Sunday, October 28, 2018

Come, Come To Him. With His love, He Will Calm All Your Fears!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Gideon was an ordinary person.  Like others, he was in fear of the people of Midianites.  He was hiding from the Midianites, and threshing inside the winepress.   God, who is merciful and full of love, came to Gideon because God heard the cries of the people of Israel, His own children out of the suffering.   For seven years, their hearts had left away from God, and acted wickedly against God by doing evil of worshipping idols instead of the God.  God, who dearly loved His children, patiently waited for His children to come back to Him.   The Israelites, the God’s children, finally realized that their idols could not save them, because they were nothing but things made by their own hands.  

In fact, the idols could do nothing for them, as the Bible tells
Their Idols are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands.
They have mouths but cannot speak,
and eyes but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear,
and noses but cannot smell.
They have hands but cannot feel,
and feet but cannot walk,
and throats but cannot make a sound.  (Psalm 115:4-7)

Even so, the Israelites worshiped their idols for seven years.  The Bible says about the absurd stupidity of those who worship idols:
He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.  Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it.  Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!”  And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”   (Isaiah 44:14-17)

Thus, the outcome of worshipping idols was obvious as the Bible tells:
And those who make idols are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.  (Psalm 115:8)

The compassionate God sent an angel of God.   Gideon met the angel, but he did not know he was talking with the angel sent by God.   After a long conversation, Gideon realized that that he met the angel of God, he cried out “Oh, Sovereign LORD, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”      God, who was full of mercy, comforted and encouraged Gideon, “It is all right.   Do not be afraid. You will not die.”  

Gideon gave thanks to God, and built an altar to the LORD there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the LORD is peace”).  Before the alter, he remembered what was told by the angel of God, “You will rescue Israel from the Midianites.”   He also recalled God’s voice promise too, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”  That evening, Gideon recited again and again in his heart what was told by God.   He was also wandering about what the God’s message really meant. 

That night God came again, and said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. Then build an altar to the LORD your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.”

God, who started a good work in Gideon, did not delay.   God started unfolding His plan for the people of Israel.   God gave a really daunting task to Gideon, who used to be wimpy and coward in fear.   However, after meeting with God and His angel, Gideon was dramatically changed. (Actually God changed him.)  He was no longer the old Gideon.   As soon as he heard God’s command, he immediately brought God’s command in action.

Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD had commanded.  But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.   His faith in God was still in fancy.   He was still in fear of people.   He was courageous in God, but he was still afraid of the people.   This is quite contrast to Peter and John who confronted the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees.   They stood before the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law including Annas the high priest of the year.   Then the high priest and the rulers ordered Peter not to teach in the name of Jesus anymore.   What was the response of Peter and John?  

But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  (Acts 4:19-20)

Gideon’s faith was not up to the level of Peter and John, who openly proclaimed Jesus, His resurrection, and salvation before the High Priest and all the rulers in Jerusalem, who directly prohibits the teaching of Jesus Christ.   Their bravely acted in faith, which gave the glory to God, and there was a miraculous healing of the man over forty years old.   God’s power was magnified in the faith of Peter and John despite of the imminent threats of the High Priest and the hostile peopole surrounding them.

Even though Gideon did during the night in fear of the people of the town, God was pleased with what Gideon did.   Despite of his fear, Gideon did what God commanded.  Early the next morning, as the people of the town began to stir, someone discovered that the altar of Baal had been broken down and that the Asherah pole beside it had been cut down. In their place a new altar had been built, and on it were the remains of the bull that had been sacrificed.  The people said to each other, “Who did this?” And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash.

The challenge against the faithful act done by Gidon started.  “Bring out your son,” the men of the town demanded of Joash. “He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole.”  The people were really hostile to Gideon.   They demanded Gideon to kill.   God knew Gideon could not stand against the people trying to kill Gideon.   God, who was merciful, protected Gideon.   God sent his father instead.

Upon God’s spirit on Joash, Gideon’s father, he sternly shouted to the mob of the people, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!”  The mob of the people were silenced.   From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar.

