Does Gideon’s Fleece System Still Work?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In my personal devotions this morning, I read,

Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” Judges 6:36-37 NLT

I was reminded of the many times I have been asked if it’s a good idea to set a “fleece” before the Lord? People want a sign as to which way to go, which house to buy, which job to take or so forth. They want to know if it is okay to ask God for a sign. Of course there is nothing wrong with praying for wisdom on all decisions. But that’s just it. Sometimes, instead of giving us direct signs, telling us exactly what to do, God gives us wisdom to make our own choices. Sometimes God really doesn’t care which job we take or house we live in. He can bless us either way. They aren’t really moral decisions, and He can guide us either way.

The purpose of Gideon’s fleece was not so much about a decision of which way to go. God had already told Him what to do. God had told Gideon to lead out in God’s army.  Now, Gideon is examining his motives. Did God really call me to lead out, or was it my own selfish ambition talking to me? Am I just doing my own thing claiming its God telling me to do it? So, Gideon set a fleece before God to confirm that it was God calling him and not just his own selfish ambition. Maybe the key to what decisions we make, is to examine our motives behind the choices we make.  Am I doing this for God’s glory or selfish ambition? God can guide us no matter where we live or work so long as our motive is to glorify Him wherever we are. Gideon was testing his own motives.  There is nothing wrong with that!

Several years ago, I was experiencing some persecution where I was working. My motives were being misrepresented, which led me to examine them myself. I pleaded with God to open a door and let me go somewhere else. No doors were opening. About this time I signed a new lease for my apartment. while new residents to the apartment complex were offered a months free rent, I was told several times there would be no free rent for me. That was only for new residents. I told them I was signing a new lease though. Still they said again and again, no free rent!

The first month of my new lease I was walking to the rental office to pay my rent. As I walked I prayed, “Lord if you want me to stay at this current job, where I am experiencing persecution for standing up for you, then have them tell me my rent is free this month when I get to the rental office.”  After all, maybe I was just standing up for myself and not God? Was I just trying to protect my own position instead of glorifying God? I walked on to the rental office knowing it was a done deal, as I had already been told over and over, there was no free rent for me. I actually forgot my prayer when I came into the office. That is until the lady in the office went to enter my check on the computer, and then handed it back to me and said, “Your rent is free this month.”

God provided an amazing miracle for me! But the miraculous sign was not so much about where to work as it was about making sure I was staying at my job for the right reason, and not just out of self interest. Not long after that the person responsible for my persecution left.

Gideon was not just using a fleece like it was some crystal ball in making random decisions. He used the fleece to make sure his motivation was pure. There is nothing wrong with questioning and examining our motivation, when leading out as Gideon did.

You can read more about the prayer life of God’s disciples today at http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/14a/less03m.html

Joyce, Robert and Bradley

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!.  Luke 15:7 NLT

There was much rejoicing today in heaven and at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church this morning! Bradley was baptized, showing heaven and earth the love for Jesus that has been in his heart for some time now.. Joyce and Robert also took their stand for Jesus and their commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Please enjoy the pictures and short stories.

Seeker's Class Picnic(Click on pictures to enlarge)

A few years ago the evangelism team had a special July 4th celebration at our church. Joyce, who lives in the neighborhood saw our sign and joined us. She had such a wonderful time she has been coming ever since. She joined my Seeker’s Sabbath School class, which is pictured here on a recent picnic, where we had class at the park. Joyce is on my right. Joyce has also joined a small study group, that Mike and Karmin help me lead out. She also was in the Best Weigh program with me, and was a big source of encouragement with all of her success. We already considered Joyce a part of our church family, but this last fall, during our “One Hope” evangelistic meetings, Joyce filled out a card asking to become a member. Joyce, who was already baptized into the Methodist church, where she faithfully loved and served Jesus for many years, joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church today on profession of faith.

Joyce writes, “I learn a lot about God in this church, and everyone is very friendly. I feel very comfortable in this church.”

Robert was a part of the Seventh-day Adventist church a while back, when the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church was on Nebraska Avenue. Sadly, Robert and the church parted ways back then, but God has brought healing and that relationship has been restored. Robert has been back with us for about six years, and today, after meeting with Pastor Brad rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist church family. Welcome back Robert!

Robert says one of the reasons he is back,is becasue the Seventh-day Adventist Bible doctrines all make perfect sense.

Bradely

Bradley has been preparing for baptism for some time. He has attended my baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy, and as pictured here, in my 5th and 6th grade Bible Chain referencing class, where he is learning with the rest of his class to give Bible studies and share his faith. Bradley’s sister Heather, has a small study group for teens at her house. While Bradley is not quite a teen yet, he attends and participates in the studies.

