Blog Archive

What God Sees!

One of my favorite accounts in all of Scripture is the account of Gideon. The opening scene in Judges 6 is nothing less than a contrast between what we see and what God sees!

Because of their sin, Israel was under the oppressive rule of the Midianites. It wasn't like the Midianites ruled with dignity, they just waited for the Israelites to plant their crops, get read to harvest it and then would come marching in and either destroy their food supply or take it from them. It is likely during this time that the people of Israel were beginning to starve. This is where we pick up with Gideon. We find him threshing wheat in a winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. Gideon saw pain, suffering and injustice. He was hiding in order to have just a small amount of food by which to survive. He saw weakness...that which was around him but also his own. This is where most of us are stuck. We see pain, suffering, injustice, sin and our own weakness. We think there is nothing we can do, so let's hide and try to eek out a living in a survival mindset.

Maybe you are hiding behind past hurts and failures while life seemingly continues to march forward. You might look around you and feel that others are not just surviving, they are somehow thriving...but not you. No, you've been weakened by your frustration, your bitterness, your anger and your resentment. Someone, somewhere over the course of your life hurt you and brought you under their rule. The pain they caused steers your life, determines your trajectory and you find yourself limping along all the while thinking that no one really notices your pain.

But, in the story of Gideon, an angel of the Lord appears and calls Gideon a "Mighty Warrior" or as the King James Version puts it, a "Mighty Man of Valor." Clearly, the angel had the wrong address! The idea that Gideon was a mighty warrior was something that Gideon could not see. Seriously, he's threshing wheat in a winepress. He's in hiding, he's afraid and then goes on to argue with the angel about God's plan.

Yet, in this story as in other places in Scripture where man tends to get in the way of God's plan, it is not what we see that counts, it is what God sees that matters most. We see pain, but God sees potential. We see frustration, but God's remedy is faith. God, at that moment was not looking at Gideon for what Gideon saw or was even projecting or saying about himself, God was looking at Gideon for what He was going to help Gideon to become. So how was that going to happen? Gideon just had to get on board with what God wanted and let God guide him through impossible odds to show that what really mattered in his life was what God sees.

So it isn't what you see about yourself that really matters most, it is what God sees in your life. God sees great things! God sees potential! Rather than hide behind something, get ready to be part of God's solution to the problems you find around you. Begin to see what God sees!
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Blame or Credit?

There are those who blame God at every turn. A bad day must certainly be God’s fault. A let-down in life leads many to one conclusion only - that God is nowhere to be found or that He alone is the cause of all the trouble. Besides, if He had been there all of this wouldn't happen. It sort of sounds like Martha when Jesus showed up just a little bit too late - after her brother Lazarus had died and already been placed in a tomb. Jesus didn’t even attend the funeral of His close friend. “Jesus” Martha said "if you have been here, Lazarus wouldn't have died." More than likely, she was right about that. But what Martha didn’t understand was that there was a greater purpose being worked out behind the scenes. An all-wise decision had been made; one that saw through all of the things that were going on in her mind and in Mary's mind and all the other minds present for the passing of Lazarus. (Read John 11 for the whole story)

God’s perspective of the situation is very different from yours. Martha was quick to blame Jesus. However, instead of blame what we really should be doing is giving Him credit (or praise) for the fact that in the midst of our trouble He is present. He told the people of Israel, and I’m paraphrasing, when you pass through the water I'll be there; when you go through the fire I'll be with you (
Isaiah 43:2). You don't need to be afraid I'm not going to get you out of it I'm going to take you through it and as a result of that we become stronger.  Trust him, don't blame him.  Give him the credit for showing up when you need Him most, right in the middle of your pain.

Here is one final thing to consider about Martha’s accusation that Jesus had been too late in getting there and had He been there, their brother would still be alive. Even when Jesus delayed and allowed His friend Lazarus to die without so much as a healing touch or even a spoken word to heal, the end result for Martha and Mary was the same as if Jesus had been there before Lazarus died. Lazarus lived (which was what his sisters desired most). Jesus wanted this result too, but not until His power could be displayed over our last great enemy, death. The divine purpose of God was fulfilled and the human need was met by the hand of a loving and merciful Savior. In the end, if Lazarus hadn’t died, Jesus could not have shown to those who had gathered there in that moment to mourn that He was (and still is) the resurrection and the life. So rather than assuming that God is absent from your dreadful problem, begin to thank Him that He is walking with you
through that difficult place.


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Why?

