In my new preaching series, Jars of Clay, we are beginning to see what God will do with ordinary people who are willing to listen to His leading and follow by faith. Gideon is the first person listed in Hebrews 11:32 about whom the writer has insufficient time to elaborate. We learn valuable insight from people like him who were willing to listen and obedient to follow. We also learn a great deal about the God who calls us to follow.
God knows us better than we know ourselves!
Although Gideon appears to be a farmer, God sees him as a “valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12). There are many examples of people with little social stature who are willing to listen, follow, and accomplish God’s purpose. Like Gideon, David was the youngest of his family, a shepherd boy, and served the Lord as king of Israel. Nehemiah was a servant of a foreign king on whose heart God placed the burden of restoration. God sees us in ways that recognize the heart and ability to make an eternal impact on others.
God wants to see us stand for what is right even when others tolerate what is wrong!
Overcoming fear is the key to standing for what is right. God understands that fear but expects us to confront what is sin with solid conviction. Gideon was asked to destroy the objects of his own father’s worship practices. Our stand can be a positive influence leading others to acknowledge the truth. Joash, Gideon’s father, refuses to allow his son to be punished for doing what is right. His reaction demonstrates how inept are the gods of man’s imagination and further asserts the omnipotence of God.
God knows what He is doing even when it doesn’t make sense!
There are times when God does things in ways that deny conventional wisdom. It is important to remember that “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). The whole purpose of watching the troops drink the water is not to determine men of a certain character, but men of a certain number.
What makes sense is that victory over our adversaries (sin, temptation, desires, inaccurate or incomplete teaching) is always obtained by the strength God provides through His word (use Matthew 4:1-11; 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:12-15). What makes sense is that He is always leading us to trust Him completely for relief and deliverance.
God demonstrates patience while we discern His leading!
Discernment is a spiritual quality to be used for the sake of righteousness and faithfulness. God wants us to think spiritually. He wants us to know that we are really listening and following Him, rather than the latest fad or philosophy. He allows us to process our inadequacies and excuses as long as we have a heart that will ultimately trust His word.
Mary, an ordinary teenage girl from an obscure town, was one who had to process the announcement of Gabriel that she would give birth to the Savior of the world (Luke 1:29, 34). After listening to Gabriel’s reassuring explanation Mary is willing to follow. “Let it be to me according to Your word” is the response of faith (v. 38; add Romans 10:17).
God rewards those who will listen and follow!
The foundation of our faith is the word we have from God (again, Romans 10:17 and James 1:12). We know we can live by faith when we’re listening to and following the word of God. Nothing else can give us the same certainty; not our feelings, nor expediency, nor popular practices, nor trendy programming, nor conventional wisdom. At the end of the day, our faith is rewarded by how closely we listen to God’s word and how intentionally we follow His leading.
Such is the case of those included among the “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 11 (Hebrews 12:1). If God were to include you in His “Hall of Faith,” what would be written? Are we listening to His word? The closeness of our listening is measured by our level of exposure. The truth is, we can always hear more. Is our attitude that which says, “Let it be to me according to Your word”? Would you go into battle with 300 men against an army so big it cannot be numbered? Perhaps we do this every day.
What do you think?