Monday, August 31, 2020

2020, God, and Lemonade

Monday, August 31, 2020 
Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21

2020, God, and Lemonade
"When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade" Whoever coined that phrase probably never saw 2020 coming. Who knew on January 1st, 2020, that we would be in for so many lemons this year?  Many people have suffered more than their fair share of blows this year and had to make some big changes. In fact, we have all had to change a lot of things about our lives, some having to make bigger changes than others. Our lives have changed in many respects forever. Change is often a hard part of life, especially when we don't plan for it. Unexpected change is the hardest to adjust to, but often where God does His greatest work in our lives.  

Is something pressing you to change? Loss of job, divorce, death of a spouse or a child, serious illness or other crises may cause you to want to quit or give up.  The time is now to decide what you want – to lay down in defeat or to move forward into victory.  Many of the major life changes that lead to a new future are forced from a change in our circumstances. If your life has changed without your consent or control, whether or not you like it, now is the time to seek God and pursue the direction He has for you.  The moments that will actually define us and create for us the future we’ve always longed for, are not those moments that easily integrate into our past, but instead they are the disruptive moments, the moments when we must choose between extending our past or creating our future.  Your life may be different than what you expected, but it is not over!

Regardless of the season or your status, you can begin today with the benefit of past experience and the power of purpose.  Don’t live in the past but learn from it.  All of us have setbacks and failures. Part of our strategy in going forward must include pulling the curtains on our past.  What you have experienced may not be failure, but if it is know this - God never intends for failure to be the end, but a beginning.  Not only can you move into a new place, but you can pour into someone else’s life that needs your wisdom and support.  Discipleship is a great way to take the knowledge and experience you have gained and help someone else grow.    

Change is usually not easy, especially for creatures of habit like us humans.  Pain and disappointment are no fun, but they are survivable and sometimes they uncoverr the best in us.  When you go through a life change and finally come out on the other side, you have a story to tell, a story to share to help others.  It is your old story, but you are not the old person.  You are a new person, with new direction, and new God given purpose.  Share what He has done in you and in your life and walk alongside another who is there today. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

God’s Warrior from Manasseh Part 3

God’s Warrior from Manasseh Part 3
Judges 6-7

We are going to take a journey through Judges 6-7 and I hope over the next few weeks to look at the life of Gideon.  A defeated nation finds victory led by a common man.  This story is a lesson for people who discount themselves or are just ready to throw in the towel from constant defeat.        I.


      I.        A Sinful People Judges 6:1-2;7-10

    II.        A Defeated People Judges 6:3-5

   III.        The Extraordinary in the Midst of the Ordinary Judges 6:11

  IV.         A Coward or a Conqueror? Judges 6:12

    V.         Doubts from Despair Judges 6:13

  VI.        Weakness turns to Worship  Judges 6:14-24

 VII.        Real Worship Leads to Repentance Judges 6:25-27

VIII.        The Impact of One Man’s Commitment  Judges 6:28-34

  IX.    Confirming God’s Direction  Judges 6:36-40

·      Gideon believed that God was truly who He said He was, but he needed confirmation that He really was going to use him as He said.

·      If your view of God is not great enough to allow for miracles then you will not have faith to believe God for miracles.

·      Faith requires an understanding of God’s presence and power. It relies upon knowledge and fact and God will provide just that.

·      Most believers know how to talk to God through prayer, yet they are not so easily able to understand how to listen to God.

·      The primary forms through which God speaks to believers is through His Word and Worship (His Spirit).

·      Head and heart can lead you to a place of decision but then an act of the will is required to experience what God has for you.

Reasons for Not Asking God for a Sign:

·      To take a shortcut

·      To ignore God’s revealed will

·      To validate a decision you have already made

·      To avoid waiting

Questions To Determine If God Is Speaking:

·      Is this idea consistent with my gifting?

·      Will the execution of this idea cost me anything?

·      Will following this plan ultimately invest in people?