Surely, God used Joash’s mouth and defended Gideon.   Additionally, to the people coming to kill Gideon, God told the truth about the Baal so that they could realize the Baal was not a god, but a man-made object carved out of the human’s hand, which could not speak, see, hear, smell, feel and walk.   God is always merciful to all people (including those who against Him), and provides an opportunity to anyone to come to Him.   If anyone hears God’s saving message, and comes to Him, He accepts the person.   Regardless who the person was, God accepts as His children.   God is always waiting and patiently waiting for coming of us to Him.   What God wants is returning to Him.   Our God is always merciful and full of grace, who always forgives all wrongdoings and sins committed if anyone returns to Him and confesses all sins committed.  

The mob of the people gathered to capture and kill Gideon were speechless after hearing Gideon father’s speech about the truth regarding to their idols.   One by one, they dispersed and went home.   They found that there was nothing that they could do.   God protected Gideon, and the mob of the people was utterly powerless before God.    

Why did God protected Gideon?   Not because Gideon was perfect, but he did best to follow God’s command despite of his fear of the people worshipping idols.  This Gideon’s faithful act pleased God.   What can we learn?    We should do God’s will despite of our own fear of the people around us or things on earth.   We might not be able to act bravely in faith like Pete and John, but God still pleases with us as God pleased with Gideon.   It is also true that what we need to do just follow God’s command, then the rest is God’s.   God completes His will and protects His faithful servant.  What a comfort God provides to us, who are faithful in Him!

God is always merciful and full of love.  He truly wants to see His child to grow in Him step by step and day by day.  Gideon followed God’s command, but he did it during night in fear of the people around him.  Then God loved Gideon’s faithful action in Him.   Before meeting God, Gideon was hiding in fear of the Midian, but in faith Gideon could destroy the alter of Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole to use as wood for the new alter that he built.  This first act in faith was a truly gigantic step for Gideon.   God sees the center of our heart, and our best effort before God.  We might not be like Peter or John, who could bravely proclaim God’s message before the threat of the High Priest and the rulers in Jerusalem.  Even so, we should not be discouraged.  God knows our heart, and He loves us, and help us to grow in faith every day.   Be faithful, and authentic before God.   Then approach to God as who we are.   God accepts us as who we are, and pleases with us because He sees our heart.   Just come, come to God.  He is always having arms open widely and waiting for us.   He is Our True and Ever-Loving Father, who will loves us forever. 

On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be,
“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!
For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”   (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Humble Before God. He Will Lift You Up In Honor!

Good morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.  (James 4:7,8a, 10)

 Gideon was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.  He was afraid of the Midianites, and also one of the Israelites, who questioned why they were suffering from the Midianites.   It was one of the days, not much different from other days.   Gideon just did his daily job, like other Israelites while fearing of the Midianites.   Hiding from the plain view of the Midianites during their daily jobs was a common practice for all Israelites.   

Suddenly, the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer.   The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!”

Gideon did not know the person that was the angel sent by God.   However, Gideon felt that the angel was not an ordinary person who would listen to his heavy heart.  Gideon poured out his heart.  He first called “Sir”, then he continued, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

 Over the last seven years, Gideon and the entire Israelites had been suffering under the oppression of the Midianites.   Did they pray to God?   Yes, they did, but the oppression had not been diminished despite of all prayers.   Gideon and the rest of the Israelites heard many times about the great work of God, who brought them out of Egypt.  However, they had not seen God’s might hand for long time.   Then they started questioning why they could not see the mighty power of God although they prayed day after day to God.   They were truly getting weary and starting giving up.   They even felt that God had abandoned them, and handed them over to the terrible Midianites, who were much worse than themselves before God.   However, they did not forgot they were the chosen people of God.

We know why the Israelites were suffering.  They turned their backs on God to worship idols so God allowed the Midianites to treat them badly for seven years.   Their suffering was enough to make them bring really low.   One by one, the entire Israelites started looking up God and cried out for God’s help instead of going back to their idols.   God saw their heart was ready.   God started moving His mighty hand.   First, God picked up Gideon.  Why, Gideon?    Because he was special?   No, he was an ordinary person like any of the other Israelites.   Gideon was also in fear of the Midianites.  In fact, he was cowardly hiding at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites, when the angel of God came to him.

