Showing posts from April, 2019

Good Works Is A Black Widow

In the Avengers there is a dark assassin nicknamed the Black Widow.  She is a bad guy who has now turned into a good guy.  One of her characteristics that drives her passion is what she calls, "the red in her ledger." Bottom line, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, did a lot of bad things.  Now she is trying to balance the scales in her favor with her good works. Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. The term Black Widow is a symbol of death.  So is salvation by works.  No matter how hard you work to earn salvation, it will only kill you. 1 Corinthians 13:1 - 3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I

Samson The Hulk

Well, I watched the Avengers Endgame last night.  Don't worry, no spoilers here. As I was watching this, from a Pastors point of view, I could see some parallels between the Marvel Universe and some Biblical characters. For example, Samson the Hulk. If you don't know who the Hulk is, he is one big green, indestructible angry giant who likes to smash things.  When he isn't mad, he transforms back into Bruce Banner a mild-mannered genius. Judges 14:19 And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him (Samson), and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger, he went back to his father's house. When Samson would lose his temper, like The Hulk, he would start destroying everything around him.  While he was ordained of God to protect the nation of Israel with his strength, he wasn't supposed to be a bully to everyone else around him. There is a time to be

The Endgame

I'm going to watch The Avengers Endgame in a few hours.  No, no spoilers here, you're safe. But that got me to thinking about the word, "Endgame."  Dear Brother Webster defines it as, "the final stage of some action or process." There is an end to everything.  Hebrews 9:27 says, "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,"  To most of us, death is the endgame.  We live, and then we die.  What we do in between is what gives us value. But I would like to offer you another point of view.  Death isn't the end.  It's a new beginning.  John 3:16 talks about our eternal life.  Romans reminds us that we can spend eternity with Christ in heaven or be forever separated from Him in hell. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that we are to be investing in our eternal home.  Paul tells us in 1 Cor 13:13 that we can take our faith, hope, and love with us. Yes, there is an endgame in life.  Yes, there can be an endg

You’re Perfect

Today I am at my denominations youth talent festival.  It’s called the Fine Arts Festival and I have been hanging out with 1,800 teenagers. Now some of you jus twitched at that last statement.  I understand, maybe you would rather spend the day listening to fingernails scratching a chalkboard than hang out with a bunch of teenagers. But as I think about it. I like coffee, they like coffee. I like music, they like music. I like sarcasm, they like sarcasm. They love Jesus, I love Jesus. But that got me to thinking about some unlikely parings in the Bible. Noah and God Abraham and God David and God Peter and Jesus Saul (Paul) and Jesus I know that we hold these names in high esteem.  These are people of faith that give us inspiration. But they started out as nobodies.  A rogue man of faith building a ship in the middle of nowhere.  A nobody who moved his family to the middle of nowhere so they could live in tent for the rest of their life.  A boy who would be king.  A f

The End

Judges 6 - 8 You can read the rest of the story about Gideon yourself.  It is intriguing, and a bit bittersweet in the end.  But, let’s review. A timid man is hiding in a hole in the ground.  He is afraid of a enemy army that has invaded his home land.  They are parasites.  They want everything they own.  They take what they want and they leave to return another day to do it again. People were probably shaking their fist at God and asking, “Why aren’t you doing something about this?”  They don’t understand that it’s their fault.  Over in the corner of their villages and meadows sits these little stone idols to a god named Baal.  The people think that they can worship both and have the best of both worlds. God comes to visit our timid little man and inspire him to lead a army of 300 men against a enemy numbering over 100,000.  It works, but why? Gideon, our timid little man, believes in God even though he doesn’t believe in himself.  But God solves that problem. God tells Gi

God Did It!

