God’s Hidden Valiant Warrior

be strong and courageous

Judges 6-7 As our story opens, we find fearful Gideon hiding in a winepress, threshing his family’s wheat crop. At that moment, an angel of God appeared, telling him he was a brave warrior. Does God ever come to you when like Gideon? Gideon will soon be the brave warrior of fleeces and lapping water fame. But for now, he is hiding in a winepress to thresh his family’s wheat harvest because of fear.  Does that fit the description of a warrior? Warriors are supposed to stand tall, face the enemy, and be victorious, yet Gideon lives by fear. Gideon and the Israelites were living examples of the first part of this verse:  “The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.” [Prov 29:25] Gideon questioned the angelic presence;  if God is for us, why are we facing this? If God is near to us, why don’t I see or experience him?

Yet, Gideon is just the kind of person God is looking for so that the “one who boasts, boasts in the Lord.” [1Cor 1:31] The angel of the Lord told Gideon what lay ahead, but he needed more confirmation—not once but twice. God graciously answered because he wanted Gideon to cast off his former view of himself and rise to the occasion.

Perhaps God is calling you to a ministry or a challenge. Are you hiding in a winepress or stepping out so you can hear God saying: “I will be with you.”  

God Tests Balaam & Us

God tests our heart motives

Numbers 22  Just as we test metals to determine their worth, so God tests our hearts to know it’s worth, and as Paul prayed, so should we: That “our God will make [us] worthy of His calling.” [2Thess 1:11] Enter Balaam, the son of Beor, a false diviner whose worth will be proven. When the Moabite King sent a delegation, God intervened by asking Balaam,  “Who are these men?” Balaam kept up a dialog with God about them, and on the surface, it seems that he was obeying. However, as we see, Balaam fell headlong into the temptation of earthly riches, which was more potent than obeying God. Like many today, Balaam tried to appear righteous by his answer that he could not curse Israel, but his actions prove the opposite. Balaam sought ways to obey God and yet get the riches the King offered.

The last test came when God explicitly tested Balaam when he said: “if” these men have come to call you, get up and go with them. But Balaam didn’t wait for the “if” clause and instead got up and went.

Today God tests our hearts just as He did Balaam’s. Therefore, we must ask God for his wise counsel and we must stand firm.  God gives us tests to discern if we will obey His voice or our own.

“I can’t really means I won’t.”

God wants us to say we will

Exodus 4 to 6 Three times Moses tells God he is a man with uncircumcised lips, much like Isaiah, who said his lips were contaminated. With Isaiah, one of the seraphs placed a lump of hot coal on his lips and cleansed his lips. For Moses, God gave him some pretty powerful signs of a rod, which changed into a serpent, and his hand turned leprous. Paul would later note: “For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom,” [1Cor 1:22] Yet, even with that, Moses had excuse after excuse! “What if the people won’t believe me? O, my Lord, I am not an eloquent man.” God reminded Moses that He gave him a mouth, and He makes the blind to see or the deaf to hear. Yet, with all that, much like us, Moses began to whine and complain: send someone else; I can’t do it—which really means I won’t. Even though God was angry, He promised Moses he could have Aaron to help him. 

There are some lessons to glean from this interchange between Moses and God. If God calls, He will “equip you with every good thing to do his will,” [Heb 13:21] He will be your strength; ‘for whenever we are weak, then we will be strong.’ [2Cor 12:10 paraphrase] Thirdly, Moses and our complaints are a stench in His nostrils. Learn from Moses: There are no mistakes in God’s choices; trust Him, His plan, and His timing.

We are God’s servants, not the other way around.  

At the End of Your Rope

Where are you and God in a wrestling match?

Gen 32 Jacob feels like he is at the end of his rope. He is fearful when he hears Esau knows he is on his way home. Just as we do sometimes, Jacob conjured up pictures in his mind of what that encounter would entail. The element of fear, both real and imaginary, often causes us to think of what lay ahead before we face it. The what if’s and whatever’s are part of Satan’s strategy to keep us from trusting God. How do we put that to rest is what God was teaching Jacob and now centuries later he is teaching us.

And so Jacob makes a plan to divide up his family as well as sending huge gifts ahead to Esau because “Jacob was afraid and upset.” [Gen 32:7] Jacob is covering his tracks. Alone, God now has Jacob’s attention and that is what God does with us. When He gets our attention, then He can work until we are ready to submit to His way and His plan. In the end, Jacob now becomes Israel (God prevails).  

Where are you and God wrestling about your fears? Will you trust Him?

