Fight Unbelief with Belief! Judges 8:6

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And the leader of Succoth said,
“Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna
already in your hands, that we should
give bread to your army?”
Judges 8:6

The pain Gideon must have felt when he heard the response of the leaders of Succoth.  His team, fighting to maintain good moral, is in position to receive sustenance but is being questioned as to the value of their life.   Though they can see the need of the troop, Succoth makes a decision for Succoth and not for Israel.   And who can blame them.  They made and assessment and made the decision they felt was best for them.confused person

As a leader, Gideon had to stay focused and not become discouraged.  When following God’s plan, we will encounter people and resources that seemingly fit well into the plan of God.  I’m sure he felt as though he had stumbled into a blessing.  Have you been there?  Walking!  Praying!  Believing!  Trusting! And Finding!  Only to discover a closed door, and walk away with empty hands and an empty stomach.

The leaders of Succoth were probably thinking:

Talk to me when you win!

Victory-Lap-Retirement-750x486No one has a problem backing a winner!  Everyone want to align themselves with the most dominant.  And while you might have the potential to win, most will say to you, “Talk to me when you win!”  When your numbers match your speech.  When our product matches your plans.  When your blueprints match product.  Talk to me!  This is a hard thing to swallow when you are carrying out Gods Vision, but it is often the perspective people have towards the journey.  It’s not their battle, their responsibility or interest, thus their connection to it, and are support of it will be lacking unless they see how it can personally benefit them.  But you can’t let this stop you!

You can’t focus on it because:

Their help will help; but help doesn’t guarantee a win!

 

checkwrite

 

Just because someone rolls up their sleeves, writes the check, helps with the fight, or gives resources to your cause does not mean you will win.  We must remember this as we walk into our destiny.

 

This allows you to
1.  Not take the lack of faith and support from people personally
2. Properly place your hopes in the one that can bring your into victory.

The one who had called Gideon had not abandoned him.  He was walking with him, guiding him, and though hungry; providing for him.  God would give him everything he needed, thus anything or anyone that chose not to be obedient to God, or had not been instructed by God to share resources with Gideon or his people were supposed to.  This should allow you to keep moving forward, as most tend to park their lives and reminisce or morn over what was lost or never obtained.   We often say what God has for me is for me, but our actions say otherwise.  Knowing this allows us to keep focusing on the journey ahead.  There are still two Kings to fight, and no time to mull over what could be done with what was denied!

Fight-Night-2
Furthermore, we must take heart because:

Their lack of aide doesn’t mean you loose!

We often hang on for dear life while God attempts to remove harmful and distracting things from our path.  Much like a dogs tussling with a rope toy, we tend to bite down with such force, that God Himself finds Himself in a dogropetoybattle trying to break our grip.  While it is true that ones lack of aid could lead to you loosing, one must continue the journey!  While we need the help of others, we must remember that our help comes from the hills.  God has called us, and is the greatest provider ever.  He is fighting the battle for us, with us, and through us.  We have enough power to win because He is how we are sustained and is our sustenance!   

 

We can release others from the responsibility,  and move forward knowing that they have not sealed our fate.  We can walk forward to the end, fully confident that their refusal will add a paragraph to the story in a chapter about victory that brings glory and honor to the Lord!

We have to also acknowledge:

Sometimes people lack faith in your ability!

Though this too is hard to accept, it is a reality.  People only know that they have seen, and sometimes what they have seen cant be comprehended.  This is especially true when you enter any scene.  Ones ability often must be proven by the “win” before one is determined a winner or a worth while investment.

bibleblurrWho can blame those who watch for not being eager investors in something that is unproven?  Truly, frustration and anger can not be directed towards those who are rational, simply realistic, or desire more information or proof of what one can do or what has been done.

When “new” comes, with its unfamiliar presentation, its considered unstable, undependable and unreliable in comparison with that which has already won battles.  Though Zebah and Zalmunna were on the run from Gideon they has previously won battles, and thus the leaders of Succoth had to consider this, the size of the army, and the potential and past of Gideon as a leader when choosing who to back in the fight, and so will it often be with you.