·      As I draw closer does this seem to look like a mirage or an oasis?

·      Is there an excitement stirred in me as well as close fellow believers?

God leads every believer to be a conqueror. No Christian can do everything, but every Christian can do something. God puts these somethings together to do everything.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Keeping the Line of Communication With God Open

August 28, 2020


The word communion has many meanings.  Two special definitions of communion that I like are: 1) an act or instance of sharing, and 2) an intimate fellowship or rapport : communication.  This is what God desires with us.  He wants us to share with Him what is on our hearts and He cares how we feel.  He wants an intimate relationship with us. 

A rapport indicates an ability to have an easy conversation with another; a deep, close relationship in which each knows the other so well that they can talk openly and freely.  Synonyms for rapport are harmony and accord.  An agreeable combination.  This is the kind of communication we have with an old friend, or our spouse.  These people know us more intimately than anyone else. 

When we are in communion with God, we are in perfect union with Him.  We are abiding in Him.  There is a constant awareness of His presence in everything we do, every breath we take, every thought and feeling.  He shares them all with us. 

Along with this perfect union comes a deep intimacy.  You develop a familiarity and comfort with God that is deeper than what you would experience with a friend or loved one.  Out of this communion with God, we experience many benefits such as peace, joy and power. 

When we are in communion with God, we have an open pathway to receive His blessings as well as direction from Him.  It makes perfect sense that when our relationship is as it should be, we hear His voice more clearly.  The lines of communication are wide open.  We will have a better sense of His will for our whole lives as well as the small steps of our daily lives.  God can use this relationship to fulfill his plans for us.  He must be glad when we are open and willing to hear His voice.

This relationship with God will also give us the strength we need to face our trials and protect us against temptation.  When we are in communion with God, abiding together, He is right there with us every step of the way. 

Make it a point today to open your heart to communion with God.  Seek this special relationship with Him.  What a comfort to know He shares every care, sorrow and hardship along the way with us. 

The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can't receive the gifts of God's Spirit. There's no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit--God's Spirit and our spirits in open communion.  1Corinthians 2:14

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The One True God

Thursday, August 27, 2020
Now on the same night the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down." Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father's household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night. Judges 6:25-27

The One True God
Israel had turned to Baal worship, and Gideon’s family was the keeper of the idol to Baal.  Gideon had to know that this command from God was going to cause big trouble both for him and his family.  Yet, after he was convinced this was from the True and Living God, he obeyed.

When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was torn down, and the Asherah which was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar which had been built. They said to one another, "Who did this thing?" And when they searched about and inquired, they said, "Gideon the son of Joash did this thing." Judges 6:28-29

Evidently it was common knowledge concerning who had vandalized the idol even though he had done it in the cover of darkness.  Gideon was not timid when confronted with responsibility.  These men who came had derived great pleasure from their sensuous worship and were angry that he had tampered with it.  So angry that they called for his death.

They said to one another, "Who did this thing?" And when they searched about and inquired, they said, "Gideon the son of Joash did this thing." Then the men of the city said to Joash, "Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has torn down the altar of Baal, and indeed, he has cut down the Asherah which was beside it." Judges 6:29-30

But something very strange happened.  Instead of giving his son to the angry mob, his father voiced some his own doubts in a way that gave God a chance to regain His people.  He dared Baal to raise himself up if he was God.

But Joash said to all who stood against him, "Will you contend for Baal, or will you deliver him? Whoever will plead for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar." Therefore on that day he named him Jerubbaal, that is to say, "Let Baal contend against him," because he had torn down his altar. Judges 6:31-32

The true powerlessness of the idol was revealed because one young man took a stand for God.  His faith was enough to get ten servants to follow and his father to reflect enough to stand with him.

This should remind us of the power of one faithful person to influence the hearts of many. All through scripture, God picked one man when He had a task to perform, and usually it was the one you least expected, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Jonah, Nehemiah and on it goes down to Gideon. God uses those who will reach the most people and bring the greatest glory to His name. You never know who you are influencing around you in your day to day life. When others see God’s power and glory revealed in miraculous ways, by the least expected of people, they know it is God performing a miracle and not man making it happen.