It’s been at least 17 years or so since I read Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God” so the last thing I want to do is to give a synopsis of a book I haven’t read in almost two decades. In one part of his book however he deals with the question that plagues most of us…”Why?”
It’s that unanswered question for some of the greatest challenges in life. It’s a haunting question, a frustrating question and at times you wish that God would somehow shout the answer from heaven to clue you in about why certain things are happening. Yet in His infinite wisdom, He doesn’t do that. So why doesn’t He give the answer? As Yancey wisely puts to the reader (I’m paraphrasing), if God told you why this happened or that didn’t happen, would you be happy with the answer? The obvious answer is probably not.
I believe there is an even greater reason God doesn’t give us the answer to the “why” question. Could it be that He wants us to trust Him fully, without hesitation? The Bible shows us so many great examples of men and women who trusted in the face of impossible odds and very few answers. All of them testify to the fact that God is absolutely trustworthy – even when the answer to the “why” in your life seems so illusive.
Don’t get bogged down with trying to answer why. Trust the Lord in simple faith and reap the great result of His promises!
Heb. 6:12 (NIV) … imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
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God in the Silence

Silence. It’s sort of a mixed bag. For instance, when I’m trying to study, I need silence. I used to be able to listen to music and study at the same time. Things have changed. I need silence in order to get things done. As parents, when do we worry about what’s going on with our kids the most? When it suddenly gets real quiet in the house. As the father of two kids ages 7 and 3, I experience this on a fairly regular basis. My wife and I don’t interpret the quietness as inactivity, quite the opposite. We are aware that there may be some things happening that should give us reason for concern. When the kids are playing loudly, or even fighting, we know what’s going on and there is an element of comfort that we gain by the noise.

For many of us, we come to our spiritual experience and even life experience with the sense that there has to be some noise for us to feel that things are OK. However, silence seems to lend itself to a great deal of anxiety. Unlike how we interpret the silence of our small children, we tend to interpret the silence of God as inactivity on His part. This assumption, however, is not reality.

Recently, I re-read the account of Joseph and besides determining that it is in fact one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture, I was reminded of the great contrasts in his life as compared to his father Jacob, grandfather Isaac and great-grandfather Abraham. Those three men all had something in common — very clear and precise promises from God. When you read the book of Genesis, you see some of the character flaws in all three of the aforementioned patriarchs, but you really have to dig to see anything in the life of Joseph that remotely resembles a flaw (I’m not suggesting he was perfect) and when you do think you’ve found something, you’re not 100% about it. However, the most striking contrast in his life when placed alongside his forefathers is this...silence. God spoke to Abraham on several occasions. God spoke to Isaac and to Jacob.

Yet, as you scour the last one-third of the book of Genesis which deals with the life of Joseph, you have no hint that God spoke to him in the way that He had to the patriarchs. In fact, Joseph seems to go through some terribly painful things without even a clue that God saw what was going on, much less cared about what was happening to Him. Let’s face it, most of us would have concluded in bitter anguish after being sold off by our own family members into slavery that God didn’t care. Then after being falsely accused of making advances toward Potiphar’s wife, which landed him in an Egyptian prison, you would expect that somehow God would show up and tell poor Joseph to hold on because he would eventually promote him to be the number two guy in the nation, but God didn’t. What did He do? The Lord stayed silent and didn’t speak to Joseph about it. And, by the time Joseph interprets the dreams of the butler and baker only to be forgotten about by the butler to seemingly waste away in an Egyptian prison, you might think that if God doesn’t speak to him now, then it would be safe for Joseph to not only assume that God doesn’t care, but that God didn’t exist at all.

Unfortunately, we make the very bad mistake of assuming that silence on God’s part means that He’s inactive, uncaring and worse, not there! Joseph, in all he went threw,
never jumped to such a ridiculous conclusion. Instead, we find a man who, in the middle of what seemed to be silent injustice served upon the innocent, stood by God in complete faithfulness. Joseph remained true to God from Potipher’s house to the penitentiary, and at just the right time God brought him out of his painful crisis and caused him to see a plan that was larger than him. So big was this plan that he was able say with forgiving confidence to his brothers And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Gen. 45:5 - NIV)

Joseph didn’t understand what was going on in the silence, but he eventually saw that there was
something going on and that silence didn’t mean inactivity on God’s part. He never allowed the “negative” stuff to make him bitter; he just trusted God no matter what happened (or didn’t happen).

Oh, and the dreams Joseph had in Genesis 37 (dreams that God gave him) where the stalks of wheat bowed down to his stalk of wheat, and then the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to him, all came true.
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