Posts Tagged ‘Gideon’

Yes FM Morning Munch

January 6th

Audio File 

Fan Into Flame, Fire Building

 

It is the sixth day of January, the year is no longer quite new.  If the statistics mean anything New Year’s resolutions are already beginning to fall by the wayside.  Yesterday we talked about Paul’s New Year’s resolution for Timothy.  “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”   I believe two things about this statement: 1. Paul was bringing Timothy back to the moment of his conversion, to the moment when he first felt that overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in his life 2. The frustrations and struggles of this new church’s leader reflected a larger struggle within the church itself.  This is the same church that Jesus himself would address through the Apostle John in Revelation

 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:4-5)

The language is different but the message is the same.  That intimate, powerful burning relationship that you had with the Holy Spirit at the beginning of your walk with God, rekindle that flame.  And why do we want to rekindle that flame, because it is the flame of a Spirit of Power, a Spirit of Love a Spirit of Self-discipline.  It is the Spirit that dwells in those who have been adopted as sons and daughters of the Living God.  It is the Spirit that came upon the Judges of Israel fulfilling the promises of God.  Othniel, Sampson and Gideon all defended Israel by its power against overwhelming odds.  Gideon is one of my favorite stories in Judges.  Here is a man that was hiding in a pit when God spoke to him but when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him he (somewhat reluctantly) kindled that spark into a flame that would save his people and do it in such a way that God’s hand in it could be seen by all.  As wonderful and amazing as all of those stories are, the really thrilling thing for us as brothers and sisters in Christ is that it is no longer a matter of the Spirit coming upon us, God has given us this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit entering into us as a an ever present source of power, love and self-discipline.

Paul, always the systematic writer, doesn’t just leave us hanging with this call to rekindle God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Join me as over the next few days we take a look at Paul’s Guide to Spiritual Fire Building in difficult times.

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Here is the link to The Morning Mayhem page with the Morning Munch Podcasts.  I spoke on change this week!

http://www.yeshome.com/TPage646.aspx

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“And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ ‘This is the great and foremost commandment.’ ‘The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ ‘On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’

Matthew 22:37-40

Αγαπη, Such a simple word from a relatively simple language.  How much God has packed into these 5 Greek letters! (Ok for the Greek scholars out there most of the forms actually used in Scripture have more than 5 letters).  Quick numbers that I picked up from various sources show that AGAPE and its forms are used over 200 times in the New Testament.  Of course the Old Testament was not written in Greek but when they translated the Septuagint (probably 3rd century) they used this word over 300 times.  There have been uncountable numbers of sermons, teachings, devotionals and studies done on this word.  It is featured prominently in the names of churches, ministries, books, articles and music.  One would think that with its great prevalence in the literature and arts of the Christian world that it would be something that we do well… or not.

Many have tried to define this word.  I am not sure that it is even possible in any human language.  Where our words fail us Scripture provides us clues:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.”  John 3:16-17

“But God demonstrates his own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

I could go on over 200 times and then start on the Old Testament references but I think that you get the idea.  With so many teachings out there on this subject my purpose is not to create a new word study here.  Perhaps it is just to refocus myself on an aspect of our Faith that is so key to the ministry that God has called me too.  So I just want to pick out a couple of things that stand out to me.

Agape involves being called and being sent.  Over and over the Love story that is our Scripture tells us of God calling people out of their comfort zones to be his hands and feet of Love.  Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, The Disciples and Paul were all called out of their own lives and comfort zones in order to experience and to exhibit this quality.

Agape involves sacrifice.

“1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves ; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:1-8

Thirdly, AGAPE involves obedience to the one true source of love in the created realm, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

“If you love me you will keep my commandments.”  John 14:15

“If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”  John 15:10

While these three aspects certainly are not an all encompassing examination of AGAPE, they are certainly a great place to start.

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Spent most of the day painting the concrete floor in the basement today.  It already looks awesome and we are not even close to being done with it!  Then off to Everfree tonight.  Johnny Kelley of www.bikeforthelight.com .   He challenged the youth of Everfree to “Get Uncomfortable for Christ and change the world”.  It is kind of a punctuation to my life this year.  God has certainly removed me from my comfort zone and is getting me used to being uncomfortable for Him.  I saw just a little fruit of that tonight as I watched Emily, who came to live with us last June get up on the stage as part of the worship team for Everfree.  I look forward to seeing the fruit as the community center portion of the Lewis House gets into full swing in the fall and winter.  Johnny is certainly right.  When God’s people move out of their comfort zone things happen.  Back to Gideon for a moment.  His comfort zone was at the bottom of a winepress so he could hide the grain that he was winnowing.  This is the place that God called him from.  If he had said, “Thank you Lord but I am doing just fine down here at the bottom of my winepress.”  we would have some very different chapters in Judges.  Gideon listened to God and then stepped out of his comfort zone.  First among his own people and then in opposition to the Midianites.  I think that sometimes we believe we are ready to go out and fight the Midianites when we haven’t accepted God’s call for us right in our own home towns, among our own family and friends.  What is God calling you and me to do.  Feel that knot in your stomach, the sweat building up, the nerves rattling your bones… Get Uncomfortable for Christ and He will change the world through you.