Judges 7:21 - 22 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man's sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. Who needs an army when you're just going to make your enemy do our work for you?  Can you imagine what the Israelites were thinking as all of this unfolded?   Wow!  God did it! They pursued their enemy, destroyed them,  captured, and executed the leaders.  Gideon is now the new Judge of Israel.   In the end, God did it.  That's what He wants to do in your life.  Bring you to the place where you will tell the world!  God did it, and I am so glad that I submitted myself to His will!   God has an excellent plan for you.  Sure it will have twists and turns.  But it is in those moments that you discover who God created you to be.  

It's Your Time

Judges 7: 19-20 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” It's time. A vision, a promise is now becoming a reality.  Often God will birth something in your soul.  Something that will make you say, "Who me?"  Something that you are not prepared to do.  But along the journey God beings to change you and recreate you into His will.  He did this with Gideon, and he can do it to you too.  It's 11 p.m.  The changing of the guard is taking place in the camp below.  They will not be quite ready to respond.  The surprise is on the Gideons side.   The three companie

Whose Name Is First?

Judges 7:18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’” So Gideon gives the marching order.  Do what I do and shout, "For the Lord and for Gideon."  Why did Gideon say this?   The Lord comes first. The method of Israel's victory is revealed.   If they will let the Lord lead, allow His power to prevail, and let Him get all the glory.  Then we know that Isreal's heart has returned to God.  His name is now the above that of Baal.    When we allow God to lead our lives and worship Him with all our hearts, our enemies plans will be destroyed, and we will know the victory God has planned for our lives.  Why is Gideon's name in here?  Because the name Gideon strikes fear in the enemies hearts, it is ironic that God uses the name that only scares its owner.  That's right, Gideon was afraid of his own shadow.  But God had full confiden

Gideon Said What?

Judges 7:17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. Orders have come in, and Gideon says, "Do what I do!"  It is incredible to see what happens to a person when their faith and trust in God comes together.  Whether or not Gideon knows this, he was created for this purpose. The timid man in a winepress was always going to be a leader, a Judge of Israel.  The man who said, "Who me?" is now saying, "Follow me." There comes a time when this should happen to each of us.  No, we don't need to go to war with the Midianites, but we do need to stand against the hoards of hell.  Hell has no intention of letting you worship God, allowing Him to lead your life, or enjoying His love and presence in your life.   Satan has been and always be your spiritually bully.  He will intimidate and threaten you.  That's why  God will call upon you to lead yourself and others to ris

Be The Light

Judges 7:16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. Trumpets, pitchers, and torches.  The weapons of this war had nothing to do with war.  They had everything to do with faith. What could God do with trumpets, pitchers, and torches?  What would the enemy do when they saw this spectacle? The torches were probably sticks dipped in pine tar.  Once lit, they were tough to extinguish. Light guides our way. John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; Light declares the truth.  What you see is what you get.  I remember the day after Hurricane Andrew. Everyone was waiting for the sun to come up.  What happened?  Was Miami still there.  The sun did come up, and our worst fears were confirmed.  Reality can hurt, but faith always deals with reality, never fantasy. Light is darknesses, eternal enemy.  If you are stumbling around in the dark, wh

Is Your Pitcher Cracked?

Judges 7:16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. The jars represent us — our lives.  We are just as fragile as a clay pot.  Our lives are empty until we fill them with something or until we crack under pressure.   But some people fill themselves with whatever.  Money, porn, hate, foolishness, pain, you name it.   Some people try to hold the torch in one hand (that's Jesus) and the pitcher in the other.  You cannot serve to masters, and besides, you can't get anything done with both hands full.   Soe people hide Jesus in their hearts.  They let Jesus in, but they don't allow their lives to reflect His presence.  They accept Him as the Savior of their sin, but they refuse to allow Him to be Lord of their lives.   Some people let their identity be broken and replaced by Jesus.  Instead of being someone who is like Christ, they choose to allow the Holy

Toot Your Own Horn

Judges 7:16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. Why trumpets?  Trumpets or Shofars were used frequently in Jewish culture.  They were used at the Temple and in warfare.   Neh 4:20 says,  In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” Gideon and our 300 warriors knew this.  But even more importantly, the Midianites didn't.  They had no idea what Gideon had unleashed on them.   What is your trumpet today?   In the Old Testament trumpets were used to proclaim the Word and the will of God.  Today we proclaim, with our faith, the truth of His presence and power in our lives. Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 ...For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Proclaim your faith today.  Proclaim your praises unto Him. Proclaim the promises of God?  No, this isn't a selfish gospel messa

Timing Is Everything.

