I just completed a great study on the book of Judges, and I just wanted to record the things I learned. I will be honest, it was not a book I was looking forward to studying, nor was it a book that I thought would teach me a lot, but I spent most of the time I was studying, thinking, “Ouch! Not sure I want this much conviction right now!” At the same time, it was incredibly helpful as I went through some super tough situations during the month or six weeks I was completing the study. It was really neat how I was doing exactly the study I needed to be doing at exactly the right time. That’s the FAITHFUL God that I serve!
Some of my thoughts that I wrote down as I went through it:
“Why is it so hard to learn lessons? We all repeat cycles . . . why?”
Ugh! So hard. I wish I could answer the question because the answer probably includes how to change the problem.
“It’s so easy to look at the Israelites and judge, but when I look internally, I realize I am so much like them . . . YUCK!”
I repeat cycles. I don’t stay focused on God or obeying Him and get easily swayed and discouraged by people or circumstances around me. These people or circumstances or my desire for God to just fix things is a form of idolatry that I have to stop. My constant prayer right now is that I will stay focused on what God wants for me and keep the other things in my peripheral vision, loving and caring for them but not seeking to please them. They will either be pleased by my obedience (or the actions that come from it) or they won’t, and I can’t fix that.
“They [the Israelites] were so dependent on a leader and did not follow God on their own.”
We all need leaders, and that’s okay, but when left without one for a time, am I able to stay focused on follow God on my own? I think I can, but the thought struck me as an important question.
“God remembers His covenant with us, even when we forget our covenant with Him.”
What a great promise!!!!
“While God might respond to a fleece laid before him, we lose the full benefit of just obeying Him to begin with.”
It was just painful to read Gideon’s story, but that’s because I’m on the outside looking in. I’m sure other people have watched me with that same feeling that I had while reading about Gideon. I pray that my obedience will follow immediately without questioning God and asking for more signs. It’s hard to know what God wants, and I understand that about Gideon’s story. I question if what I hear is from God all the time, which is what Gideon was doing, so I’m not being judgmental, but I want to learn from him. Fleece’s are dangerous and should be avoided. And they definitely should not be used to just get the answer we want, which is often what happens. Gideon asks the Lord not to be angry with him before he lays out the fleece, indicating that he knew he was not supposed to do it.
“God is powerful but He is also understanding. He knows our fears and doubts. He provided something to give Gideon security, even when Gideon should have trusted Him. Our God is amazing!”
And yet, even though a fleece was not God’s best for Gideon, He is so understanding that he provided an answer. He could have given up and moved on to the next available person.
“When things are going well, I fail to depend on God, and when things are not going well, I have a hard time trusting Him.”
Another painful revelation! It’s so true. When everything is cruising along, it is easy to “forget” God or at least to forget to acknowledge God’s blessings. And yet when things are bad, I want to change them myself, instead of handing it over to God. I think if I remained “connected to the vine” at all times, my response during difficult times would be to trust God, not just ask God to rescue me and then be bummed when the rescue doesn’t happen (which returns to the issue of treating God like an idol; something Brent’s been teaching at church lately).
“God is jealous but even more compassionate.”
For this I am just so very thankful!!!! Another great promise!
One of the questions in the study asked what are the results when people want benefits but let everybody else do the work? My thoughts: “They miss the true joy of servanthood.”
Recently I was asked to help serve in a particular way. I really did not have the time or energy as I have been pretty spent the past month. There were several asked to help, but only two of us stepped up to do it. I felt a little stressed going into the whole situation, but I wanted to bless people by doing it anyway. When the end came, I realized what a blessing it is to be able to serve others, to see a smile on another person’s face, and to know that it also put a smile on God’s face. So many people miss out on these opportunities all the time. Boundaries are good, but too many boundaries can cause a person to miss out on the incredible blessing that it is to bless another.
“We all have spiritual strengths and an opposite fleshly weaknesses, two for me are discernment vs. judgmentalism and perseverance vs. pride.”
The fleshly weaknesses stink, but God uses us in spite of them. We need to rely on him to handle the weakness. A quote I read in the book says this, “Whatever our strengths and weaknesses, the secret of our usefulness is our availability to God.” And another quote along these same lines. “We fail to see that we’re never too small or too weak for God to use, but we can be too big and too strong. God is bigger than our weaknesses and will use us in spite of them.”
The biggest lesson for me in the whole study:
God is FAITHFUL, regardless of my behavior!
(And on a lighter note: The book of judges is rich and full of lessons!!!)