I have learned to embrace those that lack faith in my abilities.  It is made easier in that I have the same doubts at time (laughing out loud)!  But when those doubts come, I am always brought back to the fleece (Judges 6:36-40) We have to go back to the moment when God called and when He confirmed His intentions through us.  We have to revisit the moment when God gave us the vision, and celebrate the moment when God sent the resources.

And we also have to realize:

People lack faith in the God you serve!

followJust because you have faith, doesn’t mean everyone you encounter will have faith!  Some are simply operating in flesh, which means they are only taking in data from their natural eyes.  They make sense out of what it tangible, not understanding that the spiritual  concerns both the tangible and intangible, making all things possible for those that believe.

For these people, the fleece means nothing, and the call is just a belief and or perspective, not a sign, authorization or guarantee.   And who could blame those who have don’t believe for thinking God’s Word and His call to be foolish?

Nothing-is-InsurmountableThey don’t walk with Him, and He has not proven Himself to them, and the revelation they have seen, has been ignored for that which they feel is solid or concrete.  They opt for what they trust as proven, not understanding that proven is the end result of the process of testing and trying.  Thus our God says to test Him and to trust Him and allow Him to prove Himself to those who have yet to believe in Him.  They dismiss everything as a coincidence and chance, and believe themselves to be in control of it all, not acknowledging God at all.

Why should this person share bread with you?  They are not operating in the Spirit, and in the natural they haven’t seen enough proof to trust what they know to be possible.  Yet, we must press on!  We must fight on!  We must overcome by the power that is within us, and speak with the authority given us.  Gideon did!

What will you do!

#PastorJDO3

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Don’t forget those who Follow! Judges 8:5

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And he said to the men of Succoth,
“Please give loaves of bread to
the people who are following me,
for they are exhausted, and I am
pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna,
the kings of Midian.”
Judges 8:5

Gideon, finds himself still in pursuit of the Midianites, whom defeated and destroyed some of God’s people in Tabor.  Gideon’s army is outnumbered 300 to 15,000, and though pursuing with passion, they are now hungry with the major part of the vision yet to accomplish!Feeding-The-Hungry

There are many things I love about this text starting with Gideons’ thoughts.  He encounters the leaders of Succoth, and though Zebah and Zalmunna are on the run, he still remembers he is being followed.  Gideon says, “please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me…” 

Though he is focused on the vision, he is in touch with the people following him.

Though this would seem simple, it is more challenging that it seems. There are times when the vision and the people seem to be pulling in different directions, and other times when the people are in pursuit with the man of God, but have needs that complete with or slow down the time frame for accomplishing the vision.  When these things occur, it is easy for the man or woman of God to focus their full attention on the completion of the task at hand, putting those following on the back shelf.  Neglect is in these cases is the outcome, but exist because there is confusion as to what is most valuable.

We found Jesus in this same situation.  Busy teaching and preaching, in the midst of traveling to another location, and being confronted with the issues and lack in the life of those following Him.  Though spreading the good news was his purpose, ultimately dying for the sins of the world, He was still compassionate and concerned about those following Him.   We too have to continue valuing the members of the kingdom, while we carry out the cause of the kingdom.

heartUnlike Gideon, for many, the voice of God and the desire to complete His vision is so deafening, that those following and assisting in the completion of the vision or simply hungry.  Honestly, I believe this is much of the story of the #churchhurt story line.  We hear over and over about those who have felt the sting of ministries and leadership whom have become so “kingdom focused” that they forget about the “kingdom citizens.”  The Kingdom is made up of citizens, not buildings, and while buildings are needed to house the citizens for worship, the order of importance should not be forgotten.  There are those who view and treat people like pawns on a board to protect the King and Queen for the sake of defeating the adversary.  To God, the sheep are just as valuable as the shepherd.  He values the sheep so much, that He will leave the 99 to gather the one.  Much like He left heaven to restore the relationship between the lost sheep and He, the good shepherd.  In the kingdom, each has the same purpose;  to build the kingdom through evangelism, and then to disciple all who are willing to follow Him.