After standing up for Jehovah, Gideon is faced with massive armies gathering to raid once more. Now he is empowered by the Spirit to sound the call and 32,000 men gather to fight! Like Gideon, when we tear down the idols in our lives, we make room for the one True God to come in and do His work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A Clean Spirit

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 One thing we have all done a lot more this year than ever before is to clean - our hands, our doorknobs, our cabinets, our refrigerator handles, our homes, everything. But what about our spirits? Our insides are in need of a good cleaning too - our heart, mind, and spirit. They have become cluttered with junk that we have been pouring in and they have become dirty from the many thoughts and feelings this crazy year has provoked. It is time to clean it out.

A CLEAN SPIRIT by Donna Lindquist 

Consider the process of cleaning out a closet or storage room- ugh, right. Then think of that contrasting feeling of amazing relief when the room is finally clean and organized- wow! So, what does that have to do with your soul? Well, we all have stuff – you know - stored up junk – and sooner or later…we have to clean it OUT or...get lost in the chaos. So, just simply ask God to help you make a change, and He will!

Start small and tackle it one step at a time.  Recharge your focus, energy, and time.  It is intentional, personal, but will be rewarding.  So, where do we begin: 

1st- Focus your mind. 

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:2

When we think about God and not on things of the world, it brings peace.  The peace of God is life-changing and brings freedom from anxiety and worry while allowing God to move in your life. Thinking about God shifts your focus and your priorities and habits begin to realign with God’s plan. 

2nd- Let go of all that excess stuff.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  Philippians 3:13

We all have those thoughts, objects or people that drains our spirit.  Some may have childhood hurts, broken relationships, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness.  The list is enormous and endless…but these leave our soul wounded and bleeding. But good news - we do not have to carry these, because Jesus Christ to heal our brokenness, and make us new!  How amazing is God’s grace!  God will take all those pieces and create a new masterpiece beyond what you can even ask or imagine.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

To increase your energy, and refuel your depleted spirit, you must make room for God.  Make peace with your past and put God first place in your life. He will give you the energy and determination to live life to the full.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) All those scattered thoughts or exhausted mental anguish replaced by a clean spirit and renewed peace!  

3rd - Maximize your time.  

We all have the same amount of time - the difference – how we spend it!  So, start with your calendar.  Think about the next 90 days – list your priorities.  Remember to include God, family time, friends, spouse, work, exercise, recreation.   This is your life choices, so find pleasure and satisfaction in your day, and simply rest in God. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.  Colossians 3:23”

Just like that closet, you must have a regular clean out.  Some new items go in ---the old taken out!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

The goal - a healthy balance!  Realizing that your life is just a vapor in the wind, and all that really matters is your relationship with God.

Remember each season will pass. (Ecclesiastes 3:6) God wants to use each season to teach and equip you for the days ahead, to deepen relationships, gain knowledge, expand influence, or enhance your spiritual gift.

God is continually working through joyous events, like new babies, weddings, or family reunions. Through uncertain times, like natural disasters, tragedies, or pandemics. Because He loves YOU!


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Job for the Inadequate, Unqualified, and Least Likely

Tuesday, August 25, 2020  Some material taken from God’s Warrior From Manasseh

The LORD looked at him and said, Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?  O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house Judges 6:14-15

A Job for the Inadequate, Unqualified, and Least Likely
Consistently throughout scripture we see God use the most ill-equipped, inexperienced, and least likely people to carry out some of His greatest works. David and Moses were the youngest in their families. David was a young boy when he was anointed King. After Pharaoh ordered all Hebrew baby boys killed at birth, Moses was pulled from the bulrushes, raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, and chosen by God to lead His people out of bondage. Joseph was second to youngest and was thrown in a pit and sold to gypsies by his older brothers. In spite of his brothers’ abuse, he became the viceroy, second only to Pharaoh, and ended up saving his family from starvation during a famine.  And then Gideon, also the youngest, asking God how on earth is he supposed to deliver Israel? He comes from an insignificant family and he is the youngest son - he one with the least responsibilities and the last in line to be chosen for any kind of special task.