Then the angel turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”   Gideon could not understand.   He was cowardly hiding in fear of the Midianites.   Gideon was told to rescue Israel with the strength that Gideon had.  He could not believe what he was told.   Gideon knew he was not so strong to liberate the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites.   His family was weak and not so famous among the rest of Israelites.   Thus, if he said anything, nobody would pay attention to him.  He was nothing.  He confessed his nothingness.   He could not do anything with his own strength.   He responded with his humility.   God saw his humility, and loved Gideon.

God, who knew exactly Gideon’s humble heart.  God encouraged Gideon by telling, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”    Yes, God, the Omnipotent God, made a solemn promise to Gideon, a mere and lowly human, “I will be with you.”   It was a truly extraordinary moment, but Gideon still did not know he was talking with God through the angel sent by God.   Gideon could not believe what he was hearing.  He would destroy the numerous and mighty Midianites as if he would fight against just one man.   With courage, he decided to ask again to the strange person.   He remembered Abraham who actually served angels when Abraham kindly offered food to the strangers visiting Abraham.   Gideon decided to do the same thing as Abraham did while thinking the stranger might be the angel sent by God.  

Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the LORD speaking to me.  Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

He answered, “I will stay here until you return.”  

Gideon’s heart was in joy, and he hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to him, who was under the great tree.

 The angel of God said to him, “Place the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour the broth over it.” And Gideon did as he was told.  Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.

When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he cried out, “Oh, Sovereign LORD, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”

“It is all right,” God directly replied to Gideon. “Do not be afraid. You will not die.”

Gideon built an altar to God there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “God is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer.

 Gideon was finally realized that he was called by God.  He was talking to the angel of God.   Although Gideon was mere a lowly ordinary man from the small clan without any special strength, power or influence, God came to call Gideon.   God initially told Gideons, “God with the strength you have, and rescue Israel.”   He humbly replied, and he neither had a strength to save the Israelites nor an influence to mobilize the entire Israel.   He humbly, authentically and honestly responded to God, and this made God pleased.   Gideon saw Gideon was ready for God’s grand plan of rescuing the Israel from the ruthless Midianites.   

 God has a plan for each of us, because He dearly loves us as the One and Only One Ever-Loving Father.   Sometimes we feel that God is not with us anymore by abandoning us.   Our enemy in our lives continuously oppresses, and our lives are full of pain.   Although we pray to God, nothing seems changed.  As days and months pass, we feel utterly helpless.   However, the pain and hardships are not random events getting into our lives, but they are a sign of God’s patience.    God patiently waits till we are truly ready before him with truly humility and absolute faith in God.   Yes, there has been and also will be unceasing temptations from our enemy, who whispers to our ears – taking off our eyes from God and following the easy and tangible temptations manufactured by our enemy.   Please let’s resist the temptations, and continue fixing our eyes on Our Lord, while humbly putting us down before God as Gideon did.   This truly pleases God.  Only when we are truly humble in faith before God, God uses us for His glorious plan.  Let’s not forget God’s promise, “I will be with you.”   Our God, the creator of the entire universe, is always with us whether we are in doubt, in faith, in pain, or in joy.   Thanks to God, whose love toward us endures forever.   Praise Our God, Ever-Loving Father to all His children!

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.  (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Stand Firm with the Sword of God's Word for Victory!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:9)

Gideon was suffering like other Israelites under the oppression of Mediates.  The Mediates overpowered the Israelites, and took sheep, ox, donkey, and devour the produce of the land.  They came like locusts in number, and they lay waste the land as they came in.   Israel was brought very low.   Why?  The Israelites sinned against God by worshipping idols.  God truly hates worshipping idols because God is our true Father.  If we worship and serve something other than our true Father with our heart, that is our idol.  We often don’t notice we really worship or serve our own idols until we lose them. 

