Lessons from Gideon #3

GideonThis summer I’ve been tracking here some of the things we’ve been learning in our summer Bible study on Gideon. Priscilla Shirer, the author of the study, suggested using social media and the hashtag #lessonsfromGideon to do this. My “Lessons from Gideon” #1 and #2 are here and here.

At the end of the “Lessons from Gideon #1” after offering 6 lessons at the midway point of our study, it seemed like I should close that entry with some kind of concluding point, which as I thought about it was this: “7. God seems to be patient with Gideon as he makes him the mighty warrior that He called him to be.”

In fact, though I didn’t know it then, the patience of God was the theme for the next video session and the start of our Week 4 lessons. We discussed it last night.

One friend pointed out how amazing it was that the angel of the LORD would wait for Gideon while Gideon went to prepare his offering.

We saw how God was patient with Gideon as he questioned the angel of the LORD, then as he laid out his fleece twice, and as God Himself offered for Gideon to go down to the enemy camp to receive encouragement and confirmation before the battle. God is a God of patience.

That God should wait for us! How incredible is this?! If we have the notion of a God who is removed or uncaring, we need to think again. He is patient toward us to draw us to Himself, to salvation.

As I reflected more on this, it reminded me of this post on “The Patience of God” from Christmas 2013.

One other highlight from last night’s study: As we looked at Gideon’s assistant Purah who went with him into the enemy camp — perhaps so that if Gideon were to forget what he heard, Purah could remind him and help strengthen Gideon — we talked about our own friendships like Purah and how we can encourage one another and help hold each other accountable in various ways as we pursue God’s call.

At the end of the study, it seemed like we were all offering encouragement to one another, not necessarily completely intentionally, but as an overflow from our discussion. How beautiful it was to speak words of encouragement to friends, to come alongside them in their journey and say, “I see God in you through _____” or “I love the way God uses you to _____” etc. and to hear it back, “You are gifted in _______” etc.

One woman said something to me that I had never thought about in quite that way, though when she said it, I could remember immediately something even from childhood that evidenced it was true. But I’d never seen it as a gift, and in fact, recently had begun to diminish the whole idea of using it. To have it re-identified as a gift and consider how God might use it was something unexpected, but that sparked all sorts of ideas.

So these conversations allowed us to offer encouragement, receive encouragement, support one another in our giftings, and spark a little flame inside of what God could use, maybe something we’d long forgotten about or never known. I think we all left excited to look for ways to encourage others this week in things we see God doing in their lives.

I loved how Priscilla ended the video mentioning two parts — the part we do, but much bigger than that, the part God does. We cooperate in what He is doing, and He gives us His strength and the power of His Spirit to accomplish it for His glory. It is exciting to see what He is doing and be a part of His work in the world. (Ephesians 2:10)

Again, I only capture a few points here, but this is an excellent study. I continue to be grateful for it, for the women God has brought together this summer, and the enriching discussion we have each week centered around God’s Word.

The Patience of God

My high school friend Terri hosts an Advent reflection group on Facebook each year, and she asked me to write something for one of the days. This was what I submitted.

In this season of Advent, we wait with expectation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. We reflect again on his coming to earth in the form of a baby to live life as a man (fully God, fully man), die for our sins, and be raised again. During Advent, we prepare our hearts to make room for Christ (“Let every heart prepare him room” as Isaac Watts penned in “Joy to the World”). We turn away from the things – even good things – that would draw us away from Christ in this season, and we focus on Him. We ponder the true Gift Giver, God Himself, and the gift of salvation (and much more!) that is ours in Christ.

We also remember that there is a second coming of Christ, one to come, and we consider how we are preparing for that coming. (“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” Luke 12:35)

We wait. We wait for our King’s arrival! We wait for His return!

In this season of our waiting, I began to reflect on a God who waits. Is there evidence in Scripture that God waits for us?

Look at these verses:

“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you….” (Isaiah 30:18)

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

“…God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared,…” (1 Peter 3:20)

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation…” (2 Peter 3:15)

christmas oldMy husband and I are part of a couples’ “small group” in our church. We meet every month, rotating homes, to fellowship and study the Bible together. Several years ago, while we were at our small group in a time of animated discussion, I was listening to everyone share and fully engaged in the conversation. While we were talking about whatever our study was that week, several words flew across my mind, interrupting my thoughts: “I waited for you.”

It’s hard to explain as this kind of thing has only happened a couple of times in my life and perhaps it sounds odd. But while my attention had been fully focused elsewhere, not trying to imagine something God might say, those words cut right through the conversation and spoke (though not audibly) to my heart: “I waited for you.”

I remembered that when I was a little girl, there was a verse in the Bible that said something about God being patient so that many would come to salvation as He did not want people to perish. And in my young mind, I had wondered about that, thinking, “Yes, Lord, but the longer you wait, the more people are born, and so the more people are probably actually going to be lost because there are so many more people!”

After our small group, my husband went out to the movies with the guys, and I went home and got down on the floor with my Bible and prayed, asking God about this. “Where is that verse?” “And are you speaking about that verse to me?”

As I prayed and flipped through my Bible, I found the verse in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)

face to faceI asked the Lord if He would keep showing me this verse and teaching me through it if this was truly from Him. Three days of that next week, God brought me this verse through various devotionals and books. One had come in the mail that week from a conference I had attended, and the devotional was about 2 Peter 3:9. I also occasionally work through the book Face to Face (it guides your prayer with Scripture), and 2 Peter 3:9 was listed as one of the verses for the day. Then there was a third source, as well, another day. All three unseen beforehand, placed and timed perfectly that week to show me this truth.

The thought was quite powerful. God had waited for me. Before I had believed Christ and trusted Him with my life and for the forgiveness of my sins, He had been waiting for me. Once it became personal, I suddenly threw out all of the mental mathematical work on that verse that I had done as a child! God had waited for me. I ponder each of those words. Our God, the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world – waiting – for me, small though I am, sinful, unworthy, yet even for me, He waited.

Do you know this King that is coming? The One who has come and will come again? Can you imagine that He might be waiting for you? If you haven’t trusted Jesus for your sins, why not do so this very day, this Christmas season, and experience a rebirth even as we celebrate His birth.

The Bible tells us that if we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). I pray you know this Jesus as your Savior and Lord, and the abundant, eternal life He wants you to have. And may we celebrate with joy a God who is so personal, who loves us so dearly, that He would send His Son into our brokenness and sin to suffer in our place so that we might know His righteousness and be reconciled to God. What a gift! What a Savior! What a King! Praise the Lord!