God doesn’t need our ability but our availability. 
He has built His Kingdom with the weak.  – Van Houser

Gideon did not have social media, but he may have suffered from the comparison trap. He didn’t see his family as significant, and he certainly didn’t see himself as capable of doing what God was calling him to do. It is easy for us to think of 100 other people that could do the job better than we could. We can scroll though Facebook and find 100 people doing life way better than we are, or so it appears. It is easier to believe that God can use others we see as stronger, wiser, or better than ourselves, yet He keeps calling us!

Even if we feel we are not equipped – and we may not be - God promises to be with us every step of the way and to equip us with everything we need for His calling.  God told Gideon that He would be with him every step and he would defeat the Midianites. But the LORD said to him, Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man. Judges 6:16

Whether you think you are the person for the job or not, you will never know what God can do through you until you surrender. If you try to fulfill His call on your life in your own power, you will surely fail, as will even the most qualified of all people. It is only in His power that we can fulfill His calling on our lives – no matter our qualifications!  God uses us when we feel weak, unworthy, broken, and unqualified because everyone can see more clearly His hand in the outcome. His glory is all the more glorious in the midst of the ashes.

Has He called you to do something you are running from? Are you in a standoff with the Lord, arguing that you are not the person for that job? Surrender. Surrender to Him and allow Him to show you who you are and what He can do through you in His calling on your life.   


For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.  1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NASB

Lara Cook

Monday, August 24, 2020

A Reminder That Bears Repeating

Monday, August 24, 2020

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. Isaiah 40:28.

A Reminder That Bears Repeating

I am tired, weary, and overwhelmed. This year has been emotionally exhausting. We have been on edge for months now and it is taking a toll on a lot of us. Worry, stress, and the physical reaction we have to living in crisis mode is taxing! It is not about not having faith. It is just a normal human reaction to tense up when things go crazy. It can be hard to breathe and even cause anxiety. This not a judgement on anyone. This is the real deal about how many of us are feeling and have been feeling for months.

The verse above is a powerful reminder of a God that is capable for everything and in every way. Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Or maybe it could read like this:

Remember - you know this already. Don’t react like you have never heard that your God is faithful, capable, and never grows weary. He is in control when the world is not. He is good when life is not. He can carry us and sustain through all things because He is God and He never grows weary or tired. He can hold it all for us because we can’t. For that I am eternally grateful because my arms and my heart are aching from the weight.

It is funny how fast we forget when we are faced with adversity and trials.  We have heard it before, some of us our whole lives, yet in an instant we can panic and our faith goes to nothing.  We hear the pastor preach it, the Sunday school and Bible Study leaders teach it, and we even speak it on a regular basis, to others, our children and ourselves.  But when the time comes to really believe it; sometimes it is just downright hard. 

Part of the problem is that we often react to life rather than respond.  Our emotions seem to take over and our reasoning ability goes out the window, especially when it is one thing after another (i.e. 2020).  It is human instinct to react, and often irrationally, when things go crazy, when the unexpected happens, or the dreaded expected thing really does happen after all.  In that moment it is so hard to remember that the Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth has everything under control.  Everything feels so out of control but that is not the truth. Our perception is nowhere near His reality.  

The Power of Release

Cleaning out closets, cabinets, and drawers and throwing stuff away is such an empowering and freeing feeling. I have had those moments in regard to my faith in God too.  Releasing a burden into the hands of the one meant to carry it is a relief!  There is so much power in just handing it over to God who does not become weary or tired, especially when we are so very tired by the “stuff” we carry.  Not only can He carry it for us, but He works it out for our good.  He loves us and has our best interest in mind and He is exponentially better at problem solving than we are. 

