Friday, March 16, 2018

Mighty Warrior



When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6: 12 NIV

Gideon belonged to a clan that was, in his words, the weakest of the tribe of Manasseh, and he claimed to be the weakest of his own family, and yet God called him a mighty warrior. The clue to this paradox is the phrase before “mighty warrior”:  The Lord is with you.  In the Lord’s strength, Gideon was able to overcome his fear enough that he took down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole as God had told him to do.  He used the wood from the pole to make a fire for a sacrifice to God on a new altar that he built to the Lord. Gideon knew that it was a dangerous venture and indeed, the next morning, his community wanted to kill him for it.  Only some quick thinking on his father’s part saved him. Soon after, he led the Israelites into battle against the Midianites but God confused the enemy so that they ended up killing each other.

This story is such an encouragement when we are in difficult situations. God fought Gideon’s battle for him and protected him from his angry family and neighbours. He provided words to Gideon’s father and a unique solution to the Midianites. If I want to be a mighty warrior, I need to invite the Lord to have control over my life and obey his directives as best as I can.  When the Lord is with me, He will fight my battles for me. The mightiness will be all due to Him.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Midianites



“But you have not listened to me.” Judges 6:10 NIV

The Israelites were being oppressed by the Midianites who were raiding their villages and stealing their crops. In their distress, the Israelites cried out to the Lord who sent a prophet to them. God reminded them that He had delivered them out of Egypt and had given them the land of Canaan. He was their saviour and their provider.  Their problem was not God’s lack of care for them; their problem was that they no longer were listening to him. “But I’m an Israelite, one of God’s chosen people,” some of them likely said. “Why does God allow this oppression by the Midianites even if I don’t always listen?”

God is transforming us. He is not satisfied with leaving us as selfish, greedy, proud, fearful people. He wants us to be filled with his Holy Spirit, to have the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If He has to, He will put extreme pressure on us to get us to pay attention to him. If I cling fiercely to my sinful ways and do not listen when He whispers or gently speaks to me, then He will send the Midianites to shake me up.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Strong Base



And a voice from heaven said, ”This is my Son, whom I love: with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 NIV

Before Jesus started on his public ministry, he was baptized by John. After Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit, as a dove, alighted on him and God, the Father, spoke.  First, he affirmed that Jesus was his son, a relationship which fundamentally bound the Father and Son together.  Next, he professed his love for his Son.  Love is the most important and strongest attachment that people can have. Finally, the Father said that he was pleased with his Son.  Even before Jesus called his disciples, even before he went to the cross, the Father said that he was pleased with him.

As a base for any interactions I may have with other people, I need to remember that I am God’s child, that he loves me and that he is pleased with me, not  because of my actions, but because of my willingness to be his follower. If I am ministering out of a sense of obligation or fear, I won’t be able to share the Good News of God’s love, grace and mercy in a way that resonates with others. I need to meditate on the close binding love that God has for me, and that he is pleased with me because of my faith in him.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baptism


“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:17 NIV

Right at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he is baptized by John, the Baptist. When John is hesitant to baptize Jesus, Jesus tells him that it is necessary to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus begins his ministry in humility and affirming his connection with his human brothers and sisters.  This is possible because Jesus is secure in his Father’s love. The audible declaration of love by the Father is a public stamp of approval of Jesus for the witnesses at the baptism.


As we go out to minister in God’s name, we need to feel sure of the Father’s love for us. If I doubt his love, I need to examine why I do and need to resolve this issue. It is only on this foundation of love that we can also be channels of love. Only when we grasp the depth of God’s love can we begin to understand how He could forgive us and want to have full fellowship with us. Jesus began his ministry bound to the Father in love, and willing to humble himself to be a servant to the people he met.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Be Strong and Courageous


Be strong and courageous...The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:6, 9 NIV

Moses had died and Joshua was now tasked with leading the Hebrews. What a responsibility! In the first nine verses of Joshua 1, God exhorts Joshua three times to be strong and courageous. God knew that Joshua would be confronted with many challenges and He wanted Joshua to keep his focus. Joshua was instructed to follow the teachings of the law, and to remember that God had promised to protect  and prosper the Hebrews, but only if they walked in God’s path.


It takes strength of character to not float down the river of least resistance by giving in to our natural greed and pride.  It takes courage to stand up for God’s commandments. As a new year begins, I’m asking God to give me the strength and courage I need to walk a godly life that is worthy of his name. I will need to remember God’s promise that He is with me every step of the way. And that his way is the way of perfect love.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Full Armour


Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10 NIV

We are admonished to put on the full armour of God:  The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, sandals of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. God is showing us how to protect ourselves from the onslaught of the devil. I need to check that I have all my pieces on. Injury is almost certain if I leave off even one of these essentials elements of the Christian walk.


As a Christian, I need to be careful that I don’t cherry-pick my way through Scripture. Maybe I’m happy with the helmet of salvation but take issue with some of the truths that God has shown me. Maybe I have plenty of faith but I struggle to be a peacemaker with difficult people. God has exhorted me to put on the full armour so that I can become a complete, mature Christian, confident against the attacks of the one who wants to destroy me.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Egypt


Egypt

“God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” Genesis 50:24 NIV

Joseph, on his deathbed, was encouraging his brothers to go back to the land of Canaan which God had promised to Abraham.  He also made them take an oath that they would go back and bury him there. He must have known  that their hearts were not inclined to leave Egypt. Perhaps they were prospering financially, maybe they had Egyptian wives, or maybe they liked the climate in Egypt better than Canaan.  We don’t know.  What we do know is that they embalmed Joseph and buried him in Egypt. They didn’t go back to Canaan; they didn’t go where God wanted them to be.


Joseph’s brothers and their descendants continued to prosper in Egypt  to the point that the Egyptians began to feel threatened by the strength of their numbers and wealth. A new king came to power and decided to get control over the Israelites.  Four hundred years of slavery lay ahead of them. What blessings they missed and how much needless suffering they endured by not following God’s guidance.