Defensive strategies

RE Verse reading–Judges 6 (day seven)  “The sons of Israel made for themselves dens in the mountains and caves and strongholds.”–v 2.

NOT what God had in mind for His people!  Playing defense.  Off balance.  Anxious and afraid, struggling to just “get by”.  A losing season.  Several in a row, actually.

The explanation lay in their relationship with God.  They were unaware, probably.  (We all have remarkable skills in rationalizing our actions and their consequences.)  Painful to hear and absorb the prophet’s words in v 10.  “You have not OBEYED me.”   YOU have not obeyed me.  You have not obeyed ME.

Hard for us to hear it, too.  We blame our circumstances on fate or God or the choices of others.  But it isn’t true.  Ever!  When we are without power, weak and defeated, grumbling and dissatisfied, it is because we have wandered from God.

The only way to be “more than a conqueror” is repentance and restoration to God.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mighty

Re:Verse reading–Judges 6:1-2, 11-28, 36-40 (day six)

Really, what made Gideon mighty? Was it his extensive military training, or the way he held his sword…no wait, he didn’t have either of these things. Or maybe it was his keen ability to hide? How about his articulate, well-worded complaints about the absence of God? Those must have caught God’s attention. It was none of those things. Either God was being sarcastic or he has another definition entirely. I choose the latter.

By all accounts Gideon was a weak, inexperienced, reluctant farmer. He was not the ideal leader (he was no Samson), far from it. And yet God sees might in him. God saw the smallest amount of faith in Gideon; the size of a mustard seed. It was enough to make him mighty! God measures mightiness in units of faith, and the smallest amount goes a long way. How about you? Are you mighty by God’s standards?

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment

Faith > Fear

Re:Verse reading–Judges 6:1-2, 11-28, 36-40 (day five)

Gideon is struggling with genuine doubt and insecurity. We read this in verses 13-18. Yet, they are not enough to keep him from being obedient to God’s instruction. We all have to manage fear, insecurity, uncertainty, and doubt in different degrees as we follow Christ and obey the Lord. God’s promise was the deciding factor. The Lord’s promise to Gideon is the same promise He makes to us. “I will be with you!!”  For Gideon, it was enough to overcome doubt and insecurity and begin to take steps of trust and obedience. (Judges 6:27) And for us, the same promise can be a tremendous encouragement as we see and sense opportunities to trust and obey God. Will God’s promise empower us to take a first step or the next step? Will our faith become greater than our fears?

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment

Too Late

Re:Verse reading–Judges 6:1-2, 11-28, 36-40 (day four)

Gideon is the hero of our story this week, but he almost could have been eliminated before he got started.  He was speaking face to face with the Angel of the Lord and Gideon wanted some proof that it was God who was really speaking to him.  Once the Angel accepted the offering and caused it to be consumed with fire, Gideon realized (too late) that it really was God.  Gideon feared for his life.  Maybe Gideon did not consider that it might actually be God…maybe he didn’t consider what would happen to him if it was God he was speaking to.  God was merciful and told Gideon he would not die.

Many today approach God the same way.  They can never decide to believe in Him and yield their life to His control…they want more proof.  Then…it is too late!  When we stand before God in judgment, following death, it will be too late to recognize it really was Him.  It will be too late for mercy.  Today is the day for salvation…don’t put it off!

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment

Light

Re:Verse reading–Judges 6:1-2, 11-28, 36-40 (day three) “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”  Note the passive construction of the question: “Why has this happened to us?”  The phrasing reveals the way Gideon and his people thought about the world: Geopolitical turbulence and social unrest just happen, and Israel is supposed to exist as a little bubble of God’s favor in the middle of all that messiness without ever affecting it.  As Isaiah made plain centuries later, however, Israel was to light the whole world so that God’s salvation would reach the ends of the earth.  Right now, though, they couldn’t even light their own nation.  With the rest of the world going to hell, can’t a nation get a little peace and quiet?  Gideon’s answer lay within his own question.  He eventually recognized that.  Will we?

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment

Your Bluff is Called

Re:Verse reading–Judges 6:1-2, 11-28, 36-40 (day two)

 And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. 6:38

Gideon wanted to be sure. God was very patient. It began with the first encounter (6:17) Gideon said “show me a sign”, and the Lord swallowed up the offering in flame. Then just to be sure he was hearing correctly Gideon asked for another sign. This time it was the dew on the fleece. God appeased the request. Then, just to be sure, Gideon made another request, this time for dew on the ground and not the fleece. God again made his power clearly known. Gideon trusted. Gideon obeyed.