It is hard for us to trust Him sometimes.  It is so hard to release all my “stuff” into His hands.  It is easy to throw my hands up in the air and cry and fall apart.  He understands that too and He waits patiently for me to stop and release it to Him. Yes, the Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth loves us and wishes to take our burdens from us.  He is waiting with inscrutable understanding, and with an action plan to make all things work together for good. He is the almighty King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who has invited us to hand our troubles and burdens over to Him. He created us, and in doing so, He did not make us capable to handle everything in life on our own. He created us to need Him. He longs for us to seek Him. He is the only one capable to handle our burdens and He, even being the creator of the universe, tells us to let Him have it.

Stop trying to carry it all on your own. Lay it in the hands of a God who truly is the only one who has control over anything.


And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

Sunday, August 23, 2020

God’s Warrior from Manasseh Part 2

God’s Warrior from Manasseh Part 2
Judges 6-7

We are going to take a journey through Judges 6-7 and I hope over the next few weeks to look at the life of Gideon.  A defeated nation finds victory led by a common man.  This story is a lesson for people who discount themselves or are just ready to throw in the towel from constant defeat. 

    II.        A Sinful People 6:1-2;7-10

   III.        A Defeated People 6:3-5

  IV.        The Extraordinary in the Midst of the Ordinary 6:11

    V.         A Coward or a Conqueror? 6:12

  VI.         Doubts from Despair 6:13

VII.    Weakness turns to Worship  6:14-22

·   Most of the time, our failure to accept the direction of God to do a work is our lack of confidence in ourselves, not God.

·   You will never know what God can do with you until you surrender.

·   Have you ever wondered if your offering to God is received by God?

·   Our worship should be an acceptable sacrifice of praise, possession or life filled with humility and gratitude before Jehovah God!

·   The affordable sacrifice is not a sacrifice.

·   It wasn’t what Cain gave.  It was how he gave what he gave.

·   The gift of praise, possession or life is a reflection of the heart and faith of the believer.

·   Fear is the natural response of anyone when meeting with holiness.

·   If God is holy and sin cannot abide in His presence, yet He is omnipresent, why do we as sinners not die?

·   God looks on sin yet withholds judgment of sin by hiding His countenance which would be His full person.

·   Jehovah-shalom speaks to the nature of God not just a name of God. 

VII.    Real Worship Leads to Repentance 6:25-27

·   Repentance is more than sorrow or regret.  It is to make a judgment of the past and a redirection of the future.

·   God was creating a warrior out of a wimp, a conqueror out of a coward and a leader for His people.

·   An idol of the heart is anything that rules me other than God.

·   There is no use building a new altar of sacrifice if you don’t tear down the old one.

·   The greatest influence of any change in our lives will be on those closest to us

   VIII.    The Impact of One Man’s Commitment  6:25-27

·   We have no idea how big an influence the change in our lives can have on others

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Lord Is Our Banner

Friday, August 21, 2020

Jehovah Nissi (The Lord is our Banner)

Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; and he said, "The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation."  
Exodus 17:15-16

Sometimes in life we just run up against one dead end after another and one problem after another.  It is hard to keep going and not give up.  We may feel like the Lord has given up on us causing us to feel discouraged.  Discouragement can lead to feeling defeated.  One of Satan’s great weapons against Christians is a spirit of defeatism.  Defeatism is a curse that can overwhelm us and make us lay down our weapons before the battle has begun.  In the Exodus passage from above, Moses was not about to forfeit to the Amalekites.  He turned to the Lord for wisdom, guidance and direction.  Basically he told God, You brought us here, you will have to take care of us.  If we did more of that today, we would run up against a lot less walls in our life!  God directed Moses in what to do, and Moses followed.  After this he set up and altar and named it after something he had learned about God.

