How God Builds Faith
February 6-7, 2021
In the book of Judges, these two chapters that we've been studying, chapter six and seven, there's a life lesson, some great life lessons that come out of this story that told us at the beginning of the book that when Joshua, when he led the people of Israel into the promised land, that they were doing very well. The nation was full of strength and vigor in following the Lord with their heart and they had seen God move in great power. With their own eyes, they had seen great things that God had done, but here's the tragedy of the story.
After Joshua died, after the other leaders in that generation died, then that next generation that arose after them, it says, here's the tragedy, they didn't know the Lord. They hadn't seen His miracles. The result was they fell away. They fell away from following Him. That becomes the root of the problem. Where there is no relationship, there is no foundation of believing. There is no foundation for faith. Without faith, here's the thing, without faith, the soul is empty.
Without relationship to God, the soul is empty. It longs to be filled. It will try to satisfy itself by that which the world offers and troubles will surely follow. That's the life lesson right there. When people are drawn to the things of the world, the ways of the world, turn their back on God, they become weakened spiritually. One of the things, one of the principles that we've been seeing is that sin reduces a person. Sin weakens and reduces a person. When enough people turn away from God, the nation itself is weakened, which I say is a warning to our own nation, by the way.
That's what happened to Israel. The result. They turned their back as a nation, trouble upon trouble, upon trouble, more trouble than they can reckon with even. Therefore, in that weakened state, their enemies arose, and then even greater troubles came. Here's a question. To me, it's a very interesting question. If troubles arise in a person's life when they turn their back and walk away from God, does it mean that there will be no troubles for the one who walks steadfastly with God? No, not at all. In fact, Jesus said, in this world, you will have many troubles.
What's the difference then? If troubles arise if you walk away from God, and there will be troubles if you walk steadfastly with God, then why walk with God? Here's the answer. Because if there are going to be troubles in this life, I want God walking with me in them. That's the difference. I want God with me in the midst of those troubles. I want God for me and not against me. Anybody else? I want God for me and not against me. "Because if God before me, who can be against me," the scripture says. I'll often say this, "If God is against me, who can be for me?" It's a very important thing.
If God is for me, I can say with David, in Psalm 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me." I want God with me in the midst of these troubles. This world is a messed up, broken world that's filled with troubles, and I need God with me to walk with me in it. I don't want to wrestle with God. I need God's favor on my life. Anybody else? When Israel turned away from following God, they went to the gods of the world. We know the results. The results are predictable.
They become spiritually weakened as a people, and so they lost their strength as a nation. What it tells us, that they were then in that despair. When they hit the end of their rope, you might say, come to the bottom of it, that's when they would cry out to Jehovah. That's when they would call out to God. To which I said before, and it's worth repeating, at least they know to whom to cry. They're not crying out, "Oh, help us, Oh, Moloch. Oh, help us, Oh, Ashtoreth." There's no help from them.
I lifted mine eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. I know where help comes from. This tells us then, this Scripture in Judges, that when they would follow after God, they would cry out, then God would answer by sending a deliverer, or what is here called in this book, a judge. That's why it's given this name. Really, their deliverers, and there's 12 of them, to save the people from their oppression.
When that deliverer died, then they will fall away from the Lord again. The next generation will fall away from the Lord, and then troubles upon troubles, and they would cry out. He would send another deliverer. This pattern repeated itself for 250 years. The Book of Judges spans 250 years. Now, when we looked at Judges 6, the nation of Israel had just before, just fallen away from the Lord, and therefore weakened in that spiritual, a poor state. The Midianites, these are people on the east side of the Jordan. They had already been defeated once, but they arose in strength, along with the Amalekites and Sons of the East.
They all formed an alliance together. Sons of the East, we don't know exactly, very likely Arabs from Arabia or Mesopotamia or somewhere. It says that they oppressed Israel. They came across the Jordan from the East like locusts in number. They came into the land to devastate it, leaving no produce. Anytime they would sow the field, they would come and just take it. They left no sheep or oxen or donkey. Israel is brought low because of Midian, and so they cry out to the Lord.