God of Our Future

God has tomorrow planned

Advent Series #6:

Our world is spinning and people are wandering and wondering. They wonder about tomorrow and the next day and the next, but we who know the God of the universe do not need to wonder. For the  believer the future does lie before us but we need not fear for God holds the future and He holds us in the palm of His hand: “Look, I have inscribed yourname on my palms.” [Isa 49:16]  “For I know what I haveplanned for you,’ says the Lord.” I haveplans to prosper you, not to harm you. I haveplans to give youa future filled with hope.”[ Jer 29:11]

Zechariah and Mary faced a future written in eternity past. One would become a father to John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness. One would become the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is not the author of confusion but of order. His timing is perfect and he holds the key to our future. He is the God of impossibilities. Zacharias’ future lay before him but he needed or desired confirmation. Mary’s future lay before her and she submitted willingly. When God comes with a word regarding your future how do you respond? Are you like Zacharias needing a sign or like Mary willingly submitting to whatever God has planned because you believe “The steps of a person are ordained by the Lord” [Pro 20:24]

God’s Promise

God promises our destiny

Daniel 10-12 Interestingly, God met both Daniel and Paul away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Both men had a group of friends with them, but only Daniel and Paul saw the vision. Both felt their strength fade away because of the power of the vision. Both listened to the voice, and both were given the wisdom to understand.

Paul needed to know Jesus, whom he had been persecuting. From that encounter, he would travel the world, telling all who would hear about Jesus. Daniel, on the other hand, had a robust relationship with God, but many questions. God came because Daniel did as James said: “if you lack wisdom, ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach.” [James 1:5] At the end of this encounter, Daniel was told the answer but then to seal it up for the time had not yet come for it to be revealed.

Yet, God had one more promise to Daniel. He would leave this earth and go to his rest just as the Hebrews author said. [Heb 4:9] Daniel may have had unanswered questions still, but the angelic figure gave this octogenarian a tremendous promise:

“But you should go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will arise to receive what you have been allotted.” [Dan 12:13]

God offers that same promise to you if you have yielded your life to Him. The question is can you claim that same promise? 

What God do you serve?

2Kings 1-3 King Ahaziah had a nasty fall through the ceiling of his apartment. He must have had some severe injuries due to this and wanted to know if he would recover. He knew Elijah was one of God’s prophets yet did not call upon him. Instead, he sent messengers to inquire of the idol god Baal: “Go, ask Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron, if I will survive this injury.” As they were going, God’s angel came to Elijah. He was to go and ask the messengers “You must think there is no God in Israel.” As he sat there three g groups of soldiers came to inquire of Elijah. The first two companies of 50 were consumed by fire, but the last captain came and bowed before Elijah and sought mercy. Because he was humble, God told Elijah to go to the king. As he had said to the soldiers, he said to Ahaziah: ‘You must think there is no God in Israel!’  But, just like on Mt Carmel, the question was which God did Ahaziah serve: Baal or Yahweh.

Today many are like Ahaziah. Instead of asking God their question, they seek answers from any other source than Him. Our culture has put aside God and replaced him with the things of this world, which will surely pass away. Just like Ahaziah, we all will die and face the judgment. [Heb 9:27] It will be too late then to decide which God is the true God. I would love to show you the way to the True God: Yahweh. Send me a note if you are interested.

 When you enter eternity, which God will you meet: Baal or Yahweh?

Be Discerning

1Kings 13 & Gal 1 & Acts 17 (Be A Berean)

After Paul left Galatia, grievous wolves had entered and taken captive their hearts. Paul said to them, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting…” The author of 1Kings has recorded the story of the disobedient unnamed prophet sent to the wicked king Jeroboam. Before we judge this prophet harshly, we need to stop and see ourselves in this tale.

The prophet had stood tall and strong in the face of Jeroboam to warn him! God had sent a sign by Jeroboam’s shriveled hand and the broken altar. He had refused Jeroboam’s gracious gift of a meal and rest. YET—on his way home, he stopped to rest. God had said not to eat or drink or return the same way, but not about resting. An old man approached him, saying he too was a prophet with an angelic message. Was the old man a true prophet? This is when we let our guard down! We wonder why the prophet did not ask God for confirmation. But…why do we not ask God when we hear someone say, God has told me to tell you this or that? Beware of contradicting messages; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. God is not a man that changes his mind. If we want to know, pray and ask for discernment. Be forewarned; the adversary can use even what seems like righteous words.  

Stay alert! Be on your guard. Check the source; be like the Bereans in Acts 17. Check to see if it is true.

Faith Barometer

Judges 13 

God loves all people, but not all people love God, unfortunately. When you read the book of Judges, you need to keep that information front and center; otherwise, you will miss the blessings that He has for you.

In Judges 13, we meet a barren woman and her husband. Both are godly people, but it seems that God, in particular, loves infertile women, and in this story, this woman, we will call her “Mrs. Manoah.” She, like Elizabeth in Luke 1 and Hannah in the book of 1Samuel, is barren. To be infertile is a stigma, and God hears her heart. For four chapters, we read about this dear woman who will soon have her heart’s desire in a son named Samson. It is the “Mrs.” who is busy in the field and meets the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.

Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord. And like Jacob, wants to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.” Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.

When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?