Jehovah – Nissi is an unusual thing to say about God.  It means that He is our Banner, or The Lord is my sign of conquest.  Moses had learned that God would always conquer the enemies of his people.  He learned to let God lead the way and he would taste victory; when he followed God, he conquered.  We fail to experience the victory we could if we only will let God be our Banner.  Many times we try to lead and expect God to follow along behind us.  If we are going to have victory in our lives, Jehovah Nissi – God the Banner must lead the way. 

God gives us victory over so many things that we could never list them all.  There are four very important victories that all Christians should claim:

  • Victory over Sin - 1John 1:7 tells us if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  He cleanses us from all our sin, not just some of our sins.  Jesus is our Banner.  He has won this battle against Satan for us.  We only have to claim the victory.
  • Victory over habits - So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 
    John 8:36
    This is close in relation to victory over sin.  We are free from the habits that keep us from serving God.  Drinking , smoking, whatever the habits are, we are no longer enslaved once we claim the victory with the help of Jehovah Nissi.
  • Victory over Self – Galatians 2:20 says I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I who live; but Christ lives in me.  Satan wants us to believe that our own wisdom is better than God’s.  We have to put ourselves aside and let God have control.  This is where we follow even when we want to do it our way.  With the help of the Lord our Banner we can conquer our selfish desires.
  • Victory over Sorrow – Life is hard.  Problems come and sad things happen.  Sometimes we don’t understand why these things happen to us.  We can easily be overcome with grief and loose our vision.  God will give us victory over the sorrow that would otherwise overwhelm us. 

Let God be your conqueror.  No matter what comes your way, no matter what sorrow, sadness, or defeat, He can withstand the battle when we are battle worn.  Soldiers come back from war waving their banners high, a symbol of victory.  Let Christ be your banner.  He is our victory over sin, selfishness, sorrow, sickness, and so much more.  Step aside and let Him lead you to victory today.

 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Destruction of Idolatry

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Then Gideon said to him, O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian. Judges 6:13

The Destruction of Idolatry

Sometimes, like Gideon, we may find ourselves in the middle of chaos wondering why God has allowed all this to happen, and why isn’t He helping us. But, as is the case with the Israelites, we need to examine our own hearts first before we throw our hands up into the air asking God why He has allowed this to happen.

The Israelites were in a bad place, but they had no one to blame but themselves. They had been warned many times about worshipping false Gods. Still they had continued in their apostasy – doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and now the Midianites were giving them grief. Now they cried out to the Lord to help them. He sent a prophet to deliver them, just as they had been rescued from Egypt.

If the Lord be with us… Gideon said. He was not feeling the presence of the Lord.  I don’t see much sign of that. If the Lord be with us, why then has all this befallen us? He failed to hear the part when the prophet tried to tell the people that the cause of all of this was not God but their sin and idolatry. 

Too soon we forget that the reason we are in our mess is not God’s curse but our own sin. We can quickly unseat God from the throne of our heart when we choose to worship something other than Him, and many of us do it every day. Anything we love more than Him is an idol. We may not think we are making idols in our lives, but silently they creep in. We don’t realize it is happening because it is usually not as blatant as the Israelites. We make idols of things, people, fitness, food, drugs, alcohol, anything that we love and that takes over our lives. Unfortunately, we can cause ourselves some pain as a result, just like the Israelites.

Suffering does not contradict the loving care of God but calls us to Him for comfort and peace. It tethers us to a God who gives mercy, forgiveness, grace, and even rescues us sometimes. He called Gideon to deliver them from the Midianites in spite of the many times they had turned their back on Him. He never gives up on us. He loves us through our sin and the suffering of the consequences. Christianity would be a dead faith if we had no hope for the present or future. The good news is that God has not abandoned us but is walking right with us through a fallen world with fallen people.

Righteous people suffer from a fallen world and righteous people suffer from the unrighteous actions of others. Sometimes we get caught in the consequences of other people's idolatry. When a parent, child, or a spouse is paying the consequences of sin, it does affect others around them. Remember that God does forgive, He gives mercy, and grace, but we don't always escape the consequences. If you are in a trial right now of your own doing, or that of a loved one, cling to the Lord. He walks with us through the valleys and sees us through to the other side. 

