HMCdigital Tuesday 10am Devotional – March 31, 2020

While we’re unable to gather corporately, we will be hosting various live streaming events throughout the week to keep us connected to one another. See the complete schedule here.

Gideon: Ordinary man, Big God

Devotion 1 – God can use you

Judges 6:1-16
March 31, 2020

Happy Tuesday!

Over the next few Tuesdays, I want to take us through a study of a character in the Bible that I have always been drawn to. Maybe it is because he was such an ordinary guy with normal struggles, yet through God, he did some extraordinary things. I want to look together at the life of Gideon from Judges 6-8. I encourage everyone to read that passage these next few weeks.

Have you ever felt unqualified, unskilled, or inadequate? You have been asked to do something or be something, yet you wonder deep down if you have what it takes? Maybe, you doubt your own abilities? I am sure all of us have been there at some point. I struggle with it. Truth be told, there are days where being a pastor and being in front of you to lead or teach brings back those feelings like a flood.

Yet, as we look at Judges 6:1-16 today, we will see that even though we may feel insignificant, unskilled, and unqualified, we have a big God who can and will use us to do what we consider to be extraordinary things for Him.

Starting in Judges 6, we are introduced again to the people of Israel. Life has changed for them significantly. A couple hundred years prior, they were the ones crossing over the Jordan River into this land that God had promised them. Yet even though they had (see Joshua 4) set up a collection of stones as a constant reminder to the generations that followed about who their God was, and even though they had God’s Law that was to be publicly read regularly as a reminder, they forgot their God. And as Judges 6:1 says, they were doing evil in God’s sight.

God, to get their attention and bring about change, hands them over to the Midianites for what was seven years to be oppressed. What we know about Midian was that they formed an alliance with other Eastern nations come against Israel. They had camels which gave them a huge military advantage as they could move a lot faster and further than could an army on foot. We also know that there were many of them, much like a swarm of locusts (as they are compared to in vs 5) who multiply fast and are like a thick cloud when they descend upon a land. And just like locusts who come in like an army and destroy everything in their way, this Midianite Alliance would do the same. The Midianites and their buddies would come in whenever their was a fresh crop grown and take it for themselves (picture the frustration of leaving the grocery store to have someone waiting at your car each time to take your groceries and run). Anything else that was in the land, they laid waste to. Israel was in poverty and need. They had nothing, and they were in fear. Enough so that Israel went into hiding in caves, the mountains, and anywhere else they figured they could be save to live from the Midianite Alliance.
It is in that context that the people begin to cry out to God to save them and spare them (vs 7). God hears their cries, is moved by them, and raises up a guy named Gideon to bring them deliverance. Let’s read of the first time Gideon was called on.

Read Judges 6:11-16

1) Gideon is living in fear: When we see Gideon the first time, he is threshing wheat in a winepress. This was an indicator of the fear in the land of the Midianite Alliance, and the fear that Gideon would have struggled with. Normally when wheat is threshed, it is on a threshing floor which is out in the open, on a high flat plain, with a team of oxen working on the floor, as well as many people due to the community celebration that threshing had become. A winepress however was hidden. It was carved into a rock face. It was not easily seen. And rather than being in the open, a winepress usually was in some garden or orchard setting surrounded by trees and large vegetation which kept it hidden from those passing by. It was a single person operation rather than the big deal that a threshing floor was. Wheat would have been threshed in the winepress to keep it hidden. And in that setting, a complete stranger decides to sit under a tree right next to where Gideon is hiding out, threshing his grain.

2) Gideon is an ordinary person: Notice the first words used by the angel of the Lord to address Gideon: “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior.” These were not words that would naturally be used of Gideon. Hiding in his winepress, he was anything but a valiant warrior, and as we are going to see, he was nothing but normal.

Gideon expresses his disappointment in God. This God that the angel spoke of was the One that their tradition said brought Gideon’s people out of slavery in Egypt quite miraculously maybe 300 years prior. Yet now, where was this God? Was He weak in comparison to the other gods out there? Did He abandon His people to ruin?