I also love that Gideon asks on their behalf.  He is beyond personal or corporate pride and immersed in concern.  Though they were not Gideon’s people, Gideon saw them as his responsibility.  He says “please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me”.  Yes, they chose to follow, but they are now experiencing a hardship because they are helping Gideon accomplish his vision.  For this, Gideon feels responsible.

follow

Gideon not only knew that they needed their strength for the journey, but understood that they needed food for survival.  I believe this is important because many will feed and nourish to accomplish the vision and task, but wont supply nourishment to live or even for the journey home. 

We must fight to make sure a proper perspective is kept towards God’s people.  As those imitating God, God keeps a relationship with those who choose to follow Him, and even supplies food for those who haven’t acknowledged Him as Lord.  He rained on the just and the unjust.  He healed those who believed, and healed those filled with doubt.  God cared about people, not just about the task.

I love Gideon’s last statement, “and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of  Midian.”  I know that the two thoughts are connected, letting us know that Gideon is not foolish.  He knows that defeating the 15,000 might require each life, but if they perish or choose not to continue, He restates his focus, “I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna”.  He is not distracted or discouraged.  He knows what God would have him to do, and he is determined to see it through.  He knows that God is with Him. and knows that God will honor His Word, but remains aware that in the life, others are often needed to accomplish your goals.  I gather that he is both grateful and appreciative for those who remained past the original 30,000 men, whom were reduced to 300.  So must we continue to care for and shepherd the 300, despite the choice of the 29 thousand at home watching you struggle to accomplish the vision in exchange for the cares of this world.

 

 

#PastorJDO3

We are All Here! Acts 16:22

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But Paul cried out with a loud voice,
saying, “Do yourself no harm,
for we are all here!”
Acts 16:28

“Do yourself no harm, for we are all here…” Paul cried out to the guard of the prison, whom woke from his slumber to discover that the gates to the prison were wide open, and the shackles on the feet were all loosened.  He looked around and not only had reason to fear the prisoners, but even greater was the Magistrate who had given him strict orders to secure the Paul and Silas.loudvoice

The Guard woke up from his sleep and realized the dangerous situation he was in and determined that it was best to take his life, and to suffer at the hands of the prisoners and or the Roman authorities.

He grabbed his sword, but before he could take his life, a loud cry reached him before he could finish the action.  “Do yourself no harm,”  Paul starts!   I love this portion of the statement, because it is what I am thinking when I speak to those who are living outside of Christ, and to those living in Christ but not submitted to Him.  Its hard to believe for many, but the wages and the reward of sin is not just the physical death, but the suffering that extends beyond one taking their last breaths!shutterstock_82835449

Millions reject Christ, running from truth, and while this is sad, the shame found is the many people running the opposite direction, refusing to take responsibility for Kingdom.  Many once free, hoist the blood stained banner over their house, and their public declaration of Lord and King stop once they emerge from the water.

But Paul and Silas were different.  Once free, they understood their purpose was to lead as many people to freedom as they could.  They saw those unsaved as an opportunity and those newly saved as a responsibility.  Though free to leave, Paul and Silas were arrested in place by the knowledge what others were listening, and though physically freed, they were spiritually in bondage.  In addition, the Jailer was a lost soul, and though sleep through praise and worship, was the one God had identified as ready to be freed.

falling-on-your-sword1Paul says, “Do yourself no harm,” and then continues, “for we are all here”.  You don’t have to continue on the path that you are on.  There is no need to harm yourself from this point on.  “We are all here.”  What I heard resonating in my Spirit was the need for those lost, struggling and suffering to know that they have not been abandoned.  Despite their prior encounter, Paul and Silas, put his needs before their own.  As opposed to judging him for his prior actions, they remained in place so he would not face the eternal judge without a righteous covering.