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, 
evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Colossians 3:5

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Why Has This All Happened To Us?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Then Gideon said to him, O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian. The LORD looked at him and said, Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you? Judges 6:13-14

From Gideon’s response to the angel of the Lord you would think that he was living in 2020. Many of us have been asking the Lord the same thing, maybe in a different way.

Where is God when we Need Him?

When the messenger of God came to Gideon, he saluted him with the words from Judges 6:13, Oh my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?  His immediate reply seems a bit contemptuous. The Lord is with us, he said in effect. I don’t see much sign of that. If the Lord be with us, why then has all this happened to us?

How often has the cry of Gideon been heard from the depths of suffering and pain?  So often we cannot understand what is going on in the midst of trials. We know what we believe about God but then it feels like He has forgotten us or is just leaving us to suffer alone. It is not that we don't believe in God and his infinite love.  It is just that we cannot fit the two together, and they do not make sense. Like Gideon we feel, If the Lord is with us, why then has this happened to me?

This year has had its fill of trials. People are tired of life being upended and it seems to keep happening.  We wonder exactly where God is in the midst of all this. If He loves us, if He cares, how could this all happen? How can we square what is happening in our world today with the belief in an Almighty God and Father?

It is useless to suggest that we have easy answers to the continuing riddle of life.  But there are some things we do know, and those glorious promises and assurances of God’s presence are replete in sacred Scripture.  

  • "In the beginning God"; and with that word to begin our scripture, we believe and are assured that God was in the beginning, will be at the end, and is present in all there is in between. 
  •  "The Lord is my shepherd, I have no other needs";  and that assurance tells us that we can always expect God to be near, to guide, to support and to protect.  "The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in, now and forever." We can expect the Lord to be close at hand in all our comings and goings. 

Christianity would be a dead faith if we had no hope for the present or future. Hope would be shattered, meaning would be lost; the future would be empty.  But there is an answer to Gideon and to us.  Part of it is the fact that suffering does not contradict the loving care of God. Some people are irritated by the statement that suffering does us good.  Some may even deny it, arguing from themselves. It all depends, of course, on the attitude we take toward it or the mind on which it falls, and that is in our own hands.  The wind that drifts one sailor on the rocks will send another on his way.  It all depends on how they handle the boat. But can any of this apply to 2020? This year seems to have broken all the rules. 

So you see, the perplexities of faith are as old as religion itself.  There is a stage when belief in God raises problems instead of solving them.  This is particularly true in the experience of one of the Old Testament stalwarts by the name of Gideon, and it may be true for some in 2020. But God is God, no matter what year and what circumstances come. He is faithful and true. We must hold to this belief and cling to the promises we know, even when we find ourselves asking "Why has all this happened to us?"

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

We Are Warriors

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior." Judges 6:11-12

Have you ever felt like you have missed something that God laid in your path – even as you stepped right over it? How blessed we are that we have a Heavenly Father that never gives up on us. He pursues, even chases, us even as we ignore the miracles and opportunities He puts right in front of us. We miss God two different ways. 

  1. We miss Him because we are only looking for Him to answer our prayers and fix our problems the way we ask Him to.
  2. We miss Him because He sometimes answers in the most basic and ordinary way, while we are looking for a grand production.
This past Sunday we heard about how God once again used an ordinary person for His extraordinary assignment.  He took an ordinary man, hiding away in a wine press, and empowered him up to be a valiant warrior.

The Extraordinary in the Midst of the Ordinary
As Gideon was hiding in the bottom of a wine press The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.".  In fact, verse 11 says the angel of the Lord came and sat under a tree while Gideon worked.  He saw Gideon before Gideon saw him.  He most likely looked like an ordinary man, no floating apparition, no sparkling, shimmering wings.  He was just ordinary, appealing to Gideon in an ordinary way.

