Sunday, November 25, 2018

Give Thanks To God In All Circumstances, For God Is Good!


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

They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.”  (Revelation 7:12)

In Bible, there are full of thanksgivings.   The people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides.  That is how the Lord rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that they pursued to kill the Israelites that day.   However, God made the water rush back into its usual place.   The Egyptians tried to escape, but the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh.  Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived.   And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore.   When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and gave thanks to God.

“I will sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
The Lord is a warrior;
Yahweh is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army    
he has hurled into the sea.
The finest of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters gushed over them;
they sank to the bottom like a stone.”  (Exodus 15:1-5)

This was the song of the Moses and the people of Israel on the other side of the Red Sea, while looking at the bodies of the mighty Egyptian warriors on the sea.    The 600,000 men and their families (about two million people) sang the same song with the heart of thanksgiving to God, who rescued from the edges of the swords of the mighty Egyptian armies. 

Hannah was barren.   She wanted to have a baby, but she could not.  Her husband loved her and comforted her, but her heart was full of sorrows.  Hannah prayed and prayed.   One day, she was truly heartbreaking.  She poured out her heart while looking up God.   As she was praying, Eli, the priest watched her.  Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking.  “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”     Even her priest could not understand her heart.  

 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

“Yes, I see!” Eli said, “Go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

“Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad because she truly believed from the deepest part of her heart.  She returned home with her husband and the rest of the family.   God remembered her, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel.   When the child was weaned, as she prayed before God, Hannah took Samuel to the Tabernacle in Shiloh.  She searched for Eli, the priest.  “Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” Then they worshiped the Lord there.   Hannah gave a prayer of praise:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong.
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you rescued me.
No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.   
He will protect his faithful ones,
but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.
Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.
He thunders against them from heaven;
the Lord judges throughout the earth.
He gives power to his king;
he increases the strength of his anointed one.”  (1 Samuel 2:1-2, 9-10)

Hannah was in extreme joy before God because God heard Hannah’s prayer.   Hannah finally got a baby boy, Samuel.   Her deep sorrow was comforted, and she was vindicated by God.  She kept her vow to God.  She gave her most precious Samuel back to God.   In faith, she was in joy and gave the above prayer of thanksgiving to the God, who rescued and blessed her.   God was her rock of faith, and she stood on the rock in thanksgiving.    God made her joyful in her faith, and she sang back to God.

David was the most beloved king by God.   He was faithful in faith and God blessed.   David captured Jerusalem, and David called it the City of David.  He extended the city, starting at the supporting terraces and working inward.  David became more and more powerful, because the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies was with him.

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him.  David prayed to God, and God granted His wisdom on David.  David did what the Lord commanded, and he was able to strike down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.   

Then David again gathered all the elite troops in Israel, 30,000 in all. He led them to Baalah of Judaha to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim.  They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. David and all the people of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals.

But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God.  Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him dead because of this.  So Uzzah died right there beside the Ark of God.     David was afraid of the God, and he even asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of the Lord back into my care?”    David had to stop moving the Ark, although he badly wanted to move the Ark to Jerusalem.   The Ark was at the house of Obed-edom, and God blessed the household because of the Ark of God.   
                                              
David prayed for three months, and then he decided to move the Ark to Jerusalem, the City of David with a great celebration.   After the men who were carrying the Ark of the Lord had gone six steps, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.  And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment.  So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.

Finally, David brought the Ark of God in Jerusalem and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it.  And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord.  When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins.

David appointed the Levites to lead the people in worship before the Ark of the Lord—to invoke his blessings, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.    On that day David sang the song of thanksgiving to God:

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
you children of his servant Israel,
you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.
...

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy
Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise,
for the Lord is coming to judge the earth.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Cry out, “Save us, O God of our salvation!
Gather and rescue us from among the nations,
so we can thank your holy name
and rejoice and praise you.”
Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
who lives from everlasting to everlasting!   (1 Chronicles 16:7-13,   31-36)


David was truly joyful because the Ark of God was in the city of David.   He praised and gave thanks.  He shared this thanksgiving with his people, and all sang together in the great joy. 

