Tag Archives: trust

Gideon

Gideon: How’d He Do It?

Gideon

There are many spectacular events in the Bible. There were the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and later the Jordan. The Blind and deaf were healed and people were raised from  the dead. In a separate category, there was the Creation, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection. But there is one miracle, actually a series of miracles, that has always fascinated me: Gideon’s victory over the Midianites in Judges 6 – 8.

Israel had returned to their wicked ways, and as punishment, God allowed Midian to enslave them. Gideon is an unremarkable man from an unremarkable family in an unremarkable tribe in an enslaved nation (6:15). Yet, he is told by an angel that he “shall strike the Midianites as one man” (6:16). After three different, convincing, miracles, Gideon attacks the army of Midian with 300 soldiers divided into three companies. The Midianite army numbered 135,000 swordsmen( 8:10)! That’s a ratio of 450:1! I don’t think the vaunted Navy Seal Team Six would take on such a battle. But one more thing: Gideon’s army carried no weapons (see 7:20 for their armaments). How could this unremarkable man command one of the greatest victories in Israelite history?

The answer is pretty straightforward: He didn’t.

The victory over Midian was God’s work. Gideon was just an obedient servant. He wasn’t a great tactician, and he was not a great warrior. He wasn’t much of a leader at all. He was just a servant.

But he and his countrymen were prone to taking undeserved credit. In Judges 7:2, the Lord said, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” In verse 9, God tells Gideon, concerning the Midianite army, “I have given it into your hand.” This was no common victory; it was all the power of God.

While Gideon was not responsible for the victory, his faith and obedience were required. The three chapters in view record three moments when God helped build Gideon’s faith. In Judges 6:36 -40, Gideon asked for and received two miracles, which boosted his faith. He asked for a fleece to be laid on the ground and moistened with dew while the surrounding ground would be dry. The Lord’s angel caused that to happen. Next, Gideon reversed the request. This time, the ground would be wet and the fleece dry. Again, the miracle occurred, and Gideon was encouraged.

The third faith-builder came when Gideon and his servant were sent to infiltrate the Midianite camp. They overheard soldiers talking of a dream in which a cake of bread tumbled into their camp, struck the tent, and flipped it over. The soldier said, “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” (vs. 14).

With renewed faith, Gideon was prepared to obey God even in what seemed an odd battle strategy. The Israelite battalion was now a small company of soldiers. The 300 were further split into 100-man contingents. With no weapons in hand, Israel defeated the mighty Midianites.

The victory belonged to the Lord, but Gideon’s faith and obedience were necessary, too. Could God have won without Gideon? Of course. But he chose to use a mortal to accomplish his work.

You and I fight battles daily. Faith and obedience are required. It was hard for Gideon to see the outcome, especially given the odd tactics. But he believed and was obedient! Faith and obedience are simple tools for accomplishing great things for God. If we trust God’s lovingkindness and obey his simple commands, we will gain the greatest victory of all!

Refugees

by Linda Farris

This article is from a dear friend and fine Christian woman, Linda Farris. She, her husband Garland, and sweet son Jeff attend with us at the Eastern Shore church of Christ. She is a wonderful wife, mother of three, grandmother, and dear friend to all who know her. I am happy to present her article here.

 

 While preparing to go to worship this morning, I was mentally making a list of the things I have learned from the terrible pandemic caused by Covid-19. There really have been blessings, mixed in with the fears and the sorrows, brought on by this unexpected, unimagined plague.

  The thought of appreciating having God as our refuge came to my mind, then my challenge of staying focused kicked in. Remembering the time, while living in Kentucky, Jeff and I were stranded in our home by a terrible ice storm. We were without power, heat, hot food, lights, hot water, cell and phone service. We got through three days by staying in his room with a small transistor radio someone had given him. I had slipped out occasionally to walk our dog, try to get the one set of gas logs to burn, and check on the damage. (There was a lot!)  Not knowing the cell tower had fallen into the Cumberland River, most of my time was spent trying to contact my family, out of state, to let them know of our predicament. This was a situation where neighbors could not help neighbors and we had not seen or heard from anyone since the storm began.

  Finally, after hearing on the little radio the temperature was going to be 15 degrees that night, I knew I had to get us out of there to somewhere not covered with ice and snow. Climbing on our car to unlock the garage door, I managed to raise it manually. Then making sure Jeff’s stairlift was working I had to trust the battery to get him to the basement and into the car with our dog, Tex. When all that was done, while holding my breath and praying, we dodged trees and limbs in the driveway and down the steep hill.  Some men from the neighborhood were just beginning to clear the road with chain saws and muscle. The town was completely deserted, no gas, no Walmart, no restaurants, nothing happening, it was a ghost town. As we passed the veterinarian’s office his truck was parked outside, so I stopped to see if he had generators, and could keep our beloved pet. He was happy to assist us, and we were on our way.

 The trip to the Tennessee border was an adventure in itself but when we made it that far, the cell service was restored and our family was notified that we were on our way to our daughter’s house in Murfreesboro. Darkness had fallen when we finally arrived, exhausted and hungry, and so thankful to have made it. Once we were in the house our son-in-law’s greeting was, “Welcome, refugees.” Why did that offend me that night? Of course, he was trying to show understanding and compassion, however, I didn’t want to be looked at as a refugee “a person who flees for refuge or safety”.

  We are all refugees when we do not seek refuge in the love of God. Where else can we turn? He has offered “shelter in the time of storm” to all who believe and obey Him, accepting His gift of forgiveness. 