If the loss makes us mad, especially at God, then it is a clear sign that we worship and serve an idol rather than our one and only one living God – our  ever-lasting Father.   Even while reading now, some of us might be angry and mad at God because we have lost what you love or don’t possess what we really desire to have.   Of course, it is painful when we lose what we really love or we cannot not possess what we really want to have.   However, our anger to God clearly tells what we really worship.

Nobody says it is easy to resist an anger.  It is really hard.  In fact, it might be practically impossible for us to overcome our anger by our own might and strength.   The temptation to own or not to lose what we like is our nature, and it is extremely strong.    Literally, all human beings ever lived have knelt down before such temptations.   For example, Jonah complained and was angry at God even after he experienced God’s mercy and His loving hand.  He even asked to kill him because he saw God’s mercy on the people in the city of Nineveh.  The hetaerism toward the people in the city of Nieveh was so strong that he wanted rather to die than to see God’s mercy on them.   Jonah knelt down before this temptation.    King David surrendered before the temptation, and he sinned.   Then he could not stop sinning to cover up his sin.   He plotted and killed Bathsheba’s husband to own her, who was the greatest temptation to King David.   Nobody is stronger than temptations presented by our enemy.   We all fail like Jonah, King David, and the people of Israel, who fell and served idols – the hetaerism in Jonah’s heart, the strong desire to own Bathsheba, and the desperate search for getting a comfort from another god.  However, through the power of Holy Spirit, we can overcome this fundamental limitation of ourselves being tempted by our own justice in our heart, what we really like to own, and an effort to search for peace and comfort from something other than our God, the ever-loving Father.  Here is God’s Word:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  (Romans 8:26)

In reality, when we really stuck with something that blocks us, and it remains stubbornly with us after prayers and prayers, our prayers tend to be already dries out.  After payers after prayer, there has been no answer from God.   All our time devoted to our prayers seem nothing.   In the meantime, we tried all options, but nothing has been changed.   We certainly fee that nothing we can do.  We are simply stuck.  One corner of our heart tells that t is the time that we need to pour out our fervent prayers, but no more strength left to pray to God.  

It is not uncommon for us to experience this low point in our life.   Then what can we do?    The answer is God’s word.   We are completely exhausted.   Even prayers of ours have been dried out because all of the prayers didn’t change anything at all although we are in a desperate situation.   God’s word tells that even this situation, our helper is in our heart, who is the Holy Spirit.  He is not just sitting in our heart, but He intercedes for us.   Not just a simple prayer, but the prayers with groaning, which are so deep that no humanly language can even describe.   This is the promise that God has given to each of us in His love.   When we get to an extremely low point, please read and recite the above God’s word.  Yes, all things brought down to really low in spite of our so many prayers.  Now there is no strength to spare to pray.   But continue reciting the word in our heart again and again, we will experience the power of God’s word that restores our soul and heart in Him through the power of the Holy Spirit who intercedes us with inexpressible grownings.   Certainly, our enemy is strong, but our God is stronger.    Before God’s word, our enemy becomes powerless despite of his effort to cling to us as long as possible.  This is the power of God’s word.   

“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (Ephesians 6:17)

Those who have an experience of using this most powerful weapon knows how powerful the word of God is.  Don’t try to fight by our own might, strength or even our own faith.   If so, the outcome is so sure, which is our total defeat.  Thus, don’t even expect to win the spiritual battle.  Can a solider fight against his/her enemy without a weapon?  It is suicidal.   Even so, many people have felt that they have strength to fight against our enemy.    Then again and again they were miserably defeated, while being publically disgraced and a shame to our entire Christians.   (Some of us still remembers big names in our Christianity.  They failed miserably by knelling down by giving themselves to temptation.   They became a huge obstacle to those who tried to come to Jesus, and failing many believers also.   Please don’t try to fight without God’s word, which is the weapon that allows for us to fight and win against our enemy.)   