Then what will be the greatest joy for all believers?   Here is the greatest scene that we, all believers, together will witness in Heaven and be joyful forever with all other believers before God.

Here is what John, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, saw in the book of Revelation: After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.  And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”   (Revelation 7:10b)

Please imagine the great road being shouted by the vast crowd in Heaven, which we cannot count.   The roar will be much greater than the thanksgiving song sang by the two million people of Israel after crossing the Red Sea.    The depth of thankfulness will be much deeper than the Hannah’s thanksgiving prayer.     The joy will be much more joyful than the song of David after bringing the Ark in the city of David, Jerusalem.   By that time, all things will be renewed and our salvation will be completed, as Jesus declared on the cross, “It is Finished.”    
                                    
John continued: A loud shout from the throne is saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”   And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”  (Revelation 21:3-5a)

No more tears, deaths, sorrows, cries, and pains, and all things made new in Him.  This is what we will experience in Heaven.

We will also see that all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God.  They sang,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:12b)

Yes, we will together praise and giving thanks to God forever, who is our everlasting and ever-loving God.   We will give our eternal thanksgiving to Him.    Thus, we should not lose heart, fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, and run the race given to us while standing firm on faith in Him.   This is our faith.   God’s blessings to everyone who reads and shares this beautiful message with both believers and those to be saved in Jesus Christ, Our Savior.     

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!  (Revelation 22:20)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Faith -- Impossible? Believe and Be Victorious in Him!


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

The LORD told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”  (Judges 7:7)



When Gideon was called by God, he was completely not prepared.   He was hiding from the Midianites, the oppressor because he was in fear of them.   Upon realizing God’s calling, Gideon bravely acted upon God’s command by destroying the Baal’s alter and Asherah pole, but he did during the night.   He was still in fear of the people of the town.   However, God was pleased with Gideon, because he acted upon God’s command despite of the fear of the people.   This is the lesson what we want to learn from Gideon.   When we act upon God’s will, there is always an obstacle before us.  For Gideon, the obstacle was the people around him – his own family members and the town people who still worshipped the Baal.   Gideon knew his act would bring him harm.  Yes, as expected, it happened.  The people of the town, as soon as they figured out Gideon destroyed the Baal’s alter and Asherah pole next to it, came to Gideon to kill him.  However, God protected Gideon from the hand of the angry mob.  Instead, God made them convinced to wait for their false God to punish Gideon.   Of course, nothing happened.  Out of this event, many of the town people realized that the Baal was not a living god, but an idol made by their own hands, which could not do anything – including punishing Gideon.    God always uses a brave act of His people in faith to glorify His name, and to expose the truth of the idols which are absolutely false gods.  After all, our God is the One and Only living God, who always watches over His people because He loves His people as His own children.

God was then came to Gideon again.   For this time, Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel.   The fear of the Israelites was much greater than before.  All of them were in great fear.  Gideon, of whom the Spirit of the LORD took possession, blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, all of the men of the Israelites responded.   Total 32,000 warriors came to Gideon to fight against the armies of Midian and their allies from the east side of the Jordan river.   Gideon himself was surprised by the power of God.   He was nothing but an ordinary person, but when he blew the ram’s horn, 32,000 warriors responded.   He was completely taken by the God’s spirit, and in faith, he was about to attack the myriad of the enemies.  

Suddenly, God said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you.”   Then God continued, “If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.”   God gave a step-by-step instruction, “Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’”   Gideon faithfully obeyed God, and told what was given to Gideon by God.   (Who would tell this type of message to the people gathered to fight?   Gideon did in faith.)   Upon hearing Gideon’s recommendation, to Gideon’s surprise 22,000 of them stood up and went home, leaving only 10,000 who continued willing to fight.    He lost more than 2/3 of his warriors.   His army was reduced down to 10,000 from 32,000.    Even so, Gideon was calm before God.   In faith, he was still ready to go out and fight with the 10,000 warriors against the myriads of the armies of Midian.  

