Archive for August, 2010

Connection Refused

August 31, 2010

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Connection refused

As I attempted to logon to my email account this morning to send this post to “the group”, those were the messages I received.  I was not permitted to logon to the account.  Finally after multiple attempts to get the page to load, I got this message in bold letters – Connection Refused.  I must admit that I felt like the early high school kid who finally got the nerve up to ask the oft-secretly admired young lady for an opportunity to call her and she said, “NO“.

This is a message that the Almighty God will never utter in this life to those who call out or cry out to him.  If you know Christ as Lord and Savior, God has promised that He will never issue the message connection refused.  God created man to have fellowship with Him.  When sin entered the world, that connection was broken, but that is what Christ’s incarnation was all about.  It was about reconnection.  It was about making that connection unbreakable.  There is so much in the Word of God about not uttering connection refused.  In fact, the entire history of the Israelites is a testament to that fact.  They break connection with God by forgetting him or pursuing another god.  God then allows their apostasy to come to fruition.  It humbles them; they cry out, and God forgives them bring them back into fellowship (connection) with Him.  It’s a beautiful thing even when God knows that we will follow our humility with another act of pride (idolatry).  God still remains true to the calling or crying out of His people. 

The same is true here:  

2 Kings 20

Hezekiah’s Illness

 1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

 4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’ ”

 7 Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered.

 8 Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the LORD will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the LORD on the third day from now?”

 9 Isaiah answered, “This is the LORD’s sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?”

 10 “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”

 11 Then the prophet Isaiah called upon the LORD, and the LORD made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

Later in this chapter, Hezekiah commits another sin, but God stays true to Himself.  God never changes.  God never refuses the connection as long as the heart and mind are submitted unto Him.

Surrender and stay connected or surrender and get connected.  We serve a mighty God!!!

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David’s Plans for the Temple

August 30, 2010

In 1 C hronicles 28, we see a clear example of the sovereignty of God within a man making plans.  There is a delicate balance between what David purposed in his heart to do and what God allowed David to do.  Here, read an excerpt from the chapter:

 2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’  4 “Yet the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the house of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the LORD has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’

Remember Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”  David purposed or chose in his heart to build the temple.  It only seemed to be the natural course of action since God had made him king, given him the very detailed plans of the temple and provided the resources, both material and personal, for the temple.  Like any of us, David assumed that the next step was for him to build the temple.  There was just one problem with his plan.  God had not endorsed his plan.  God did not originate this plan.  It was David’s but not God’s. 

Therefore,  God said to David, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’  First thing to note, David was in communion with God.  David was open enough to hear from God despite his great desire to honor God by building a place for the ark to rest, for the presence of God to reside, for the world to know that the Almighty God was with Israel.  David heard God and submitted to God’s change of David’s plan.  I could go into why God said no because of the shed blood, but that is not the point today. 

The point is that God is sovereign.  For the Christian, this means that we may plan, but we are open to any alterations or total denials of our plans.  David demonstrated that he was open to God changing the game plan.  David did not pout about it.  He immediately began to publicly say that God has done more for men than I ever deserved by choosing him to be leader, by choosing his son Solomon.  There is much more to this than meets the eye; however, for today, I will only focus on the fact that In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

If the vaunted King David realized that God could have plans that were different and better than his, we should take that same posture.  We should be in communion with God meaning that we are relating to God through His Word, prayer and fellowship.  God will use His Holy Spirit to speak to us just as He did with David for the plans for the temple as well as who would build the temple.  This is why it is so important for us to seek God.  In seeking God, He promises that we will find Him.

No Plans by Chance

August 29, 2010

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to pick somebody randomly from a group of people, or had to make a choice between several circumstances or options?  When picking people how did you convey you were picking randomly?  How comfortable were with the outcome when you made that choice? Drawing straws or picking lots is defined by Wikipedia as: 

Drawing straws is a selection method used by a group to choose one person to do a task when no one has volunteered for it. The same practice could also be used to choose one of several volunteers should an agreement not be reached.