What happens next (in Vs 14) is quite interesting. God actually speaks, as if to answer the challenge by Gideon. Prior, it was the angel of the Lord speaking, but now the voice of God takes over. Whether the angel of the Lord was actually a physical embodiment of God, or God directly spoke through the angel, we do not know for sure. We do know that God spoke.

God says to Gideon: Go and be the deliverer of your people. Set them free from the tyranny of Midian once and for all. I am personally sending you to lead your people.

Gideon’s response (Vs 15) is one of self doubt, insecurity, inadequacy, and feeling unqualified. Gideon looked at his social and family status. Yes, within his village, his father seemed to carry some reputation and rapport, but at the end of the day, Gideon was the least of the least. His family had no real influence that anyone should listen to him. It doesn’t sound as if they had a lot of resources that they should be high on the pecking order. And beyond that, Gideon was the youngest in his family. Why would even his own family listen to him? What qualities did he have to lead the people?

3) God sending should be enough: What does God say in verse 16? “But I will be with you.” Then, He restates His command to Gideon to lead the people against the Midianite Alliance. What God was saying here was “I am sending you. I know how weak and unqualified you are. I know that you feel you don’t have the skills or the significance to do this. You feel inadequate. But none of this matters because it is me, not you. My strength, not yours. That should be enough.”

I will save what happens for later weeks, but what I will say is that as Gideon trusted God and led God’s people, extraordinary and supernatural things happened that only God could do. God was enough. Gideon didn’t have to be anything but ordinary.

So how does God want to use you today? What ways is he tapping on your shoulder today and saying “hey, I want to use you to do something amazing for me?” Maybe it is something as simple as showing the love of Jesus to a hurting, scared, and maybe even sick neighbour, but as you think about it, you feel fear. You don’t know what to say, you don’t know what to do. What could you possibly offer that could show the love of Jesus? What if your efforts are rejected? What if putting yourself out there and reaching out to your neighbour is incredibly intimidating because you are very much an introvert yourself? What if what God is asking you to do is uncomfortable?

How about us as a church? How is God calling us as a community and family to be the love of Jesus to our greater community? To be Generations Following Jesus who Gather, Grow, Give, and Go? In what ways is He calling us to meet? In what ways is He asking us to reach out? Do we feel inadequate to do what He asks?

Is God sending you enough?

HMCdigital Tuesday 10am Devotional – March 24, 2020

While we’re unable to gather corporately, we will be hosting various live streaming events throughout the week to keep us connected to one another. See the complete schedule here.

Tuesday, March 24 – LIVE at 10 a.m. with Pastor Dave

A Zoom Room will open following each Tuesday devotion. To sign up, please pop over to our ZOOM page. A link will also be posted on Facebook that you can follow to join in.

“Defining Moment”ESTHER 4:13-14
Devotional – Tuesday March 24, 2020

What is your defining moment?

If you are into Hockey, or are older than I, you likely have heard the name Paul Henderson. Paul is an icon in the hockey world, and a local boy as well! A bio reads that Paul, from Kincardine, was a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. He learned how to play hockey in Lucknow. A left winger, Henderson played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Atlanta Flames and five in the World Hockey Association (WHA) for the Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls. He played over 1,000 games between the two major leagues, scoring 376 goals and 758 points. Henderson played in two NHL All-Star Games and was a member of the Memorial Cup-winning Hamilton Red Wings team as a junior. Not a bad resume overall.

Yet that is not what Paul is remembered for. His career was defined by the goal he scored on September 28, 1972, to win the Summit Series for Canada. In a series of national pride where Canada was challenging Russia in hockey, Paul not only tied up a game in the series, but went on to score the winning goal in three more games after. It was Paul who scored the winning goal with 34 seconds of play left to win the tournament for Canada. It is the most famous goal in Canadian hockey history and was the defining moment for a generation of Canadians. Decades later, Henderson remains a national hero.

What is your defining moment?

