Monday, May 21, 2012

A Starting Point

Well, this is a starting point in more ways than one.  It seems that I have had a tough time over the past few weeks thinking of something to write.  I guess it was like a writer's block.  The only way to deal with it, I guess, is to get back on the horse that threw me and try again.  Here are a few thoughts from a recent sermon I shared.  Blessings!

And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the sAnd there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites....econd bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
Judges 6:11 & 25-26

Gideon was very much a coward when the Lord found him.  According to verse 11, he was threshing wheat at a wine press in order to hide from the Midianite invaders who plagued the land of God's people.  Imagine, God's warrior, a member of the chosen and favored people, hiding in a wine press to thresh wheat.  Gideon must have thought that the enemy would not look at a place usually used to crush grapes as a place to find wheat to steal. What a parallel!  First, what are the shadows or types portrayed in the wheat and the grapes?  Are they not the chief ingredients of bread and wine, the very symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ?  Gideon in failing to advance against an enemy that God would gladly allow him to conquer if he would just quit hiding and go to battle against hell's forces in obedience.  It sounds like today when so many "believers" are hiding in the four walls of their church while the enemy advances against their family, friends, and community to wreak havoc and destroy souls for eternity.  There are too few warriors in the battle and laborers in the vineyard.  Many of today's sons and daughters of Heaven say, "Just give me enough "salvation" to get by, Lord, and I will be content."  They are contented with a scrap of glory occasionally in a service, one that makes them happy that the "Spirit" is moving.  They call this the move of the Spirit, yet the power of the Holy Spirit is not to make us happy, contented, or just to feel good.  On the contrary, His presence is for us to be a powerful witness for Christ to a world on a downward slide to destruction.  God wants warriors in the battle, laborers in the vineyard, not contented children hiding in the four walls of their church feeling good that they have enough to get by.  Get in the fight and quit hiding your "talents" (Matthew 25:14-30).  

Most of us know that God will eventually use Gideon to use water pitchers, torches, and trumpets with only 300 men to overthrow the enemy.  However, El Shaddai must first convince a weakling to go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit.  In order to do this, the Lord shows up personally.  All of our great feats for the Lord start at the very same place.  They start with a one on one, up close, and personal relationship and revelation of Christ in our life.  Gideon would ever be the chicken that he was were it not for the realization that the Christ, himself, is our strength.  All moves of God start with personal devotion to God and a revealing of His will and power in our lives.   So many pray and discuss revival, but they always put it off on someone else.  "If the preacher would just preach and pray harder."  "If the musicians would just play better"  "If we could afford to get the right evangelist."  There is always an excuse for those wishing to circumvent their obligation to renewal.  Don't allow excuses to destroy those you are called to be a witness to!

Once, in a class discussing the teaching of elementary children the topic of social studies, we debated what was age appropriate for children to learn.  What most feel is appropriate is to teach this field of study in a pattern of concentric circles.  Let me explain.  It doesn't make sense to teach a first grader about world history, now does it?  They have no way to conceptualize their own state, much less the world.  How about starting with what the child is familiar with--family.  In the next grade the teacher might branch out to the local community--still something close and familiar to the child.  The point is to make the circle of learning larger each year from state, to nation, to continent, to the world.  This is exactly what God does with Gideon to prepare him for greatness.  Gideon will not be effective in a large ministry if he cannot be effective sharing truth with his family.  "(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? 1 Timothy 3:5)" God has him start by tearing down the idols that are destroying his family and friends.  Gideon very well could have said, "Thanks Lord", as the town wanted to string him up for meddling with their complacency.  However, God protected him, and it was Gideon who would later be used of God for national revival and not the neighbors.  Notice the circles?  God started with him, branched out to family, and then the community before he went to lead the nation back to Yahweh!  

An Ancient Wine Press

One last point.  When God begins to use you, don't get the bighead!!  Gideon eventually must have thought that his strength was his own.  He should have remembered where God found him.  He was hiding in a hole in the ground used to make wine.  Like the point of a song about Balaam's donkey that Don Francisco wrote, "When the Lord starts using you, don't you pay it any mind.  He could have use the dog next door if He'd been so inclined."