What a great narrative...and some convicting questions for each of us to consider!
In the first verse, we find that Lord allowed the Midianites to persecute the Israelites for seven years. In previous chapters, we find this same pattern repeated. Whenever the Israelites slipped into a pattern of disobedience, meaning that rebellion characterized them, more than just having a bad day, because of God's great love for them, there was a lesson to learn. In chapter three for example, the Israelites formerly suffered under Aram for eight years and eventually again under Moab for eighteen years. Each time we find the Israelites finally calling out to the Lord for help. My question is, what took so long? Really? Seven, Eight, and Eighteen years? So here's the first question. How long does it take you to cry out to God for help? If you have young children, you know that one of their first complete sentences spoken is, "I do it myself!" Even what we think we can do ourselves, ask for God's help, quickly!
As we continue reading in chapter six, we find that after seven years of suffering, the Israelites cry out to God and He sends a prophet. Then He sends an angel to Gideon which apparently still was not enough to move his heart and as the encounter progresses, the Lord Himself speaks to Gideon! I remember when Derick, our oldest was born. Just one whimper and we came running. Just a change in his breathing when he was sleeping, we came running...by the time Claire came along, our third, we had one rule, "Don't call for us unless there is blood!" You know it's true for you too! This too happens in our spiritual lives. Often our responsiveness to God from when we first became devoted followers of Jesus diminishes. How long does it take you to respond to God's promptings, His instructions? As we read in Ezekiel 36:26, may our hearts be tender and responsive to Him!
Finally, embedded in verse eighteen of chapter 6, the angel tells Gideon that he will remain until Gideon returns with his offering to the Lord. So here's the last question. How long do you ask God to wait for your worship? How many days go by without you offering praise to Him? Just last night one of our children was praying before dinner and the focus of the prayer was that the food would taste good. Apparently by way of observation, they had their doubts! I interrupted to remind us all that this was a time to be thankful, an opportunity for praise, not a time to pray for the pleasure of our palate! Let's make a choice today to not keep Him waiting for our worship! I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which says, "Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus!"
Living In The Gap!
Saturday, March 3, 2012
God's affectionate feelings of love toward us are most certainly unconditional but His favor and blessings are most certainly not! This is one of my complaints against Reformational Theology, that God's grace is never consequential. While I whole heartedly agree that there is nothing I can do to earn Heaven, I compel you to consdier that His favor in the here and now, what I call heaven on earth, is a reaction to our actions/inactions.
Paul in writing to the church of Rome, opening chapter 12..."I urge you therefore my bretheren, by the mercies of God, offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, that you may know His good, acceptable, perfect will."
In Deuteronomy 13:5-11, without mercy, demands the death of everyone who attempts to lead the Israelites astray. We find the relevance of this text in our own hearts. What part of me, what part of you is continually leading you astray? Is it the past betrayal of a former relationship, temtping you to linger in bitterness? Is it a certain pattern of web browsing into places that damage your sexuality? Is it coveting the possessions of others around you...and the list continues! Satan wants us to believe that we are a victim to our humanity. Respecting our own personal vulnerabilities and being powerless against them are not the same! You have the authority to slay, to put to death the parts of you that lure you away from God's ways!
Paul in the text mentioned above gives just one of the countless examples of God's favor, that of having a confidence in regards to His will for your life. How, by putting to death our inclinations for conformity with Godless patterns of living.
Kill something today!