Category: gideon

It’s not as if it’s easy to get to a place where you believe God for great things and gear yourself up for action.  It takes some doing.  Sometimes it takes miracles.  Changing the way you think about things, about yourself and your circumstances and changing the way you think about God is no small beer.

So why – having finally got where you need to be – does God move the goal posts?

Why, when Gideon (feeling completely re-assured) is ready to take on the job God has given him, when the Abiezrites and people of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali are ready to follow him (Judges 6:35), does God suddenly say, “Hold on, we need to do this differently,” (Judges 7:2-3, my paraphrase)?

I mean, it’s not as if Gideon has been brimming with confidence is it?  And the job wouldn’t have been that easy even if 22,000 people hadn’t cleared off at the first opportunity (7:3).

Fortunately, the bible gives us the answer.  God re-directs the strategy, “lest Israel boast over me” (7:2).  God thins the numbers out so that Israel cannot claim that she won the battle.  So that Gideon cannot claim that he won the battle.  It has to be known that it was God who won the battle. 

And going into battle, it had to be known that without God on their side they had no chance of winning the battle.

And that’s a place we need to get to.  We need to get to the place where we are completely reliant on God – no built-in safeguards “just in case”.  No back doors and ways out if it looks like it’s getting difficult.  No way we can claim the credit for what only God can do.

It’s humbling.  It means being vulnerable.  It’s definitely uncomfortable.  But it’s God’s way.  Can you walk in it?

a crisis of confidence

Have you ever had a crisis of confidence?  One of those moments when a little doubt creeps in from nowhere and before you know it you’re wondering if you’ve got it all wrong?  If we’re honest, I think that most of us know what it is to experience some degree of uncertainty like this. 

Most Christian leaders I have spent time with know what it is to move between feeling as though everything is going their way to worrying that it if this or that happens, everything will fall apart.  I  feel quite concerned about leaders who don’t seem to acknowledge this – who think that “strong” leadership is about never voicing uncertainty.  In my view, leaders cannot be strong if they are not also honest.  Leaders set an example for their people – it has to be an honest example.

God certainly never presents a false portrait of the leaders He chooses and appoints.  We get to see leaders in the bible as they really were.  That is the case with Gideon in Judges 6:34 – 40.  He is clothed with the Spirit (v. 34) and as word goes out, people flock to him.  His stock is rising, things are going his way.  But he still expresses his doubts and uncertainties (vv. 36-40).  He still needs to be reassured.  He still needs God to confirm that he hasn’t got it all wrong, he isn’t out on a limb, it will be OK. 

And God does that.

In the past, I used to wonder if Gideon lacked faith.  These days I see the humanity of the man.  A man just like me.  Someone who knows what it is like to hear God, to be given a job to do, to be amazed that God has chosen them and to wonder at times if it can really be true.  And that’s not lack of faith, it’s a genuine wonder at the plans and purposes of God.  I am still amazed by it.

And Gideon’s wonder does not make God angry.  In his amazement, he hasn’t failed.  God answers him because God knows him.  God knows what he needs and He knows what will work.

And if you are left amazed that God has chosen you and given you responsibility, if you ever have those moments of doubt, a crisis of confidence, you could do far worse than to ask God for some reassurance.  He will be as patient with you as He was with Gideon.

If the Trade Descriptions Act applied to Christians, how many would you sue?

Here I am trying to write  a series on Gideon and I can’t write what I want to write.  I can’t do it because what I want to write is that ‘”The Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon” (Judges 6:34) and everything changed.’

I want to do that because I want Gideon to be completely transformed by the power of the Spirit.  I want everyone who is clothed by, filled with or baptised in the Spirit to be completely transformed.  I want their lives never to be the same again.  Everything is different.  Everything changes.  How can we ever be the same?

This is the presence of the God, after all.  This is what we preach – isn’t it?

Well, if it is what we preach (or even what we think is right or tell our friends) we need to be careful.  It may be why some people become disillusioned with their experience of Christian life.