The group leader takes a number of straws or similar long cylindrical objects, and makes sure one of them is physically shorter than the rest. He then grabs all the straws in his fist such that all of them appear to be of the same length.

The leader then offers the clenched fist to the group. Each member of the group draws a straw from the fist. At the end of the offering, the person with the shortest straw is the one who must do the task.

This practice is immortalized in the cliché “drawing the short straw,” meaning to be randomly, unluckily, or unfairly selected to perform a task or suffer some penalty”.

Presently, people are often paralyzed by their indecisiveness over a wrenching choice.  While some still use the practice of drawing straws, drawing straws or choosing lots was a method employed in our distant past.  Most people accepted the outcome as fate.  Despite that practice not being the primary means of making decisions, people still have to make random choices everyday. 

The same questions still plague man today.  What is the best option here?  Which one will give the greatest benefit or cause the greatest harm?  Since this is such a crucial choice, how do I know which one to pick?  Proverbs 16:33 gives us greater insight into how God influences the choices (plans) of man.  Listen to what Proverbs says about decisions we make randomly or seemingly by chance:

33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

There isn’t anything left to chance according to this verse.  God determines those things or at least uses those things.  Verse 4 from this chapter tells us that “The LORD works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster.”  There is nothing left to chance.  Read what the oft referred and highly respected commentator Matthew Henry said on this matter:

The divine Providence (GOD) orders and directs those things which to us are perfectly casual and fortuitous. Nothing comes to pass by chance, nor is an event determined by a blind fortune, but every thing by the will and counsel of God. What man has neither eye nor hand in God is intimately concerned in. 2. When solemn appeals are made to Providence by the casting of lots, for the deciding of that matter of moment which could not otherwise be at all, or not so well, decided, God must be eyed in it, by prayer, that it may be disposed aright (Give a perfect lot, 1 Sa. 14:41; Acts 1:24), and by acquiescing in it when it is disposed, being satisfied that the hand of God is in it and that hand directed by infinite wisdom. All the disposals of Providence concerning our affairs we must look upon to be the directing of our lot, the determining of what we referred to God, and must be reconciled to them accordingly.

Basically, Matthew Henry is saying tha God is in control and that nothing happens without His allowing it.  Everything is under the control of God.  This takes us to a very perplexing yet trustworthy aspect of the character of God- His Sovereignty.  God is in complete control.  The question is do we believe that entirely with our whole heart? 

 

Man’s Plans vs God’s Plans

August 28, 2010

Below are verses from Proverbs 16.  We know Proverbs to be a book of wisdom.  Consequently, it would be prudent to read wise sayings in the book of truth from God.  This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post The Plans of Life.

Proverbs 16

 1 To man belong the plans of the heart,
       but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.

 2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,
       but motives are weighed by the LORD.

 3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
       and your plans will succeed.

 4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends—
       even the wicked for a day of disaster.

9 In his heart a man plans his course,
       but the LORD determines his steps.

25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
       but in the end it leads to death.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
       but its every decision is from the LORD.

Okay, this is my commentary.  You know that you have matured (code word for gotten older) when you talk about when you were in your twenties and thirties.  Okay, I know that those of you in your late 50’s and 60’s are saying he’s still young.  I know what you mean.  I digress.   In my 20’s and 30’s, I used to be bombarded with questions like ‘where do you see yourself in the next five years?’ or ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?’  or even ‘what steps are you taking now to set yourself up in the next 5 to 10 years?’  When I got those questions, I always struggled.  I was not smart enough to think that I could figure the next 5 to 10 years out.  Heck, if I could get through the next month, I thought I was doing well.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do have hopes, dreams and plans, but I had proven to myself before I even got to college that I did not have receipe for choosing what was best for me.  When God told me “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11), I was captivated. I was enthralled because I sure did not know where I was going.  Everyone around me seemed to know where they wanted me to be or what they wanted to do.  I just knew that I wanted peace.  God had given me peace, so I wanted to follow him.  While I appreciate what those who respect, care or even love me have to offer, I consider what they say, but I follow what God says. 

