Lesson From Gideon

 

Many, many years ago I was challenged by a co-worker to call into the local Christian radio station's daily Bible quiz.  Hoping to exhibit the depth of my Biblical knowledge by answering correctly and of course winning a fabulous prize I took the challenge!  Turned out the question was about Gideon, and the extent of my knowledge about him was limited to something about a fleece.   Needless to say, I answered the question incorrectly and the only thing that I came away with was a slightly bruised ego and an awareness of my woeful lack of understanding  of the Old Testament Judges.

With that distant memory, I was delighted when our the women at church would be studying the book of "Gideon Your Weakness. God's strength"  by Priscilla Shirer http://www.goingbeyond.com/biography . At last I would have an opportunity to find out what I had been missing!  While the lessons in Gideon are numerous, this is the one lesson that has really resonated with me.

Briefly, when we first meet Gideon he is threshing wheat in a cave.  In a cave?  Really?  Yes, he was working on his harvest in a cave where he hoped he would go undetected.  You see, the people of Israel had these enemies that for seven long years managed to plan their attacks just as Gideon the other farmers were harvesting,  leaving them devastated and without a harvest. His lack of courage caused him to seek refuge in a place that was quite unsuitable for the task at hand.  He was timid, afraid, insecure and hopeless.

Have you ever felt that the only solution to your trouble was to hide?

I do.  Way more than I really want to admit.  If I hide, then no sees my pain or failure or despair.

Back to Gideon...this is where the story gets really good.  An angel of the Lord meets Gideon in his hideout...and when Gideon finally acknowledges this angelic presence Gideon is greeted with the title O mighty man of Valor!  Say what?  God is declaring to Gideon just exactly how He sees him...not the way Gideon sees himself.  I do the exact same thing.  I dwell on my insecurities or fears (a.k.a. pity parties) rather than digging into God's word to be reminded of what He thinks of me.  While Gideon was hiding, God saw him as mighty, a fighter and a champion.  When I am afraid, God say Be brave I am with you (Joshua 1:9). When I feel like the biggest loser God says I am with you, I delight in you and rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zeph. 3:17). Pretty powerful!  In Christ, I am more than a conqueror...as Priscilla would say "A Mighty Warrior Princess"!

So, ladies...find the cave exit pronto adjust your crown!  Live like the Might Warrior Princess that you are!

 

A Tranquil Spirit

  

Tranquil-spirit

What comes to mind when you think of tranquility?  The dictionary definition describes it as a freedom from commotion, tumult or disturbing emotions. For me disturbing emotions sometimes feel like a cloud that continually hovers, pesters and infects my day, sometimes without mercy.

Can you relate?

Isn't it a wonderful blessing that we have God's word to help us battle the commotion and emotions in our lives?  The beautiful light of scripture is both purifying as well as exposing...as I have been finding during the women's Bible study at church.  The study is called Detox...and as you can imagine it conjures up all kinds of visuals.  Detoxing used to be for the drug addicted...now I can go to my local grocery store and find a myriad of products designed to cleanse my body from the strains of my bad habits.  But detoxing is also much needed for my soul as well.  Have you ever considered that bad habits of thought and feeling can build up in your heart in such a way that you can no longer live the life God intended?   So far in the study we have wrestled with things like our feelings of fear, our feelings of envy and feelings of inadequacy. The process sometimes feels like spiritual heart surgery...but one thing I know for sure is that Jehovah Rapha, my Lord that heals, is tenderly and expertly exposing my wounds for what they are, and most graciously giving me the strength to remove them from my life.

And being the visual learner that I am, I was inspired to create this piece of art, so that God's word would be etched onto my heart...the most effective bandage for a wounded heart and the perfect antidote for any further toxic build up.  The tranquil spirit comes from hungering and thirsting for God's word...it becomes a canopy of protection that revives our body (and mind).  But...There is always a but. Envy rots our bones.  Just think of what that would look like. Infection and decay destabilizing the very structure that is intended to hold us up and enables us to function.  When the lack of contentment  births all sorts of envy we end up in one festering, unattractive puddle.  Ick!

My prayer for you is that you would seek Him first!  Cultivate a spirit that is tranquil and serene, because your focus is on God, who IS only and always good!