Yes, this is a difficult time but we are still blessed beyond measure by a loving God. He is our refuge now and always.

Trust

An infant child inherently trusts his mother and father. He is unable to do a thing for himself for he really has little choice but to trust his parents. He seems to know that if mommy and daddy are near, all will be just fine. Sometimes that trust is misplaced. Some parents are not trustworthy. But most are and most will give everything they have for the benefit of their child.

God is like that.

The Bible uses the word father much as we do today. But it adds a special usage too. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus used the word father to apply to Jehovah God. He spoke of people giving “glory to your father who is in heaven.” He would use the term again and again to describe the relationship between the human race and their creator.

Jesus would use a similar but very intimate term himself when he cried “Abba, father” in Gethsemane’s garden (Mark 14:36). For Jesus, who had been with the Father from the very beginning (John 1:1), the term accurately reflected their relationship. Since we are fellow heirs with Jesus it is reasonable that we view God as father too (Romans 8:17).

There are deep implications when we call God our father. Remember that God is the perfect father. While our fathers are imperfect, he is not.

Children give glory to their fathers.

It is thrilling to hear a child speak in glowing terms of their parents. It is wonderful when that child talks proudly of his father’s accomplishments. Likewise, we should give glory to our father. I like Paul’s praise of the father in Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Let us shine the bright light of glory upon our father who does all for his children.

Children are obedient to their fathers.

Because we trust our parents, we obey them. I know there are exceptions. Sometimes a child obeys out of fear (1 John 4:18). But in the end, we obey because we trust that our obedience will bring blessings. Children obey their parents for such is the first command with a promise (Ephesians 6:1).

In heavenly matters, let us also trust and obey our father. His commands are not a burden (1 John 5:3) but instead a refreshing alternative to the way of the world. Like children, new Christians may first obey largely out of a fear of punishment. But as our faith matures we obey as a normal, trusting response to his immense love.

Sometimes, children are punished by their fathers.

As a son, I was often punished by my father. As a father, I often punish my children. Effective punishment never arises from anger, but only from love. When I punish, my desire is to improve or change some behavior. God is no different.

God’s desire is for his children to be like him so that they can live with him eternally (1 Peter 1:13-16). When God punishes, it is because of a desire to change us, to make us into something greater. As such, divine punishment is a show of God’s love. Instead of resisting God, let him remake us in his image.

I believe that my children want me to be proud of them – and I am. How much more should we desire the loving approval of our father who is in heaven! Let us trust him for all in our life. Let’s us be honorable children who love, cherish and trust their father.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Just Leave It To God

I’m sitting in the middle of nowhere right now. I’m in the woods and a long way from the busy world. I’m sitting under an old water oak and just noticing God.
A few minutes ago a single orange butterfly came by. Soon it was joined by two more. Now the three are happily frolicking around a bush about 50 feet away.
Before that a squirrel popped his out just above me. He quickly scurried off but then three more came out just across the small glade from where I sit. Like the butterflies they are playing without concern. So too are the birds, insects, turtles and other unseen critters.
Their apparent lack of anxiety reminded me of something Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not if more value than they?
Ok, Lord, enough said.

Christian Strength

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”
(Philippians 4:13)

There is probably no greater encouragement for daily living than this passage from Paul. Written from prison this passage has added meaning when you remember that Paul was facing some of the most difficult moments in his life – moments that would end with his own execution. The apostle’s attitude rested in the knowledge that Christ was living in him and would bring him through his struggles. He knew that Jesus himself faced terrible trials yet was victorious. Paul cast his future upon the Lord. We can also enjoy that confidence today through the same faith and dependence that Paul used.

Paul trusted in the Son of Man.

Jesus often used the term “son of man” to describe himself. It seems that this title highlighted the humanness of Jesus. Although fully God he was also fully man. The two characteristics perfectly melded together in the incarnation. But sometimes Jesus wanted people to take note of the human side (Matthew 20:28; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 8:28). The writer of Hebrews emphasizes his human side when he concludes that Jesus is a High Priest who has suffered just like we have so that he might understand our difficulties (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus spent over 33 years upon the earth. He faced the same problems we face today and suffered the same temptations. He knows what we face and he cares.

Paul trusted in the Creator.

Jesus was the creator (John 1:1-4) and thus possessed immeasurable power and authority over the physical (and spiritual) world. He knew that the same power used to craft the worlds out of nothingness could deliver him from any earthly challenge. It is important to properly understand what Paul is saying in Philippians 4. He says he can do “all things” but modifies or qualifies that statement. The modifier comes when he declares that he can to all things “through him who strengthens me.” You see, there is no strength for Paul apart from Jesus. He cannot do all things by himself but only through or in Christ.

How horribly we fail when we seek to face daily life emboldened by our own strength and not that of Jesus. How weak we truly are! Set your faith in Jesus’ ability to deliver!

Paul trusted in the future.

There is not much faith in the future today. Economic troubles, job losses, declining markets, rising crime, threats of war and terror, ineffective government and more give greater and greater fear to the citizen of the world. But Paul did not concern himself with worldly or earthly affairs. No, Paul looked beyond the earth for his strength. Things upon the earth might not work out like Paul had hoped. He not live to be old like John. He would never have a comfortable life here. But Paul knew that whatever happened here would pale in comparison to his future. He told Timothy that his life was already coming to an end. But there would be a crown awaiting him (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Use Paul as an example of strength and trust and never forget that Jesus will reward the faithful!