Judges 7:16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. Here's the plan.  Three companies of 100.  Torches inside jars Trumpets Now we know that Gideon has the high ground.  We know that he has the element of surprise.  We know that the enemy is scared of him.  But what does Gideon know?  God's timing! He gets it.  It isn't about force; it's about timing.  Gideon was looking for an army big enough that could rout the Midianites out.  Instead, he discovers that God is ready to rout the Midianites out right now and it's time to go.  Now our timing and God's timings have always been an issue.  We want everything now, and God says wait.   Now there are some things in life that God says, NOW too!  Such as when someone asks Jesus into their life as their Lord and Savior.  There are times when God says, WAIT too!  A vision could be

The New And Improved Gideon

Judges 7:15 As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.”  What happened? Gideon hears the dream and its interpretation and all of a sudden we are off to the races.  A timid man of faith returns with a confidant of a warrior with faith in the blink of an eye.   I imagine that the 300 were wondering, "What happened! Not that they were complaining, but the man that went down to the enemy camp isn't the same man who came back?  Could something like this be possible for you?  Of course, it can.  It's called faith. 1 Cor 12:9 "to another faith by the same Spirit?"   God gives us a gift of faith that can rise to any occasion.  It encourages us and empowers us to do what we never knew we could do.  Gideon experienced this while listening to the dreams of his enemies fears.   Gideon

Your Enemy Is Afraid.

Judges 7: 13 - 14 When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” 14 And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” So Gideon sneaks down to the camp and overhears a Midianite tell his friend about his dream.  In that dream, a loaf of barley bread tumbles into the camp and flattens a tent.  A loaf of barley bread is so bad; no one wants to eat it. It's hard and bitter. The tent was probably the tent of the leader of the Midianites — the most important tent in the army.  Then the friend interprets the dream.  The barley loaf is Gideon, Son of Joash, a man of Israel.   Word had got out. Gideon is coming, and the Midianites wer

I Don't Like Bullies!

I was terrorized in middle and high school.  I had the honor of being the smallest, shortest then lankest kid.  I would say that I had a target painted on my chest.  But to be honest, it wasn't big enough.  It was more of a small dot.   I thought that when I grew up, that would end but I discovered that in life bullies come in all shapes and sizes.   Isreal is dealing with an army of bullies.  Just like the ones I had to deal with growing up.  They looked mean and terrifying.   Judges 7:12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. The bible doesn't say how big the Midianite army was.  Some theologians put estimates at 125 - 135 thousand.  I don't know if their right, but wow.   What I do know is that Israel's army was positioned in a place where they could see them.  Someone up there

Get Ready For A Fight

Judges 7:11 And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp.  You shall hear what they say, Gideon.   What could those nasty Midianites say that could make any difference?  What could our enemy say that would tilt the balance of power Israel's favor? What could these worthless thugs say that would inspire?  Too often we dismiss the message that we are supposed to receive because we don't like the messenger.  To often we don't listen because we don't believe that they have nothing good to say. But God chose to do a miracle through Israel's enemy.  He decided to use the words of the enemy to inspire.  What is your enemy saying?  You're going to die.  You're going to get divorced. You're going to suffer for the rest of your life.  You're going to lose everything.

I'm Scared!

