Scripture: The Lord said to Gideon, "Surely I will be with you and you will smite the Midianites as one man." That night the Lord said to Gideon, " Take your father's bull, the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has and cut down the Asherah that is beside it." Judges 6: 16, 25
Good morning, beautiful people. Let's invite the Holy Spirit into this moment. Come Holy Spirit and break open the Word of God for us that we may be changed, encouraged, inspired and transformed into living words of Jesus, our Lord.
In this season of our lives when we are told to be very practical and careful, someone forgot to mention that to God. Scripture is full of wild stories where God asks the ridiculous so He can do the miraculous. One day, I hope I can sit next to Joshua and hear his side of the story when God told him not to use weapons, but to just march around Jericho singing and the wall around the city would fall down. Can you just imagine the big, burly soldiers getting that order from Joshua? Jehoshaphat is another one. When he and his army were surrounded by enemies they sought the Lord's guidance. They were hemmed in on every side and God told them to just cruise on down the next morning into the enemy camp and He would take care of everything. "You will not have to fight this battle. Take your positions, stand firm, and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out and face them and the Lord will be with you." (2 Chronicles 20:17) The next day, Jehoshaphat appointed singers to sing praise as they walked, and as He promised, God put on a show, and the enemy somehow got all confused and killed each other. Boom. Mic Drop. Go God! But what are we seeing? When God speaks a clear Word, quick obedience leads to miraculous victory. Even if it sounds utterly ridiculous and makes one shake in one's boots!
It is SO easy to talk about this and read about it but being IN it is a whole different story. I dare say God has our attention. And if we substitute coronavirus for Jericho or Jehoshaphat's enemy, we can really get into the crux of this. Today I want to highlight Gideon though, because he was not a courageous king or military leader. In his own words, he was the least of the least of the least. (The youngest of the least influential family in the least important tribe. And of course, when God wants to do something really astounding and creative, He chooses some dear buffoon so EVERYONE won't miss who did the miracle! (Don't miss the point that in this generation He's choosing to use US. Connect the dots! But how awesome that none of this depends on our great goodness, holiness, gifts or strength.)
Now, the Midianites were a fierce tribe that ransacked Israel every year right at harvest time. They stole all their crops and their animals every year. Judges 6 opens with Gideon fearful, discouraged and hiding, threshing grain in a wine press. When a huge angel appeared to Captain Courageous, he said something incredible. "Hail, mighty man of courage! The Lord is with you." Gideon must have been looking over his shoulder to see if someone else was there. But unlike our friend, Daniel, Gideon immediately went into the whining, blame game. "Well if the Lord is with us, why are all of these terrible things happening to us? And where are all the wondrous works our fathers talked about saying, did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt? But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hands of the Midianites." Quick note: Israel had made an oath with God that He would be their only God. But Israel didn't have easy access to water so, rather than trusting God and seeking His miraculous provision, they covenanted with Baal, the god of water, and with Asherah, his female counterpart. Aren't three gods better than One? Yesterday, Daniel gave us a beautiful picture of humility in repentance. Today we get the opposite from Gideon. There is absolutely no acknowledgement of sin, personal or communal. I encourage you to read Judges 6-8 and get the details, but the key piece we're going to land on today is Judges 6. After a few key conversations with God and an opening of Gideon's eyes to God's goodness and faithfulness, Gideon wanted to know how this was all going to be possible. What God said to him, He is saying to us in this moment. You are called and chosen for BALLISTIC BREAKTHROUGH. And now I need not only your YES but your quick obedience. God made it clear that before Gideon could take down the enemy "out there," he had to start at home.
"Take your father's bull, the second bull seven years, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has and cut down the Asherah that is beside it." (Judges 6:25) This is key. If we want God to use us for Kingdom work, we HAVE TO begin tearing down the idols in our homes and in our hearts and minds. It sent fear into every fiber of Gideon's body. He must have been saying, "REALLY GOD???? Not THIS. We NEED this!" What's your Baal? What are your distractions, the little idols that get more of your attention than your spouse, your children, the people God has placed in your life or even God? Our computers and phones may be huge on this list. And what else? Sometimes innocent or even "good" things start as a small thing, but eventually they grow into something that takes over places in our hearts, minds, souls or bodies where they do not belong. It's easy to kill it when it's small. But if we let these things grow, we will need more than a bull to tear down our Baals.