Because the truth is that while some things do change (we do become a new creation, He is the guarantee of our full inheritance) and some people do change dramatically straight away, other things do not change.  All of us remain affected by our past – our previous beliefs and experiences, our culture, our relationships.  And the Holy Spirit doesn’t change our hearts and minds without some degree of co-operation from us.  Radical and long-term change requires us to play our part.  Simply being clothed or filled with the Spirit is not enough.  Simply “being a Christian” is not enough.

Now – before I upset too many friends – the Holy Spirit is the mark of the Christian.  Gideon’s experience was unusual and not permanent.  Our experience is very different.  We are all temples of the Holy Spirit and He will not be removed from us.  Every Christian is empowered by God Himself.

But be careful not to say what the Bible doesn’t say.  Gideon may have been clothed with the Spirit but he is still an insecure man.  He doesn’t finish his life well.  And Gideon’s experience is not one limited to the Old Testament.  The New Testament is full of Spirit filled Christians trying to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, making mistakes, continuing to sin, learning truth and re-learning how to live.  And our churches are full of Christians like that too.  I’m a Christian like that.

Yes – we need to be born again.  We need the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God.  But we need more than that.  We also need to be humble enough to trust and follow Him wherever and however He leads us.

avoiding the issue

Do you ever avoid things?  The awkward phone call that you never quite get around to making, the letter you never manage to write, the piece of work that somehow always finds its way to the bottom of your in-tray.  The conversation you know you need to have but would rather not.  It’s easy done.

It’s been ages since I blogged on Gideon.  I’ve been avoiding it.

But then I realised that Gideon tends to avoid things too.  He tries to avoid conflict with the Midianites by threshing wheat in a wine-press.  He tries to avoid a conflict with his family and townsfolk by destroying the altar of Baal at night and when the town comes looking for him, he’s avoiding them.  So his dad steps in (Judges 6:28-32).

And sometimes when you avoid things other people will step in, or everything goes quiet for a bit.  And for a while it can feel like the tactic has worked.  But I’m not really persuaded that avoiding issues ever really works – not in the long run.  I’ve tried it. 

Gideon tried to avoid the Midianites but he ended up fighting them.  He tried to avoid the people of the town but they came looking for him.  I’m guessing his dad had things to say as well.

I have this feeling that God will keep on bringing you back to the issue until you deal with it.  And if you don’t deal with it, it may trap you.  Just as not standing publicly for God trapped Gideon (Judges 8:27).

If something needs doing, it needs doing.  And if you know that it needs doing, you probably need to do it.  Or at least do the bit that you can do.  It might seem daunting at the time, but it’s better than falling into a trap of your own making.

it all starts at home

Do you want to do great things for God?  Do great things at home.  You want to make a real difference in the world?  Make a difference at home.  You want to lead people?  Lead at home.  You want the world to worship Jesus?  Worship Jesus at home.

It’s not complicated.  If you want to live for God, you have to live for God at home.  If you don’t do it there, you can’t do it anywhere. 

So when Gideon sets out to change the world, to free his nation from the tyranny of foreign rule, he has to start by tearing down the altars to other gods at home (Judges 6:25-27).

Now you may not have wooden poles to strange fertility gods in your front room, but you probably do have a TV.  Just imagine how many gods a day that thing shows you.

Why had Gideon and his family got an altar to Baal at home?  Because we can learn to live with anything.  We can even learn to live with other gods.  Here’s why it’s tough.

  1. Other gods creep in unnoticed.
  2. Everyone does it so it must be OK.
  3. It’s too much hastle to rock the boat.

But God doesn’t tolerate rivals.  And we cannot bring into the public realm what we do not have in the private one.  Trying to is hypocrisy.  Jesus never really liked that much.  So even if the thought of it scares you, it’s good to sweep your house clean every now and then.  That’s what Gideon did.  Because for every great man and woman of God, it all starts at home.

%d bloggers like this: