God’s Design For Your Child

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

This is the most important role you occupy: mentoring that child the Lord has placed under your influence. Lean into God, ask him for guidance, then submit to his wisdom and you will bring up a child with whom God will be well pleased. And never, ever forget, even when they try to prove it wrong, your child was designed and built by God himself with the seeds of greatness implanted within their genetic code.

Going Deep // Focus: Judges 13:12-14

So Manoah asked him, “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?” The angel of the Lord replied, “Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.”

It may not be as dramatic as the visit Manoah and his wife received from the angel of the Lord. A mighty divine messenger probably won’t appear to you and freak you out. It is not likely that he will consume with fire the thanksgiving sacrifice you set before him. But your child is every bit as important to God as Samson was.

God would use Samson as one of the greatest deliverers of Israel the nation was to ever know. The stories of his battles with the Philistines are epic. His life was the stuff many movies and a few books have retold over the ages. So to be sure, this family, and this baby that the angel of the Lord showed up in such an unforgettable way to announce, was going to become an altogether unique script in the religious history of Israel.

Yet I say again, the child that God gives you is no less important to God. That would be true of your grandchildren, too. It is also true of the children in your church, or your neighborhood, or in the classroom you manage. God has an indescribable love for them; he has plans for them that are beyond exciting; he has designed and built them with the seeds of greatness. Unlimited potential resides within their DNA.

Now it is up to you as a parent, grandparent or mentor, to figure out how to water those seeds of greatness in that child. That is a huge and sobering challenge, and you would do well to ask the Lord how he wants you to go about your task, as Manoah and his wife did in Judges 13:12. They asked the angel, “give us the guidelines for growing this child into a great man!”

God has guidelines for you to follow, too. They are found primarily in his word. The whole of the Bible is an amazing guide for understanding the law of the Lord. Especially helpful is the book of Proverbs, which will show you day by day the way to inculcate wisdom, knowledge and understanding into your child’s heart and mind. Another source of help is the Holy Spirit. Asking him daily in prayer to show you your child’s glidepath is a privilege you have because of your relationship with God. Just ask him, submit to him, expect his help, and God the Holy Spirit will walk with you as you train up your child in the way he or she should go. And then there is the body of Christ—men, woman, grandparents, pastors, class leaders and the parenting resources they offer are an incredibly helpful resource of parental richness that you would do well to tap into.

This is the most important role you occupy: mentoring that child the Lord has placed under your influence. Lean into God, ask him for guidance, then submit to his wisdom and you will bring up a child with whom God will be well pleased.

And never, ever forget, even when they try to prove it wrong, your child was designed and built by God himself with the seeds of greatness implanted within their genetic code.

Going Deeper With God: Pray for your child today. Ask God for wisdom in how he wants you to train them. Encourage them. And hang on to the fact that greatness is the potential within their DNA.

All Hat, No Cattle

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Too many leaders today are proficient at rising to a place of power, and they might even have the systems set up around them to keep them there, but they have not moved the proverbial ball down the field during their time of leadership. They occupy positions of import but have no track record of impact. They are “all hat and no cattle” as they say in Texas. Do you desire to be a great leader? Then check your motives, make sure your goals are worthy, submit yourself to God, get filled with his Spirit, go all out to serve your people and above all else, make Jesus famous. Do that, and you will have both the hat and the cattle!

Going Deep // Focus: Judges 12:11

After Ibzan died, Elon from the tribe of Zebulun judged Israel for ten years. 12 When he died, he was buried at Aijalon in Zebulun.

Elon judged Israel for ten years, then he died. End of story! And you will find his administration not that unusual in the book of Judges. There were plenty of other leaders who occupied positions of import but had no track record of impact. They were “all hat and no cattle” as they say in Texas.

I don’t want to be a leader like that, and you don’t want to sit under the leadership of a man or woman like that, be it a pastor or a president. Too many leaders in our day are proficient at rising to a place of power and authority, and they might even have the systems set up around them to keep them there, but they have not moved the ball down the field during their time of leadership.