What would happen is we had a “We are all here” approach?

Wonderful File Cabinet Folder Tabs Inspirative Cabinet Decoration Filing Cabinet Divider TabsWe are living in a time where everyone is placed in to categories.  Sin serves like folder dividers, placing us into groups, and the world organizes us in such a way, that we find ourselves saying to those no free, “we are over here, and you are over there”.  And while it is our goal to bring them to freedom, is the judgement and separation that works against the affirming and convicting love of Christ.

Paul and Silas understood that the spotlight of righteousness cast by Christ is more than enough to handle and accept without the judgement and condemnation of man who is imperfect, but just filed differently.  And while our invoice has been paid, we recognize that the sins of all have been paid for with the same death, but that the lack of confession hasn’t allowed their invoice to be reconciled.

Paul could have said to the Jailer, ‘”…we are all here” for you’, and the statement would have been just as accurate.  

Who are you there for?
Who is your assignment?
Who is following you?

slavesI love the urgency and emotion displayed by Paul, as he “cried out.”  Though we don’t know if Paul could physically see the Jailer, we do know that he knew that he was getting ready to take drastic measures.  Maybe he sensed it in the Spirit, maybe God spoke to him in a voice, maybe the inmates spread the word to the center of the jail, or maybe he just had a birds eye view.  What we do know is that before the end of the story could be written, Paul lifted up his voice with a loud cry.  I believe this cry came not just in response to what he saw, but in response to what he believed.

Are you driven to speak out about what you believe?
Would you watch someone solidify their fate as opposed to helping someone solidify their faith?  

 

#PastorJDO3

In Pursuit; Despite the Circumstances Judges 8:4

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Gideon and his three hundred men,
exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit,
came to the Jordan and crossed it.
Judges 8:4

 

In the 8th Chapter of Judges, we find the Man of God in pursuit of enemies from the east.  Their numbers, according to the passage are upwards of 15 thousand men; soldiers to be more specific, yet Gideon is leading a band of men to capture them and destroy them. soldiearmor

Here we take our first pause.  Gideon displays the power and position those of us who walk in Spiritual authority should have.   He trims the fat (as God instructs), and takes those with faith forward to battle the enemy.  Looking past the numbers and the past battle history, Gideon guides his men on their trail, determined to carry out the Lords directions in His life.

I wonder how many of us would have the courage to pursuit 15 thousand with 300?

They were outnumbered times 50, but at God’s Word, were willing to face whomever God placed in their path.  Numbers are not always reflective of power, nor do they always predict victory.  Normally numbers project fear upon the opposition, but Gideon projected faith on his fears.

What could we accomplish if we looked at the “lack of” in our life and “enough”?   What would happen if we changed our perspective on our situations and circumstances, and counted God’s Word enough, despite what is in our hands, or even the fear that is in our hearts?  How much could we accomplish if we focused on utilizing the tools in our hand as opposed to being paralyzed with fear as to the things we would like to have for the task.  With God Word and the power of His Spirit, we are conquerors!

outnumberedAs we find, they are not just outnumbered, but they are lacking resources.  As usual, the story for us all, life seems to have many layers, and the to be saturated with challenges!  They have already expended their resources on the journey, but pressed on through their faith and with strong dedicated leadership.    The text lets us know that the men were exhausted from the journey, and their bodies ached, craving fuel to continue.  One could imagine further that they were struggling to stay focused.  Now the question is not whether they can beat the Midionites once they face them, but whether they will survive to even take up the task!

Exhausted and Focused don’t go together!

One of the first things to go when one is exhausted is their focus on the task at hand.  One can find themselves moving from faith to doubt, as they begin questioning not just God, but the leader as to when and where the next provision was coming from.  This issue plagued Moses as he lead God’s people. The hunger brought questions, causing them to loose sight of God’s Word, and doubt the Man of God because of the present lack of provisions.  They wanted to turn back.  They started questioning Moses as a leader.  They questioned God’s plan for their lives, and decided that bondage would be better than freedom.

