Gideon’s story is found in the 6-8th chapters of the book of Judges in the Bible. Gideon is one of a series of people raised up by God to lead the people of Israel during a period when they did not have a king. The need for their leadership frequently arose out of the people’s departure from the direction of God. The people often began integrating with the culture around them, adopting their gods and ethical practices. God would leave them to their own designs without his protection and care until problems overwhelmed them. Then, like many of us, when troubles overwhelmed them, they would call on God for help. This is what happened that gave rise to Gideon’s call to battle. The Midianites along with others had been perennially raiding and pillaging the Israelites. At last they called out to God for help. God sent an angel to call on Gideon.
The coolest thing about Gideon is that he is not cool. He didn’t come from an important family or place. Even within the ranks of his own family, he was the low man on the totem pole. When the angel came to Gideon, Gideon could not imagine that he was being asked to do anything important because he felt powerless. The mess that the people were in further discouraged him from believing that God could work miraculously. Even so, God was able to call Gideon to trust him. In fact, Gideon became a vessel through which God led his people to trust him again.
When God sent Gideon into battle, he started with an army of over 30,000. God said it was too many because if they won with that many, the people would believe it was their own doing. They needed to know that they could absolutely trust in God. So God took them into battle with just 300 men. They had to trust and follow God into battle with a plan that, well, was not militarily sound. There was no doubt in the end that God gave them the victory!
What an incredible story of God’s deliverance! We need to apply this in our lives right now.
Here at Galloway we have gone through a lot of transitions that have given us lots of ups and downs. When I arrived the church was going through a crisis, loss of members and money. Since I began here as pastor we have had a fairly stable attendance averaging @ 275 or more. Then fall, our attendance never rebounded from our summer lull. So our attendance if averaging more like 250 per Sunday. That can be very discouraging. That was a time when we experienced a change in leadership in our children’s ministry. That led to cancellation of our Wednesday night children’s ministry. Perhaps we lost momentum as a result. Perhaps people felt that we were no longer focused on kids as in the past. This morning it occurred to me that another change at that time was the creation of our volunteer covenant for kids and youth ministry volunteers. In it we defined certain sexual relationships that conflict with our Biblical view of marriage, family, and morality. These actions would disqualify someone from working in those ministries. Perhaps some people found those too restrictive and did not want to accept them as standards for their own lives. I don’t know, but I know that is when it changed and those are things that changed at that time. That is helpful to a degree but it doesn’t remove the discouragement of lower attendance.
Yet, at the same time, I see God moving among us. I hear people talking about our future with anticipation. That’s when God hit me with it. We are Gideon’s Army. Now every Sunday, I am claiming the promise of this scripture. Every week I am looking out and refusing to be discouraged. Instead I look out and see Gideon’s army. Smaller for the moment, preparing to follow God for his glory.
I just heard a speaker say that there are times that God must stop our forward moment, even take us backward, before we can go forward. Why? If we experience nothing but unstoppable forward progress, we can begin to believe in our own forward moment to carry us along. What if God brings us to a complete halt and forces us to reset our focus of faith. What if we have nothing but God to trust, then God moves!
Take some time to reflect on these points and discuss them with someone else.
- How have you experienced set backs in life?
- Has a set back ever helped you reset your focus of faith, and set you up for God to move in your life?
- In the church, is God moving? Listen it is undeniable that we have experience some declines in attendance, I’m not just trying to put a positive spin on a negative. I said in my message that it would be easy to say that if we don’t grow this year I will go next year. It’s possible that practical issues could call for that, but I can’t live this year packing my bags. God has given me a positive sense of him moving in the church that anchors my hope. What about you? Are you seeing God move? Does that motivate you to trust God? Does it motivate you to look ahead to what God is doing?