As such, I really don’t make staunch plans.  I project with full knowledge that God may not want what I want.  I yield to the LORD God.  You should too.  It saves us a lot of headache and heartache.  Verse one above clearly gives us the green light to project or plan, but it also says know that the answer or the fulfillment of that plan or dream comes only from God.  Verse two tells us that God judges our motives.  We know from other places in the Word that with wrong motives nothing we ask for will be given to us. 

Verse 9 is what I really want to talk about.  It really captures the essence of how I think God wants us to approach planning for life.  We all envision how we want things to be or to turn out. We can plan our course our path if you will, but the Word says God determines our steps.  He may not allow us to walk in the path we selected.  Praise God for that because He has all knowledge.  He knows what’s best for us and what’s not.  He spares us from turmoil and trouble.  We just need to yeild to Him.

Our plans vs God’s plan – there is no comparison.  God knows exactly how He created and gifted us.  He can orchestrate circumstances that best suit His will for us.  Verse four says “The LORD works out everything for his own ends—       even the wicked for a day of disaster.”  Again, we just need to surrender and follow the LORD.  His plan is to prosper us not harm us; to give us a hope and a future. 

Be blessed by following the LORD.

The Plans of Life

August 27, 2010

The impetus for this post comes from responding to statement made by one of my former students.  She wrote “There is a sense of entitlement. For example, Currently, I am working hard to achieve my goal… making sacrifices. But what fuels my energy is “the light at the end of the tunnel”. ” If I work hard to get what I want, then one day it will pay off and I will be happy” mentality is what fuels most of us. So therefore, In this situation, I don’t feel that entitlement is wrong. This is the mind-set that triggers ambitious individuals to pursue their dream/goals.”

We all have dreamt dreams, but many of those dreams have not materialized for many of us.  Some submit because we did not work hard enough, or we did not exercise enough faith.  It is true that some people do not work hard and some give up in discouragement, but the truth is that many times we plan things that do not lie within the plans of God. 

In Proverbs 19:21, God says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

In 1 Samuel 18, Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines, so that he could maintain his kingship.  That was Saul’s plan, but God had a different plan.  David would be king of Israel.  David succeeded Saul as king of Israel.  God’s plan prevailed.

In Esther3 , when Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Consequently, Haman planned to kill not only Mordecai but all Jews, but God did not plan for that.  In the end, it was Haman who was killed not Mordecai or any of the Jews.

In Acts 5, the Sanhedrin planned to kill some Apostles because they would not submit to them, but God sent a man to speak on their behalf.  They flogged them and sent them away.  God spared their lives.  

In Matthew 27, Judas has planned to get 30 pieces of silver in exchange for betraying Jesus to be killed, but Judas soon realized that he had made a huge mistake.  He had sinned.  Gripped so much by his plan gone awry, he hanged himself.  Jesus was killed, but it was according to God’s plan.  In John 10, Jesus said about his life, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Contrary to what most people think, we can’t always do what we think, plan or dream. Proverbs 21:30 says, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.”  Isaiah 14:27  says,” For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?”

Jeremiah 29:11-14 –11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.

When we seek God, He will reveal his perfect plan for our lives albeit in installments in some cases, but it will be revealed.  Romans 12:2 says,”Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Then you will find The Plans of Life.

Where’s the Love?

August 26, 2010

I got off to a late start today.  The post is from Today in the Word

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

TODAY IN THE WORD
William Wilberforce, one of the more well-known members of the Clapham Sect, worked tirelessly in Parliament to abolish the British slave trade. But it was Hannah More, a lesser known member, who wrote this on the subject of notable Christian service: “We are apt to mistake our vocation by looking out of the way for occasions to exercise rare and great virtues, and by stepping over the ordinary ones that lie directly in the road before us.”