Judges 7: 9 - 10   That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant.  It was time to do some recon. God tells Gideon to go and spy on the Midianites. Now, this is a little odd. No, not the spying part. It was common for officers to spy on their enemies. But in this case, all you had to do was stand on the hill and watch. The Midianite army was so large it couldn't hide its movements. But, there was no reason to hide anything.  The Israelites were no threat.   There will be times in your life that you will face an enemy so big it will take your breath away.  You may be more familiar with this enemy than you think.  You see, this was no conquering enemy.  It was a scavenging army.  They didn't come to take your land, they came for your food and belongings.  They would leave you broke and hungry.  Then upon their return, if you didn

We're Going To Do What?

Judges 7:8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. The enemy army is below him, 9,700 Israelites who don't qualify to lead the charge behind him, Gideon gives his 300 a trumpet and presumably a clay pitcher.  We can only assume that God had already told Gideon to given them a ram's horn.  But notice, Gideon does not instruct them as to what they are supposed to do with it.  Honestly, I don't think that Gideon knows either. So we are going to go into battle with no swords, no chariots, no spears, no shields, just trumpets.  If you're one of the 300, what would you do? Would you say, "Um Gideon?  Thanks but no thanks." Would you say, "Hey!  Could we get a new general here!  This one is nuts!" Would you say, "I could do a better job of leading these troops, I'm in charge.&quo

Everything Is Just Right - Now.

Judges 7:6-7 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” Can you imagine Gideon as he was watching his army?  I wonder if he was thinking, "Would someone please lap the water!"  In the end, he sent 9,700 back to their tents and is left with 300 men who are ready and qualified for battle.   Why is it that Godly ways seem to leave one in the minority?  Hindsight is 20/20 here so we ought to say, "Thank God there were 300 men left in Israel who were qualified to lead the charge."  But in the end, it's wasn't their skill or their courage that set them apart.  It was their faith.  They were ready to follow God and Gideon.   Now that Gideon's army is just the right size God says, &quo

The Test

Judges 7:5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” God says, Too many!!  We've eliminated the fearful, what could be next?  God tells Gideon that those who kneel to drink water like a dog, don't use them.   But those who bring the water up to their mouth, while looking for the enemy on the horizon, keep them.  First of all, if you are looking for an opportunity to catch your enemy by surprise, this is it.  Wait until everyone is getting a drink of water, thus not paying attention, it works every time!  So 9,700 Israelites didn't pay attention.  Their self-indulgence overcame their common sense.   The fearful would have balked at Gideon's orders. The selfish would have been careless, panicked and at the sight of trouble run away.  They would not put their lives on the line.   Luk

God Has Lost His Mind

Judges 7:4 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” Still too many - WHAT?  Gideon had to be thinking to himself, "What have I got myself into?" "Well, I have come this far. . . ."  We've all been in that situation where we are so committed to what we are doing that we can't back out - but things are not working out the way we thought they would so . . . . Let's put things into perspective.   God created the problem to solve because the Israelites were idolatrous.   He allowed the Midianites to invade Israel.  He chooses Gideon, the least likely of all people to be a leader.  Then He scales the Israeli army down to almost nothing.   Yup, that pretty much sums it up.   God was never

I'm Afraid, No I'm Not, Yes I Am!

Judges 7:3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. Gideon, the people, "if you're afraid, you can leave."  Twenty-two thousand said, "See ya!"  Their presence was odd.  But if you knew that you were going to fight the biggest army every, why did you even show up in the first place?   These people were a slave to their fear.  They were afraid of their God, so they showed up.  But they were afraid of the Midianites too.  So they left.   That's what fear does to you.  Especially when you are afraid of more than one thing or person.  You will be making promises that you can't keep and running from everyone you are so scared of.  That's what fear does.  Faith has a different point of view.  Faith believes and trusts.  Gideon trusted God with his life and the lives of h

But God! I Can't!!!