Then God came again, and told, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.”    Per the God’s instruction, Gideon asked the 10,000 warriors to drink from the stream.   Only 300 of the men drank from their hands.  All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.   He sent the 9,700 warriors back home.   He was only with the 300 warriors without kneeling down to drink from the stream.

If we were Gideon, how would we feel at that moment?     When we initially got the 32,000 warriors, which was in fact almost nothing when compared with the myriad of the enemies covered the entire valley.   Even so, we believed God would give us a victory only with the 32,000 warriors, while looking at the 32,000 warriors.   In other words, our eyes were still fixed on the 32,000 warriors, who were visible and looked strong, rather than God’s mighty hand, which was invisible.  This was what God worried.   

Then God reduced the number of warriors down to 10,000.   What would we think then?    We might say in our heart, “10,000 is less than 1/3 of the 32,000, but still we have these capable warriors.  God is with us.  We can still fight with the 10,000 warriors who looked strong and were ready to fight against the enemies especially when God’s hand is with us.”   This type of thinking is not necessary bad, but it is also true that we still rely on the 10,000 warriors.   In other words, our eyes are still with what we can see rather than what we cannot see, Our God.   God, who dearly loved us, had to take away to eliminate this humanly temptation.   God mercilessly took away 9,700 warriors.   For Gideon, it was really harsh, but God did for Gideon with His unfathomable love.    (This is the reason why we believe in God in all circumstances.) 

Gideon was truly hurt.  That night he could not sleep.   In faith, he did everything that God asked, but he could not understand what God really wanted while thinking over God’s promise: “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites.”  In reality, it was absolutely impossible to fight against the myriad of the enemies with only 300 people.   However, Gideon could not give up in faith.   He struggled through the night.   (This is the faith – clinging to God’s promise in faith although every sign in our lives points the other way around.)   By the way, did God not know Gideon’s struggle?   No, God exactly knew Gideon’s struggle in faith.   God also knew exactly what Gideon needed at that time too.   What Gideon needed was not additional warriors, but a stronger faith in Him.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”   (Hebrew 11:1)

That night God came and said, “Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them!  But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.”    Surely, God knew his struggle after losing 31,700 warriors that he initially believed God sent for him. God has never overlooked nor ignored our heart pains and struggles.  God knows exactly how much painful, how much fearful, how much miserable, and how much helpless we are, and carefully watches over us.  God feels our pains and struggles in His unfathomable love, as earthly parents are also equally painful while their children are struggling and in pain.

he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.   (Psalm 121:3b-4)

So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp.  As expected, the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore—too many to count!  Yes, the scene was daunting and overwhelming.   Thus, Gideon carefully and silently crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, “I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!”

His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!”

When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the God.  Gideon realized that how much God loves him.  Gideon got the exact answer.   He was struggling and questioning why through the sleepless night.  He realized that his struggle and question were groundless.   In fact, God had already prepared for His victory, and God was about to fulfill His victory through the hand of Gideon.    Gideon was thrilled before the God’s awesome plan and His mighty act about to be unfold.

Then Gideon returned to the Israelite camp.  While returning, he continuously prayed to God for His wisdom in the absolute faith in Him.   As soon as Gideon arrived at the camp, he shouted, “Get up! For Our God has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” In God’s wisdom, Gideon divided the 300 men into three groups and gave each man a ram’s horn and a clay jar with a torch in it.   Please note that nobody took a sword.  They just carried ram’s horns, clay jars, and torches in the jars.   Yes, it was the Gideon’s battle plan through the wisdom of God in faith in God.   When the 300 warriors heard the Gideon’s plan, nobody questions or argued against the plan.   All 300 warriors quickly dropped their swords, and took ram’s horns, clay jars and torches in the jars!   For Gideon, God touched on all of the 300 warriors, and made them one with Gideon: no sword in the same faith.

Then Gideon said to them, “Keep your eyes on me. When I come to the edge of the camp, do just as I do. As soon as I and those with me blow the rams’ horns, blow your horns, too, all around the entire camp, and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon!’”

It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams’ horns and broke their clay jars.  Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape.  When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the God caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as Beth-shittah near Zererah and to the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.