Lack will make Suffering seem like Serenity!

Never the less, the text says they remained in pursuit.  As opposed to coming a part at the seams, they remembered the Word of God, and stayed focused on the leadership of Gideon and approached the Jordan.

matrix-revolutions-43This is important, because they are not just tasked with crossing the Jordan, they are tasked with crossing the Jordan, and fighting the Midionites who number 15 thousand.  I imagine that many doubted they could overcome this number with a full night of rest and a hearty breakfast, let alone, use their remaining energy to cross a river and then take on their numbers times 50.

But something amazing happens when you are on a mission for the Lord.  God had spoken through the man of God, revealing himself in miracles, letting the people know that God was with Gideon, and in that, was leading them.  Because they knew this, they were not only counting on their strength, and obviously were finding safety in their numbers, but were solely leaning upon God do bring them to and through they battle.  Truly they believed that the battle was not theirs, but that it was the Lords.

What would happen if we truly believed?

Neo_stops_bulletsHow many times have you stood at the bank of the river, and determined that crossing it was more than you could handle?  How many victories? How much stronger?  What would be accomplished?  What has been left un-done?

I have determined in my life, Jordan wont be an issue!  Exhaustion wont be an issue!  Soldiers won’t be an issue!  Midionites won’t be an issue!  Truly if God be for me!  I can do all things through Christ!  It is never more than I can bare!  I will remain in pursuit!  I will capture!  I will conquer!  I will have dominion!  It’s inevitable!

 

#PastorJDO3

Dialogue with a Seventh Day Adventist.

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I just finished a great conversation with a Seventh Day Adventist brother about the history or the Sabbath.

According to him, Constantine aligned the Sabbath with His Calendar which made Sunday the day of rest for all workers and professionals. I think he thought I would enter into a discourse about the Sabbath, but I redirected his attention to how the example of Constantine caused a long term shift in the faith.

While the leadership at the time might have thought
it an easy answer to stop persecution
and to make the faith popular,
it led to a change in the practice of the faith.

I then took the time to talk to our brother about the dangerous game our evangelical leaders are playing with our president and his companions. While they are working their way into power by renting out their pulpits, they are allowing a man who considers capitalism righteousness, and considers the Bible leverage to manipulate people to serve as an example to all as a standard of righteousness.

While this seems innocent and harmless, like Constantine, this can  lead the practice and understanding of the the faith and Christ long beyond an up and coming election.

 

#pastorJDO3

Valentines 2018

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I am blessed to be surrounded with beauty.  Our home is filled with gift and talents beyond what I can thank God for being entrusted with.  Each year I try to write my ladies on their b-day and v-day to speak into their lives a word for today.  Here are the inspired words given to me this year for my wife, and the oldest 3 girls of our 5.

Wife

The challenge of loving me,
far surpasses any classroom you will ever lead.
More challenging than leading,
I have found is the challenge of being a leader;
and being willing to follow.
As a leader,
Good leadership can be challenging to follow,
Because each leader leads in a different way.
But you allow me,
With all my imperfections,
Mistakes in judgement,
Accept me as your covering,
Choose to follow me,
Bringing to my feet,
The gifts of respect and honor,
Which are not deserved or earned,
But prescribed.
It is humbling!
While you choose to follow,
I have chosen to serve,
Through love,
With humility,
Laying at your feet,
Gifts of love and sacrifice,
Washing our feet from your travails,
Cleaning you with The Word,
The words from my heart,
Pointing you towards a mark that I have yet to reach,
And supporting you,
As we both stumble into God’s perfect will for our lives,
I love you!
May our days be numerous together.