Now to be certain, there is nothing wrong with having a position of importance, nor of desiring that. Those positions can provide much larger opportunities for impact. But a position of importance is not the end game; it is the means to the goal. Leaving a huge footprint of effective service, blessing and mission accomplished is the best evidence of noteworthy leadership.

So what does it take to have both importance and impact? Let me offer some thoughts:

First, while you can position yourself to be important, I believe letting God promote you to places of power and authority is the better way to go. Of course, you need to show yourself winsome, committed, visionary and skillful, but it is the sovereign hand of God that is the greatest PR machine in the universe. Let God promote you.

Second, get a vision—and not just vision for your own fame or success. How will the people you lead be better off because of your leadership? How will your organization—family, church, business, community—creatively and compelling make a difference by collaboratively marshaling your cooperate energies to do what you do? Just how do you expect to change the world?

Third, make sure you have character to match your charisma. Charisma will attract followers; character will keep you in leadership.

Fourth, serve the people you lead. They best lead who serve—a philosophy that is not talked about all that much in our culture, but was clearly modeled by the greatest leader of all time, Jesus Christ. Leaders of impact are truly servants of the public.

Fifth, through your influence, make it your chief aim to make Jesus famous. I am not speaking only of what we would term “spiritual leaders,” pastor types. In whatever you do—at home, in the marketplace, in the academe, in the halls of government—you are on duty for Christ. As the Apostle Paul would says, “In whatever you do, do it with all your might, as serving the Lord, not men; it is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

If you desire to lead, you desire a good thing. But check your motives, make sure your goals are worthy, submit yourself to God, get filled with his Spirit, then get out there and serve the people and make Jesus famous.

Do that, and you will have both the hat and the cattle!

Going Deeper With God: Whatever state of life you are in, ask the Lord to give you impact. He hears and answers prayer.

Don’t Confuse The Gift With The Package

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Newsflash: Your spiritual leader is flawed. Gifted, yes, but also flawed. So don’t confuse the gift with the package. Lift them to God in prayer today. He or she is probably wrestling with a personal flaw. Instead of idolizing them, intercede for them. That would be the best way to return the favor for their spiritual oversight in your life.

Going Deep // Focus: Judges 11:29-31

At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he led an army against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

From a historical perspective, Israel may have been scraping the bottom of the barrel when Jephthah was chosen to lead them. God had an altogether higher purpose in using this unlikely man as a judge, deliverer and leader of the nation, but Jephthah was a piece of work. He was an outcast in his family, literally and figuratively. Born from a union between his father and a prostitute (Judges 11:1), his brothers from another mother flat-out rejected his legitimacy to their father’s inheritance. And they were not shy in telling him why he would do well to get the heck out of Dodge (Judges 11:2).

As a result, Jephthah removed himself from his father’s “real” family—there is some indication that it wasn’t just a good idea that he leave, it was good for his health, as in, they would have killed him. He lived in exile, and while there, developed both quite a reputation as a fighter and a band of marauders who made their living taking what they wanted, perhaps even exhorting money in exchange for protection from the locals (Judges 11:3).

Now the Israelites had once again fallen under the dominion of a foreign nation—this time, the Ammonites—and no one else in Israel stepped up to the plate as a leader. So the elders turned to someone they despised but whose fighting skills they reasoned would serve them well now that they needed a deliverer. They came with hat in hand to Jephthah to ask
him to lead (Judges 11:4-6). Jephthah agreed, but only after extracting an admission that they had been jerks to him all his life and that they would make him ruler over them should he win the battle against the Ammonites (Judges 11:7-11). They didn’t have much of a choice, so they agreed to his conditions.

Now here is where the story gets even weirder: as Jephthah leads Israel to war, we are told that the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him (Judges 11:29), but in the very next two verses we see that the first thing he does is to make one of the most foolish vows you can imagine:

Meanwhile Jephthah had vowed to the Lord that if God would help Israel conquer the Ammonites, then when he returned home in peace, the first person coming out of his house to meet him would be sacrificed as a burnt offering to the Lord! (Judges 11:30-31, LB)

Alternative meanings have been assigned to this rash vow to sanitize it for our modern minds. Precisely because of the juxtaposition of these two verses with the antecedent verse, that is, how could someone filled with the Holy Spirit make such an evil vow, commentators have suggested that Jephthah’s declaration really meant that he would force his daughter (the first thing coming out of his house) to become the living sacrifice of a young woman living in perpetual virginity. But the simplest way to read the verse is to understand that he meant to literally offer a human sacrifice if the Lord gave him victory.