Gideon and his 300 warriors defeated the myriad of the enemies who covered the entire valley like a swarm of locusts without a single swing of sword.   After all, they had never carried any swords for the battle, but faith in God.   God pleased with their absolute faith, and God gave them a huge victory.   God fought for them, and the enemies fought against each other with their own swords, not the swords of Gideon and his 300 warriors, which they had never carried.    Through faith and using the God’s wisdom, Gideon and his 300 faithful warriors were able to prevail over the well trained and well equipped myriad of the united enemies.    God loved the faith of Gideon and the 300 warriors, and God gave them the huge victory.

Faith is the key to fight against all our enemies, especially the most deadly one – the Satan.  We often say we have faith.   However, our eyes are still fixated on what we see and what we can touch.   Surely, it is a lot easier to rely on what we see and can touch.   If we rely on things that we see and can touch, then what are they?    Without knowing, are we worshipping them to get our comfort, peace and security?   It so, they are clearly idols.   Thus, we need to ask before God:  32,000 warriors or the invisible God?   10,000 warriors or the invisible God?    When our warriors are reduced down to 10,000, it is very tempting to put our eyes on these warriors although they are reduced from the original 32,000 warriors.   Then what will God, who dearly loves us, do?    God mercilessly reduces down to 300, which was 99.0626% reduction from the initial 32,000.   

How would be our reaction, if God reduces down something that we truly value to less than 1% of the initial size or amount?    Yes, first, we will experience enormous pain in our heart.   Does God not know our pain when we lose 99% of what we truly value in our lives?  No, Our God know exactly how painful our hearts are.   Then why does God cause such a pain?  

God told Gideon, “If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.”   God truly loves us no matter what we do simply because we are His children.   In fact, God, who madly loves us, has already prepared our victory before us.   God truly wants for us to own His victory specially prepared for us, without being deceived by our own idols, the Baal, something that we truly value on earth, and even our own selves.   All idols lead to separation from God and eventual destruction, but our faith in Him will make us grow deeper in Him while enjoying the relationship with Our True and Ever-Loving  God.   Our victory in Him is sure because God has already prepared for us.   Let’s continue abounding in the work of God in faith with hope.   Also give thanks to God, and praise His name for His mercy, grace and love in all circumstances!

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  (1 Corinthian 15:57-58)





Sunday, November 11, 2018

God Is Our Refuge And Strength, An Ever-Present Help In Trouble.


Good morning!

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

The LORD told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”  (Judges 7:7)

Like other the people of Israel, Gideon was in fear of the Midianites, who oppressed the Israelites for seven years.   God let the Israelites suffer because they did evil before God by worshipping the idols: Baal and Asherah, instead of the true and living God.   Finally, the people cried out to God, and God sent His angel to Gideon, not because Gideon was brave and more powerful than the rest of the Israelites.   He was the least of his family, and his family was the weakest among the Israelites.    God chose Gideon according to His good will to save the Israelites.   God opened Gideon’s eyes, and Gideon realized that he met the angel of God, and He was called by God to rescue the Israelites.

On the same night, God gave the first command to destroy the Baal’s alter and cut down the Asherah pole beside the alter.   Gideon destroyed them as God commanded.   However, Gideon did it during the night because he feared the people in the town and his family members.   Even so, God pleased with Gideon.   He did baby step in his faith although he was in fear.  Yes, he was still in God’s work-in-progress.

Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel.  Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and all of the men of the Israelites responded.   Total 33,000 warriors came to Gideon to fight against the armies of Midian and their allies from the east side of the Jordan river.  

Gideons saw the power of God with his own eyes.   His clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and he was the least in his entire family, but the entire Israel responded to his ram’s horn.   The next step for Gideon was to lead them to fight against the armies of Median and the allies.  But his heart was not ready.   Thus, he came back to God, and authentically opened his heart to God.  He asked His help to increase his faith.  God, who was merciful, graciously answered his prayers by wetting a wool fleece while the surrounding area was dry, and drying a wool fleece while the surrounding area was wet.    Gideon was truly encouraged by God.   He immediately took the 33,000 warriors, and marched out to the spring of Harod.    Yes, our God is always gracious and full of mercy.   He has never rejected our prayer of His help to increase our faith.   God answers.   This our faith as He answered Gideon’s prayers before going out to fight against the armies of the Midianites and the allies, which were much bigger and stronger than his small army.

