Are You Obeying (Judges 8)

PrayingHands2a

First off let me say, I spent way too much time thinking on yesterday’s chapter. It got to the point I ran out of time in my day and here we are missing a post. We will see if I can get Judges 9 out later today. But here we go with Judges 8!

In yesterday’s chapter, we saw Gideon continuing on against the Midianites. This time he was following after their kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. While chasing them down, Gideon stopped at two different cities, Succoth and Peniel, to ask for provisions for himself and his men. Both cities refused, thus aligning themselves against Israel and with the Midianites. Gideon promised them, after he catches Zebah and Zalmunna, he would return to their cities and punish them for their betrayal. After all of these events finish, Gideon retires back to his home as a very rich man and a trusted leader for the Israelites. They even asked him to become their king (foreshadowing what happens in 1 Samuel), but Gideon tells them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!” (8:23, NLT).

The thing that had gotten me thinking was the refusal of the people of Succoth and Peniel to cooperate with Gideon and his army. Both of these cities were Israelite cities, not some foreign city, but they chose to abandon their people and their God in order to appease their oppressors. What did God do about this? He had Gideon punish the people of Succoth with “thorns and briers from the wilderness” (8:16) and tear down the fortress of Peniel.

But this is where I struggled with this post. What does this mean for us today? I think this is here to teach us not to go against the wishes of God. Maybe the people didn’t have to provisions that Gideon was asking for. Maybe they feared for their lives if the Medianites won against Gideon. Who knows? But God lead Gideon to them for a reason. It reminds me of another story where a similar situation happened, but something totally different occurred.

In 1 Kings 17, the prophet Elijah is living through a drought. God has been providing for him by sustaining a brook and having ravens bring him food. One day the brook dries up, so God sends Elijah to Zarephath to a widow and her son. Elijah asks for a drink and some bread. The woman replies “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” (1 Kings 17:12, NASB). But Elijah insists that she make him bread first, then herself and son second. When she did this, her flour and oil did not run out for days!

God puts us in situations where we can either obey Him and be blessed, or disobey and be punished. Sometimes the punishment is like the ones we find here in Judges, sometimes its by living without the blessing God was about to give you. The widow could have refused Elijah and made bread for only her and her son since they had nothing, but instead she obeyed and was blessed with more than she needed.

What is God calling you to do? Are you obeying or not? Spend some time in prayer with me today as we try to figure out if we are doing what God is calling us to do. We have to be open to His guidance no matter what it may be. He may ask us to give up what little we have, but it’s only to bless us with abundance. Trust in Him! He knows what He is doing.

 

Also in this series

Worship in Silence

Enjoy_the_Silence_by_WickedNox1

So I was listening to some music this morning while thinking about worship. I was trying to think up some new ideas for the ministry, listening for some new music, I just trying to spend some time with God before I started my day. A thought crossed my mind that hadn’t crossed it for a while.

As a worship leader/planner, I am supposed to get our Sunday morning worship put together. I have to get the band ready. I have to get the projection put together. Basically I have to account for each moment and everything that goes into it for the whole worship service. Then I have to lead people through it. But what about the silence? Should there be silence? Should we intentionally give a moment of silence in worship?

I am reminded of the story of Elijah on Mount Horeb. “He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.” (1 Kings 19:11-12 NRSV). Instead of “sheer silence” another translation says “still small voice” (NKJV). Either way, God wasn’t where Elijah expected Him to be. He wasn’t within all the loud, disastrous events taking place. But Elijah heard/found God in the silence.

What does that tell us for our worship? In our worship styles today, especially contemporary worship, there isn’t much room for silence. We sing songs, give announcements, and hear a message, but we never give a moment of silence. We become to preoccupied to fill all the space with sound, or speaking, or music. We begin to take away an experience people can have to encounter God. I’m not saying that silence is the only way to encounter Him. There are certainly multiple examples in the Bible where God was very loud, not silent. But it is just as important to facilitate the times when God wants to speak through the stillness. Worship is all about Him anyway, so why should we fight what He wants from us.

If you aren’t a worship leader, or involved in worship planning at your church, you can learn a lesson from this as well. Spend some time with God in silence. Turn off the TV, computer, phone, radio, or whatever else, close your eyes and listen. Silence is a good way to help us be in tune with God. If there is nothing to distract us, we can focus solely on God rather than the song that just came on the radio.

Silence is a good thing. Embrace it, Cherish it. Take moments to just be in it, and allow yourself to focus solely on God.

I’m posting a piano piece here called 4’33” by John Cage. If you haven’t heard it before, I suggest that before you hit play, you make sure that you sit in silence and that nothing will bother you during this performance.

It Is Too Loud!

Nature_Forest_Quiet_place_near_the_river_015009_

If you’re like me, you live in a very loud world. Cars honking, sirens blaring, phones ringing, people shouting, the list goes on and on. It’s so loud that we can’t hear when God speaks to us. I read an article a few months ago that was talking about “noise” in our worship services. We tend to fill every amount of space with sound, but we leave no room for silence.

I was reminded of a story of Elijah (1 Kings 19:9b-18). In this story all the prophets are being hunted down and killed and Elijah is the only one that remains. God told him to go stand on a mountain because He was about to pass by. The all hell seemed to let loose. There was a windstorm, an earthquake, and a fire. In all of these moments, Elijah did not find God within it. But after the fire, there was a whisper. Elijah found God in the whisper.

So if God is in the whisper, what does that say about the volume of the world around us. It is most certainly too loud, trying to drown out the voice of God. I am still doing the experiment I posted about earlier this week. After reading my Bible and singing a few songs, I just sat and listened. It really helped me to connect with God today, and get aligned with His Will for me today. I was reminded of Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God;” (46:10 NIV). The ability to sit still and listen goes along way when it comes to our relationship with the Father.

So let’s add a little bit of silence to our lives. God speaks in the silence. Yes, He has spoken through loud events (Exodus 19:16-24), but He seems to speak to me more intimately in the silence. Let’s actively try to hear God’s voice by getting away from our loud world, and just listen.

 

P.S. Dang this post was short!