Now, Israel needed that deliverer. We meet Gideon. The one whom God chose to deliver, who was Gideon, when we first meet him, he's threshing wheat in a winepress, out of fear of the Midianites. He's not exactly whom we would expect. He's a great valiant warrior yet. What's interesting is that he meets this angel of the Lord who actually greets him by saying, "Jehovah is with you, O, valiant warrior." God was addressing him as he would become because at that moment, he was surely not valued, nor was he a warrior.
To this greeting, and it's an absolutely amazing story. To this greeting, Gideon responds the way many people respond when life takes a hard turn. He blamed God, "Jehovah is with you. The Lord is with you, O, valiant warrior." He says, "If the Lord is with us, then you tell me, why has all this happened to us, and where are all the miracles which our fathers told about to us?" "No," he says, "the Lord has abandoned us." This is what some people do today. "You say you love me, God. Now, look at these troubles. Where is God now?"
The Lord gives a very straightforward answer to Gideon. He says, "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?" "Me?" Gideon replied, "Me? How shall I deliver Israel?" Essentially, then he says, "I am nothing. I am nobody. My family is least in the tribe, and I'm youngest in my father's house." "I am nobody," which is a very common thing for people to think. "God uses wonderful people. God uses special people. God uses people that are gifted and talented and all kinds of wonderful things. That's not me. I am a nobody."
The answer of the Lord is very simple, "Because I will be with you. That's why. You will defeat Midian as one man." This is, to me, an amazing part of the story. Then He says, "But first, this is what I want you to do. Take two bulls and tear down the altar to Baal that is in your father's house," which right away, we'd go, "What? Are you telling me that there was an altar to Baal?" Which is a figure of the male aspect of this god, Ashtoreth, being the female.
These idols were so large. It took two bulls to pull it down in his own father's house. "Take two bulls. Tear down this altar to Baal that is in your father's house. Cut down the Ashtoreth that's beside it," which is to say to him "I'm calling you to be a deliverer of Israel, but there's going to have to be some revival in your house. Let's start in your house, shall we?" Here's what I love about that story. We want revival. Today we pray for revival. We want to see anybody agree with me. I want to see revival in this land. I want to see revival in our community. I want to see revival but may I suggest that revival begins when we fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we no longer want the things of the world. We don't have idols to Baal or Ashtoreth in our house, or in our lives. Anybody want to agree with me?
This is the work of God. This is what revival is. I want revival too, but I know that it is a revival that begins in my heart, your heart, our house, this church, our houses, and that God takes a hold of our lives. I'll tell you what, there's a joy when you walk in the ways of the Lord when there's revival. There's a reason why revival is a good thing because the heart rejoices in the presence of God. There's an overflowing in the presence of God, and that is a delight to the soul. I want my soul delighted for out the right hand of God or pleasures forevermore. I'd love to be revival but let it start in our house.
When Gideon does, as the Lord directs, amazing part of the story, he is now-- he's doing what God says. He's growing in faith, and he's growing in strength spiritually. Then it says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he called the tribes up in the northern region around the Sea of Galilee. He called these tribes to come up to him. In other words, he's going to form an army because what we learned is that 135,000 of these invaders have now been camped in the Valley of Jezreel. He's arising now. He's calling these to join him in this. In chapter seven, then the Lord is going to use this Gideon to bring about a great victory and save Israel.
It's a tremendous story. It's a story of God doing much with little, but it's also a story of how God strengthens faith so that those who are called in his purpose will walk in that purpose. God has called every one of us to walk in His purpose, to strengthen faith so that you will walk in His purpose is a wonderful thing. Let's look to God's word, written Judges 7. Let's read it we'll begin in verse one. Then Jerubbaal, which is to say, Gideon, he was given this name by his father, let Baal contend with Him. We did that last week. Jerubbaal, let him.