This notion is at the heart of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 13. What matters most isn’t always our greatest achievements, spiritual or otherwise. When considered in the light of what will endure, all of the spiritual gifts, whether tongues or knowledge (which the Corinthians esteemed) or prophecy (which Paul valued), have secondary importance. What matters most is that we’ve acted for love and in love. Love will be the final criterion for our spiritual lives. And love is what will distinguish the Christian life and community.

We must remember that Paul wasn’t waxing eloquent on the theme of love for the purposes of poetry. 1 Corinthians 13, before it became a common passage to be used in weddings, was included in a letter to a church whose sins of pride and arrogance, whose misuse and misunderstanding of spiritual gifts, and whose socioeconomic differences had become sources of division. Paul hasn’t pushed the pause button on his main themes of his letter, but in this chapter, he gives feet to the character of love. It is the force that he knows can unify the Corinthian community.

When the Corinthians decide to love, the factional infighting and envious quarreling in the community will end (cf. 1:11, 3:3). When the Corinthians begin to love, the exercise of spiritual gifts will build up, rather than divide, the community. When the Corinthians consider controversial questions of Christian faith and practice, and when love governs that discussion, the unity of thought and mind to which Paul first called them will be realized (1:10).


TODAY ALONG THE WAY
Love can heal what pride has injured. It can bind up the places where we’ve been wounded and where trust has eroded. In a commentary on 1 Corinthians, one New Testament scholar says, “Love requires the formation of character.” He means to highlight that what Paul has described in this chapter isn’t necessarily how we feel love for others but how we show love. To love is to need a radical inner transformation. To love is to depend on Christ, whose example defines for us what love is (1 John 3:16).

Important Notice Inside: NSF

August 25, 2010

Non-sufficient funds (NSF) is a term used in the banking industry to indicate that a demand for payment (a check/debit card) cannot be honored because insufficient funds are available in the account on which the instrument was drawn. In simplified terms, a check or debit card has been presented for clearance, but the amount noted on the check or debit card exceeds the available balance in the account. When this happens, the bank charges a $35 fee for having an overdrawn account.  They begin a barrage of contacts with you mailing and calling offering you another fee-based service to prevent the account from being overdrawn.  The banks call this protection Overdraft Protection

In today’s economy, this is not an uncommon occurrence; however, receiving a NSF notice is one of the most demoralizing things to happen to me.  It says that what you have is not enough. For a variety of reasons, it says that you are in a deficit position meaning that you don’t have enough to cover what is required.  The wording on the notice state something like this: Our records show there were insufficient funds in your account 3*********4532 to cover all of the following items received on 07/21/2028. After receiving such notice, one has very sobering thoughts.

Spiritually, those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior are receiving those notices right now.  The bible warns us with an Important Notice Inside:NSF.

Matthew 7:22-25 says “22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ 24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Like wise, Matthew 25:4-42,46 states “40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,…46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

God is warning those who don’t know Christ that their spiritual account is in deficit.  The currency of God is righteousness.  John 16:8 says “When he (Christ) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:” How does one escape the conviction in which we all deserve because we are not right with God as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Without Christ, it is impossible for man to be considered righteous in the eyes of God.  Praise God there is an answer.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)  Romans 4:24 tells us to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

All of our spiritual accounts are overdrawn.  Because of our sin, we have written checks in which we do not have the currency to cover those expenses.  God, who is rich in mercy and grace, is offering Overdraft Protection.  The fee is your life.  After all, it cost Christ His life to afford us access to the currency of God:righteousness.  If you will give your life to Christ, Christ will give your life to you.  In Luke 9:24, Jesus said, “24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Save your life by losing it to Christ.  This is the only deficit equation that results in an eternal positive.  Take heed and be blessed.

