Most often, we learn more about what we are made of while in our valley experiences of life than we do while we are having our mountaintop experiences. Adversity has a way of fleshing out just what we are made of. Perhaps you’ve said in the aftermath of some hardship, “Before this happened, I never would have thought that I could deal with something like this.” This is where we find Gideon in Judges 6:11-14.
11The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." 13 "But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." 14 The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"
At the time of this occurrence, the strength of the Midianite’s oppression forced the Israelites to hide themselves and their produce in mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds. For seven years, the Midianites had killed the Israelites’ animals and trampled their crops.
Now, Israel cried out to the Lord for help. But, first the Lord sent a prophet to remind them of how their disobedience and idolatry had brought about their state of affairs. When the Lord eventually responded to their cry, their relief came from an unlikely person, Gideon. He was no superhero. In fact, when the Lord called him, he was hiding in a winepress and threshing wheat for he feared the Midianites. Because of their dilemma, he could not imagine God being with them.
There may be times when we find ourselves in a position similar to Gideon’s; unable to reconcile the Lord’s presence as we are going through our struggles. We may have agonizing questions to which there will be no answers this side of heaven. However, Jesus has given us the same promise that God had given to Gideon; he said: ‘surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matt. 28:20). God’s presence with us is where we gain strength to go through our struggles.
Just as the LORD had called and commissioned Gideon to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of the Midianites, so, we are called and commissioned to go and proclaim God’s wonderful message of deliverance to the lost of the world. With God’s presence we have God’s power. Therefore, regardless of your situation, I challenge you this week to seek God’s strength for your struggle.
It’s been some time ago but I again heard one of the most powerful sayings a friend of mine used to say often right before he was about to be installed as the new pastor of his own church. “‘When Satan knocks at the door, let Jesus answer it.” Maybe you had to be there. But I found the thought behind this saying still absolutely awesome. I try to imagine actually being able to do this. Can you imagine if you really could? I mean what if you knew for a fact every time the devil was responsible for the temptation, the trial, the sinful suggestions, the weaknesses of flesh and spirit. The reality would be that you would see the devil coming from miles away and no matter how slick or innocent the approach, you could never be fooled again. Would you really do as Jesus did in the desert? Would you renounce the promise of riches, fame, and power? For you, would it be as easy as “Away from me Satan!” Matthew 4:10.
CHARLOTTE, NC – I must confess, when I began writing an article of celebration for my pastor, Rev. Dr. James Graves, who was honored the third Sunday in July, I began thinking of my recent visit to Greater Providence Baptist Church as they honored their beloved pastor and my friend, the Rev. Dr. Fred Gibson, a lightning bolt hit. Regardless of the denomination, when we reach the “Pearly Gates,” God will not care if we are United Methodist or Baptist; he’s simply going to look at our record of how we have treated his people.
The Reverends Gibson and Graves have both earned the respect and love of their congregants and community. Let’s take a quick review of their records:
Gibson has served Greater Providence for 37 years and here are a few things the membership had to say about he and his wife: He has mowed the grass, prepared the bulletins, cleaned the buildings, prayed for and with the sick and shut-ins, given advice, married and baptized more than they can count, encouraged many to go into the ministry, been a friend, and most of all given them reasons to know God as their Lord and Savior. After one member relocated to Augusta, GA, drove to Charlotte every Sunday for service until Rev. Gibson finally told him, “Son that’s enough,” God is in Georgia too. Additionally, he has served on District and Conference levels, taught clergy, and joined the community in fights for the rights of ALL.
Graves spent his early career as a Highway Patrolman until God called him when he had four children and he had to tell his wife, Mae, we’re stepping out on faith. Fast forward for a moment, Mae is now an Ordained Elder herself. Rev. Graves is a “Second Time Around” pastor for Simpson-Gillespie United Methodist Church having pastored from 1989 to 1995, he was appointed to another church then elevated to District Superintendent where he served for 7 years, and then hired at the Conference Office. After serving 2 years he retired, picked up a saxophone and began playing jazz and gospel tunes. Retirement allowed him to attend other UMC churches, but in late 2017 he found his way back home to SGUMC. Following the untimely death of Rev. Miller Carter, the Conference brought him out of retirement to serve SGUMC. He answered the call again – and members had much to celebrate with a festive feast and blessings.
To God be the Glory, for Reverends Dr. Fred Gibson and Dr. James Graves.
A Blessing of Animals witnesses to God's and the Church's love, care, and concern for creation. As we realized animals of God's creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea, they too share in the fortunes of human existence and have a part in human life.
Two great experiences happened on the inaugural day: First, a male cat missing his dog companion was quite upset and had to remain in his cage, but once blessed he purred then turned around calmly letting the pastor know his blessing was received. The second occurrence was when a lady was asked where her animal was that she wanted to be blessed, she replied, “I want an animal I thought you were giving some away.” That let the team know to invite the Charlotte Humane Society in 2019 to have adoptable pets on site. To God be the Glory for the lessons learned. More ↠
Simpson-Gillespie United Methodist Church’s “Joyful Ringers” invite “YOU” to join them for their annual concert August 25, 2018 promptly at 6pm.
Come enjoy the melodious sounds of chimes and ringing of “Joyful Ringers” 1 and 2 intergenerational hand bell choirs.
Simpson-Gillespie United Methodist Church is located at 3545 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC 28216, where Rev. Dr. James Graves is pastor. For additional information or directions, please call: 704.399.2717.