Gideon was quietly working, never expecting to have company.  He was in the middle of an everyday, mundane task and yet, right there, in the midst of the monotony of his task, he was met by the angel of the Lord.  This is often the way God meets us.  We don’t catch it sometimes and may entirely miss a “God meeting” because we are not looking for God in an ordinary way, in the midst of our ordinary day.  We think we are going to have some grandiose experience.  If we are always looking for an extraordinary and magnificent event, we may miss out on many intimate moments with God.  The routine, mundane, commonplace events in our lives are where God waits for us to find Him. Ordinary is often the disguise of the divine.

“O Valiant Warrior”
Here is the really good part.  Here is Gideon hiding from the enemies, scared to death like the rest of his people and the angel of the Lord calls out to Gideon, O Valiant WarriorGideon’s current position made the angel’s statement seem ironic and unbelievable.  To all of us, it may seem as though Gideon is a coward, but God had a different perspective of him.  His opinion of Gideon was not based on Gideon’s actions or current situation.  Gideon may have been scared and hiding, but God saw beyond that.  He saw something that Gideon didn’t even realize was in him.  

God’s view of us is so far beyond what we can grasp.  I cannot imagine what God must think of me when I am at my worst, hiding away in sin, shame, or fear. Yet that is exactly where He meets me. If we could see our value and worth through God’s eyes, we would discover that through Jesus Christ He has redeemed us and made us “valiant warriors”.  We have been made to be conquerors not cowards!  Romans 8:37 tells us No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  It is His power in us that makes us valiant warriors and conquerors, giving us everything we will ever need for every assignment He gives us. Watch for the extraordinary in your ordinary and be on the lookout for the divine in disguise so you don’t miss Him while you look for something “magnificent.”

Monday, August 17, 2020

You Cannot Hide From God

Monday, August 17, 2020

Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian, that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. 'I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, "I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me."' Judges 6:7-10

A Little Background Information…

The Israelites were in a bad place.  They had done evil in the eyes of the Lord, as they had turned their backs on God repeatedly and worshipping pagan gods.  Now they were suffering painful consequences as a result.  For seven years, God has allowed them to be harassed by their enemies.  These include the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the people of the east.  Every time Israel plants a crop, these enemies come in and plunder and destroy it.  They had camels which carried heavy loads and ran fast.  They were so powerful that the Israelites didn’t stand a chance.  So the people were reduced to starvation and poverty.  They hid in caves; they cowered when the Midianite hordes descended upon them, finally crying out to God for help in desperation.  They were hopeless, and terrified.

When we first see Gideon, he is hiding in a wine press, hoping the Midianites won’t find him and steal his crop.  Most of the crops have been plundered and destroyed, but what he has somehow managed to save must now be winnowed.  So Gideon is threshing wheat in a wine press, trying to get enough grain for flour for food.  He’s doing his job in the worst possible way.  To winnow wheat you need to be out in the open air where the wind can blow the chaff away as the grain is tossed upward, leaving the good grain.  But he’s scared to be seen out in the open - so he’s doing the best job he can, in hiding.

You Cannot Hide From God

Gideon thought he was hiding.  Maybe the Midianites could not find him there, but God did. He was hiding away, just trying to do what he could to survive. He was afraid like all the other Israelites. Sin and the consequence of sin can make us feel powerless and hopeless. God does bring victory over sin and despair, but the devil will keep us in the wine press, hiding away, as long as he can. But when God comes calling, He knows exactly where to find us and we cannot hide any longer.

You may hide from the world, but God, and most importantly the love of God, can find you anywhere.  There is no place on earth that you are out of His reach. What is keeping you hiding away? Is it fear? There have been so many things about this year that have caused fear in all of us. Just like God has power over sin and despair, He has power over fear as well. He longs for us to be released from our fears and to receive the power we have in Him to do all the things He calls us to do. He calls on us to recognize ourselves for who we are in Him – His valiant warriors – set aside to do His work.


Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1 

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