"O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about… “ - Judges 6:13
Gideon of the Old Testament had been beaten down by his enemies, by his fears and by his failures. He was just living day by day, one hour and one meal at a time, not unlike a typical broken man of our day
He had forgotten what it was like to live in the presence of God.
The Angel of the Lord came to a fearful Gideon as he hid, hunkered down in the shelter of a wine press, trying to beat some wheat into submission, so he could have a little bit of flour for bread. He didn’t dare to get out the ox and use the threshing floor to make flour; for fear that his enemies would take him, his ox and what little food he had secured for himself.
For years Gideon and his people had been beaten down by life. They would plow and plant and water their crops only to have their enemies sweep in at harvest time and take all that they had. The enemy wasn’t nice enough to take only the surplus, they took it all. The seeds that were set aside for future crops and even the work animals were taken for the dinner table.
Gideon’s people had no hope. They were alive, but just waiting to die.
In this setting, the Angel of the LORD came to Gideon and told him two things:
The LORD is with you. You are a mighty man of valor.
For Gideon, these were the last two things on his mind and probably sounded like sarcastic mocking. He expressed his true feelings in the next verse, “If the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” And then Gideon spewed out a bunch of excuses about his own incompetence.
The Angel of the LORD simply responded, “I will be with you.”
God saw Gideon as a one man army, able to save an entire nation, not a defeated victim of my circumstances. He sees you and me that way too. With God, you are an army of one. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” - Romans 8:31
What Gideon soon realized was that he, his family and all of his people were not living in God’s presence. Everyone had become complacent and did not behave as if God was standing right next to them every minute of every day. It took Gideon a few minutes to realize what the Angel of the Lord meant when He said, “Go in this might of yours.” -Judges 6:14
Without any prior experience, God saw Gideon as a mighty man of valor. Beginning with his own home, Gideon began to clean house, removing all of the things that did not give God glory. Overnight, he tore down the idols and removed the temptations that would lead his people away from God.
With the sound of a trumpet, Gideon had an army of tens of thousands to fight his enemies. But there was a problem. If Gideon and his men defeated the enemy, then God would not get the glory – Gideon would.
So, Gideon, with the direction of the God, reduced the number in his army from 32,000 to a mere 300 men. Gideon did not question how he was to defeat his enemies with just 300 men. He had not forgotten that the Lord had said, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” – Judges 6:16
Gideon had 300 extra soldiers than what was needed for God to win the war!
It is my firm belief that we are our own worst enemies. We try to fight our battles in our own limited power, energy and resources. The simple fact is, without God, we will be defeated.
Moses had a similar encounter at the burning bush. Thomas had a similar experience in the upper room. I have had similar moments of doubt and feelings of incompetence. But we must realize, God has a totally different perspective on things. He sees hope where I see despair. He gives hope with the simple reminder of His presence.
When we choose to give God the Glory in everything, He comes at our problems with all of His power, presence and vengeance.
Even though you may be beaten down by years of failure, the Lord is still with you. When you feel like there is nothing left, and even hope has breathed its last, God still sees you as victorious.
With God, you are an army of one.
Pastor Jay Merritt
“If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” –James 1:23-24 My wife uses a simple tool to remind me of things that I tend to forget – she writes a note and sticks it on the bathroom mirror. After a few weeks the easily forgotten task is embedded in my memory, and the note can be removed—usually.
My first response in seeing a new note is often anger and resentment; who is she to tell me what to do? I have a tendency to look at my reflection to the left or right of the note, or even lift it up out of the way, so I can shave or comb my hair. In doing so, I forget why the note was placed in my way to begin with. When I realize that she doesn’t write the notes to anger me, but to lovingly confront me and reveal her heart to me, I switch from anger to submission. Yes, I frequently forget the task on the note, but so far, I have not received a note that says, “read previous note.”
Hearing (or not hearing) God’s message is like this. God’s Word is like a mirror. God places information right in front of our face that will help us. When we see or hear His personal message, we often feel anger and resentment, thinking, “who does he think he is?” Excuse me. He’s God and you are not.
Our agenda and God’s agenda often conflict. This causes us to ignore God’s personal message, while we focus on achieving our daily schedule. Then, when we turn away from God’s mirror, everything seems fine, because God is “out of sight, out of mind.”
The mirror of God’s Word does not focus on the external, but on the internal. Our problem is that we don’t like seeing our external blemishes, much less having the defects and blemishes in our moral character exposed by the Surgeon’s knife.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” - Hebrews 4:12
Do you look in your bathroom mirror only twice a year? With each visit, you would see more and more problems. Fixing those problems would begin to take more and more effort. Pretty soon, you would probably give up going to the mirror. It would be way too much time, trouble and heartache.
When we choose to only seek God on special holidays, we find it uncomfortable. Especially if God’s messenger holds up a mirror so that we see our spiritual condition, as God folds back our stubborn heart to expose how He sees us.
Maybe this is a reason people don’t like going to church – they can’t bear the pain of what they see inside themselves, nor do they know where to start in the painful cleanup process to fix what is wrong in their lives. Instead, they choose teachers who do not stir their conscience with God’s truth.
“The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” –2 Timothy 4:3-4
Despite our rebellion, God’s will for us is that we will all come to the knowledge of His Truth (1 Timothy 2:4). He sends messengers our way who are steeped in His wisdom and proclaim His truth in love. They might be your neighbors, a friend on the internet or an article in the newspaper, but God is trying to get through.
Will you react to them in anger thinking, “Who do they think they are? They don’t have a right to tell me how to run my life!”
Do not choose to ignore sound, life-changing, and often life-saving advice, because it does not fit your lifestyle. There are consequences for not heeding God’s counsel –“… they shall eat the fruit of their own way” (read Proverbs 1:22-33).
Look in the mirror. Do you need to clean up your life? One way to start is by reading one chapter of Proverbs every day and apply what you read, making changes in your life.
“He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” – James 1: 25
Pastor Jay Merritt
Pastor Jay Merritt writes about God in every day observations.