Archive for the ‘identity’ Category

You Can Change Your Identity!

Yesterday’s chapter was almost like a soap opera ending, “Who is the man who will lead us?” only to have the words “To Be Continued…” come across the screen!

Talk about Dysfunctional! Wow! Today’s chapter of Judges 11 has it.

  • Prostitution
  • Discrimination
  • Hatred
  • Gangs
  • Mistreatment
  • Sibling Rivalry
  • Possibility of Revenge
  • Life-long grudges
  • Bad Guys &
  • Heroes

and all in the same family!

It’s interesting that the men of Gilead who were so repentant in 10:10, don’t even mention the Lord as they sought to find someone to lead them. It isn’t until Jephthah brings up God’s name, that they finally call on Jehovah.

Two thoughts today come home to me.

1) We can break the chains!
In Judges 9 I talked about Abimelech who was the son of bondage, and how his whole life was lived, and the death he died, all remained in bondage. Never changed.

But here we see the son of a harlot

  • not seeking revenge
  • demanding amends from the elders of Gilead
  • calling on the Lord to deliver them from the enemy
  • committing the whole matter into the Lord’s hands
  • speaking clearly with the enemy to make sure there is a need for war
  • giving 2nd chances to his brothers as well as the Ammonites
  • not getting sucked into the accusations of the Ammonite king
  • stating the truth of the situation back to the enemy trying to clear things up
  • counseling the Ammonite king away from holding onto a 300-year grudge
  • the recipient of the Spirit of the Lord
  • a man desiring to do right by the Lord
  • a man of action
  • taught his only child to be a woman of integrity and not whiny
    (she was a virgin after all, and even willingly helped her father keep to his vow)
  • keeps his vows even to his own hurt

I know we can see a few faults in this story too, but consider the treatment he went through, the gangs he joined…and where was his father while he brothers were mistreating him?

Today we would all understand if he was wayward and never got back on track. But praise the Lord, somehow, someway, he threw off his old identity and was able to enlarge his heart to care for those who cared nothing for him. He didn’t let his past, or his critics, or his heritage identify him. But he looked to the Lord to give him guidance, direction and identity.

And then
2) How often we try to blame others when it is really our own fault!
The Ammonites accuse Jephthah of taking their land from them, and tried to convince him it would only be right if he restored the land which his people stole from our poor innocent people who were mere bystanders.

But Jephthah had to remind the King of Ammon how it really went done 300-years before.
It was the Ammonites who attacked the Israelites unprovoked. As a result, the Ammonites got grounded and couldn’t see their friends. And just like a teenager, they blamed the parent, “I can’t believe you’re grounding me, and not letting me see my friends. You’re mean!”

So Jephthah says in essence, “I’m not the one who made bad choices that led to this. It was your poor choices that caused you to lose your land, and it would be very healthy for you to take ownership of that!”

Of course, just a youth, the king of Ammon went on to blame Jephthah and as a result got into even deeper doodoo, with worse consequences. (I’m sure he is blaming Jephthah for it all to all his friends).

How often I am that teenager, blaming God for my circumstances, when really my poor choices really led me to it.

O Lord, no matter my circumstances, my past, or the number of scoffers I might have, help me to have Jephthah’s enlarged heart, one that looks to You and delivers those who scorned him. And help me to recognize my poor choices and to take ownership of them so I can bring them to You to be dealt with in a healthy fashion.

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Another Identity Chapter

I’d have to confess, this was a hard chapter to feel fed from. I mean, reading all of the dysfunction, and unhealth, and outright bondage contained in Judges 9…where is food in that?

But to me, I’m struck by the fact that I’m a child of Royalty, a daughter of the King. And if I can rest in that, be secure in that, I won’t go about behaving as a child in bondage (verse 18).

You’ll notice the dysfunction in Abimelech in more areas than just his murder. He manipulated his brothers, he was determined to get his way, had insufferable sibling rivalry, had someone else do his dirty work, hired worthless and reckless men, wanted to be “king” (notice it wasn’t merely a “judge”) of everyone, and everything he involved himself in seems to have ended in destruction, one way or another…including his suicidal death. Trying to manipulate even the way he died.

He was the son of bondage. And he remained in that bondage until the end.

Yet he was confronted with a turning point. It is as if his brother Jotham laid before him the right road to chose (yeah for Jotham to have the courage to even face the man who killed his 68 brothers). Notice how forward and forthright and thoughtful Jotham’s confrontation with Abimelech was. It seems so healthy, so bold.

It seems Jotham took after his liberating father, Gideon, while Abimelech continued in bondage.

And then just one last thought…it is interesting that in this chapter of chaos, evil, injustice and outright brutality, that the writer makes it clear, that God was still in charge. He isn’t wringing His hands in fear that Abimelech might thwart His ways. Everything is being worked out according to Love’s goodness!

Oh Father, I desire to take after You and live in Your liberating love. Help me to be as bold as Jotham and make amends where ever there is a need. And thank You for being so faithful to visit with me even through hard chapters like today’s.

Who Do You Think You Are?!

God is so accommodating. Yes, perhaps He is inflexible when it comes to justice and His refusal to take bribes to overlook crimes.

But is He inflexible when it pertains to areas of our faith and our need for growth? … Just look at the chapter for today!

Judges 6 is the chapter read today in St. Philip’s 3-year Bible Plan.

If I had to define Gideon, I would suggest:
“He Who Proved God is Accommodating”

Consider the patience of God as He listens to (and answers!) Gideon…

  • How can I?
  • My family is the weakest.
  • I’m the least of this weak family.
  • I don’t believe in You.
  • Can’t we just talk about this for a while (kinda like Reuben did yesterday :-)?
  • I can’t do this alone.
  • Can I do it at night time so people won’t see me?
  • Would you mind humoring me with wetting the fleece only?
  • Mind if I procrastinate just a day more and ask You to keep the fleece dry?

What does God do? He accommodates poor Gideon, recognizing his weak faith.

——–

Another thought that I was strongly struck by in this chapter is based in verse 12.

“Just who do you think you are?”
I’m inclined to answer the same way Gideon did:
the least of the weakest, hiding for fear of failure

But look at who the Lord thought Gideon was.
…you mighty man of valor!
(and in Hebrews 11, a man of faith)

You gotta be kiddin’ me? Gideon? a man of faith? of valor?

And so it is, the Lord’s identification of who we are is so vastly different from how we assess ourselves. The truth be told, most Christians suffer from an identity crisis.

Here is a good list to help straighten out that crisis:
Chronologically as it appears in the New Testament
or
Pictorially as it appears in poster format

Lord Jesus Christ, grant me a glimpse of who You are as well as the truth of who I am in You! Thank you for dealing so tenderly with this weak woman.