At some point our bluff will be called. Have you come to the point where God has demonstrated himself through his Word, his people, or in some other way? God is patient, but at some point Gideon had to stop asking for signs and start trusting. Is it time for you to start trusting again?

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment

New name

Re:Verse reading–Judges 6:1-2, 11-28, 36-40 (day one) 

“The angel of the Lord . . .said, ‘The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior‘ “–v 12

There are surprises ahead for people who know God.  Many. Follow God and you will certainly make these discoveries for yourself.

Discovery 1–He knows me.  Knows who I am.  My family.  My history.  My situation.

Discovery 2–He loves me.  Largest mystery of all.  See # 1.

Discovery 3–He has a new name for me.  Knows me by my true name, my God-given identity.

Remember Simon?  Jesus meets him and says, “You are Simon the son of John, you shall be called Peter (rock)”–John 1:42.

Remember the Revelation promise?  “I will give him a white stone, a new name written on it.”–Revelation 2:17.

This week we read the story of Gideon.  Surprise!  The angel doesn’t call him Gideon. He calls him “Valiant warrior” v 13.

Wow!  I wonder what God’s name for me is.  I wonder what His name for you is.

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment

Arise!

Re:Verse reading–Judges 4:1-22 (day seven)

“Deborah said to Barak, ‘Arise! for. . .the Lord has gone out before you.’ “–v 14.

REST is part of God’s economy.  “Be still and know that I am God”–Psalm 46:10. ACTIVITY is also part.

“Get up!” said Deborah to Barak on that history-shaping day.  “Rest is not what you need. Not now.  Get up! God is moving, you should too!”

Mirrors her personal experience.  In Chapter 5, Deborah says that things were bad in Israel, “Until I, Deborah arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.”–v 7. History proves this point.  Nothing gets better until someone, in surrendered cooperation with God, stands up to do something about it.

As a Pastor and Leader, one thing I often hear from the Spirit is “Get up, Don!  There are tasks to do, people to reach and truths to speak.”

Couch-sitting, ease-seeking, responsibility-dodging believers never change the world.  We have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works”–Ephesians 2:10.

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment

Lead

Re:Verse reading–Judges 4:1-22 (day six)

I do not think the primary lessons in Judges relate only to leadership. They are there for sure, but they are not the POINT. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite,…let me whisper to you today, “lead.” Who in your life are you calling to move forward, to take a step? With whom are you joining the fight? Are you speaking gracious truth to another? Are you willing to do the hard thing, not just the convenient one? Are you counter-cultural? Life-giving instead of draining? Inspiring instead of deflating? Loving even when it hurts? Forgiving even when it is unreasonable? Tough even when you feel as if you will break?

Who in your life are you leading? Your single friends? Your husband or wife? Sons and daughters? That neighbor, that friend, that colleague who you know needs SOMEONE? That stranger? Will you lead at home? In the hallways and offices of your workplace? At the Spurs watching party? Will you live out the Gospel in all of life, in all the places that you go? Will you lead?

Are you called, you may be wondering? Yes, let me tell you, you are called. That’s what the Gospel does; it raises you from death to life, and calls you to lead.

So let me whisper to you today…”lead.”

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Be Prepared

Re:Verse reading–Judges 4:1-22 (day four)

Ask any high school football player in Texas what the worst part of playing football is and he will probably say two-a-days in August.  Killers!  You’ve laid off all summer…you kept intending to work out…your high calorie diet has added a few extra pounds.  “Next year I’ll do better.”  Two-a-days are designed to prepare you for the season…many of your games will be won depending on the advance preparation you have done.

For Israel, God promised to go before them in battle.  All they had to do was be obedient to Him.  Verse 14 says, “…behold, the Lord has gone out before you.”  What a promise to have God go before you.  Don’t you want God’s spokesperson to declare to you that God has gone before you in battle?

For us, our preparation for battle is prayer.  We must bath everything we do in prayer or it is useless in God’s Kingdom work.  We can face insurmountable odds if only God has gone before us!

Posted in Joshua/Judges | Leave a comment