The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh.  They filled the entire valley, and were as numerous as the sand on the seashore.    Gideon and His worries were camped very close to where the armies of Midian to prepare their attack against the armies of Midian.   It was a truly brave act to make up mind to fight against the enormous armies of Median and their allies.

Suddenly, God said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you.”   Initially, what he was told by God did not make sense at all.   The 32,000 warriors of Israelites were absolutely not enough to fight against the armies of Midian and their allies, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.   Gideon had been worrying about how to fight against the huge enemy with his only 32,000 warriors.   He was completely baffled. 

Then God explained the reason, “If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.”   God’s real concern was not Gideon’s victory that God had already decided to give, but the Gideon’s prideful heart after he defeated the Midianites.   A temptation to give a full credit to oneself is the most subtle and strongest.    We love to give all credits to ourselves, not to God, although we know God has made us successful.  God knew what Gideon and his warriors would be tempted.  Thus, God cared for Gideon, and eliminated the temptation.  God must have had really loved Gideon.

God gave a step-by-step instruction, “Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’”   Gideon faithfully obeyed God, and told what was given to Gideon by God.   Upon hearing Gideon’s recommendation, to Gideon’s surprise 22,000 of them stood up and went home, leaving only 10,000 who continued willing to fight.    He lost more than 2/3 of his warriors.   His army was reduced down to 10,000 from 32,000.    Gideon could not believe what had happened.   He thought that most of them were brave and would be with him no matter what happened.    He was truly disappointed with those who went home.  His heart was in panic, but Gideon remembered the signs that God gave to him using a wool fleece.   In faith, Gideon struggled to overcome by making every effort to continue believing God and His goodness.   After all, he did not lose his faith after losing 22,000 warriors.   Let’s question to ourselves, if we lose 2/3 of what we have, what’s would be our response?   Calm like Gideon or panic like a scared rabbit?

Gideon was able to be calm with the 10,000 warriors.   In faith, he was about to go out and fight with the 10,000 warriors against the myriads of the armies of Midian.   Gideon still had 10,000, and God was with him.  He believed that he would win the battle in God’s power.    He started making a new attack plan for the reminded 10,000 warriors because the original attack plan would no longer work.    It was designed for the 32,000 warriors.  It was painful to make a new plan with only 10,000 warriors.  It was almost impossible to win the battle.   Even so, he was obediently working on the new plan to attack the armies of Midian with the 10,000 warriors.

While Gideon was working on the new battle plan, again God came to Gideon, and told, “There are still too many!”   What?   10,000 warrior vs the armies of Midian and their allies, who covered the entire valley.   Upon hearing, Gideon immediately stopped working on the new battle plan.   By that time, Gideon was a truly obedient man.    He waited for God’s next command.   God continued, “Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.”   For this time, God did not give any specifics.   God just told Gideon: “Do what I say.”    This was another opportunity to make Gideon’s faith stronger in God. 

Gideon obediently took the 10,000 warriors down to the water.  (Gideon’s obedience in faith pleased God.)   God again told Gideon, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.”    Per God’s instruction, Gideon asked the 10,000 warriors to drink from the stream.   Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.

God told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”  It was almost unreal.    Gideon was ended up to get only 300 warriors out of 32,000 warriors.   This was less than 1% of the warriors originally responded to Gideon’s ram horn (exactly, 0.9375%).    Gideon, although he was strong in faith, became nervous.   How could he fight against the armies of Midian and their allies?   It was so obvious that it was absolutely impossible to fight and defeat the countlessly many armies of Midian and their allies.  Even so, in faith, Gideon obediently sent the 9,700 warriors home.  He did it in faith in God.