  “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”  (Luke 4:13)

Our enemy, the devil, tempted Jesus Christ for forty days with all kinds of temptations, but the devil failed.   However, it was not the end.   The devil left Jesus, not forever, who left Jesus till the next opportunity came.   This is the true picture about our life on earth -- a constant battle between us and our enemy, the devil.   Again, what is the weapon to fight against our enemy?   There is only one -- God’s word.   Jesus Christ fought against the enemy with the exactly same weapon – God’s word.  Even for Jesus, it was the most favorable weapon and, as matter of fact, was only one weapon that Jesus used to fight against the devil when he was really weak and exhausted after His forty days of fasting.  Therefore, the paramount importance of God’s word cannot be emphasized enough.  God’s word.  That we need when we are spiritually weak and completely exhausted.   What is the best way to use God’s word.   The best approach is to have God’s word always.  This means putting God’s word in our brain, i.e., memorizing God’s word.   We highly and highly recommend to memorize God’s word so that we can use anytime and anyplace, and immediately against all temptations whether we are being enticed to worship our own idol covertly, or becoming angry to God because we have lost what we love most or we cannot have what dearly want to possess, or we are tempted by earthly pleasures.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

The first thing is to pray to God, not by our own might, but by the power of Holy Spirit in our heart.  As we talked about above, when we are in a real heavy attack of our enemy, more often than not, many of us have already experienced before:  it is really difficult (or almost impossible) for us to pray to God.  We are already worn out, and spiritually extremely weakened by the attacks from our enemy.   Then what we should do is rather than relying on our own spiritual strength, but using God’s word.  We need to continuously read, recite or believe in God’s word, and also make an intensive effort to carefully listening to the Holy Spirit who resides in our heart.  Sometimes, it is so subtle, but it is overwhelm powerful when we correctly tuned to the voice.   Those who believe in Jesus Christ as savior have already received Holy Spirit.   This is the promise given to us by Jesus:

If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (John 14:15-17)

Therefore, we can stand firm with our faith against all flaming attacks from our enemy, and fight back with God’s word.    Let’s also encourage each other, and remind that for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.   (Ephesians 6:12)  The battle is not against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers of the unseen world, often manifested as our own self and self-desires, of which we are essentially blind.  

Here is what we ought to support each other and watch out together as brothers and sisters of one family in one faith, one God, and one Lord:   put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.  (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Faith -- God Is Always With Us!

Good morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  (Judges 6:13)

The Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites.  It was not a random event. The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and God gave them in to the hand of Midian for seven years.  During the period, the Midianites overpowered the Israelites, and took sheep, ox, donkey, and devour the produce of the land.  They came like locusts in number, and they lay waste the land as they came in.   Israel was brought very low.

Gideon was one of the Israelites, who was not much different from others.   He was equally in fear of the Midianites.  From the fear, Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the sight of the Midianites.  Then suddenly an angel of Lord appeared to him, and said to him “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”  (Judges 6:12) It was totally unexpected.   For the last seven years, the Israelites including Gideon had never experienced God’s presence.

Gideon was not able to keep silent, and expressed his frustration, which was always lingering in his heart:  "Sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? “   For the last seven years, Gideon did not experience God, and he doubted God from the deepest part of his heart.  If the God existed, all these bad things that he saw and experienced for the last seven years should have had not happened, especially to the Israelites, the God’s chosen people.   

Gideon continued “Where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?”   What he saw and had experienced for the last seven years was a harsh reality being oppressed by the conqueror, not those victorious miracles of God that he was told since he was young.   Gideon could not resist, but ask “Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt?’   His rationale was that if God really did bring us up out of Egypt, God should have had already rescued the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites.  The entire Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites day after day, but God did not answer to their cries.   For Gideon, it did not make sense.   So he continued sharing his frustration and despair, “But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”   Gideon personally like other Israelites waited and waited for God’s hand for long time, but the oppression and the misery under the Midianites continued.  God was silent.  