Do not be anxious about anything II

August 24, 2010

Yesterday, I posted about not complying with God’s imperative regarding anxiousness.  Today, I will post about my exigent circumstances that followed my post during the day.  

For many of you, you were aware that yesterday was the first day of school for students in Fulton County.  As you know, I am ultimately held responsible for anything that goes on at the school – commendable or not.  To say that yesterday went off without a hitch would be malfeasance. The day was teeming with events that vociferated chaos. Despite that, God’s message to me was to remain calm.  Do not overreact to the circumstances, students, parents or employees.  I want to say that God strengthened me to do just that. 

At the inception of school, the front entry was inauspiciously filled with a scene similar to what was described in Judges 6.  There were people as far as you could see.   In fact, you couldn’t see the floor there were so many, and they were not happy.  There were students, parents, and school faculty members that were not enamored with the prevailing circumstances that challenged their patience.  Through it all, God caused me to not be anxious.  There were many team members that jumped in to help as if it were a triage unit.  The result was the same.  It ended well.  All the kids ate and arrived home safely as far as I could tell by 6:40 p.m. 

Did things go wrong?  YES!!!  Did I respond correctly?  YES!!!  I was at peace the entire time.   As I typed a message to some of my colleagues yesterday morning via email.  The Holy Spirit reminded me of Ecclesiastes 7:8 “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” As in every situation in which I trust God, that verse proved to be exact. 

Therefore, do not be anxious about anything.  We don’t have to when we trust God.

Do not be anxious about anything.

August 23, 2010

Brothers and Sisters,

I am sorry that you have not heard from me in a number of days.  I have been without constant internet service.  Among other things, I was prevented from posting and sending a message to you.  I must admit that I did not handle that situation as the Lord desired.  I was frustrated to the max with not being able to use the computer for a variety of reasons, but God, who was testing me, wanted to operationalize a verse the church had memorized several weeks ago. God is about being rather than talking.  Being is the essence of who Christ is.  The character of the triune-God is the most essential aspect of His being.  Without God being true to the character He asserts about Himself (holy, true, faithful, just, all-knowing, powerful, present, etc.), those of us who have trusted in the triune-God have nothing nor is He.

Since God is true to his character, He desires His followers to be true to His character.  The verse we learned was Philippians 4:6-7.

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

My daughter learned it all and my son learned parts of it.  We sat around and rode around practicing that verse.  On the Wednesday night that we were to quote the verse, we quoted it.  Now enter in life, God wanted me to live it.  Quoting it is nice; living it is the ultimate. God does not want us to merely memorize scripture without application.  Memorization is good, but application is better.

Okay, the verse is intended to help the believer live in a state of peace by overcoming anxiety.  The verse provides the elixir for anxiety.  In everything, I am to present my requests to God.  It is during that process of presenting my request to God, being thankful that I have the attention and hear of the Almighty God, that the peace of God will guard my heart (what I feel) and my mind (what I think) in Christ Jesus.  That is what I think and what I feel will be filtered through who Christ is resulting in me recognizing the character of God enables me to be at peace because my heart and mind will be subdued to who Christ is.  There is nothing or no one greater; therefore, I should not be anxious.  I should not worry.

If one presented a guarantee for the opportunity to live life with out anxiety or worry, that person would be swamped.  Well, God, through Christ, Paul and the church, is saying that to people.  The problem is that the church is not evidencing that in their lives.  I am the prime example.  I was frustrated to the hilt.  Everyone in my house knew that I was mad.  While not overly unaccommodating or nasty, I was certainly not joyful either which is a direct violation of God’s mandate to be joyful always.  I was not at peace which is where I am called to be.  I was disappointed that I did not live that out before my kids and wife.  Despite being unintentional, that was horrible to put them through. God now has revealed to me that all I did was merely memorize the verse.  He has now given me an application of that principle.  While I did not show mastery of the principle, I was provided practice.

