Fight Club | How to Fight with God and Win

Understanding Why God Allows Us To Suffer In Tough Times

James Greer
Jun 5, 2022    32m
It can be difficult at times to understand why God allows us to suffer in tough times. But we must push past the pain into God's plan. Put your trust in Him and see the blessings and victory of God. The pain is worth it for God's purpose. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

James Greer: [00:01:12] Boy. Hey, that's the intro to our new series called Fight Club. Amen? Whoo! Hey, and they're really fighting. I was afraid somebody was going to get knocked out there. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't me. Amen? Well, yeah. Can you fight with God and win? Your first thought would say, No. But we're going to be talking about somebody named Jacob today that fought with God and won. Jacob wanted to control his life, and God wanted to control his life. And a free insight before we even get started. When you try to control your life, it always leads to great struggles and stress. You ready?

James Greer: [00:01:56] A lot of struggles and stress, it's a sign that we're trying to control our life. In Jacob's life, it led to a wrestling match. And most of the time, we let go, and we have to go back and fight again. The story wants us to believe that Jacob won. In essence, he did. But God really set it up, and God won. See, God won in a way because He set the fight up where they could have a fight and they could struggle and they'd struggle in a way that Jacob thought he won. But God really wanted to control the fight in such a way that when he won, God could begin to use him in a greater way than Jacob could ever imagine. In fact, he changed his name from Jacob the swindler to Israel. Named the whole country after him. Most often God uses pain to bring about change in our life. Most of the time. You ready? Pain has a purpose. We miss the purpose because we focus on the pain. Pain left Jacob lame. He touched his socket, and he limped the rest of his life. It left a mark on him. There's never anything significant accomplished without pain. There's usually never a significant change in our life without pain. Now, God doesn't bring all pain. The devil came to steal, kill, and destroy. He brings pain. But because of the pain, God can turn it around. Some of the greatest pain in the world was Jesus Christ. They brought pain on Him and put Him on the cross, didn't they?

James Greer: [00:04:03] But God turned it around to our salvation. Amen? We say salvation is free. And it's free to us, isn't it? But it wasn't free because Jesus paid the price. Now, let's look, let's look. When I say that you can fight a fight with God and win. But you can't win if it's not God's will. You can fight all you want to, and you will not win. On the other hand, I believe we miss out on some of the greatest blessings God has for us because we're not willing to fight. We're not willing to struggle with God to see what He had. There was a time that Abraham, he'd wanted a son, wanted a son, wanted a son. And God finally gave him a son. And God told him, okay, now you take this son and you sacrifice him. That had to be a fight. God said, I did it to test him. Abraham, you've got a struggle on your hands. You've got a fight on your hands. And if you really look that up, it was a test. It was an occasion to test you, an occasion to develop you where God could use you like never before. Sometimes that's what's going on in my life. Sometimes that's going on in your life. Some background, Jacob, he was wrestling with God and he won. Jacob had been a schemer, a swindler, a deceiver. Jacob deceived his brother out of his own birthright. After many years, now, Jacob's fixing to face his brother. He didn't know if his brother was going to kill him or welcome him. He probably thought his brother was going to kill him. Jacob sends his family across to a safe place, and now he's fixing to cross over. But that night, something happens to Jacob.

James Greer: [00:05:56] We pick up in Genesis 32, if you have your Bibles or you follow along with us. And Jacob, he was left alone. Genesis 32:24. And a man wrestled with him until daybreak. That's all night. Daylight to dark, they wrestled together. Now, when he saw that he didn't prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip. Ouch. And the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as he wrestled with him. Now there's where most people stop and they give up. You start having some pain. You start having a problem. And so you give up. And so when you give up, you have to come back, and you struggle again. See, if you don't fight through the pain, you go back through the same pain again. You come back through the same problem again. You go back through the same struggles again. You have the same financial problems. You have the same marriage problem. You have the same work problems. You have the same church problem because you didn't work through the pain. This is very important. It's very, very significant changes ever come about without significant pain. The right pain endured the right way brings right changes. That bring the right blessings. And he said, Let me go. Who said, let me go? The man that was wrestling with Jacob. For it's daybreak. But he said, I'm not going to let you go. Jacob said, I'm not going to let you go unless you bless me. I love that.