It says then Jerubbaal, that is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, because he called up these from the tribes in the north there. They rose early and camp beside the Spring of Harod. I mentioned on Wednesday, on one of our trips to Israel, we went to this very place and it is so wonderful to actually go to these places and actually see. You can put it all in your mind when you go there yourself, and we actually because they're going to drink from this spring. We got to drink from the spring too, it's so awesome. Where was I?
They rose early, and they camped beside the Spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. The Lord said, to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many, too many for me to give Midian into your hands. Lest Israel become boastful." Saying, 'Saying own power has delivered me. I did this." Now, therefore, come proclaimed in the hearing of the people, and say this, "Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him go home. Let him return and depart from Mount Gilead." 22,000 people returned home and only 10,000 people remained. 22,000 people took them up on the offer. "Oh, we can leave? I'm leaving."
Then the Lord said to Gideon, "The people are still too many. Bring them down to the water that I may test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, this one shall go, he shall go with you but everyone of whom I say to you, this one shall not go with you, he shall not go." He brought the people down to the water and the Lord said to Gideon, "You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as the dog laps as well as everyone who kneels to drink."
Now the number of those who lapped, which is to say putting their hand to their mouth, so in other words, they would wind down to the water, and then bring the water up to their mouth, little cup full of water like this, you know. He says, that's like a dog lapping water. Of those who lapped putting their hand to the mouth, that was 300 but all the rest of the people kneeled down essentially in all fours, and put their face in the water to drink. The Lord said to Gideon, "I will deliver you with a 300 who lapped and I will give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other people go each man to his home." The 300 people took the people's provisions and trumpets into their hands.
Gideon sent all the other men of Israel each through his own tent but retained the 300 and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. Now that same night, it came about that the Lord said to him, "Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands." This is going to be an operation that happens in the middle of the night in the cover of the deepest darkness. Verse 10, "But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp and you will hear what they say. Afterward, your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp."
He went with Purah, his servant, down to the outpost of the army that was in the camp. Now the Midianites and the Amalekites, and all the sons of the East were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts and their camels were without number as numerous as the sand of the seashore. When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to a friend. He said, "I had this dream. There was a loaf of barley, a barley bread, that was tumbling into the camp of Midian and it came to the tent, and it struck it so that it fell, turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat. That was my dream."
His friend answered, and he said, "No, the idea of people having a sense of what ominous thing is going to happen as related by a dream is very common in those days." It's sometimes common today. The interpretation of this would have tremendous significance. His friend answering said, "This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, the man of Israel. God has given Midian and all the camp into his hands. That's the interpretation of the dream."
By the way, you can just imagine now that this interpretation, this dream and interpret, would start to spread to the camp. It would be quite disheartening because this would be like an omen. This is a bad omen, someone had this bad dream, and here's the interpretation. Now you can see the effect it's going to have. Verse 15, "It came about that when Gideon heard the account of the dream, and its interpretation, that he bowed in worship." Then he returned to the camp of Israel, and he says, "Arise." He's gained this understanding of the dream. God told him, "Go down and hear this."
It's strengthened him. No doubt, he's telling this to the people of Israel to strengthen them, "Arise. Get up," he said, "The Lord has given the camp of Midian into your hands." He divided them, 300 men, into three companies. He put trumpets, empty pitchers into the hands of all of them with torches inside the pitchers. He said to them, "Now look at me watch, and do as I do. Behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I and all those who are with me blow the trumpet. He's got other station over there and the other station over there.
When I and all who are with me blowing trumpets, then you blow the trumpets all around the camp and then you yell for the Lord and for Gideon. Everyone starts yelling and blowing, blowing and yelling, blowing and yelling. Gideon and 100 men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch when they had just posted the watch.
By the way, I mentioned this Wednesday at the change of the watch is a moment of confusion. Like who is the officer in charge? The one who is just getting off the one who's beginning? It's just a moment of confusion, but the timing of this, this is like a special operation of the Lord. At the middle of the watch, then that's when they blew the trumpets and they smashed the pitchers. Now, torches are lighting, the trumpets are blowing, and the people are yelling, and for all the people know, this is a mass attack by who knows how many from all sides and mass panic ensued. When they broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their hands, blew the trumpets, and cried a sword for the Lord and Gideon.