Girlie #1

The feeling of holding you,
Has not been recreated.
In that moment,
Like God,
I was able to hold all of you in my hand.
Though a physical shape,
I was charged with programming you.
I gave you a screen name,
And a password,
Even designed your home screen,
And installed all initial programs.
Yes,
I was your source,
Amidst many trees,
I held the choicest fruit;
But time fades.
Our walks in the garden aren’t as frequent,
The first voice your heard each morning was mine,
And time passes.
I miss those days,
But I look forward to the ones ahead.
I’m so proud of you!

Girlie #2

You came into this world surrounded by love,
Propelled by faith!
Hence your name,
You remind me,
Each day,
God answers prayers!
He listens to me,
He responds to me,
And even when my request is not granted,
I am honored that He listened
And heard each word with compassion.
You are the answer to my prayers,
And will one day be the answer to the prayers of another.
As I prayed for you before I beheld you,
I am assured that the name you will bear,
W
ill be achieved the same way!
I thank God for you daily,
And appreciate your many layers.
You truly have an eye for capturing beauty,
Developed from beholding it each morning!

Girlie #3

Before the sun touched your skin,
The Son touched within,
He guided me to a name,
Assuring me of its claim,
A prophecy,
A declaration,
A statement to the world of His faithfulness,
And the beauty that is within Him,
You changed the entire song (wake up song),
Introducing a new melody,
Adding harmony to a home,
Created balance with your presence,
Life has been your stage,
And though it may seem to be one mic,
You never stand alone!
You only stand out!
And at times;
This feels alone!
Stand firm and know,
You are loved beyond which you can understand!

#PastorJDO3

Set Down; Be Humble!

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Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Daniel 2:48
Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court. Daniel 2:49

We find our subject Daniel fresh from taking a stand for the King of Kings, being granted the gift of interpreting dreams, delivering the revelation to King Nebuchadnezzar.   The king bow and worships him, then acknowledges that Yahweh is God of all Gods, and then gives Daniel a top position in his kingdom, placing him over Babylon entire province.  Because of his commitment to the Lord, he has been elevated among men and now finds himself not just in the kings palace, but seated prominently at the gate, over all wise men as well as the province.

de604-danielDaniel is now a Set Man!  He now has authority and power, not just access to authority and power.  He is now in charge, and not under the supervision of Eunuchs and handlers, he is making decision and not taking instructions.  The King lavishes him with gifts, and now he is owner to wealth an living well beyond any expectations and dreams.  Now, we will learn more about Daniel.  How will he behave once He is in charge?  Will he continue to acknowledge God?  Will he respect his peers?  Will he worship his possessions?  Will he remain humble?

What would you do?

As I look at all we have accomplished and all we have obtained, it is sad to say that many of us once we are able to access a seat at the table, get our foot through the door, get our hands on the controller, most of us loose perspective and sight over what got us through.010-meshach-shadrach-abednego

See, Daniel is alive because God gave him the ability to interpret dreams, long before there was a dream, and the decree from the king went out to take the life of every wise man under his rule.  God rewarded Daniel for seeking and trusting Him, and gave him the gift that would not just save  his life, but would get him a seat at the table of the king!

How could Daniel not remember the Lord his God?  I guess the same question should be asked of us!  How can you forget who gave you the ability to earn wealth?  Gave you the talents to complete task and compete in the market place?  Helped you through school?  Gave you favor with the one in authority?

How can you?

shadmeshabenBut Daniel does even more than remember his God once he is set into position!  Daniel seeks the favor of the king and ask if Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could be seated too.

Would you? 

Daniel was careful not just to remember who positioned him, but was willing to seek favor and position for those who followed him and sacrificed with him.  Daniel was loyal.  Unlike many, once seated at the table, Daniel didn’t forget others.  He used his position and favor with the king to help others get a seat at the table.

Now, he didn’t just pick anyone!!!  Daniel was sure to pick people he knew had the same spiritual basis he had.  dan3-imageHe chose people that would remember the Lord even though living lavishly.  He chose people that displayed spiritual discipline and self control.  He knew by serving with them that they would not crater to

Daniel chose those he studied with, and thus he understood they weren’t just

#PastorJDO3