James Greer: [00:07:39] Wouldn't it be something if you're going through hard times in your life, if you're going through struggles in your life, and you said, God, I'm going to hang in here till you bless me? God, I want to see the outcome of this. God, I'm not going to let go. I'm not going to give up. I'm not going to turn my back on you now. I've turned my back on God before. Not really turned my back. But I said, God, I don't understand it. I'm going to quit. I'm going to give up. But not Jacob. Jacob said, This time, God, I have been running from you. I've been swindling from you. I've been trying to find my way out of it. And many times, God, I've won. But not this time. God, I'm going to hang in there till I find out your will and my way. In fact, I'm ready to change. I'm ready to change, even if I'm lame. In other words, it's easy to say, I'm going to change if it's not going to cost me. But Jacob said, Not this time, God. I'm really going to change. And so He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but it shall be Israel, for you if struggled with God and with man, and you prevailed or you won the battle. You fought.

James Greer: [00:08:51] Now, most of my life I read this and I thought, Hey, Jacob won. He beat God. Now, you know and I know that you can't be God. Amen? God set him up to win. Do you realize a lot of struggles, God's really setting you up to win? We don't know that. We think, oh my goodness, we're set up to lose. No, God's setting you up to go to another level spiritually where He can use you like you've never been used before in your life. Then Jacob's saying, Tell me your name, I pray. And He said, Why is it that you ask about my name? And He blessed him there. Who did He bless? Jacob. So Jacob called the name of that place Peniel, for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. So just as he crossed over Peniel and the sun arose and he limped on his hip. So number one, remember this. Some of your greatest battles must be fought alone. See, when we go through battles, we usually want to pick sides. We want these people to fight with me and want those people to fight with me or you'll call somebody. You can't believe what so-and-so did or what's happening on the job. You'll even do it on the job if you're not careful. You won't believe what my boss said or you won't believe what these people said or you'll do it at school. But really, some of the greatest battles have to be fought alone. See, Jacob was left alone, and the man wrestled with him until daybreak. See, some battles, you can't fight all your wife's battles. Your wives can't fight all your battles. You just can't do it. Now, men, if you're not careful, you'll try to fight every battle that your wife had. And wife, if you're not careful, you'll be trying to fight all your kids' battles.

James Greer: [00:10:42] You'll come home and your kids say, I don't want to go to school. I'll tell that teacher. And y'all at the ball field, keep your mouth shut. Oh, precious Jesus. You're not the coach. You're not the ump. I was in Chicago with my grandson. Now I went to a Cubs game. It was cool. It's cool there. You know? And I've never seen anything like it. 32,000 people. If the ump made a bad call, you had 32,000 people stand up and say, boo. The opposite team, the opposite team, if the Cubs hit a foul ball or a home run, they fought for the ball. They wanted that ball. The opposite team hit a home run. True story. They caught the ball. All of a sudden, whoever caught the ball threw it back in the field and said, Who would want their ball? All 32,000 people started screaming. Nobody wants their ball. I mean, it was unbelievable. But listen, you don't need to be doing that in the kids' game. When Gary, one of my sons, when he was playing tee ball, this is when the ball was on the thing and you hit it. It has to go past the circle. And I'm watching. He hits it and the coach said it didn't go. I had another guy jump over the fence, go fight him. I didn't do it. The other guy jumped over. They had to call the police. Said, Hey, this isn't life and death. Most of our kids are not going to play pro ball. How about having some fun? Just say, That is the best strikeout I have ever seen. Amen? What I'm trying to tell you, you can't fight all your kid's battles and you can't fight all your wife's battles. Your wives can't battle your battles.