Vows

Pastor Brad went over the baptism vows before we voted Joyce, Robert and Bradley into membership.

Bradley writes: “I want to be baptized to wash away my sins and start a new life with Jesus.”

Bradley2

“In their early years children may be useful in God’s work. . . . He will give them His grace and His Holy Spirit, that they may overcome impatience, fretfulness, and all sin. Jesus loves the children. He has blessings for them, and He loves to see them obedient to their parents. He desires them to be His little missionaries, denying their own inclinations and desires for selfish pleasure to do service for Him; and this service is just as acceptable to God as is the service of grown-up children.”  –Adventist Home, Page 486

Bradley3

” For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.” Romans 6:4-8 NLT

Bay Sunset

Please don’t let the sun go down on your life before you choose to be baptized and give your life to the One who gave His life for you. “Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT I would love to visit with you about making this step. You can contact me at laypastor@TampaAdventist.net

Jesus Wept; The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 12

The question is asked in this week’s SS lesson, “When was the last time you communed with the Lord in nature? If possible, make an effort to do just that. You might be surprised at what a positive spiritual effect it will have.” Why thank you for asking! Let me share with some pictures!

I take advantage of the beautiful Florida nature, when it comes to my devotional time with God. This is at Ballast Point Park by Bayshore Drive in Tampa. It’s a ten minute drive from my home by car and about 45 minutes by bike. This particular morning, I rode my bike to Bayshore to watch the sun rise and then have my personal devotional time.

I also take advantage of the beautiful Florida weather and secenery when giving personal and group Bible studies. This is Ballast Point Park again. Eli was baptized after our Bible studies last Summer.

I also love spending time with God at the Pier in St. Petersburg, just across the Howard Franklin Bridge from Tampa. They have kayaks and boat rentals, dolphin sightseeing cruises, rental bikes- you name it. Of course they also have some nice places to eat. I often come here alone on my days off and spend the day, and other times I bring a friend or two to hang out. When guests come to visit from out of town I enjoy taking them here and showing them my little sanctuary. Click here for a 12second video of the dolphins on our cruise.

I enjoy kayaking in the bay where I know the alligators won’t get me. A lot of my friends enjoy kayaking in the river and have never had any problems with alligators even thought they see them all the time. I am not taking any chances! Of course the bay is full of sharks but I have never seen one, though I have learned several kinds lurk in the waters. I have seen dolphins and manatees amongst other creatures.

Its always more fun with friends, though sometimes it can be enjoyable just me and my Bible.

The Tampa Bay area has plenty of bike trials where you can spend time with God in nature. I ride my bike all over the city too. It can be dangerous but if you obey the bike safety laws and ride defensively it is a lot more safe. The city is putting in more bike lanes and trying to make Tampa a more bike friendly city. St. Petersburg is already very bike friendly. I have actually ridden by bike from the west coast of Florida to the east coast! It only took me about 11 minutes too! It was in Key West Florida. Key West is a very bike friendly city. I could easily live there without a car. With gas prices the way they are, I think I will be riding my bike more. I could also use the excersise.

I saw this dolphin on a bike ride a while back.

Davis Island is a nice place to ride your bike and enjoy the natural beauty of Florida.

Florida’s many golf courses offer wonderful opportunities to spend time in God’s nature. You would not believe all the beautiful creatures I see while I am in the woods!

We all teed off and were on our way back to the cart when I spotted the alligator who had been watching us. We then went back and staged this photo.

Even though Tropicana Field is a domed stadium where the Tampa Bay Rays play, you can find nature. Behind the center field wall they have a tank with stingrays. Here, my friends Tim, Bryan and Lynn are checking them out. This was a little while before Tim and Bryan were both baptized after we studied the Bible together. Tim is currently helping me with my new growth group.

 

I love taking pictures of the gulf and ocean for my mother, who loves the ocean, and for anyone else who will look at them. This picture was taken in Naples.

Sunsets and sunrises are my favorites. Twice I have watched the sun rise on the east coast and then saw it set on the west coast in the same day. The first time was in Daytona beach and Clearwater beach. The last time was in the keys.

Just outside my  door I can enjoy the beautiful ducks and other birds on the pond asI take a walk around the neighborhood, meditating and talking with God.

There is so much in nature to bring us closer to God, and help us learn about His love. Here is a nature video made by a friend of mine, Mike Bradenbaugh, teaching the many lessons of nature. It is very good please give it a look. I hope this has inspired you to take the time to spend time with God in nature too.