Pretty messed up, wouldn’t you say? So the question is legitimate: how could someone filled with the Holy Spirit make such an evil declaration? And perhaps we wonder that in our own context when we see leaders who have been uniquely gifted by God turn around and say weird things or do dumb stuff. How could an amazingly gifted communicator or a miracle-working faith healer or mesmerizing worship leader misappropriate money, or have an illicit affair or promote a false teaching?

I think the easiest explanation for that is simply that we should never confuse the gift with the package. In other words, God’s gift is always placed within flawed human packages—and even if the person so gifted never goes off the rails, they are still sin-broken people. The fact is, God uses broken people to accomplish his purposes, and that is a grace to his people. If he used only the perfect, he would use no one.

Of course, that does not excuse bad behavior; it just explains it. So the bottom line is that as you view the gifted spiritual leaders in your life, celebrate the gift that God has placed upon their ministry but don’t idolize the person. Like you, they too are human. Furthermore, don’t limit God from empowering you with his Holy Spirit by thinking you are too flawed and unqualified. Remember, as someone has said, God doesn’t chose the qualified, he qualifies the chosen.

Thank God for his gifts. They are a grace to us.

Going Deeper With God: Lift your spiritual leader in prayer today. He or she is probably wrestling with a personal flaw. Instead of idolizing them, intercede for them.

Arresting Spiritual Drift

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Who is going to be God in your life? That’s a pertinent question for you today, because you’re going to worship someone, or something. Wherever you place your unmitigated dependence and spend your full-throttled energy or to whomever you give your singular devotion has become your god. Take it from the ancient Israelites—there is only one God who is worthy of your unalloyed zeal. They learned that the hard way so you don’t have to.

Going Deep // Focus: Judges 10:15-16

But the Israelites pleaded with the Lord and said, “We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.” Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And he was grieved by their misery.

Same song, twenty-ninth verse: Israel abandons the worship of God only to chase after the local deities of the Canaanites. So God lifts his hand of blessing from them and allows them to have what they want—a visible, controllable, good luck charm god. But as before, the same sad results ensue: Israel is left defenseless against cruel enemies, their agrarian economy collapses, their families suffer undue hardship and their lives are miserable under the rule of foreign gods and foreign nations. Then, predictably, they come to themselves, cry out to God, repent, and God sends a rescuer—judge after judge who rises up to bail them out. That is the story repeated over and over in Judges.

Of course, we have the advantage of looking back at this four hundred year period of on again, off again religion and viewing it only as a relatively short snapshot of history. It wasn’t. There were long patterns of obedience and blessing on Israel’s part—ten, twenty, thirty years of faithfulness to God. But then Israel would cycle into spiritual lassitude and moral drift until finally they were into full-on backsliding. And the oppressive consequences would follow—ten, twenty, thirty years of domination by godless and ruthless enemies.

So why didn’t the children of Israel learn their lesson after the first beating? Why did they drift into idol worship over and over again? What was their infatuation with other gods? Again, we look back upon their history without understanding the long periods of time that the nation cycled through, and in so doing we fail to realize that we are prone to the same kind of drift and wrong dependencies as they were—we are just a little more sophisticated with our worship of idols. The Quest Study Bible offers some reasons for their infatuation with local idols, and as you ponder these that follow, see if you can identify your own tendencies to drift from utter dependence and ruthless obedience to God:

  1. Idols were physical objects that could be seen (Lev 26:1). Israel’s God, on the other hand, was unseen.
  2. Idols could be carried, controlled and confined. Israel’s God, however, was an awesome and mysterious God who could not be manipulated by his people. He “moved” whenever and wherever he wanted.
  3. Foreign gods were thought to have power over crops, a prime concern of the Israelites. The people were superstitious and didn’t want to risk their harvests by offending the pagan gods.
  4. Some foreign gods were believed to give fertility to the womb. The worship of these gods involved religious prostitution (1Ki 14:24) and other sexually immoral practices, which appealed to the sensual desires of the Israelites. The Israelites may have concluded that it was better to indulge in these pleasurable activities than to displease the gods of fertility.
  5. Idol worship was a cultural norm. The Israelites often found it easier to join in local customs than to go against them.