James Greer: [00:12:51] So stop fighting all the battles. And the problem is, if you try to fight all the battles, they can't be left alone to struggle with God and depend on God. Amen, Brother James. Oh, that is good, Brother James. Galatians 5, Galatians 5 says this. Listen to this. Galatians 6:5. It says this. For each will have to bear his own burden, his own load. Each one is going to have to learn how to fight their own battles. James translation. Some fights and battles, some struggles, some wrestling matches, you and your mate and your kids will have to learn to fight alone. Let me tell you different. It's during those times that we're alone that we learn to depend on God and Him alone. It's during those times that you learn to fight with God where you have to depend on Him and nobody else. It's during those times that you learn verses like Proverbs 3:5 and 6. Trust the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him. Then He shall direct your path. Not your husband, not your wife, not your kids. How are they going to eventually learn to trust in God? They'll keep dependent on you. You have to do it. There's another verse. The Psalmist says 118:8. It says, Hey, it's better to trust in the Lord than it is the confidence of man. How do you do that if you're fighting all their battles? Blessed are those who trust in God. I mean, it's better to trust in them. See, up to this point, Jacob was a type of a Christian, he was good looking, sharp, fast talker. He was a manipulator. At this point, he always got his way. He could talk his way out of anything. He was conniving. He was really a cheater and a manipulator.

James Greer: [00:14:34] And so far it had worked good for him. It really had. You know, that's just the way and most of the time. But there'll be burdens and problems. I don't care how good a manipulator you are. Sooner or later, you've got to face the piper. That's why you got to learn to allow your children and youth to bear some of their own burdens or there'll be a problem, they can't handle it. You ready? Don't remove the hurt too soon. Let your kids, let your youth hurt. Don't remove it too soon. I remember my oldest son, Jimmy. You're not watching, are you? He was getting a little rowdy. I remember him and some of his friends were sitting there talking. I walked up. I said, Son, you better watch it and calm down a little bit. I think you're getting rowdy. Hey, don't worry about me. I got this under control. That night he called me. He said, Dad, I'm in jail. They picked me up. I said, Son, you told me don't worry about you. No, no, no, no, no, no. Click. Debbie's crying. She said, go get him. I said, No. He called me back. He said, are you coming? No, I said. You said your friends had it under control. Tell them to get you out. Oh, it was tough. It's funny now. It wasn't funny then. I was crying. Debbie was crying. We were crying. Asked me if I wouldn't get him. Ask him if he ever told me that again.

James Greer: [00:16:24] It's hard to let them hurt. But you got to let them hurt. You ready? You might want to write this down. It's the hurt that drives them to get help. It's only the hurt that drives them to get help. I referenced this last week. It was the prodigal son. I didn't tell you where it was, but I will today. And I'm not going to read the whole story for time. But it's in Luke 15. And it's 14 to 19. If you skip down after he got his father's inheritance. After he'd spent everything, the time came when he had no food. Everywhere in the country, this son, he was poor now and he's hungry. How come? Because he'd already spent the money his daddy gave him. So he got a job with one of the citizens there who sent the son into the field to feed the pigs. He's come a long way from having a lot of money to nothing. And the son, he was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pods the pigs were eating. No one even gave him anything. So what happened, when he realized that he was doing, he thought, finally came to his senses. All of my father's servants have plenty of food, but here I am, almost dying of hunger. See, I'll leave and I'm going to return to my father and say, Father, I've sinned against God. And I've done the wrong to you. You realize now he's turning it back to God and to his father? I love this part. You ready? I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Stop. None of us are worried to be called God's son. Isn't it great that we're not saved and we're not going to Heaven because we're worthy?

James Greer: [00:18:14] Did you know why we're going to Heaven? Not because we're worthy. It's because Jesus Christ died on the cross. Because we'd never be worthy. We can go because of what Jesus did, not what we did. Amen? To be called your son. But let me be like one of your servants. See, what I want you to know is this. It wasn't what he had done. It's what Christ already did. But when He touched his finance, his friends, his food, and his facility where he lived, he was ready to go back home. But if we don't let them hurt enough, if he had just run out of money and his daddy gave him more money, he'd still be running around with the wine and the women. Amen? So we've got to be careful. Jacob was alone now, and he was hurting. And there's where most people give up right then, and they miss the blessing. You got to push past the hurt to God's plan for your life. They wrestled day until night till day. See, when you're wrestling with God, it can be very painful, number two.