Blessings!

The Wondrous Cross

  

When I survey the wondrous cross 
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on 
all my pride.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet, 
sorrow and love flow mingled down; 
did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose 
 so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, 
that were a present far
too small; 
Love so amazing, 
so divine, 
demands my soul, 
my life, 
my all.
 

I love the emotion and depth that Isaac Watts poured into this beautiful hymn.  He wrote it in 1707 while preparing for a communion service...written so long ago, yet still so relevant and powerful today.  

When I survey the wondrous cross, I am reminded of the human condition, well, my condition...I was an ungodly, helpless sinner and an enemy of God.  BUT, at the right time God demonstrated His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

As I continue to ponder the cross, I think of  Jesus, although He was God, He emptied himself by becoming a man and being confined by human flesh that was frail and dying.  He humbled himself by becoming a bond-servant and was obedient to the point of death...even death on the cross. He willingly and lovingly took the sins of humanity and said I will pay the price.  He was punished, I was healed. When I survey the cross, I do not see a fashion accessory...I see an amazing reminder of divine love and sacrifice. God gave. How can I give any less than my soul, my life, my all.

My prayer is that you will consider the cross and be amazed.

Sing a New Song!

  

new-song

Phew!  I am back, finally!  Christmas decorations have been packed away, thank you notes have been written, recipes and traditions  (old and new) have been evaluated as to whether they make the cut for next years festivities...done, done and done!  Now on to 2013!

Since there is just one day left of January, the traditional month of goal setting, diet plans and resolutions, I thought that I would finally weigh in (pun intended) with the "list" that has been swirling around my brain for a good part of the last 30 days. 

Because I am a visual learner my list comes in picture form (see above)! 

What can be better at this time of year than singing a new song to the Lord.   We will have a new year full of opportunities  to sing new songs, new shouts for joy, new hymns of praise at the marvelous and amazing things that the Lord will do in us and through us this yearExciting right? Singing praises about who God is focuses our hearts and minds on the Lord and not our circumstances...instilling us with joy and increasing our faith!  Godis at work in our lives, in and through all our trials, giving us new songs to sing. Why? So others may hear our song and trust in the Lord.

He gave me reason to sing a new song, 
praising our God. 
May many see what God has done,
so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord! 
Psalm 40:3
 
 A wise man once said,"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear". That is my resolution this year...sing the song the Lord had given me, loudly that all would hear and believe.
 
I know the list is short, but the chorus goes on and on.

Consider...

  

chalkboard-green-lilies

Being a "Visual Learner", I am so grateful that Jesus painted so many pictures with His words.  I guess I just read pictures much better than I read words...but on deeper reflection it is the picture that remains indelibly etched on the tablet of my heart that confirms for me the power of the picture.

In Luke 12, Jesus is telling his disciples (and us) about how to deal with worry.  Worry and anxiety, for many of us is a constant companion. Here is a list of the top 10 things that people worry about in 2012 from  health.gather.com:

  1. Money
  2. Iran
  3. Price of gas
  4. pit bulls
  5. election 2012
  6. Mitt Romney winning
  7. President Obama re-elected
  8. global warming
  9. ice age
  10. December 21, 2012

I know that without too much problem we all could probably add to the list.

While worry has been a human condition from the beginning of time, I am pretty sure that what we worry about today is much different than what Jesus' contemporaries worried about.  We might worry about what we might eat or wear not if we have anything to eat or wear.  This is how Jesus paints the picture...He said consider the ravens (dirty birds that did not take care of their young) and the lilies, they have no way to take care of themselves but God provides for them just the same.  How much more will He take care of us, because of His great and amazing love?  Trusting God's perfect provision is the antidote to our anxiety and worry.  And a wonderful way to apply that antidote is to take a walk outside...consider the flowers.  For us Texans we consider that bluebonnets and the sunflowers.  In the northwest you might consider the rhodies and the daffodils. Where ever you are look at the flowers. The picture that God our Provider is painting with each blossom is this...please don't worry, trust Me...I have you covered!

So when worry is knocking at your hearts door, take a walk outside, see the birds and the flowers and...consider the lilies.