Each stood in his place around the camp and all the army ran crying as they fled, and as they blew 300 trumpets, the Lord set the sword of one against the other. Even throughout the whole army in the army fled as far as Beth-Shittah towards Zererah as far as the edge of Abel Meholah and Tabbath. The men of Israel were summoned from Naphtali. All these who were dismissed, are now recalled, "Come and join us now." From Naphtali and Asher and Manasseh and then they pursued Midian. The great victory was wrought that day.
These are the verses I want us to look at and see there's so much to apply in the story. Starting with this principle that God shows us in the story. More of him means less of me. That's one of the principles of the Scriptures. More of him means less. There's a worship song that we've been singing lately, and I love the words, the lyrics are so good because it's the same principle. If more of you means less of me, take everything. I love that worship song. If more of you means less of me, take everything.
I. More of Him Means Less of Me
Yes, all of you is what I need. Take everything. One of the keys of growing your faith is to take all of this lesson. If more of you means less of me. Say I want more of you in my life. I need God with me. I need His favor. I need His strength. If more of you means less of me, then you're going to get less than me, I want more of you. You know this verse 30,000 respond to his call that people are too many which is another principle. The Lord delights to use the weak.
When he hailed Gideon as a valiant warrior, Gideon responded that his family was least and that he was least of the brothers. God delights to use the weak. That's a principle that's a pattern that we've seen over and over because it gives him great glory. In fact, we looked at this last week, it's a great verse. 1 Corinthians 1:27-28, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise." Well, that pretty much qualifies all of us. God has chosen the weak things of the world. That pretty much qualifies us. The weak things, to shame, the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen.
He has chosen the things that are not that he may nullify the things that are. This is the way that God shows His glory so that no man can boast. Then, in the same way, Gideon was told to reduce the ranks by sending those who were afraid. Send them home. 22,000 of them say, "Okay, fine." Now, let's think about this for a moment. Let's look at the ratio 135, 000 invaders encamped in the Valley of Jezreel and 32,000 against 135,000 is too many. This is yes. That's too many.
First of all, because this is going to be special ops. A large number of forces is not going to be what they need. Second, a 10:1 ratio is just enough. That if they were victorious, they would think it was because of their strength and might that it happened. When Israel survived in May 14th 1948, when they declared themselves to be a nation and six Arab nations around them, immediately declared war. Then they had only survived, they expanded in strength. They thought how amazing. Are we not amazing. Then in 1967, in the Six-Day War, six days they defeated Egypt and Jordan and Syria, six days.
Then they thought, "Who will mess with Israel now? You tell me who will mess with Israel now because of our great strength?" Then in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, they almost lost because they were not ready. "Be very careful," he says all of those wonderful things that we did can be your undoing. Be very careful. Pride is our undoing. I will tell you. Pride gets in the way of what God wants to do in our lives. Anybody agree with me? Oh, it's such a trouble. It's such a trouble. To be absolutely abundantly clear that God is the one who brings this victory. He's going to save Israel with 300.
A. Fear inhibits faith
First, he sends home those who have fear. Now, this is important because he's showing us another principle, which is that fear inhibits faith. Fear stands in the way. This is about God, building faith. Well, fear stands in the way of it, that inhibits it. We say God delights to use the weak, that's true but he cannot use those who are overtaken by fear. Now, fear is a part of the human condition that God must confront and address. Those who are succumbed by it, overcome by it. Some people live in a prison of fear because he says, "No fear inhibits faith."
I'll tell you, you could do a tremendous study on fear throughout the scriptures because the scriptures have a lot to say about it. Fear is the opposite of faith. It stands in the way. You cannot grow in faith if you're overcome. One problem with fear is that it's contagious. It spreads to other people around you. Moses spoke of this. Remember in this famous speech that he gave to Israel. It's the book of Deuteronomy, the famous speech that he gave to Israel before they entered the promised land.