James Greer: [00:19:21] The pain is always worth it. If we go past the pain, we find the plan. He always has a plan. Genesis 32:34 says, Jacob was there alone and he wrestled with him until daylight. And when he saw they couldn't 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. Now, listen, do you think God could not prevail if He wanted to win? Of course, God could win. He wanted to make sure that Jacob was really ready to change this time. Jacob had been a deceiver. Anybody can say, I'm going to try to change. You don't change by saying, I'm going to try to change. You change by training to change or you hurt enough that you have to change. He said, I've got to be willing to endure the pain that it takes to change. And he was this time. It's very painful to change many times in our life. He had been a cheater, deceiver, and manipulator. And he was very good at it. Now, Jacob was confronted with God, convicted by God. And he said, It's time to change. There's many people here, you might be saying, now it is time for me to change. Change from what? Well, I don't know. It's a great day to have CR. Amen? See, CR, it might be time to change from drugs, but CR is not only drugs. It might be trying to change from alcohol. Amen? It might be prescription drugs. It might be food. It might be not food, anorexia. It might be anger, it might be abuse, it might be lying, it might be cheating, it might be stealing, it might be pride, it might be fear, it might be worried, it might be jealousy. Jealousy will destroy not only you, it'll destroy those you love. Unforgiveness, ill temper, immorality, strife, selfishness, division, envy. It could go on and on and on. What I'm telling you is some of you have been going through life, going through life, going through life. And God said, Now might be time to change. Amen? And what is it going to take?

James Greer: [00:21:35] Some of you lost your job. Some have lost your family. Some of you lost your friends. And God said, Now it's hard. It hurts. It's time to change. God's ready to help you change. See, God set Jacob up for this wrestling match where he could change his life. But not only that he could change his life, he's going to go from Jacob to Israel. Third, I want you to know that often God sends pain as a reminder that He has a planned future for you. With Jacob, He touched the socket of his hip, and he would limp from then on. He changed, left him, so to speak, lame. He could walk, but he limped. Skip down to verse 27. Let me tell you what he says. He said this. So He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob, which means swindler. And he said, Your name is no longer to be Jacob, but Israel. You strive with God, the Prince of God. Changed your name. for you struggled with God and you have prevailed. He said, Now the pain had a purpose in your life, and you allowed it to change. Some people have pain in their life, and God said, Why don't you let me prevail and give it purpose for you? Otherwise, pain's wasted. Pain with a purpose, it's okay. If not, it's wasted. You need to understand pain that's wasted only worsens. You can choose to allow it to have purpose or it'll worsen. We have people in our church.

James Greer: [00:23:25] Let me give you a couple of them. Joyce Toups and Susan Cartwright both lost their sons. Tragic. Tragic. They were both in terrible pain. I was with them both as they lost their sons. They chose to, the tragic deaths lead to some type of purpose in their life, whether it's grief recovery or celebrate recovery. They said, Hey, let me be a part of helping other people. Tragic deaths. Some people continue through life and not let the pain help them later on. The pain never leaves. You have certain pain that will be with you the rest of your life. But you can always use the pain to help other people with a purpose. Let me close and give you some ideas. You have to have a regular place to be alone with God. It's better to be spending time with God before you have to face God. You're going to face God. It's better if you're spending time alone with God than when you have to face God. And it's better if you do it on a regular basis. Wrestling with God can be painful, but it also can lead to a purpose. Look for the purpose. Many times people miss what God is trying to do in their life because of the pain. And they only see the pain. They don't see there's a greater purpose.

James Greer: [00:25:12] I see people all the time that are using the pain also for a purpose. I don't always understand the complete pain. We've had several of them. Janice Rawlins right now is going through cancer, and, you know, she keeps going through it, going through it, going through it, going through it, going through it, going through it. Seem like just always going through it. But she still continues to try to use it for a purpose. She continues to try to have hope. She continues to try to have a good attitude. We've lost two people to cancer in the last couple of years. And I've never seen so many people have a purpose and a witness like they have. I mean, in 30-something years, I've never seen people. Matter of fact, sometimes when I have problems, I look at their problems, and my problems look so little. If you're not careful, you'll keep blaming God and look at your problems. Are you ready? And you miss the miracle. The children of Israel kept complaining and griping, and they missed that God was trying to bring them into the Promised Land.