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” Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” Judges 7:12

Yes I am still hanging out with Gideon.  Up to this point I was really focused on God’s commands to Gideon.  Then I caught the metaphor of the locusts.  We all have locusts in our lives.  For Gideon and the Israelites they were the Midianites and the eastern people.  If there were just a few of them it would not have been a big deal, but there were enough that they could keep coming and coming.  The author of Judges gives a picture that there were so many that even their camels could not be counted.  What are the locusts in our lives?  Perhaps the economy, unemployment, illness, bad relationships, poor working conditions, low pay, debt, or expenses are some of the things that come together to overwhelm us.

“Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.  Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.  They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.  They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts.  It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land and ravaged it.”  Judges  6:2

It is all too easy to focus on the Locust.  We make the problems and issues of our lives the focus of our attention.  This takes our attention off of God.  When I lost my job in July of 2009, my attention was fully focused on the locust.  I blew the trumpet and gathered my army and marched off to get a new job.  When one job fell through after another I was crushed in my spirit.  I had not been unemployed since I was 16.  I looked over my army and felt ready to march against the locust again.  I felt that I gave God his due, asking him to bless my army and assuring him that when he blessed me with a new job I would serve him as never before.  BUT the whole time my eyes were not on GOD they were on the locust.  My focus was not on what God would have me do but on gathering my army and setting off to battle the locusts on MY terms with MY army….in God’s name of course….

So perhaps you have already read “What do you do when God says send your army home”.  So I sent my army home.  Don’t get me wrong I am still out there looking for a job but my focus is on GOD and the blessing have been incredible.  The opportunities for ministry have multiplied.  I don’t want you to get that unemployment is intrinsically a blessing from God or that we should just sit back and wait for God to do it all.  Gideon had to step way out of his comfort zone.  He had to tear his focus away from the Locust and move it onto God.

God anchored this focus by leading him directly into the middle of the locusts.  While he was hiding in the middle of perhaps 135,000 locusts God let him know that HE IS THE GOD OF THE LOCUSTS TOO.  And what happened to Gideon?

 ” When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has given the camp of Midian into your hands.”  Judges 7:15

Gideon worshiped.  There in the middle of the locusts, Gideon’s focus shifted to God.  The fear was gone.  The contentment that Paul talks about settled in

 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity ; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

Gideon found the source of strength that Paul is talking about.  He was ready to go with God and the 300 men chosen to serve God in a unique and miraculous way.  He was ready to follow God to victory.  The locusts were defeated the moment Gideon took his eyes off of them and put them on God.  The Spiritual victory won that day far outstrips the footnote in history that the real defeat of the Midianites amounts to. 

Lord help me to truly keep my focus on you and thank you for the opportunities for Spiritual Victory that you provide for my family and I.  Amen

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During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.  If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah …”  Judges 7:9-10

So back to Gideon for a minute.  Let’s run it down real quick…

winepress hiding…Great Warrior…Who me?…offering…fire…wow….Altar of Baal…Asherah pole….Broken down…burnt offering to the Lord…..who did it….let Baal defend himself….Midianites….Amelakites….Spirit of the Lord…fleeces…32,000…10,000…300 and here we are. 

God wants Gideon go after more than 100,000 with 300 and IF he is afraid God has an even better plan.  Walk into the enemy camp, just two of you.  I have no idea how difficult it would be for the Midianites to recognize two Jews among them.  Regardless it doesn’t seem like a great plan to me.  But often God calls us to walk into and through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  It is there in that valley that we can receive the greatest encouragement.  It is there in the valley that our faith is affirmed.  I think of David and Saul, Daniel and the lion’s den, three young men and a fiery furnace

 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.  Judges 7:12

“As thick as locust”, most of us have not had a opportunity to see a locust swarm utterly destroy an entire agricultural area.  I have seen videos but I am sure it cannot compare to feeling of the locusts beating against your body as you desperately try to salvage the crop that is your life.  This would have been a very pointed picture to the people of the day.  It alludes to more than just the number.  Locusts are incredibly destructive and in this time period the people had no defense.  I can almost hear Gideon describing the Midianite army to his grandchildren and their squeals as he describes them as a huge swarm of locusts.

   Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”  His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”  When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”  Judges 7:12-15

God supplied exactly the encouragement that Gideon needed and he supplied it from the mouth of the enemy.  God has it ALL under control.  Trust Him and he will demonstrate it over and over.  Gideon’s encouragement came from the object of his discouragement.  God recognized Gideon’s fear, drew him to it and then blew it away.  If we trust Him with the object of our fear and discouragement, He will blow it away. 

 

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I find the fact that God is laying Gideon on my heart a little concerning.  I don’t want to send my army home.  I want to rely on my talents, skills, intelligence and education to do the things that he has called me to do.  I am finding that there is a great but often unrecognized difference between using your God given gifts and relying on your own resources.

As I begin this summer of service to him I find myself staring at that dividing line.  Sometimes it seems precise and clear.  Other times it seems blurry and tenuous.  I find myself praying, “Lord help me send the army home and rely on YOU! AND help me use the GIFTS that you have given me to bring your KINGDOM to the very best of my ability.”  I am excited that even at this late time in my life and after years of relying on myself God has given me great opportunity to serve HIM.

OK ARMY, I guess it is time for you to go home….

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