This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”
My family and I went to church this past Sunday and was met with an incredible message. Like usual.
Saddleback Church is currently teaching angle of the Bible called “Everyday Heroes” – where God takes ordinary people like you and I and equips us to do meaningful work with His power, and not our own, limited capabilities. This squashes the excuses we give ourselves and others to why we can’t do things that matter, and eliminates the roadblocks to change our lives and that of others.
Below are a few verses from the Bible, takeaways from Pastor Buddy Owens, and my commentary on them.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us years ago.” (Eph. 2:10)
The call to be saved is the call to serve. When you accept Jesus into your life, your priorities change from being worldly, selfish, and/or short-sighted goals; to loving and serving others. And love is one of the only things that lasts far beyond our human lives and into eternity.
“He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20)
This is a reminder that we need to stop making decisions based on our own abilities or knowledge – they equal to only a grain of salt compared to the power and wisdom that God makes available to us if we tap into His grid (the Bible).
Not using it is like driving a car past a gas station on every corner, never stopping in, and running it until it’s dead on the road.
“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years He gave them into the hands of the Midianites.” (Judges 6:1)
God is a loving parent who will take away things and put me in difficult situations to build my character, change my bad habits, and learn to depend on Him instead of other idols (possessions, power, prestige, etc.). This verse scares me a bit because I know I have to learn the hard way for many things. I’m super stubborn like that.
“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12)
I love this verse – it gives me a lot of hope.
For context – this story is about Gideon, who is the youngest child in the weakest family in the smallest clan of Israel. By social status measures, he was an absolute nobody; but with no military training or no noteworthy strengths or skills of any kind, God still called him “mighty.” The reason why is because he didn’t fight the Lord’s battle on his own merit or with his own weapons, but humbled himself and let God’s power fight the fight.
And because of that, his small army of 300 men were able to defeat 135,000 enemy soldiers. That could only be won on faith and with God’s help.
“‘But sir,’ Gideon replied, ‘if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.'” (Judges 6:13)
This is the part in the Bible where Gideon complains about why his nation – the Israelites, supposedly God’s people – are being oppressed and why it seems as if their Heavenly Father has left them for dead. This reminds me of times where I feel discouraged, alone, angry, and neglected when something doesn’t happen the way I expected, or I don’t get what I worked hard for or did the right thing to achieve.
Pastor Buddy shares that Gideon doesn’t have the right perspective and isn’t looking at it from both sides. While he’s trying to victimize himself and shift blame, he forgets that his people have lost their way as well – in worshipping other idols, committing countless immoral transgressions, and not listening to His guidance. And like a loving parent who wants what’s best over what’s comfortable or pleasant for their child, God needs to take things away in order for their children to realize what they’ve done.
Gideon also forgot about the process and only cared about results and his circumstances, and that’s something I want to remember in my own situations. I need to first hold myself accountable for wrongdoings that may have caused my struggles in the first place; understand that God is putting me in the desert to build muscle, depend on Him, and teach me something valuable; and have faith that He is working everything in my life for the good.
There was also a section in the Bible where Gideon thought he heard God speak to him, but he wasn’t sure, and conducted a few tests with fleece and the ground. I won’t get into details of that exercise, but what I wanted to focus on was that Gideon didn’t doubt God, but he doubted his ability to hear Him.
It’s a healthy practice to find out whether ideas are truly answered prayer or not; and that I’m not trying to force my own agenda and sell myself and others on it, or that I am being seduced by the devil. That happens a lot.
“The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)
When there is an idea that you are inspired by and know it’s answered prayer (for me – I get excited and consumed by a thought, it’s consistent with the Word, the current circumstances validate it, and it’s an opportunity to serve others), it most likely will be so big and far-fetched that you’ll feel incapable of achieving it.
Be excited to know that if the calling isn’t big enough, you’re not living by faith; if it scares you half to death, you’re probably on the right track; and if God has compelled you to pursue it, go with what you have and He will provide the resources needed to carry it out.
“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” (Ecc. 11:4)
Don’t make excuses or wait for circumstances or levels of comfort in order to jump in when you know it’s what you should be doing. God isn’t looking for ABILITY; He is only looking for AVAILABILITY.
As Pastor Rick Warren says: “God’s will done God’s way never lacks God’s help.” If He’s sending you, then He’s obviously confident that you’ll get the job done, and I’d put my bet on that.