James Greer: [00:26:24] With Jacob, his hip was the reminder. 2 Corinthians 1:3 and 4 I often send to people, but I leave off the last part. I say, Blessed be God, the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, God of all mercy and all comfort. Greg, I said that part to you. I didn't send you the other part. Who comforts us in all our tribulations that we may be able to comfort those who are any trouble with the comfort with which ourselves are comforted by God. I didn't send you that part. I sent you the first part. But He is the God of what? All comfort. But what He is also telling us is this. Sometimes our greatest ministry is where we had the greatest pain in our life. For instance, Drake, if I can use you. They just had a grandson that was born dead. That's painful, man. And there's no way you could relate at all except for that I had a granddaughter that died at four years old. You don't understand those things. There's no understanding this, is there? And I've had other people that lost children. I was with, I don't think she's here. Janice and Randy Rawlins. Not only does she have cancer, she lost her son. I was there. There's no way that you can even comprehend those type of losses unless you go through them. Somebody asked me the other day, I guess now you losing your granddaughter makes sense. I said, Nope. What's the great lesson you learned? I don't want to know. But I do know now that God allows me to understand what other people are going through better without judging their hearts and sorrows and hang-ups because I went through it. I never want to go through it again. I'm not one of them self-righteous. I guess they're better. They're just more spiritual than me to say, I'd go through it again for all I learned. Not me. I'd rather not learn it. I don't want to know what you're going through. But you're going to go through things. I went through things growing up. Where I lived. What I thought I look like. What I drove. I had such a hang-up with cars because I was at. I still drive nicer cars because what I went through as a kid. I do. I had a hang-up going to school with what I had to drive. Today because I can afford it.

James Greer: [00:29:04] Now I still have a hang up with what I drive. That came from childhood. I thought I was going to school, and I had to drive a Fairlane Falcon. And I thought, I imagined everybody else was driving new cars. They really weren't probably. But that's what was in my mind. I couldn't read well. You know? So those were all hang-ups. But I know one thing. God turned every single one of them around where I could use them today. I couldn't even imagine being in the ministry. God used the greatest hurts and the greatest sorrows, the greatest pains that I ever went through in my entire life to where I could minister today. Not that I wanted to do it. I wouldn't do it again. But He does. But there's only one other option. That you live in your pain and your sorrows and they get worse and worse and worse and worse and worse. And then you get old and you get bitter and bitter and worse. I know a lot of old, bitter, ugly people. I do. I don't think I'm old. I don't. But I do. I don't want any of those people to be Journey Church people. If you're hurting, I want you to turn it over to God today. I don't think you can go through your hurts and sorrows and hang-ups by yourself. I think you have to give it to God. And I pray God sends somebody in your life to share it and comfort with you.

James Greer: [00:30:54] So would you stand and let me pray with you? God, I thank you most of all for your Son, Jesus Christ. And I don't think anybody here can go through those kind of hurts and sorrows alone. I pray if they are right now, God, you said you're the God of all comfort. I pray that you would comfort them. I pray for those in the past that the right time you'd use what they're going through. If there's somebody here that doesn't know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, that's where it has to start because they cannot access the Father. Because Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. So that's the first step. Maybe you want to come and join the church or follow through in baptism. Maybe you need somebody to come and pray with you. Maybe have a sorrow or hurt or an unforgiveness or something you need to release this morning. I don't know what it is. Let it go. Don't grow old and bitter and unforgiving. And might be God, might be somebody else. But I know one thing. You don't have to leave here that way. God has a blessing for you. Be like Jacob. Say, I'm not going to leave today, God, until you bless me. And that's what I pray today, God. I pray that you would bless every single person here. It's in the blessed name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360