August 22, 2006
I sincerely hope that you will be blessed and encouraged by today's devotional.
Lyndon Baines Johnson, like three other vice-presidents in United States history, became chief executive upon the assassination of the nation's leader. He became president on November 22, 1963, following the fatal shooting of President John F. Kennedy in a street in Dallas, Texas. A stunned nation rallied behind the energetic and ambitious new president, a product of the Texas hill country. While reflecting on those tragic events, Johnson said, "A nation is molded by the tests that its people meet and master."
What is true of a nation is certainly true of an individual. Gideon
never thought he could even meet-much less master — the overwhelming odds against him as he came up against the Midianites. However, God was with him and knew Gideon much better than Gideon knew himself. Gideon not only met but mastered great opposition.
Gideon was a simple man whom God made extraordinarily strong. In fact, he was even compared to an ordinary barley loaf in a Midianite soldier's dream (see Judges 7:13-14). Yet, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him saying, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!"
(Judges 6:12) How could this be so? It was because the Lord saw Gideon's potential to be strong and courageous, but Gideon certainly didn't see himself that way: "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house"
Ironically, weakness is the means by which we become strong. Paul put it this way: "When I am weak, then I am strong"
(II Corinthians 12:10). It is awareness of our weakness that leads to strength. The verb phrase "be strong" means to "play the man." Apart from God, numbers, plans, formulas, techniques, and methods amount to nothing. By walking out one's faith, kingdoms are conquered and weaknesses are turned into strengths. We must simply trust and obey.
When the Angel of the Lord gave Gideon specific instructions to get his father's house in order, Gideon obeyed in spite of his fear. He pulled down the altar to Baal, cut down the Ashteroth pole that stood beside it, built a proper altar on top of the fortress where everyone could see it, and offered his father's sacred bullock as a sacrifice to the one true and living God. Although Gideon fearfully worked under the cover of darkness, he "played the man" and got the job done.
It is important to note that courage is not the absence of fear but rather mastery of it. Courage is simply the capacity to draw on God's resources, and by faith, do what we know we must do. After Gideon assembled an army, he questioned God with a fleece; and God answered. You see, God was pleased with Gideon's obedience and knew that the demand on Gideon's faith was greater than he could bear. Gideon didn't have a whole lot of faith at this point, but it was all the faith Gideon had, and God wanted to assure him and grow him "from faith to faith"
Shortly after, God tested Gideon again by having him downsize his army from 32,000 soldiers armed with swords to 300 men armed with only trumpets, pitchers, and lamps. However, knowing the state of his fledgling faith, God told Gideon to go down to the Midianite camp with his servant Phurah to listen to what their enemies were saying. There they heard two soldiers discussing a dream: one of them had seen a round barley loaf roll into camp and flatten their commander's tent. The soldiers interpreted it to mean defeat: "This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host"
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he immediately bowed and worshipped God. Then he returned to the camp of Israel and called out, "Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of the Midian"
(Judges 7:15). Gideon now knew that victory was assured; he simply had to "play the man" and trust that God would take care of the rest — and He did!
Sadly, in the end, Gideon squandered away his life (see Judges 8:24-31). Why? Because he got too strong
in his own might. (II Chronicles 26:15). However, he is best remembered as a man "Who through faith subdued kingdoms"
Read Judges chapters 6-8 to read more about the life of Gideon and then read the Power Points below.
Below are valuable lessons you can apply to your life.
- There is seldom change without pain — the greater the pain, the greater the change. Midian brutally oppressed Israel until the nation cried out to God. As a result, God sent Gideon to them (Judges 6:1-14).
- God sees us as we can be, not what we are. Gideon saw himself as a helpless victim, but God saw him as a valiant warrior. We seldom know our potential, but God does (Judges 6:12).
- The "Why?" question is seldom answered because the "What now?" question is far more important. God ignores Gideon's "Why?" question and tells him to get going (Judges 6:15).
- Self-correction must occur before we move to correct others. Gideon had to destroy the idol in his own house before bringing the nation to deliverance and revival (Judges 6:25-27).
- Fleeces do not necessarily indicate a lack of faith but can be a sincere desire to be certain of God's calling. Gideon wanted to absolutely know what God wanted of him (Judges 6:37-40).
Lord, I pray that I might view myself as You view me rather than how I see myself. Increase my faith and boldness to step out and fulfill the calling You have on my life; for when I am weak, You become strong in me. Amen
I hope you have been blessed by today's manna. I really encourage you to visit our Scripture of the Day
page each day for spiritual sustenance.