DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN
Gideon is one of my favorite characters in the book of Judges for a couple of reasons. The first is his radical transformation and the effect it has on his whole community. When we meet Gideon, he is threshing wheat in a winepress to hide from the Midianites because the oppression was so extensive. After a visit from the angel of the LORD Gideon is told that he is the one, chosen by God, to deliver the Israelites from the hand of Midian. Before he sets out to do so, there is a test of obedience. Gideon must first go to his father’s house and destroy the altar to Baal and the Ashram pole, which were both commonly pagan gods amongst Israel. After Gideon is obedient, the people of the town come looking for Gideon to take his life because he had likely angered “the gods.” At this point Gideon’s father reminds the people that if Baal were any sort of god at all, he would contend for himself and strike Gideon dead. Gideon remained alive and was given the name Jerub-Baal, which means “contends with Baal.” I can only imagine what an impact this began to have on the people of Israel.
The second reason is because of his faith in the face of insurmountable odds. When told to lead the Israelites into battle with the Midianites, Israel was out matched in every way. They were squaring up against an army of around 125,000 while their numbers were 32,000. As if this weren't enough, God tells Gideon that he still has too many. Eventually, the Israelite numbers were down to 300. Three hundred men facing 125,000 and they are told to take trumpets, clay pots, and torches into battle. Gideon is faithful and God does His thing and the victory is won. After Gideon leads the Israelites to overthrow their oppressor, the men of Israel ask Gideon and his sons to rule over them. Gideon’s answer is priceless, “ I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.” What a heart, considering the people demand a king in 1 Samuel 8. It seems like Gideon gets the big picture.
However, after Gideon grows old he makes the people bring him a bunch of gold. “Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshipping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” —Judges 8:27. How many times do we get too comfortable when we think all the work is done and we let our guard down? We prepare for the enemy and may even experience victory, but it’s the small overlooked battles that usually trip us up. Look at Solomon as another example. He asks for wisdom and God grants it to him. In fact, he is described as the wisest man to ever walk the earth and at the end of his reign, he too leads the Israelites into idol worship because he was involved with so many women from so many different nations. We must always be on our guard!
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:5)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
Serving Christ Together,
A friend of mine was talking with me about the Monza Spyder that he is rebuilding from the ground up. Now, I knew from the conversation that this was a car, but had to rely on a Google search to tell me more. His first car was a Monza Spyder and he has loved them ever since. He even belongs to a couple Monza Spyder car clubs. Like many who decide to rebuild a vehicle, he has the one he is rebuilding, but he also has one that he purchased as a parts car.
He has slowly been working on this project as money was available to cash flow it. Since there is a niche market of Monza fans he has even been able to see some of the parts from his parts car to help fund the project.
My friend has taken this as an opportunity to spend time with his 14 year old son as well, having him help in the garage, even taking him to some car club rallies. Through the process his son has gotten to meet many people and seen his fair share of Monzas. One day as he was helping his dad in the shop he said, “Dad, would it be ok for us to build a Monza for me from the parts car.”
My friend was excited that he had passed on this passion to his son, but also realized that with his son being 14 he was on a timeline. To make matters worse, most of the car had already been harvested, used, or sold. But the excitement of his son catching his passion overshadowed all the downfalls.
In his excitement, my friend began to share with his car club buddies that his son now wanted to build a Monza for himself. My friend’s son had been to several car shows with his dad, so the car club buddies knew his son and were excited that this passion was being passed on.
As my friend began to search online and formulate a plan for repurchasing the parts he had sold, including some hard to find parts, a package arrived with his son’s name on it. When his son opened the box it was one of the missing parts. This continued to happen, as the car club guys were shipping parts to my friend’s son. They too wanted to foster this passion that they shared.
As I talked with my friend, I couldn’t help but think that this is what the Church is supposed to look like. This is what it looks like to Make Disciples. I know that we have passions, like my friend and his buddies, that we get excited to pass mo. My prayer and my hope is that we would begin to have an even greater excitement and passion about passing on our faith to the next generation.
Will we be willing to sacrifice time and money and preferences in order to reach others with the most import ant passion? Who are you discipling? Who can you begin to disciple? Who is discipling you?
Hello everyone. The book of Daniel is probably one of my favorite books in the entire Bible. For anyone who teaches children the first 6 chapters are a great place to find some great stories of God’s power that can not only apply to adults but to kids as well. My favorite in the book of Daniel is chapter 3, the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. More famously known by their Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These 3 young men had to take the greatest test of faith one will ever have to take upon this earth. The choice between life and death. King Nebuchadnezzar had a tremendous reputation, not just in Babylon, but around the known world. His kingdom was the greatest and strongest the world had ever seen to date. To say that he had an ego would have been an understatement as well. He knew he was powerful and he wasn’t afraid to “flex” that muscle to anyone who didn’t obey him. That’s where these 3 young men have to take their test of faith. Their choices were…disobey God and bow down and live here…or…obey God by refusing to worship anything other than God and die. What a choice to have to make.
Knowing that these 3 guys were young men I could hear some people (even Christians) say, “that they had their whole life ahead of them. Just bow down and do what you’re told so you can live.” As we read this story one might think that this would be a really hard decision for them to make, but as it turns out it appears like it was a pretty easy one. Their response to the king… “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king, But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Decision made! Their decision to obey God before anyone or anything else was not one that they had to make right then because they had already made that decision earlier in their life. From an early age Jewish boys were taught God’s laws and how to live in accordance with those laws. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew the consequences for disobeying the king; he had made that very clear, but they also knew God’s laws and how they were to respond to anything that contradicted them. For them the decision was a easy one…obey God!
One of the questions I want to ask in regards to this chapter is…why were there only 3 people willing to stand on the truth in the face of evil? There was an entire nation of people taken captive to Babylon but yet only 3 are willing to take a stand for God and His Word. I know that I am making an assumption here but if more people were willing to be thrown into the furnace, like these 3 guys, I think Daniel would’ve mentioned that.
So my question for you all is this…are you preparing or are you prepared to answer to someone like King Nebuchadnezzar? It may not be a life and death thing but you will eventually have to answer a faith question. Jesus gives us the answer in how to respond in a situation like this in Luke 9. Luke 9:23-25 “Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
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