Who is going to be God in your life? That is a pertinent question for you today, because you are going to worship someone, or something. Your god is whatever you are putting your full-throttled dependence upon and giving your singular devotion to. Of course, we don’t worship literal images made of wood, stone, silver or gold like the ancient Israelites did, but wouldn’t you agree that we are just as susceptible to the seduction of less visible but highly sophisticated idols like money, sex and power, that is, earthly security, momentary pleasure and misused control?

If you are placing importance, expending energy and make personal investment in things that drown out your full-throttled devotion and singular devotion to God, you have made them into an idol. But here’s the deal: at the end of the day, those things will have amounted to nothing. In fact, they will have done real harm to the blessings that God would have poured out in your life had you waited upon him in devotion and dependence.

If reading through this is convicting you at all, I would suggest you quickly get on your knees and cry out to God in sincere repentance, like the Israelites did. Put aside your wrong dependencies and misplaced devotions and worship God only. Perhaps he will be grieved by your misery and reach out to you in love.

No, not perhaps—he really will reach out to you in love.

Going Deeper With God: Where have you put devotion and dependence on someone or something other than God? Arrest that spiritual drift by crying out to God, rejecting your false gods, and turning fully toward him. Allow him to bless you once again—he really wants to.

This Is What Happens When We Forget God

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Predictably, what we see and sense today at the highest as well as the lowest levels of culture is what happens when, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn lamented, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” As believers, we must let the moral decay of America turn our stomach, but then turn our heart to God in intercession for a spiritual awakening once again in our land.

Going Deep // Focus: Judges 9:56-57

In this way, God punished Abimelech for the evil he had done against his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also punished the men of Shechem for all their evil. So the curse of Jotham son of Gideon was fulfilled.

Admittedly, this is a weird story, and it’s even weirder that it was included in the Bible. Like a few others we have come across as we read the Old Testament devotionally, this is a head-scratcher. But at the end of the day, this story of Abimelech’s brief but brutal rule as a judge of Israel and his abrupt, gruesome death is a reminder of what happens in a person, and in a society, when God has been left out of the picture.

Abimelech was one of Gideon’s sons—one of seventy or so. And it just so happens that he was the one son from Gideon’s union with a concubine who lived in a different town, Shechem. So there was probably no love lost with his many siblings; he was probably looked down upon by his brothers his whole life. There is a good chance Abimelech had a chip on his shoulder (that unfortunately ended with a millstone on his head—literally. See Judges 9:50-55).

So Abimelech decided to do away with his seventy brothers—which he did in the most grisly fashion (Judges 9:5): likely beheaded at one time. He killed all but one, Gideon’s youngest son, Jotham, who escaped and hid, and then resurfaced with an incendiary prophecy (Judges 9:7-21). This prophecy was a kind of “pox on both your houses” statement that ultimately came to pass. The prophecy was that in selecting Abimelech to be their king, the citizens of Shechem would end up paying for it with their lives and that Abimelch would likewise come to a brutal end for the murder of his brothers. That is the rest of the story of Judges 9.

Now take away the raw brutality of this story, sanitize it a bit, and what you have is the story of leadership in our culture these days. Far too common is the way leaders attain power and the way the citizens surrender power to them. Lying, cheating, doing whatever it takes to make their opponent look bad, saying one thing to get elected then leading another, coming off as a servant of the people but living like a king once in power seems to be just the way it is in our political world. Often in elections, we feel like we have no choice but to hold our nose to cast our ballots. But we get the leaders we deserve.