This is part of the speech, Deuteronomy 20:2-8, "Now it shall come about that when you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near, and he shall speak thus to the people. He shall say to them." This is a priestly speech. "Hear all, Israel, you're approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be faint-hearted. Do not be afraid. Do not panic. Do not tremble before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you." That's the principle. God is with you in the midst of the battle. He's with you in the midst of the trouble. He's with you in the midst of the storm. That's the point.
God is the one to fight for you against your enemies to save you. Then the officer, he shall make a speech. The officer shall say, "Who is the man who is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart in return to his house." This is what Moses told them to do. Otherwise, he says, "He might make his brother's heart smell like his heart. It's contagious." You saw that at Kadesh Barnea. Remember that critical moment in history when Israel was just out of Egypt, they had literally come to the very doorstep of Israel or the promised land. They sent in 12 men to spy the land. 10 came back with this report. "This is this is terrible. The people are great. The cities are fortified. No, this is disaster. We cannot do this."
Then that struck fear. It was contagious to the point that that whole generation had to die in the wilderness. That generation were the ones who were slaves in Egypt. It's very hard. It's very hard to change an attitude and a character when someone's born in it, it's very hard. Some people are born in depression. Some people are born in all kinds of troubles and it's very hard. My father was an alcoholic. Many people who have a father who's an alcoholic themselves, oftentimes they become alcoholics.
Many people, their parents or whatever, they fight and they're always in turmoil, and the whole house is in chaos. It's very hard for them to grow up. Then they have a house in peace. It's very hard. It takes God to take hold of that heart and transform it. Does God still transform people today? Oh, He surely does. We have to recognize that God has the power to transform. I tell you what, I saw all of the chaos. I saw the disaster. I saw what my father had become and I said in my heart, "I don't want to be like that." Because alongside of that, there was something else happening my mom, faithful and true, made sure that we got to church, herself, an example of character, and would speak truth into our lives. Who are you going to follow? God transforms people today. That was the hinge point at Kadesh Barnea. These people were born in slavery. How do you get out of that? God has to break through. That whole generation, He called them an unfaithful generation.
When Jesus was training the disciples to become men of faith, He had to address their fear. Remember the story when the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee, this terrible storm arose against them, and it's battering the boat. Jesus is asleep. If you remember this tremendous story, the ship is been battered by the waves and the wind so much that they feared for their lives. They came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" Isn't that just typical of man right there, speaking to the Lord with such a thing, "Do you not care that we perish?"
Jesus, I love this scene, He stood up and He rebuked the wind and the sea, "Peace, be still." Waves crashing, wind smashing, waves, "Peace." [exhales] Mark 4, He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" What was this about? He's confronting their fear. He's got to confront their fear in order for them to grow in faith. "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They became afraid, and they said to one another, "Who then is this? What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" Even with this, he's strengthening their faith.
Let's add this to the story. Keep faith in unknown troubles. One of the greatest fears of man is fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown. "What is out there?" "I don't know. It's the unknown."
B. Keep faith in unknown troubles
Into the unknown, they don’t know. This is what faith believes. If troubles come, God will be with me in those troubles. I don't know what troubles are out there in front of me. I don't know what storms we're going to encounter in this life but I know that no matter what storm we encounter, God is going to be with us in the midst of the storm and will navigate us. He will help us to navigate through the storm.
Completely trusting God means you trust him, even if things don't go the way you want them to or the way you expect them to go. You can't chart out your course. You can't chart out the course of your life and say, "This is all going to work according to this plan." You don't know the charted course but I know this. The sovereign hand of God is with me. Romans 8:28, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." You love God and you follow Him. You're called with purpose.
Here's another one. Habakkuk 3, what a verse is this? Habakkuk 3:17-18, "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olives should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, if all of these things should happen to me, yet, I will exult in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. No matter what comes, no matter what storms, no matter what tragedy befalls, I will not be shaken. I will exult in the Lord."