Judges 7:2  The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’  Now we begin with the story that most people recognize — Gideon's Army of 300.  God: Hey Gideon! Gideon: Yes Lord?  God: Your army is too big!  Gideon: HUH?!? God had in the past and was to in the future defeated smaller enemies with larger armies. So if you don't get it, let me say it this way. It's not about the army!! Too often we focus on what we have rather than focusing on the one who is providing our way.  God knows how to defeat the Midianites.  So he takes time to speak to Israel's faith.  Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.  But here is the deal.  If we walk by faith, we will see God work in our lives.   Let me illustrate it to you this way.  I have to wear glasses.  Have done so since the 4th grade.  Without them, I cann

When Good People Go To War

Judges 7:1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. The call brings out an army.  The Israelites camp and prepare to go to war.   We've all done it; we've had enough, we're done.  We get our friends and anyone else who will agree with us and set up camp.  It's time to go to war.  We beat our chest with our justifications and prepare to lay waste to our enemies.  We're mad enough to go to war with someone bigger and stronger than ourselves.  It is true that some situations are justified, like Gideon's, where the enemy needs to be routed.  But ask yourself.  Does God want you to go to war?   Does God want to go to war?  Is this a mountain that you are willing to die on? War is ugly and expensive and destructive.  War changes the course of civilization, a nation, or a family.   I'

Fleeces and Faith

Judges 6: 39 - 40 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.”40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. Gideon only pressed the matter one more time.  Some would think that he doubted God or lacked faith in doing this.   Moses at the burning bush pressed it so hard with God that God finally cut him off. All through the Scriptures, we see people test what God said.  But as with Gideon, God is patient.  God understands that we struggle with understanding the supernatural.  That's why we are told again and again to have faith.   Did Gideon have faith?  He is mention in Hebrews 11:32 as a man of great faith.  Think about it; he had enough faith to believe God would answer his request.   The fleece wasn't a lack of faith - it

The Fleece

Judges 6:36- 38 Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said,37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water.  Knowing God's will has been a hurdle for some people. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2   Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  If you think like the world, you cannot know the will of God.  But if you will allow the Holy Spirit to renew, change your views and feelings, your mind to be more like Jesus - then you will know what the will of God is.   But how can this happen?  Well, a fleece might he

You + God =

Judges 6:35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them. Now his tribe, Manasseh, and most of the northern tribes are called to action.  But considering how large the enemy army is, you would think that they need to call up every available fighting man in the nation of Israel.  If they had and hired some mercenaries to help - it still wouldn't be enough.  God doesn't need all the tribes to defeat this enemy?  Remember, Gideon did the hard thing when he tore down Baal's altar.  That was the real problem.  With that out of the way, dealing with the symptom (the Midianites) will be easy.  Often we fight the symptoms of our problems.  Symptoms cause pain in our, and because we don't like pain, who does, we do all we can to eliminate the pain.  But we have to look past the symptoms and ask ourselves, "What is going on here?

By The Power Invested In You . . . .

Judges 6:34 But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. The Holy Spirit "clothes" Gideon with his presence and power.  Now I could write about this for a very long time.  But suffice to say, this is very close to what we experience in the Holy Spirit now.   Gideon needed supernatural inspiration, zeal, and strength to accomplish God's will for that time.  God knows that we need that same inspiration, zeal, and power today to live our everyday lives and do His will.   I am reminded of 1 Cor 12 the Gifts of the Spirit.  ..... but it is the same God who empowers them all [including Gideon] in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by t

Don't Put Your Head In The Sand

Judges 6:33 Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezebel. God makes it easy to get to the Midianites.  HERE THEY ARE!  You don't have to go looking for trouble.  Trouble will find you, and it's there for a reason.   But what did Israel usually do when the Midianites showed up?  They would go and hide in caves.  Or as we might say, "Just go put your head in the sand."   People still hide in their caves today.  They hid in the cave of denial.  A cave of fear.  A cave of doubt or self-loathing.  There are too many for me to mention here.  But what if you were going to into one of these caves and ask, "What are you doing here?"  Can you imagine the answers? I can't deal with those Midianites!  What Mediates? This cave is my summer condo and where are on vacation!  I can't believe I have to live in this cave!  What idiot thought