I made it back to church today--what a great message!
We learning from the book of Judges. The central theme is the Israelite's cyclical return to idol worship instead of reliance and undivided worship of the Lord.
It seems crazy that a people who had been delivered out of slavery and into the promise land would stray from their deliverer, but that just what happened.
This is the part that really hit home.
Oh, such a theme in our culture today. And I'm guilty as anyone of thinking I've got this and at times trying to live my life on my own strength.
So here's the story:
So here's the story:
God blesses his people......they prosper.....their prosperity leads them to want MORE, more than they want God....dependency on the MORE and getting MORE (more stuff, more security, more achievements, more promotions.....)....leads to idol worship of the more...and results in distance from God.
We've seen this illustrated so clearly on our trips to Ethiopia. The contrast of our American lives compared to the people there is stark. How is it that people who have virtually nothing (at least by our standards) have everything in the Lord-joy, hope, peace, trust....
It's their dependency--solely on the Lord and their thanksgiving and acknowledgement
of the giver of all good gifts.
It's not as if we consciously make the decision to rely on ourselves and distance ourselves from God. It is a slow progression. We get a little more comfortable, work hard, have some success and before you know it, God is just an after thought-something we do on Sundays, with very little dependence on Him and we begin to think we have it all together.
Interestingly enough, it is when things get rocky that we find ourselves running back, just as the Israelites did. Judges 6:6 states that after the Israelites had been oppressed for seven years by the Midianites that "Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.
These were God's chosen people, set apart to change the world. To be different. And they struggled--just as we do today. And they cried out.....
...and the Lord answered them. He sent an angel of the Lord to Gideon (not the strongest of fellows) and with this greeting, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Judges 6:12 the angel tells Gideon how he plans to use him to set the Israelites free. Knowing Gideon would have reservations, the message given is:
The Lord is with you.
And this is one of my favorite verses from this passage. After telling the Lord of his shortcomings and inadequacies regarding the task Gideon had been called to,The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:14
As we've run up against trial after trial these past few months, it's so reassuring to know that "the Lord is with us."
Somedays, when we look at the great task the Lord has already called us to in raising our six children for him, the doubts start to creep in. Will we be able to raise another child well? Will we be able to come up with all the money we need for this last adoption? Will we be enough?
The answer is of course a resounding NO. WE are never enough--
but Christ in us most certainly IS.
The Lord is with us.
And most reassuring of all is knowing the one who has sent us on this journey of life. Just as the Lord asked Gideon, "Am I not sending you?" We know that the Lord has sent us to be the parents of our six children and is sending us once more to bring our son home.
If He's the sender, that means we're never alone....may we remember who we should put our dependency, hope, trust, and energy in.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8