Faith believes that God will be with you, even if things go badly. That's when you need God most. I'll tell you, when our daughter was murdered, it was the greatest tragedy of our lives. I needed God most. I knew He was with me. I knew He was with me, walking through it all. He will show you the way through the storm. His presence changes everything. That's the whole point. "Have I not called you because I am with you? You will go." He is a very present help in time of trouble. Psalm 1:27. I love this verse. We should memorize it. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who builds it."
C. Be spiritually on the alert
It's His presence among you that makes the difference. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It's vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors, for it is He who gives to His beloved, even while they sleep. It's that which I need in my life. Now, back to Judges 7, here's another lesson from the story. Be spiritually on the alert. With 10,000 men remaining, He says, "There are still too many." He has Gideon come down to the spring to drink water from the Spring of Harod. He's going to test them.
Please take note of that word, test them. All the men who drew the water up to their mouths with their hands were separated from those who knelt on all fours to drink directly from the water. He said, "Send everyone home who has knelt to drink, and I will deliver Israel with everyone who remains, those who brought the water up to their mouth with their hand." Notice, He said that He would test them. Drinking water is a very ordinary thing but these 300 drank water differently. I suggest that they were staying on the alert. That's why they did it that way.
They brought the water up to their mouth so that they could be on the alert. Soldiers at heart are always on the alert. Danger lurks. You don't know where. They bring the water up to their mouth. Always alert. Always alert. I suggest that. Say, "Well, how do you read that?" Because He's testing them. It says very clearly. Every day, I suggest today, we are in a spiritual battle. Those who have spiritual discernment can sense the spiritual nature of the conflict in which we now live. There is a storm cloud on the horizon. Every day God calls us to stay on the alert.
In fact, men of faith, men of spiritual strength are always on the alert for what the enemy may be doing and what God may be doing. Always be watching for what the enemy may be doing and what God may be doing. Always on the alert for what the enemy may be doing and what God may be doing. Watch. Today we watch for the signs of the times. In fact, in Jesus' day, He rebuked the Jewish leaders because they could not see. They could not see. They were quite blind. The signs of the times were all around them. "When the Messiah comes, the blind will see, the lame will walk, the dead will be raised."
When the disciples of John sent their message to Jesus, "Are you the one," Jesus said, "You go and tell John this, the lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised. You tell John that. He'll know the answer." In Matthew 16:2-3, Jesus replied to them, "When it is evening, you say it will be fair weather for the sky is red." In the morning, you say, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.'" We say today, "Red in morning, sailors take warning. Red at night, sailor's delight." We have a saying, very similar. "You know this. You can look at the sky and you can discern. Do you not know how then to discern the signs of the times?"
That's a spiritual thing. That's the spiritual alertness. I tell you today, we need people who are spiritually on the alert. We need people who are spiritually on the alert. One of the reasons that people are not spiritually on the alert is because the enemy has made inroads into their lives, and they still have altars to Baal and Ashtoreth. They're not spiritually alert. They're spiritually numbed by that. God is calling us to be a spiritually alive people. Anybody want to agree with me? God wants revival. That means spiritually alive. Another place He spoke of being alert, Luke 21:36, "Keep on the alert at all times," Jesus said, "Praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the son of man." 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, Paul said it this way, "But you brethren, you're not in darkness that the day would ever take you like a thief." We know that at the end of the age, the Lord will come like a thief in the night, but not for those who believe. Not for those who believe, for you are sons of light and sons of day. We are not of the night, we are not of darkness.
II. He is God of the Impossible
Let us not sleep as others sleep. Let us be on the alert and that is be sober. He's not just speaking about a soberness, don't get drunk, he's talking about a soberness spiritually, be very sober spiritually. Then back to Judges 7, we see this principle, "He’s God of the impossible." That's one of the aspects of faith. He’s God of the impossible. His army is reduced to 300, these are impossible odds. How can 300 have victory over 135,000? Because whenever God does the impossible, it gives Him greater glory.
