Just wanted to drop all the blog subscribers a quick note letting you know that I will be signing off for the remainder of the month. I will resume blogging in September. Have a blessed August and thanks for reading!
I Samuel 13:19-22 19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears! ” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened. 21 The price was two thirds of a shekel for sharpening plowshares and mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads. 22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
Here in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Samuel, we find the Israelites in a bit of sticky situation. Apparently they had been living for quite some time having outsourced their weapons to their enemy. I know, I know – it seems like quite the tactical error. Why in the world would they rely on another country to produce all of their needed materials? What kind of foolishness is this? I mean, we would never do that now in America. (*cough, China)
What strikes me the most is not the fact that they outsourced, it was in what they outsourced. They outsourced their swords. Outsourcing your sword is never a good idea. But I think we as Christians have a tendency to outsource or swords. Now by swords, I mean THE SWORD, of course – the Word of God.
We rely on the preacher, the radio station, the TV, a friend, a verse of the day email, or even… I hate to say it – this blog. And while all these things can be good (especially the blog J), they should not be a replacement for our own ingestion of the Word. We should be diving into our Bibles and learning and studying and being thoroughly confused. And we should be striving to understand the things that we are confused about. The bottom line is this: let’s not outsource our Sword. Let’s pick it up ourselves and learn how to fight with it, so we will be equipped when the battle comes.
Judges 6:11-12 11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
Gideon was a weakling. I could have taken him in a fight… I think. His weakness came from how he saw himself. He argued with the angel of the Lord about his assignment. He was sure he couldn’t do it. Just to see how lame he thought he was, we can look at verse 15: My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. I mean, this guy had zero confidence. So even when the Lord showed up, it was still a hard pill to swallow. How could little old me change the world?
There was good news for Gideon – God saw him differently. In verse 12, the angel shows up and calls him mighty warrior. Now keep in mind that he is hiding out in a winepress threshing grain at this time. He is full of fear, anxiety and worry. So he hides from the enemy, not wanting to be discovered. But the angel calls him mighty. How can this be? How can the angel call a scaredy cat like Gideon a mighty warrior? I’ll give you two reasons:
1. God sees people the way He created them to be. He sees in us the capacity of greatness – that He put in us – through His power.
2. God sees things for what they will be. He isn’t stuck on what things look like in the present.
God saw Gideon in these two ways. He saw him with the capacity of a mighty warrior and He saw him through the lens of what was to come. It took Gideon a while to come around, but when he finally starting believing he was who God said he was… look out! He was a force to be reckoned with. But it took God telling Him who he was. For when God tells us who we are, we can rise to that identity and stop looking through our own eyes. It is at that point that the mirror doesn’t matter anymore; all that matters is the reflection of Him in our lives.
Understanding these truths will absolutely change your life. This will change the way you see yourself; it will change the way you believe in yourself. For God sees you the way He created you to be. To Him, your identity is not limited to your poor choices or your insecurities. He knows who you really are. And He knows what you can become. It is for this reason that He calls you mighty. It is for this reason that little old me might just change the world.
2 Corinthians 10:18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk into a bank and tell them, “I am applying for a loan and I am approving that loan, so hand over the money.” Well, I guess bank robbers do this sort of thing, but they probably don’t have plans to pay it back. But what an impossible thought, really, to approve your own loan. I am sure that bankers have been fired over such things. Nobody gets to approve their own loan.
But we try to make it happen in other areas of life, don’t we? We try to be our own approval. We pat ourselves on the back and congratulate on a job well done. It backfires though. There’s the teenage girl who’s fashion statement is a hit in her own mind and a train wreck in reality. There is the boy who is an all star baseball player in his head but he can’t catch a ball to save his life. This is what happens to us – a jaded view of reality based on our own self confidence.
Or what about American Idol? Why do tone deaf kids believe that they are the next American Idol? They really believe it too. “I am the next American Idol,” they proudly proclaim. But when they open their mouths, you hear the sound of a cat screeching or a sick cow dying a slow painful death. It’s unfortunate really that no one in their life has ever told them the truth. We can’t just go around commending ourselves without the goods to back it up.
That’s essentially what I think Paul is getting at. The Lord alone is the one who commends us. He is to be our approval. Patting yourself on the back for all the good things you’ve done doesn’t translate into approval. God is the one who approves. You need to go to Him for that approval. Because his commendation is the only one that has real approval wrapped up in it. Us telling ourselves that we aren’t that bad isn’t going to cut it. Spending time with Him and hearing His heart for us is. It is in those moments with Him that you will hear Him say, “well done.” Now that’s real approval.
2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
Apparently there’s a difference between crying over something and crying over something. So how can I tell the difference? What is worldly sorrow and what is Godly sorrow? I certainly don’t want to cry myself to death! Well, this word “sorrow” is really all about grieving. It is about mourning and carrying on. But according to Paul, there are two different types of grieving and sorrow. Let’s take a look, starting with the worldly type:
Worldly sorrow would best be summed up with this one word: crybaby. You know the type. It’s the kid in school that cried over just about everything. You would look at her funny and bam, tears. Someone would insult him, tears. Even when someone said good job, tears. Tears, tears, tears. Whether it was a little owie or a heart wrenching relationship break up, this person always cried. And unless that person was you, it drove you crazy. They were so susceptible to cracking at any moment. I think we can all agree that is not a healthy way to live. It will lead to depression, anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, and the list goes on. Really, it lead to death. And this whole worldly sorrow and grief is rooted in insecurity. It doesn’t produce change, it produces paralysis.
Godly sorrow and grief, however, produce change. It is the process of realizing that you have fallen short of the glory of God. It is the discovery that you don’t measure up to the standards God has placed before you. Godly sorrow is the understanding that you are truly poor in spirit. And it is this kind of sorrow that leads to repentance. It is this kind of grief over your despicable self that leads you to Jesus. But it doesn’t hang out in the valley of regret; it leads you to the cross of grace. It produces salvation, because you finally understand how in need of salvation you really are. In fact, this kind of sorrow actually leads to joy because there is a result, an outcome. That result is the saving power of Jesus Christ that transforms your life, takes away your sin, and produces a new creation – a better you! That’s some effective sorrow. So let’s not just be a bunch of crybabies. Let’s grieve the gap between ourselves and Jesus and allow Him to come in and close that gap in our lives.
I have decided to let myself off of the blogging hook for the remainder of the week and enjoy the holiday with my family. I will pick up with Romans 2 on Monday. Have a great holiday!
Well, I never made it to the computer to write down my thoughts on John 15 yesterday. Feel free to post your own if you’d like. I will post on John 16 shortly.