Summary: The bell sounds. You can’t stay huddled in the corner. The fight is on and it is going to be a slugfest!
Pt. 5 - Answer The Bell
Fix the fight, find your fight song, remember that you have a cut man. We are a body of left-handed warriors - we don't fit in, we are awkward on purpose by God to win unexpected and unlikely victories that will cause others to rally who wouldn't otherwise be willing to fight!
I know that even if you don't have any interest in boxing or MMA you are aware that the bell begins and ends the current round. Fighters are encouraged to fight until they hear the bell. Keep swinging until the referee steps in and stops the action. However, I don't want to focus on the end of a round or the end of a fight. Instead, I want to challenge you to answer the bell. It is very tempting after going a few round . . . even if you have the upper hand in those rounds and especially if you are being beaten up in those rounds . . . to get to a point in the fight where you refuse to answer the bell. There are times when we believe or feel like we have fought long enough and either out of exhaustion or complacency (apathy) we set down in our corner and when the bell rings to indicate there is another round to go . . . we lose the fight by not showing up.
I want you to hear me today. I may not be able to accurately articulate what I sense in my spirit. I only know to say it like this . . . corporately we are this close. We are on the brink. We are on the threshold of the greatest days, biggest victories, mightiest move of God we have ever seen. I can't say that about everybody. I know a lot that are beaten up right now and about to be counted out. But that isn't us. We are this close to a major win. I sense it. I declare it. I believe it. But there is a danger here because I also believe we have been at this moment before at various seasons. And for some reason either due to the exertion of effort that was required to get here or we took it for granted and thought victory was inevitable at this moment we have failed to answer the bell and lost that moment. I am begging you answer the bell. Don't grow weary. Don't let down. Get out of the corner and keep fighting for this thing. Another way for me to say it is we must continue to take a posture of press! Where we refuse to let anything get in our way or obstruct our victory. I was reminded of three accounts in Scripture where people who answered the bell and pressed until they won. Their willingness to answer the bell speaks to us and informs us of what force will try to resist us to keep us from breaking into an overwhelming victory. Their wins teach us corporately but also speak to each one of us individually. There can be no corporate win unless the bulk of you in the room win too!
So, let me reference the three accounts. If I had 3 more Sundays, I would just take one a Sunday, but allow me to just get straight to the point out of each account. There is one Old Testament and two New Testament accounts to peak at today.
Text: Genesis 32:32-34 (NIV)
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
Jacob was alone. No one else to help or assist in this wrestling match. He refused to let go. He pressed the "man" he was wrestling until this "man" realized Jacob's determination and dislocates Jacob's hip and it says he did this as he wrestled. Notice the wrestling didn't stop after the hip was dislocated. He dislocates the hip and says, "Let go of me. Ding ding round is over." Jacob said, "No way. I will press on you for a blessing." Jacob wrestles through pain. He presses in spite of his pain. There are quite a few of you in this room today that are in pain and you feel like you are alone. You feel like no one can help you or assist you in this battle. So, you have decided that you can't fight anymore. You are sitting this one out. Others can fight/war/believe/worship if they want to, but you are in so much pain that you are hiding in the corner. I am asking you to answer the bell. Push past your broken heart. Push past your crushed spirit. Push past your anguish. Push past your disease. Press past pain! Don't let pain stop you! Push harder. If your enemy is resisting you this hard, then there must be something pretty incredible on the other side of this thing if you will come out and fight. You might limp into the next season, but you still get to enjoy it.