I tell you, I have seen God do so many amazing things. I am determined to write Him down in a book. My first story will be, I love the miracle story of when many years ago I was, and I don't have the time to tell the whole story, I'll just summarize it. I was supposed to speak in another city and I set the alarm clock for PM rather than AM and my wife woke me up about 35 minutes before the plane is supposed to leave.
The end of the story is, I didn't make that plane, but I made a plane that was leaving 10 minutes later, that actually, when I got to the airport and I went down the ramp, there was a big open square of sky where my plane should have been. It was gone. There was an attendant there and I said, "Bring it back." He said, "No, it's not coming back." I said, "You don’t understand that is the only plane that I can be on, that will take me where I have to be. It has to come back."
He said, "It's not coming back for anybody." "Okay. How do I get a refund?" He says, "Go talk to the lady up there." When I began to walk back up the jetway, this was my prayer, "God, I did this. This was me. You have been so, so good to me, I have nothing to complain about. I did this. You have done so many miracles in my life, I'm very, very thankful for every one of them. I do not blame you. This was me. I did it."
I walked up and I said to the lady, "I need a refund." She chuckles, "Oh, there's always one of you. We call your runners." Yes, it was real nice. I could see my plane it was all the way out that had turned. I thought, "What am I going to do? How am I going to explain?" Then I looked as the plane went forward, and then it started this way, still being pulled by the tractor.
I looked like this and she saw me, looked like that, so she turned around and she looked like that, she says, "What are they doing? I said, "I have no idea, but I need a boarding pass." I didn't have a boarding pass. I make nothing up on the story. They pulled the plane in and went down the jetway and give them my boarding pass, I got on the plane. They closed the door after me and it took off. Now I'm standing up in front of this plane, they start clapping. There's so much more to the story.
A. God takes small faith and strengthens it
I have seen God do so many miracles. Because here's what happens, this is what I know, God takes small faith and then He strengthens it. God takes small faith and then He strengthens it. God instructed Gideon to go down to the camp of the Midianites, but notice He said, "But if you are afraid to go down." When you believe God helps your unbelief. Would you notice? You say, well, wait a minute, wait a minute. He sent people home before when they had fear. Now He's not sending him home. That's right, because there's a difference.
Because Gideon has already demonstrated that he has some faith, but now He's going to strengthen him in his needing more faith. If you are afraid, go down and listen to what happens at the edge of the camp, you will hear. When you believe God helps you in your unbelief. In the gospels, Jesus speaks of mustard seed faith, you might call it. The mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds used by a farmer and yet grows such that birds come and nest in its branches, He said.
There's another story, I mentioned it Wednesday, it's a great story. In the Gospel of Mark, many can relate to this story. There's a man, a father who comes to Jesus because his son is possessed by an evil spirit. The man says to Him, "If you can do anything, take pity and help us." This is Mark 9:23-24, Jesus said to him, "If." Now, this is such an important story. The man comes to him, his son is greatly troubled by this evil spirit, to the point that the evil spirit was causing the boy to throw himself on a fire.
The heart of the father was broken and he brings him to Jesus, "If you can help us, take pity." Jesus says, "If, if you can? All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately, the boy's father cried out and said, "I believe, help me in my unbelief." There is where many people can see themselves in the story. That's me. That's me, Lord I believe, but help me in my unbelief. I want more, I want to believe more. How many people would say tonight, "Lord, I believe, but I want to believe more. Help me in my unbelief."
God is strengthening Gideon's faith here. It's a principle we see throughout scripture, God takes little faith, and then when you use that little faith, He will strengthen you. When you use the little faith that you have, He will strengthen you in that faith. God strengthens Gideon's faith, when He first met him, called him a valiant warrior. Now He's strengthening him now.