Bible records the reason: the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.  (Judges 6:1a) They abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, and went after other gods while bowing down, which God hated most.  (By the way, we might easily say we have never bowed down and worshiped an idol, because we have never done it before.   In fact, it is not so clear cut.   We, human beings, always worship and serve something, whether it is wealth, fame, prestige, and even physical strength, health, self and ego.    Often we don’t notice while we worship these gods. But we will know what we really worship when we lose what we truly worship – we become really frustrated, and even angry and mad at God.   Then it was our idol and we used to worship.  This is the most terrible sin before God because we worship our own idol other than God, whom we should worship under all circumstances.)
The Israelites were worshipping their own idols, and complained to God.  (They should have had eliminated their idols and worshiped God.)   Thus, God, who dearly loved the Israelites, was in great pain, and He had to give out the Israelites to other people so that they suffered from their unfaithfulness and rebellious acts against God.  God patiently waited till they came back to Him and cried for help.  Yes, the Israelites suffered, but the pain of God was even greater than that the Israelites experienced.

After seven years, the Israelites’ suffering was sufficient.  They were ready.  God sent an angel to Gideon.   The gracious God, first, let Gideon open his heart and vent out his frustration and resentment.  Gideon poured out his pain and anguish question from the deepest part of his heart, and Gideon was heard by God.   (Imagine God personally listens to your frustration and pain out of the deepest part of your heart.   In reality, God always does for all His children.)  Gideon vented his heavy burden in his heart, and his heart became much lighter.  Then God gave Gideon a new mission of rescuing Israel by saying: “Go in the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)

Gideon quickly looked at the reality -- his feeble hand, himself and his heart full of fear.   In fact, he was so afraid of the Midianites that he was hiding in the winepress, while beating out wheat.  He knew he was nothing but one coward person.   Thus, he humbly opened his mouth and said: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.”  (Judges 6:15)   His clan was the weakest in the Manasseh tribe, and he was also the least in his father’s house.  Before the angle, he authentically confessed that he was not up to the task of saving Israel.

God, who saw Gideon’s authenticity and humility from his heart, said to him, “I will be with you, you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive." (Judges 6:16)    When Gideon initially met the angel of God, and was told: “The Lord is with you. O mighty man of valor.” Gideon missed the most important part of the conversation – The Lord is with you.  Although Gideon was a mere ordinary person being scared by everything around him including the Midianites, God was about to transform him as a mighty man of valor.  Indeed, Gideon initially could not hear.  The fear of the Midianites prevented him from hearing what was told by God.   Thus, God patiently led Gideon step by step.   At the end, God transformed him as the man of valor that God truly wanted.   Here was what God did:

First God let Gideon fully unload all fears completely occupying his heart.  Second, God let Gideon directly see who he was, and let him authentically cry out his weakness and inability to God with humility and meekness.   Then Gideon was able to truly hear what God said: “I am with you.”    What an assuring word from God.   Initially, Gideon could not hear this assuring words from God, but God patiently and lovingly approached him through the angel until he was able to hear the most loving word from God – “I am with you.”     

Why did God so tenaciously approach Gideon?   God loved Gideon and His people who were suffering, and God chose Gideon to save from the Midianites, who painfully oppressed the Israelites for the seven years.   The Midianites took literally everything from the Israelites.   To avoid the oppression, the Israelites had to hide themselves.   Gideon was not different.   He was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.  

God is fully of compassion and love.   He always cares for and watch over His children with His infinite love and patience.  Yes, God always love and He is always with His children.  And we are His children.  Then we know He is always with us. Yes, sometimes we feel that God is not with us.   He is far away, and he does not hear us.  It is not true.  He hears us every word from our mouth and in our prayers.   Then why do we feel that he is not with us?    Because of us, who worship our own idol that we dearly value in our lives instead of Our True Father.   Even so, God, who is love, is right next us, and patiently waits us till we fully realize how sinful we are.   We feel our pains are unbearable, but our Heavenly Father’s pain is even greater.   Only when we truly come to him while being absolutely surrendering to Him, we truly appreciate His presence with us.  We are again ready for holding His merciful and gracious hand.   Then, immediately, reach out our hands and hold His ever-loving and almighty land.   God will take us to His own bosom to love us more.   We will experience again His hand, which is mightier than anything else in this world, and His love, which is stronger than anything else that we can ever imagine.   Be still and listen to Him.  What we need is to approach God with humility, authenticity and our absolute surrender to Him so that His infinite goodness magnifies even through our lives. 

The LORD is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.  (Psalm 145:18-19)