Friday, August 29, 2014

"Consider This!"

If I had a turtle I would name him Gideon!  Now that may seem like a pretty weird statement to start today's message with but as I look at this little guy and this "Behold the turtle," quote, I'm reminded of  the account of Gideon in Judges 6:11-16.

...while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" And Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites." Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?" So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."  And the Lord said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."

Now I know I've taught on Gideon many times before and so I won't expound greatly on the fact that Gideon had that keep your head down, weakest of the weak, hiding in the winepress mentality going for him here. He was definitely not at a point to be sticking his neck out to take on the Midianites. The courage to do that came as his realization of an important truth took root in his heart. That same truth is the point of today's message and can become clear to us as well as we "Behold the turtle."

Jesus said, "Consider the lilies of the field.." Matthew 6:28 and "Consider the birds of the air..." Matthew 6:26 and today my best advice is, "Consider the turtle!" Take a close look at the turtle above and its quote. 'A turtle only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.'  Its true and it was true for Gideon as well. Once he got a hold of the truth that the Angel of the Lord imparted to him and that He was calling him to action he stuck his neck out and stepped out into the calling that God had for him. But its not like he did it all big, bad, and brave. The first thing he is asked to do is to cut down his father's altar to Baal, put up an altar to God, and sacrifice his father's bull on it. It says in verse 27 that '...Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father's household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.' It says that as they discovered what had been done they searched out who had done it. When it was discovered that it was Gideon they went to his father's house and demanded that he be turned over to them so they could kill him.  His father refused. See the thing is. He stuck his neck out. He took the steps needed to do what God asked and then he went home to his father's house, his father's covering. He went back into hiding in the place were he was protected.

So I say again, "Consider the turtle?"  Out comes its head and feet. It moves forward, pressing on at a slow steady pace, until? Until for whatever reason... it needs to rest, an obstacle in its path, or even that it senses danger; then it does what we are all supposed to do, it pulls back into the protection of its shell. We've all heard the jokes about how it carries its house with it. Never leaves home without it etc. A turtles shell is its strength, its protection, its hiding place, its resting place.  Sound familiar? The thing is the shell is a part of the turtle and it always goes where the turtle goes. The turtle can always draw back for rest, shelter and protection.

The truth that hit Gideon's keep your head down, weakest of the weak, hiding in the winepress heart attitude is the truth that the turtle and its shell can teach us. "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.  Have I not sent you?" What might? The might of the Lord who is always with him of course.   "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man." The things that He speaks to Gideon all three times is the truth that equips any of us to, "Go," and it is the knowledge, the knowing, that He is with us. He has called Us. He fights for us. He is our strength and our ability to run into him because He is our shield, our protector is what separates us as His people. He is our help in times of danger. He is always with us no matter where we go, He goes with us! He is the one we never leave home without!

So once again in closing I say, "Consider the turtle." or more importantly I say, "Consider this.... A turtle will stick its head out and press forward because he instinctively knows his place of refuge!  Do we as His people instinctively draw into Him who is always with us?"

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever yo go!"  Joshua 1:9

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah  Psalm 62:8

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." Psalm 91:1-2

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