to the Ford of Jabbok (a place of stopping, reflecting, and total surrender) so the Lord can deal not only with our external conflicts and fears, but also with the internal wrestlings and conflicts of heart and mind. We must be confronted by Him with our past before we can move into our future.
Here are some practical principles that will help us overcome these spiritual battles in seen and unseen places:
Praise Him through it. Whatever the circumstance, whatever external challenges or even internal conflicts or blessings I’m going through, I have to, in faith, praise the Lord in the midst of it.
We see this in Scripture when the disciples are in prison. As they are praising the Lord, the prison doors open. Over and over again in Scripture, we see those who, in the midst of the most difficult of times, place their sacrifice on the altar. We, today, are living sacrifices. As we place ourselves on the altar of God with our time, talent, resources, and treasures, the Holy Spirit consumes our offering and His glory fills our temple. When worship goes up, His presence comes down and manifests in ways that bring breakthroughs we can’t create on our own.
Pray in the Spirit. Sometimes I don’t even know what to pray, so I pray in my prayer language. I pray not according to my knowledge or according to my words, but I pray as the Spirit leads. I pray before the Lord in the Spirit and allow Him to do a work in me.
Pray the Word. The Word of God never comes back void. The Word is powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword. As we meditate on the Word, it renews our minds and washes us.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“Every word of God is pure. He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
The late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, founder of the Christian Men’s Network, used to say, “Prayer produces intimacy with the one to whom you pray, with whom you pray, and for whom you pray.” Ed Silvoso says, “Talk to God about your neighbors before you talk to your neighbors about God.” Prayer brings us into intimacy with God and in agreement with those we are praying with and praying for. Meditate on the power of God’s Word and pray it into your marriage, family, circumstances; into your community, the nation, and global crises.
We are in a critical season, and I believe it’s important for us to be the Book of Acts Church again so the world can see the light of Christ in us and shining through us, in the midst of difficult and troubling times. We must be a people with expectation in the Lord. We have the answers, and we find them in the Word of God.
Pray the Word! The Word works!
Speak the Word. The word “zoe” in Genesis and Revelation means “the life of God.” We have the life of God, the zoe life, living in us through the Living Word, Jesus. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we have the authority to speak the “zao” of God, or “the breath of God.” We take the authority He has entrusted us with whenever we speak His Word into any circumstance and situation. By declaring His Word, we invite the breath of God into every situation of our lives. Remember Hebrews 4:12—the word is God is living and powerful. And we need the power of God’s Word to pierce through every circumstance in our soul, our spirit, our lives.
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
“For the word of the Lord is right, And all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” (Psalm 33:4-6)
There is something so powerful about speaking the Word of God, speaking His zoe life, over our circumstances and our families. It does not return void, so we can have confidence in its effectiveness. It gives us hope and vision beyond our current circumstances or the global shakings that are going on around us.
Finally, spread the Word. We must also be those who spread the Word. How can we spread the Word if we don’t have a relationship with the Living Word? How can we know God’s heart unless we know His Word?
God’s Word teaches us the way we should live and the way we should go. In fact, God says in Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”
We need the manifest presence of God like never before. We need the renewing of our minds. We need to call upon the name of the Lord, to be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit. We need a renewed understanding of the work of the Cross and the power of the resurrection. But it starts with us returning to the fundamentals: getting back into the Word of God with a posture of humility, letting it change us, then going out to be a tangible expression of the Living Word to all those around us.
The Word works! It does not come back void. It is our Word in season, it is the Word of life. Let us meditate on the Word to cleanse our minds and pray the Word, which is powerful. Let us speak the Word over our lives and spread the Word, to be a tangible expression of God’s love. With so much divisiveness and instability in our world, we need the Holy Scriptures—the plumb line of God’s truth—to give us guidance, direction, and the answers we so desperately need.
YOU CAN DO IT! GANBATTE YO!
When I was a wrestler in high school in Japan, my sensei (coach) used to say to me: “Ganbatte!” That’s Japanese for “You’ve got this! You can do it! Go for it!” He would say this loudly during wrestling matches when it looked like I was about to give up. “Do your best! You can do it!” I would hear him say.
With all of the difficulties that might confront us and the global challenges going on around us, may we remember we can win the right way. We can be those who are steadfast even in difficulties and trial, and the Lord will give us a crown of life—because He has promised that to all of those who love Him.
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
The devil wants your right eye. He wants your vision and your strength, but the Lord wants your limp. We can choose to wrestle with God and not to wrestle with flesh and blood. As we wrestle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, Christ in us battles on our behalf against those principalities.
The devil wants to take away your destiny. It’s better to deal with the internal conflicts we have in our hearts and minds by wrestling with the Lord over them than to give in and compromise with the flesh. It’s far better to wrestle with God and leave with a limp, but stronger than before, so our destiny is determined by Him. We will always lose in the flesh because we are not a people of the flesh, but a people of the Spirit. Christ lives in us and works through us; and by His amazing grace, even in our weaknesses, He is strong.
“For though we walk in the flesh we do not war according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:3)
When we wrestle with our Heavenly Father, He teaches us His perspective and we learn His spiritual strategies. When we build on His foundations, it enables us to walk in His purposes and power, as champions in the Lord.
May You hear the Him say to you today, “You’ve got this! You can do it! Go for it! Ganbatte Yo!”
All Scripture is from the NKJV