As I am on the verge of a new school year where we are striving to give our students learning experiences that are more application-oriented and less knowledge-based, God’s most recent lesson is particularly valuable and meaningful as it forced me to apply knowledge.  While I did not effectively apply that knowledge, I walk away with a more crystalized idea of how to respond in the next situation where I will be challenged to be anxious, say like starting school and being accountable for a 1000 kids.

Join me today in seeking to apply faith in God by praying for the difficulties that we will face today.  God will provide the practice for us to work on becoming perfect in our execution of His principles. Pray for me as I seek to become the principled principal, and husband, and father, and fellow believer and friend.

The Lord’s Really Been Good

August 19, 2010

As I sat here talking to my wife this morning, a song was playing in the background as I was preparing to readdress Judges 6. The title of the song is the title of this post today.  I have not been able to get Judges 6 off my mind since reading it with my kids for Sunday School.  I wrote about it on Monday in Giant Neon Signs; however, I was being nudged by the Spirit to re-read the passage.  When I reread the passage, I still saw how Gideon, like most of us, needed reassurance despite what enormous evidence God had provided in his life and the life of those around him.  In addition to that, I saw the tenderness of God.  In that, I saw that the Lord has been really good.

Yea, I said it.  Men, at specific points, do love tenderness.  As with most people, applied tenderness is particularly esteemed when we are at a weak point.  In the context of pursuing God, it is when our faith is being exercised. It is when we are at weak points – when we are doubting; when we are wondering; when we are faltering.  There is so much about the character of God in this chapter that I can’t capture it all.  I feel like I’m trying to bit into a whole cantaloupe; I just can’t get my mouth around it.  God is not hiding or preventing anything.  It is just that its too wonderful for me, but I am going to try.

First, Gideon is representative of God’s plan to respond to man’s horrible condition; sin has bound and separated man from being in fellowship with God. The Israelites had done evil in the eyes of the LORD.  What exactly is that?  God tells us in verse 8-10 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” You see in Exodus 20:3 God said, “You shall have no other gods before (besides) me.”  God told us not to trade Him in for other false Gods.  We know from Isaiah 45:5 that God said, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.”  There is no alternative, but we place people, jobs, cars, money, etc. in front of God.  Effectually, those become idols in our lives replacing God as head of our lives.  This is what had happened in this text.  They traded the Almighty God in for the gods of the people in the land.  God was disappointed that His chosen people had not chosen Him.  Despite Him being the best for them, they chose something less than the best for themselves.  God disciplined them to have them aspire fellowship/oneness with Him again.

They cried out, and God responded.  That is another beauty in this chapter.  When those who have given themselves to Christ cry out to God, God promises to hear us and respond. Now, He will not do what we want, but He will do what’s best.  Rest assured, He will respond. It’s like the caring parent who hears the alarming cry of their child.  They come running to the rescue.  Do you get that picture.  Really, do you?  What we have in Christ is awesome.  Because of Christ birth, death and resurrection, mankind has the ability to be reunited with God, to have God be his help.  When God is your help, what can’t we endure or be delivered from.  I am almost in tears thinking about what a wonderful gift that is.

Okay now that we know about the reuniting and the help that comes from surrendering our lives to Christ, let’s see the benefit. Gideon is symbolic of mankind.  Mankind is weak, but God chooses to use the weak.  That is His preferred choice.  For those of you who like me acknowledge that you are weak and can do nothing without God, did you know that you are God’s preferred choice?  God does us the proud and strong, “27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1Cor. 1:27). Nebuchadnezzar is a poignant example of that.

I am getting into novel length, so I will bring this to a close now.  God choses the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  Hallelujah.  As a weak one, I have hope in Christ.  What a wonderful hope that is.  God is our help, y’all.  God is our help.  Cry out!!!!  Tomorrow we will focus on Gideon’s weakness and God’s strength.