The lone tree in the field across from my office remained a mystery. Acres of trees had been cut down so the farmer could grow corn. But one tree remained standing, its branches reaching up and spreading out. The mystery was solved when I learned the tree was spared for a purpose. Farmers long ago traditionally left one tree standing so that they and their animals would have a cool place to rest when the hot summer sun was beating down.
At times we find that we alone have survived something, and we don’t know why. Soldiers coming home from combat and patients who’ve survived a life-threatening illness struggle to know why they survived when others did not.
The Old Testament speaks of a remnant of Israelites whom God spared when the nation was sent into exile. The remnant preserved God’s law and later rebuilt the temple (Ezra 9:9). The apostle Paul referred to himself as part of the remnant of God (Rom. 11:1,5). He was spared to become God’s messenger to Gentiles (v.13).
If we stand where others have fallen, it’s to raise our hands to heaven in praise and to spread our arms as shade for the weary. The Lord enables us to be a tree of rest for others.
And that all You have brought me through
can be used by You to encourage others.
Bring praise to Yourself through me.
God Rules His Kingdom
–Mark Guy Pearse
God Is Mighty With You
Judges 6:12,16 (NIV) 12When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
16The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
Just as God had promised, oppressors came to afflict Israel when they began to worship other gods. The oppression was so severe and the oppressors so ruthless that they had to hide food in caves so they could survive. Then they began to call out to the true God.
The angel of the LORD is Jesus. You will notice He is later called LORD (JHWH). Jesus is the manifestation of God (Colossians 1:15). Jesus declared He was with Gideon and called him a mighty warrior. Gideon was hiding in a wine press to thresh his grain and yet the Lord called him a mighty warrior. God sees what He is making us into. What does the LORD call you?
Gideon is not so sure it is the LORD. If he is to take on this challenge to rally Israel, he knows he must have the LORD with him. The LORD promised to be with him, just as He has promised to be with us (Matthew 28:20). Whatever God asks us to do He will equip and help us accomplish it. He calls us to be co-laborers, not lone rangers.
Gideon had his doubts and needed to be sure. The LORD allowed Gideon to bring an offering. He then caused fire to come from the rock and consume the food Gideon had brought. God will assure us of His will and confirm that He is with us to help us accomplish the tasks He gives us.
Consider: What does the Lord call you? If He is with you, He will bring it to pass.
Solitude and Prayer With God
Luke 5:16 (NIV) 16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
6:12-13 (NIV) 12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
Jesus lived in communion with His Father. It was more than just a time of recharging or even of getting instructions; it is a relationship of pure love (agape). The love of a husband and wife is a picture of such love, for Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me so have I loved you.” The Apostle Paul said that marriage was mystery about Christ and the church. So the love of the Father for the Son is like that of Jesus’ love for the church, which is pictured in a godly marriage relationship. A husband who loves His wife cannot easily be away from her for extended periods of time. He will phone her to hear her voice and know how she is doing, sharing the details of their lives. So it is with the Father and Jesus. Jesus had to meet with Him and share Himself and listen to the Father’s voice.
When it came time to pick His official representatives (that is what the word ‘apostle’ means), He spent all night in that sweet communion. This was one of the most important decisions of His ministry, for these men would pass on the message when He was gone. Their job was to convey to the world the life and words of Jesus, especially His victory over death. Important decisions need the counsel of the Almighty. Jesus’ example shows us how to deal with our difficult decisions. No one can stay up every night and pray, but when we are at a crossroad in life, we would be wise to follow Jesus’ perfect example. Don’t let the need for directions cause you to miss the main purpose of prayer. It is in the sharing of your life with your Father that His plan becomes clear. The goal is to hear His heart, not receive a “to do” list.
Consider: How is Jesus’ example of prayer different from your experience? Old habits die hard. How can you allow your prayer life to be transformed from duty into intimacy?