Many years ago, my son was living and working in Thailand. One day he called to tell me that he'd almost been attacked by a huge cobra in the jungle. It was hanging from a tree and gratefully one of his companions pushed him out of the way to safety. Being really bright (?) boys, they realized that they had machetes. So, they turned and chased the cobra. It took three of them to kill it. I am told it made a great stew. Hmmm. But the phrase I remember was, "I wish it had been smaller. It would've been so much easier to kill."
This morning when I was praying about this reflection, I was thinking about what we see in crisis times like this. My mind went to food and toilet paper hoarding, and then I felt the Lord say, "My people are spiritually hoarding. They are frantic and seeking words, even good ones, but they are not seeking Me." It's interesting because yesterday I had an inbox full of some of my favorite speakers, all going live, to give words and encouragement. I finally had to put my phone away. Though ALL great teachers with wonderful words, I realized I was spending more time listening to them than in prayer. The Lord has given us a season of forced rest. Are we seeing that for the gift that it is? In this season He is SO desiring to connect with us at levels deeper than we have ever experienced. He longs to make us carriers of breakthrough. But we have to really tune into HIM, learn to hear Him, be willing to "Do whatever He tells us, " and tune out even other good voices if they are taking our time and attention away from a personal communion with Him in prayer AND the people right in front of us. (Even prayer time can be used as an escape from people or situations that are difficult.) Let's be honest about even making prayer time an idol if we are not pure in our motives. The devil is sneaky. If he can't get you to do bad things, he'll try to corrupt or distort good things.
"Be still and KNOW that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) This, my friends, is the way. We WILL know Him, we WILL hear Him, when we learn to still ourselves, (head, heart and body!) and wait for Him to come. He wants to personally guide each of us through this time. He wants to lead us with His ever gentle hand and help us purify every area of our lives. And then, when we hear others, it will confirm what the Lord has already spoken or impressed on us. And what a confirmation and a faith builder is THAT?!
Gideon became all that God promised. Step by step, God was faithful to work with him, answer His questions, build him up in faith and courage. This is about God being SURE of His ability to do all of this in us. But first, before we are ready to release the Kingdom we carry "out there”, we have to deal with the Baals "in here." Ballistic Breakthrough does not float down from the sky. It's hard won, one step at a time, as we allow God to show us where we need to pull up weeds, cast down altars, repent, seek, and risk believing that in the midst of our mess, He is excited about co-partnering with us! Our challenge is this: with every one of these Baals in our lives, like Gideon, we are very sure we NEED it. Give God permission to step in and help you choose to let go of it. He will loose it's tight grip. It's already been done and won at the cross. He wants to show us how to walk out that victory.
"You must catch the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love, to ruin what I've planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for me? We will do it together." (Song of Songs 2:15)
Declaration: We thank You, Jesus, that You are making us mighty in the Kingdom and that every day we are growing us into people who want YOU more than anything else in our lives. We thank You that You promise to complete the work you've begun in us, (Philippians 1:6) that You are removing every sly fox in our lives with us and that you are crazy about us! We are soaked in Your love and delight. We are unaffected by the spirit of fear and we are living in perfect peace. (2 Timothy 1:7) We thank You that You have given us power, love and a sound mind, and You are teaching us to live in those gifts and give them to others. We are a safe place for those who are suffering. We know who we carry, the living God, for whom nothing is impossible, and live to release this peace and power to others. We are walking in more and more freedom (Galatians 5:1) and whatever happens we are held in Your Heart. We give You all the glory and the honor forever.
All glory to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. May every grace and blessing be multiplied to you.
I love being on this road with you. Let's keep each other in prayer.