Why? Simple answer: men have forgotten God. The writer of Judges prophetically summed up our twenty-first century world in the last verse in this book when he wrote, “There was no controlling moral authority to govern peoples’ lives, so everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) Unfortunately, in our day, as was the case in the day of the Judges, “what was right”, without the presence of the “Controlling Moral Authority”, without fail produces moral, cultural, economic and global chaos.

Predictably, what we see and sense today at the highest as well as the lowest levels of culture is what happens when, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn lamented, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” In his famous Templeton Address, “Men Have Forgotten God”, Solzhenitsyn said

“The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century…Yet we have grown used to this kind of world; we even feel at home in it.”

May we never get used to it! May we never feel at home in this present world the way it is now. As believers, we have the urgent calling to humble ourselves before God, acknowledge our sin, repent and turn to him for the healing of our land. As disgusted as you may feel reading Judges 9, let the moral decay of America turn your stomach, then turn your heart to God in intercession for a spiritual awakening once again in our land.

Who knows, God may give us a revival like he did throughout the book of Judges as his people cried out to him. Thankfully, God has made a way for that, even in our day:

If the people who are called by my name will humbly pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins, and make their land prosperous again. (2 Chronicles, 7:14)

Going Deeper With God: Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 and pray your way through it on behalf of your nation today.

Stay Alert To Sin

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

The story of Gideon’s dramatic rise and precipitous fall in Judges 6-8 is a classic reminder that it is not just a strong start that counts, it is finishing well that is the essential thing in our journey with God.

Going Deep // Focus: Judges 8:27

Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family.

Conflicted. That is what Gideon was, as we see in Judge 8. Gideon was a conflicted man, at odds with his own beliefs and his calling. But he is not alone, because most leaders are. And so are most people, whether they are believers or not. You see, people live with a persistent sin nature that early and often rises up to tempt them with attitudes and actions that are incongruent with their most deeply held values. Conflicted, that is what we are, hopelessly and helplessly—without daily submission to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Consider Gideon for a moment. In the previous chapters, we find that he was at once humble (Judges 6:15), obedient (Judges 7:8), and dependent on God (Judges 7:15), yet as we see in this chapter, he was prideful, self-sufficient and disobedient.

Gideon went out to fight Midian in the power of the Lord and routed a far superior army in a stunning victory, but he came back a ruthless man (Judges 8:13-21), arrogantly refusing to be Israel’s king yet living like one anyway (Judges 8:22-24, 29-31), and disobedient in making a golden ephod that would lead Israel to worship it as an idol (Judges 8:27). The text say the golden ephod he made, representing his power, his success and his status among the Israelites, became a trap for Gideon and his family (Judges 8:27).

What a quick and disappointing turn around. His impossible victory over Midian was one for the ages. Gideon’s band of three hundred fighting men is being talked about to this day, used as an example of what God can do with a just few who are fully submitted to him. Yet within days of this victory, his base nature was taking over, and it led him to make decisions that set the stage for Israel to not only drift from God under Gideon’s watch by worshiping the golden ephod, but to plunge headlong into national idolatry after he died:

As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping the images of Baal, making Baal-berith their god. They forgot the Lord their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them. Nor did they show any loyalty to the family of Gideon, despite all the good he had done for Israel. (Judges 8:33-35)

As we seek to make sense of this jaw-dropping spiritual reversal, Gideon’s story reminds us that the same , Gideon’s story reminds us that the same sin nature that wreaked havoc in his life will mess us up just as quickly if we are not careful. Here are a few sobering lessons coming to us from Gideon’s story that we would do well to keep in mind:

  1. Charisma will only take you so far; it will be character that keeps you there. Obviously, Gideon had the ability to inspire others to follow him into an impossible battle, but his core values were not such that he could resist the temptations that came his way after the victory. Arguably, the true test of character is success.
  2. Character issues that are left unchecked will resurface at some point in our lives, sooner or later. The only way to effectively deal with our sin is to allow the Lord to obliterate it completely. It if is not destroyed, it will come back to damage us. Whatever goes underground will resurface at some point.
  3. A victory today does not guarantee a victory tomorrow. We cannot rest on our laurels of past accomplishment; submission to God must be a daily victory. That is why Jesus said true discipleship involves taking up your cross daily to follow him. (Luke 9:23)
  4. Pride is an ever-present enemy of God’s plan to use us mightily for him. Pride is at the core of sin, continually causing issues of godship in our relationship with God. Remember, there is room for only one God on the throne of your life—and it is not you.
  5. Constant attention to sin is required to run our race strong and finish well. Over and again the Bible calls us to stay alert, to be on guard, and to be ever watchful for the Enemy’s work in our life. Satan never gives up: we can serve him up a devastating defeat by our obedience to God one day, and he will be right back at us the next, tempting us to stray from God.

The story of Gideon in Judges 6-8 is a classic reminder that it is not just a strong start that counts, it is finishing well that is the essential thing in our journey with God. May it be said of us, “they started strong and finished well.”

Going Deeper With God: Check your heart. Are you fully devoted to God in every area of your life? If not, come to God in repentance. If you are, stay alert to the Enemy today. He is making plans to trip you up. So keep your eye on Jesus and you will be just fine.

Horrible Odds, Holy Opportunities

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Faith is putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1-2). Faith is ruthless trust in the care and competence of our Heavenly Father. Faith is unshakeable hope that God loves us and will work everything out for our good and his glory. Faith is not looking at the unmovable mountain in our way, it is looking to the Mountain Mover on our side. Faith is Forsaking All, I Trust Him. That is why God allows us to be in situations where the genuineness of our faith can be proven.

Going Deep // Focus: Judges 7:2-4,7

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight. But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not” The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”

We want the odds to be in our favor. To mix metaphors, when push comes to shove, we are certainly not opposed to the decks being stacked in our favor. That is just human nature—fallen nature, that is. But that is not the way of God, which means that is not the way of faith.

The thing is, we are created to glorify our Creator, to worship him and fully enjoy him forever. Life is not about us, it is all about him, and how we can so live as to bring him maximum fame through our daily lives—in our everyday, walking around, eating, sleeping, talking, going about our business lives. Our job is to make God famous. And in doing that, we experience the deepest, longest lasting satisfaction possible during the few decades we have been allotted in this one and only life.

But that means we have to walk the way of faith. Faith is putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1-2) Faith is ruthless trust in the care and competence of our Heavenly Father. Faith is unshakeable hope that God loves us and will work everything out for our good and his glory. Faith is not looking at the unmovable mountain in our way, it is looking to the Mountain Mover on our side. Faith is Forsaking All, I Trust Him. That is why God allows us to be in situations where the genuineness of our faith can be proven.

That is why God allows us to be in situations where the genuineness of our faith can be proven. You see, it doesn’t take much faith if we don’t really need God to step in. If there is not the possibility, at least on the human, visible level, that we can crash and burn if God doesn’t show up, then we are most likely not stepping out far enough where we have reached the rare air of faith. If we can do it without God, most likely we will take the credit for our success.

Remember, however, we were created to glorify him in everything we do. Remember that our one assignment is to make God famous. Remember that he designed us to be most satisfied in him when he is most glorified in us. That is precisely why he allows the decks to be stacked against us. It is then that he can supply us with supernatural power and all kinds of divine aid to rout our toughest enemies, overcome our most overwhelming odds, and win our most stunning victories.

That is precisely why God told Gideon to pare his fighting force down from thousands to just 300—against a Midianite army that was far superior in numbers, experience and fighting talent. In God’s own words, “If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.” God doesn’t share his glory—and that is a good thing. He allows us to share in his glory, but that comes only by deflecting all the glory that we might receive in our effort back to him. When we do that, his glory is reflected onto us in a way that we could never produce on own.

Now like me, you may not be totally comfortable with this whole business of the decked stack against you. But the record of scripture, the testimony of the faithful, and from my own experience, that is the way of faith. And frankly, I am glad it is. So get used to it!

So if you’ve got horrible odds, not to worry, you are on the edge of a holy opportunity.

Going Deeper With God: Are you up against some horrible odds? Good! Began to thank God for your situation. You are on the verge of something grand!