When David was a young shepherd, God strengthen his faith, allowed David to encounter a lion and a bear, before he faced Goliath. God used all of these as a strengthening of his faith so that when he encountered the great trouble, he had the faith to encounter it. That's what God is going to do, He's going to build, you keep taking the little faith that you have and you use that to trust God for more. Then you will be strengthened in the day of trouble that it will yet arise.
1 Samuel 17:36, David says to Saul, "Your servant has killed a lion and a bear. This uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of those, since he has taunted the armies of the living God." David is incensed, "How dare this man say such things against the God of Israel." No one is incensed here. God strengthened David so that when he got to the day of trouble, he knew how to address it.
God will strengthen your faith. Romans 10:17, "Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ." Your faith is being strengthened right now. Right now, your faith is being strengthened because the word of God is going forth and is going forth by the Spirit of God and is taking hold of your life. You brick by brick, rock by rock, boulder by boulder are gaining strength, because God's word is sent forth and His word is sent forth in power by the Holy Spirit.
We also know that God strengthens faith through the trials and troubles and tribulations and difficulties in life because in those troubles, God demonstrates that He is God of the impossible, that He's God with you. Luke 1:37, "Nothing is impossible with God." Luke 18:27, "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God." Faith is this, faith is confidence in God. Faith is strong confidence in God. That's what faith building is.
B. Faith is strong confidence in God
Today, the mantra of the age is, "You need more self-confidence." They say, "You want to be a person of success. You need more self-confidence." I suggest to you that God does not want self-confident people. "Well really? What does he want? Shall I be insecure?" No, no, that's not good either. There is yet another option, confidence in God, it's a whole different thing. In fact, I suggest that those who are confident in self, have just limited themselves. Because they have confidence in self, they don't need confidence in God. Faith is confidence in God.
See, fear comes from fixing your eyes on the problems, the more you look at the troubles and the problems, the greater they become. Faith comes from fixing your eyes on the Lord and the more you look at God, the more you fix your eyes on him, the more your troubles come in perspective. When the Lord appeared to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee-- It was another storm, another day, it's in the night time. He came to them, he's just walking on the water, Peter called out, "If it is you, Lord, command me to come out to you on the water." He said, "Come."
Peter got out of the boat and walked to him, but it says then he saw the waves he began to sink. See, he took his eyes off the Lord and he began to see, "Oh, no." When Gideon told the men the battle plan, "We're going to defeat them with trumpets and torches and pitchers." Their confidence was set, [piano playing] they were going to trust whatever God asked them to do-- They were gonna do. I love Acts 4:13, it says, "As they observe the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men.
They were amazed and began to recognize as having been with Jesus." It wasn't their education or their training, it was the fact that they had been with Jesus. That's the key, that's what God is saying now. More of God means less of me, means drawing nearer to him, fixing your eyes on him, it's a revival of the heart that believes in him, that's what God wants to do, let him do it now. We need more faith, God wants to build more faith, it's confidence in him. We need more faith, "Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief." God says, "I will. You believe with whatever little you got and I'll give you more."
Father, thank you so much, your word is amazing and I just pray, Lord, that now we would open our heart to understand what you want to do in our lives. We want to be spiritually alert, there's so much spiritual warfare all around us. God, I pray for everyone in this place now, that we would understand what you want to do in our lives. We need more faith to believe, to have strong confidence in you, but we need more faith, strengthen us in our faith, God, we believe. Help us in our unbelief because we want more, we want more faith, we want to believe you for more.
How many, church, would even say that to the Lord tonight, "Lord, I believe, but help me in my unbelief. I want more, I want more faith, I know the key, I know the answer, it's you, it's you and my life. I need more of you, that's how I gain new strength, stronger faith." Church, how many tonight would say, "I believe, but help me in my unbelief. I want more " Would you just raise your hand to the Lord, just indicate that by saying to the Lord-- By raising your hand, "God, I believe, but I'm asking for more."
Father, thank you because we know that you delight to take those who have even little faith, who will trust you even in little faith and do great things, so God we honor you and thank you for it all now, in Jesus powerful name and everyone said? Amen