Thursday, June 29, 2017

Gideon, Part 4

This week has been a reply of my notes for a Sunday School lesson I taught at Annual Conference using Judges 6:11-18.  Today's post concerns our discussion regarding application of what we can learn from the scriputre.

Fear:  Gideon and the Israelites were living in constant fear.  Think about it for a moment - what is it like to live in constant fear?  Can you think of a place in the world where the people live in constant fear? Has your safety and/or security ever been threatened? How did you respond?  This is a sidenote, but I wonder if understanding what it is like to live in fear or to have your security threatened can help increase our kindness to other people who are experiencing life like that.

Abandonment: Gideon has grown up with stories told about how God rescued the Israelites from Pharaoh through the work of Moses. He has heard about God working through Joseph in Egypt. He has heard great stories about God doing wonderful, fantastic, unbelievable things.  And Gideon wonders – has God abandoned us? Why would God do that? Have you ever been in a difficult situation and felt like God had abandoned you? Can you imagine that people would feel that way?

Doubt: Gideon experiences doubt. He doubts that God is present with them in their current circumstances, and he doubts that God is calling the right person – so he is doubting God’s abilities. What do you think about doubt? Is it a sin? Is it a natural part of faith? I think doubt is evidence that we are exploring our faith deeply – I think doubt is the growing pain of sanctifying grace – in order to mature in our faith, we have to ask God and our faith questions. I think we can trust God enough to bring God our doubts. When have you experienced doubt? Do you doubt your ability to answer God’s call? Do you find doubt in your faith? Does Gideon’s doubt help you relate to him?  How does God respond to Gideon’s doubt? with patience or impatience? How will God respond to your own doubts? How should we respond to other people’s doubts?

Why?: One of the most difficult questions we struggle with is why bad things happen to people who we judge to be good people? What are some of the ways that people answer that question?  If God makes good things happen to people who are believers, then what does that say to a faithful disciple who experiences terrible tragedy?  I worry that we steal people’s faith from them when we say things like, “God needed another flower in his garden.” The logical step from that is that God made my child sick and let him die in order to have another flower – we throw terrible blame on God when people need God the most.

Call: What does verse 14 say to us? “you have strength, so go and rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not personally sending you?”

  1. Do we hear in this verse an answer to part of our question about why bad things happen? Do we hear in this that we have a role to play in God’s plan?
  2. Think back to the feeding of the 5000. Jesus tells the disciples, “You give them something to eat.” And at the end of the story, the disciples see the baskets, still full. I think this is a lesson for them – the abundance that is in front of them, when they only saw scarcity. There is power in God that God uses to equip us for the work to be done.
  3. We are the answer to people’s prayers.  Is there a flood story that could be told here?

God with us:  One of the things I took with me when I completed my Emmaus walk is that God will be with me, all the time - whatever he calls me to go, I will not have to do alone.  Do you believe that God is always with us?  Have you had an experience that confirmed this for you?

Call to ministry:  Do you have a call to ministry? Important distinction – everyone is called to ministry – not just pastors.  Who does God call? The perfect? The wonderful and powerful? Does God choose who we would choose if it was our responsibility?  What is God calling you to do? What is standing in your way of doing it?


As we leave this place, keep in mind verse 16. The God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush is the same God who called Gideon, even though Gideon was full of doubts. This is the same God who fed 5000 people amid the doubts and scarcity mindset of the disiples. This is I AM. This is your God; this God is always with you, even when you don’t “feel” it.  And I AM is calling you.

How will you respond?

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