Saturday, May 28, 2016

Our Expectations--or His? --by Linden Malki

Gideon was a skeptic. He wanted to make really, really sure that God was serious about using him as the Mighty Warrior, especially as he didn't think of himself as such. He was willing to go for it; but on his own terms. When God told him to sacrificed one of his dad's bulls, on a fire made of a local pagan shrine, he did it--in the middle of the night.  Fortunately, when the local people came to kill him, his dad told them that if the pagan god couldn't save his own altar, why should they care about it?

The Spirit of God led him to send out messengers recruiting warriors to attack the occupying Midianites and others, but he still had to be sure. So he did something that we still refer to as "laying a fleece." He left a sheepskin on the ground overnight, and told God that he'd believe, if, in the morning the fleece was wet with dew while the surrounding ground was dry. Which it was. Then he did it again, only this time, he was asking if the fleece was dry when the ground was damp.  Which it was. Finally, he followed. (God was very patient with him!)

By now Gideon had a sizeable army. God next asked him to winnow down the numbers, because God didn't want them to think that the large forces had won a battle on their own strength. So he gave them two tests, and was down to a picked squad of 300, against a huge army encamped nearby.  With God's directions, they set the whole encampment fleeing in panic.  (Read it in Judges 7.)

What do we learn from this story? That God can give us the victory we need, but we are to give HIm the credit, not ourselves.  There are those who feel that God is their servant, that they can ask anything and expect the answer they want. (The Scriptures that tell us to "ask" also add "within HIs will.") Like Gideon, with God we can do unexpected and powerful things--but like Gideon, He shows His glory, not ours. 

We live in a culture that feels entitled to get what they want, no matter how unrealistic.  The goal is still, as was the common goal a generation ago, to "find yourself."  Too often, that's  looking in the wrong places.  "It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone." (Ephesians 1:11-12, The Message)

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