Gideon’s faith grew tremendously.   He was hiding from the Midianites and threshing in the winepress.   Then he did follow God’s command to destroy the Baal’s alter.  However, he could not do in daytime, but did it during the night because of his fear of the people and his family.   Even so, God pleased with his baby stepping faith.   Then God sent God’s Spirit to took possession of Gideon.  Gideon blew a ram’s horn, and 32,000 warriors responded.  Gideon, then, bravely took the 32,000 warriors to fight against the huge armies of Midian and their allies covered the entire valley.   Gideon and his warriors were encamped near the enemies.   Unexpectedly, God asked to send away 22,000 warriors.  Gideon did.  Only 10,000 warriors were with Gideon.  Then God asked again to send away 9,700 warriors.   Gideon also did.  Gideon was ended up with only 300 warriors.  Then it was literally impossible to fight and defeat the countlessly numerous armies of Midian and the allies.   Even so, Gideon was ready to fight against the countlessly many armies of Midian and the allies.  It was the Gideon’s faith.   

God transformed Gideon to one of the most faithful in Bible.   He experienced and believed God.   Once Gideon met God, he continuously grew into faith in God.   When he authentically prayed to God for God’s help, God answered.   God helped Gideon when he was weak in his faith.   Here is the pattern what Gideon did.   Listen to God, pray to God, and do God’s will.   Yes, we might not be perfect before God because we are still in fear of the world, but God pleases with us not because we are perfect, but because we did what God commanded despite of our fear and doubt. Therefore, whenever we need His help, just put out our heart, whether it is our fear, pain, sickness, uncertainty of future, a severe financial problem.   God hears us.  God is always faithful to us, and God wants for us to have a deeper relationship with Him.  This is how to grow in faith in God.    Baby stepping in our faith is a just first step, then keep listening, praying and doing what God wants.  This pleases God, and we grow in faith in Him.  Please remember God always loves us only because we are His beloved children and He is our ever-loving Father.

 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
                and the mountains quake with their surging.  (Psalm 46:1-3)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

God Is Always With Us Patiently. Don't Be Afraid. Ask!


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

The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9)

Gideon was an ordinary person.  God came to him.   The angel of God found Gideon hiding in fear of the Midianites who oppresses the Israelites for seven years.  God, who was merciful, waited and waited.   The Israelites did not stop evil before God by serving their idols, which were nothing but things made by human hands out of wood, silver, or gold.   The idols could not give anything to them, but they worshipped.   They had mouths, eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet, but they could not speak, see, hear, smell, feel or walk.   They just stayed where they were placed.   Even so, the people of Israel put their false hope:  the idols would give them what they wanted.    God allowed them to suffer.   Their hardness of heart did not change quickly.   After the seven years’ suffering under the Midianites, finally they started to cried out to God.  

To deliver the Israelites, God chose Gideon.   Gideon met the angel of God, when he had never expected to meet an angel of God.   He was a good man.  Without knowing the angel from God, Gideon welcomed the angel, and he heard the angel.    He also served the angel with his finest food.   Then the angel of God revealed the power of God.  Gideon realized that he met the angel of God.   A terrible fear fell on him, but God comforted him.  God gave him a mission to rescue the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites.   Gideon looked himself.   He was not strong enough to take the unimaginable mission.   His clan was the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and he was the least in his entire family.   He humbled before God, but God raised him up.  Gideon built an alter to God, and gave thanks.

That night, God came and said to Gideon, “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.”  

Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD had commanded. But he did it at night.  Although he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town, he did it.   The following morning, the people of the town found that Gideon did it.  They came to kill Gideon, and Gideon was hiding.   The merciful God sent Gideon’s father instead, and protected Gideon.    God saved Gideon who did the courageous acts of taking away the very source of the evil of the people – their idols: Baal and Asherah.   God loved Gideon’s courageous act in faith.   Although he did it in fear of the people around him, Gideon passed the first test, and proved himself before God.   Gideon, in turn, experienced God, who was a strong hold for Gideon.   Gideon made the first, gigantic step in faith of God.   He was ready for the next step in faith of God, which was even bigger. 