In the Bible, we are reminded of a young woman named Esther. You can read the book in one sitting (just ten chapters) that chronicles her life. Her life story revolves around a defining moment.

Esther was a young Jewish girl who found herself living in the Persian Empire. The king at the time was a man named Ahasuerus, who had a temper, and had just removed and exiled his wife for not responding to his selfish, chauvinistic, or demeaning demands. Wanting to find another wife who would now be queen, he has his attendants go out into the empire and round up the most beautiful young women to be taken into his harem where they would undergo beauty treatments and essentially audition for the role by meeting his every demand. Esther was the one who really caught his eye and gained his favour. He selected her to become his new wife, the queen. It is important to remember that at no time, did she ever reveal she was Jewish.

She had an uncle named Mordecai who had saved the king by reporting a plot of a planned assassination by two of his own servants. It was this same Mordecai who later on, got the anger of the king’s second in command, Haman. You see, Haman demanded that when he came by, people would bow to him. When Mordecai refused, it infuriated Haman, enough so that he devised a scheme that involved him deceiving the king into permitting the complete extermination of the Jewish people from the empire.

The only person who could save the Jewish people was Esther, whom the king and Haman had no idea was Jewish. She had the ability to go to the king and personally fight for her people. The only problem was that no one entered the king’s presence without an invitation, and if Esther entered his presence uninvited to bring this injustice to light, if the king didn’t extend his sceptre as a sign of welcome, she would be executed. It didn’t matter that she was the queen and his wife. She only came to him when he wanted her. The king had not invited her to come to him for the period of time ahead before Haman would act on his evil plan. The life of Esther was on the line, and she was scared to act.

Yet it was in that moment that her uncle spoke to her of stepping out of fear and into a clearly defining moment for her. He said (Esther 4:13-14):

Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

The story from here is that rather than run in fear, Esther steps out into a defining moment in her life, and as the queen. She puts her life on the line to speak to the king, and in the process saves herself, her people, and ends the terrible plot of Haman. This week read the book of Esther for the rest of the story. It is quite amazing!

Esther stepped into a moment that would truly define her. What is your defining moment?

Today is a defining moment for us who follow Jesus isn’t it? Our lives have changed a lot in the last couple weeks. How we meet as the church has changed. How we live our daily lives have changed. Many of us are working from home, if we are working at all. We are all keeping our distance from others, staying within our own homes, and living in isolation. People are struggling with being apart.

People all around us are fearful. As the numbers of those who are infected raise, and the government comes down with more protectionary measures that affect our lives, our families, our ability to live and provide, the anxiety and fear climbs.

People around us are losing their jobs. People around us are unable to go out to get themselves food and provisions. People are worried about loved ones getting ill.

The reality is that there are a lot of challenges in front of us that could cause us to retreat in fear, rather than be who God has called us to be. What if this is our defining moment as the people of God, as followers of Jesus, as the church? While it threatens to drive us further apart and hold us back from being what we think is the church, what if this whole time is what we need to actually define us? What if this is our defining moment as the church to step out and be who God is calling us to be to a hurting world clearly in need?

Yes, we have natural fears and anxieties. Yes, there is a lot of unknowns that are in front of us. Yes, we may even be confused about how we can even be the church in these days. Yes, we may even doubt that we can share the hope of Jesus because we are all so isolated (or so it seems). But what if this is actually our defining moment to share the hope, light, and love of Jesus Christ, all be it in a new and different way?

Remember that while our methods may change, the message is still the same. As I said yesterday, how we do church looks different, where we meet looks different, but the church will still be the church. Regardless of how we say it, we are still all about Jesus Christ.

Also, in this time we are even seeing record high engagement with our church. People are searching for hope and peace in this time of uncertainty and anxiety. And the best news is that we have the Lasting Hope and Calming Peace that people need. I read a quote yesterday by a local Christian pastor, leader, and blogger. He said “in the midst of crisis, there is an opportunity to share the hope that comes through Christ to millions that weren’t interested in the conversation just a few weeks ago.”

What is our defining moment?