How Gideon Felt
Tuesday of Pentecost 4
9 July 2019
The church should always elevate to office those who do not recommend themselves for the job. For the Lord is not looking for those who put themselves forward, but for those who flee the limelight. Even after taking the office of pastor and leading the church, a true leader will still be amazed that the Lord has made use of someone with such humble abilities and such limited power. In that way, the church repeats the story of Gideon, every pastor a recommendation of God's power, by his weakness. The victory must be God's, since it is obviously not the triumph of the servant of God.
 
Our pastors need to know that God will make them sufficient. I am often surprised by what the Lord has accomplished through me. What is done is not done by me, but only as an instrument of God's grace (Acts 9:15-16). I myself stand astonished as did Gideon of old (Jdg 7:8-9). This is that God might have all the glory. God only gives power that His grace might triumph in the world. Luther said, "We should be seen fighting. God should be seen winning."
 
As soon as we start depending on our own wisdom and strength, that is when we shall surely fail. As I look back upon my own ministry, I certainly can see that that was the case. I am a slow learner, but over the years, often through suffering, God has molded me so that I will let Him be who He is for me, the Savior. I have no choice. It is not as though I could do anything about it. It is not as though I could thrust God aside and do His work for Him. How would that work out? Not so well! I look back and see what God has accomplished through me with sheer amazement.
 
Many years ago, when I was a young and inexperienced pastor, I entered the hospital room of a man who had just been brought back from the brink of death while undergoing chemotherapy for acute Leukemia. The sick man was a lawyer and his bed was surrounded by his law partners and his son, also a lawyer. My knees shook as I sought to say the right things to this man who might have very little time to live. After sharing Christ and the power of His indestructible life, I talked about the ways we Christians might seek to prepare for death. Afterward, I leaned up against the wall of the hospital hall outside the room in prayer, pleading with God that I hadn't said the wrong things to this man. The next week he died. About a month after the funeral, his son approached me and said, "Pastor, I need to tell you something. When you visited my father after his first close call while taking chemotherapy it was like watching television." I wasn't sure that this was a good thing, but he explained, "No, you said exactly what my father needed to hear that day. He was comforted by the certainty of eternal life and he spent the next weekend composing the conflicts that still needed to be resolved in our family. It was wonderful." If you had asked me after my visit with the dying man if it had been successful, I would have doubted it most seriously. Yet, the Lord had given me exactly what the man needed. I knew how Gideon felt. I still do.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Leo the Great
"God's condescension has made this an honorable day for me, for it has shown by raising my humbleness to the highest rank (9 September 440), that He despised not any of His own. Hence, although one must be self-effacing about merit, yet it is one's duty to rejoice over the gift, since He who imposes the burden is Himself the One who aids in its execution. Lest the weak recipient should fall beneath the greatness of the grace, He who conferred the dignity will also give the power. As the day therefore returns in due course on which the Lord purposed that I should begin my office as bishop, there is true cause for me to rejoice to the glory of God, who, that I might love Him much, has forgiven me much, and that I might make His grace amazing, has conferred His gifts upon me in whom He found no recommendations of merit. And by this His work what does the Lord suggest and commend to our hearts but that no one should presume upon his own righteousness nor distrust God's mercy which shines out more pre-eminently then, when the sinner is made holy and the downcast lifted up. For the measure of heavenly gifts does not rest upon the quality of our deeds, nor in this world, in which all life is a trial (Job 7:1 LXX), is each one rewarded according to his deserving, for if the Lord were to take count of a man's iniquities, no one could stand before His judgment (Ps 1:5)."

Leo the Great, Sermon on the Anniversary of His Ordination, 1
Judges 7:7-15

The LORD said to Gideon, "With the men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home." So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. That same night the LORD said to him, "Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp." Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, "Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat." And his comrade answered, "This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp." As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, "Arise, for the LORD has given the host of Midian into your hand."
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, thank You for sending preachers to extol Your grace, by choosing those whom the world despises that You would gain the glory. Amen.
 
For young families struggling to make homes for children, that they would be strengthened in their calling to be parents
 
For James Reiman, who is suffering with cancer, that he might receive the treatment he needs that his body would be healed
 
For the gift of work, that those who are seeking gainful employment would be blessed with a job
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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