Thursday, January 13, 2022

           The book of Judges records a period of Israel’s history between the death of Joshua and the rise of Saul as the first king of Israel.  About fourteen judges (though the number can be debated) ruled over Israel during times of crisis and conflict.  God would repeatedly raise up a judge to deliver the people from their enemies and battles.  One of the best-known Judges was Gideon.  His story is told in Judges 6-8.  God raised up Gideon to defeat the Midianites.  In Judges 6, an angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon to tell him that the Lord was with him and had chosen him for a special mission.  Immediately, we recognize that God often has work for us to do.  He has a mission in mind that He wants us to complete for His glory.
            We can be slow to accept the mission or even to warm up to the idea that God could use us, yes us and yes, even you or me!  Gideon asked a question that we often ask in 2022.  “How can I do what you want me to do?  I am the least and the weakest of my clan and family.”  We often diminish ourselves with the hope that God might look elsewhere or just choose someone else for the work He chooses us to do.  Moses was the same way.  Moses begged God just to find somebody else, anybody else so long as it was not him.  Jonah doubted God enough to run away and end up the belly of a large fish.  So, we should not be surprised that Gideon was reluctant and even dismayed.
            We can easily allow reluctance or fear to become an excuse today.  We can convince ourselves that there has to be someone else who is more skilled, more talented and more worthy to be called by the Most High God for a mission of service. But when we turn away from what God has for us to do, we miss the blessing that God has for us and that He may wish to bring into the life of someone else through us. 
            Some of Judges 6 is devoted to the story of Gideon trying to gain confidence and convince himself that God would really grant him favor and use him for the good of Israel.  Gideon put out a “fleece” to confirm that God was at work and that God would use him in that work.  There is certainly nothing “unbiblical” about a fleece.  Asking God for confirmation or assurance is not always a bad thing.  But when God does make His plans clear for us, our responsibility shifts to obedience and faithfully doing whatever God has for us to do.  And that was how Gideon responded.  He took up the mantle of duty that the Lord had entrusted to him. 
            We learn from Gideon to change disbelief that God could use even us into faith and trust that He can, He does and He will.  We learn from Gideon the importance of getting started and beginning to move when it is clear that God has chosen us for a mission.  And Gideon teaches us that God can be trusted.  He will get us to where He wants us to go.  The Lord is neither blind nor ignorant to the needs of the world.  And He has chosen to work through His people.  We may not always see immediate results or outcomes but heaven surely records those things and one day all will be made known.  Gideon teaches us perseverance and staying power—stay in the battle until the Lord gives us the signal to end.  
             I heard a baseball manager complaining one time about how his team lacked grit and determination.  Serving the cause of the gospel is not always easy.  It rarely is.  So, we need some grit and determination to stay in this worthy battle that God has for us to fight.  When the people of Israel wanted to make a king out of Gideon, he plainly told them no.  He replied that the Lord would rule over His people.  The final lesson Gideon teaches us is to give glory to God at all times—and especially on those occasions when it might be easy to step in and claim the glory.  There is a human tendency to want to soak in adulation and acclaim when the Lord alone deserves such things.  But when God receives the glory, He ensures that His people will have all they need.  Have a great Thursday!  

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