Soon the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel.  A really fearful event was unfolding to the people of Israel.  Although it was dreadful to the eyes of the people of Israel, it was a part of God’s plan for His children.  Before the threat, the people of Israel complained, “we have enough pain for a long time.  Why are we getting another one, which is even bigger than anything that we got?”    They felt that the sky was falling without any hope.   However, like a night is darker before dawning, the dreadful event was a sign for a new dawning set by God. 

God sent the Spirit of the God to Gideon, which took possession of Gideon.   For this time, Gideon was different.   He, who used to hide himself, was emboldened in God’s spirit.  Gideon stood up as the solider of God in order to free the Israelites from the Midianite, the alliance of the armies of Midian, Amalek and the people of the east.   Gideon blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him.  He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded.   All were done by God’s spirit, in fact.   

Gideon saw the power of the God again.  He was the least in his entire family, and his clan was the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh.   Even so, when he blew a ram’s horn, and the entire people of Israel responded.   He again saw the power of God.    Again, he looked at himself.   Nothing has been changed.   Yesterday’s Gideon was still with him.  Only was different the God, who was continuously transforming Gideon.    Although Gideon clearly knew he was called by the Mighty God, before the daunting task, he felt that he still needed additional God’s help to increase his faith.   He approached to God, and authentically asked for his help.

Gideon prayed to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.”   God answered, and that is just what happened.   Gideon Got up early the next morning.  He went out and gathered wool fleece on the threshing floor where he met the angel of God.   Then he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.   God heard Gideon, and answered his prayer.  What a merciful God He was!

However, Gideon was still cautious about what he experienced.   He was still haunted by his past.   He could see the old self in him, who was threshing wheat to hide the grain from the Midianites.   Gideon believed God, but he was still in fear.   Although he did the mighty act of destroying the Baal and the Asherah beside it, and he saw the people responded his ram’s horn blow against the armies of Midianites and allies, and the wet fleece, he was not fully ready for the daunting task.  Thus, he asked God.    If we were God, how would we respond?   Getting tired?   No.  God was not.  God was patient with Gideon and loved him.

With courage, Gideon prayed to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.”  So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.    God answered Gideon’s prayer.   Not like us, God is patient.    It was not the only one example of God’s patience.   God was truly patient with Abraham when he asked for God’s mercy for Sodom, the wicked city.   

Abraham asked God to save Sodom if there were fifty righteous people living in the city.   God responded, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.”    Then Abraham gave a thought.  He felt that it would be hard to find fifty righteous people.   He asked, “suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty?   Wil you destroy the whole city for lack of five?”   God answered, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty-five.”   Abraham, then, asked again for forty because he was not comfortable with the number forty-five.    God said yes, He would save if there were forty righteous people in the city.    Abraham returned to God again, while asking thirty.    God said yes.   He asked again with a lower number, twenty.   God patiently said yes.   Abraham finally made a decision to ask once more, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?”    And the LORD replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”  The God had finished His conversation with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his tent.     Abraham felt that it would be easy to find ten righteous people out of the big city like Sodom.    Although Abraham was confident, it was not the case.  The city did not have ten righteous people, which is less than one percent of the population.   (It is estimated that the population of the Sodom at that time was around 1000.   Then 10 people means only 1 percent.)   Please note that God patiently answered six times until Abraham became comfortable. 

Yes, God is always patient to us.   What we need is to authentically approach to God with anything including our deepest question especially about our faith in Him.  He loves to answer our question.   He always assures us with His love.  He will not reject nor ignore our heartful prayer.   Instead, He answers us with the best that is beyond our imagination.    What God really wants is for us to authentically approach him without hiding anything in our heart and to tell Him everything and our heart, pain and desire as Gideon and Abraham did.    If a child never talks to his/her parents authentically, then how do the child’s parents feel?    They will be truly in pain.  God is our ever-loving Father, who truly loves to hear from His children about all things that His children have in the hearts including joys, pains, concerns, fears, disappointments, and hopes.   Just put out everything in our heart to Our Father, He surely hears our prayers one by one patiently and lovingly.   This is our assurance in God.


Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.    (Hebrews 4:16)