Summary: Having faith means living it out.
Last week we talked about faith and as we looked at a story about a man named Gideon we reached the conclusion that faith begins when we acknowledge that God is with us. If we remember the passage from last week, Gideon was in a winepress when the angle of the Lord appeared to him. Gideon immediately began to complain that God had abandoned the Israelites. “The Lord is not with us!” he proclaimed. The ironic thing, and what Gideon didn’t realize was that the entire time he was complaining that God had abandoned them; he was complaining to God himself. Sometimes in life we can’t explain why things happen the way they do. Sometimes we just can’t comprehend why God would allow something like the Tsunami tragedy or our parents getting a divorce to happen but faith doesn’t begin when we have all the answers. Faith is believing that God is with us despite the situations and circumstances.
While I was preaching that message last week God really touched my heart and as soon as I left the church, God began to challenge me and asked me a question that lasted throughout the entire week. All week God has been asking me the question, “Did you mean what you said? Do you really believe that the beginning of faith is believing that I am with you? Do you really believe that acknowledging my presence is more important that having answers and explanations?”
The reason he was asking me this question is because he was teaching me a lesson, and oddly enough it was same lesson that Gideon learned right after his encounter with the angel of the Lord. Let’s take a look at this lesson by opening your Bibles to Judges 6:25-32. (Pg. 238 in the pew Bibles)
Gideon has just had this amazing, crazy encounter with God in the preceding verses. He was able to begin his faith in God by acknowledging that God was indeed with him, no matter what. Let’s read what happened next in this story of Gideon ***read the text***.
There are two things that I think this passage teaches us about faith.
First off, as we look at the passage we just read, what God is saying to Gideon is the exact same question that God has been asking me all week. “Did you mean it?” God asks Gideon to make his new faith active by obeying the command that God has given him. This was no simple task either. As we read, the men of the town wanted to kill Gideon for tearing down the idols. Gideon knew this would be the case, in verse 27 it says, “he was afraid of his family and the men of the town.” Gideon very easily could have gotten angry at God saying, “Why do you want to put me in danger? Why do you ask me to do this?!” Gideon could have gotten mad after the fact that his reputation was destroyed and now he is constantly insulted by the nickname the men of the town gave him. But he didn’t! Gideon obeyed God despite the situation and circumstance! Gideon learned that the beginning of faith is acknowledging that God is with us and that faith continues when it becomes active in our lives.
Secondly, if you look at the beginning of verse 25 we learn something else. It reads, “That same night the Lord said to him.” God didn’t wait years, months, or even a single day to ask Gideon to put his faith in action. God asked him right away! Sometimes when people begin a relationship with God or when they say they believe in God they have an attitude that they don’t have to change anything about the way they live until they are about to die. I have heard some people say, “I’m in high school. I just want to enjoy everything and then I will pay attention to God later.” This isn’t the way a relationship with God works though. When we grow spiritually and take a step in faith God is going to immediately check our footing. God knows that if we really believe what we just said or committed to then our actions would back up our words. He is going to ask us, “Do you really trust me? Did you mean it?” Again, Gideon learned that the beginning of faith is acknowledging that God is with us and that faith continues when it becomes active in our lives. This week God spent His time testing to see how active my faith was in my life.
As some of you already know, I had a pretty rough week this week that seemed like it was one thing after another falling apart.
I got my W2 forms from the church on Tuesday which meant that I would soon have to sit down and figure out all my taxes. In previous years, I have used a website that does everything for you and all you have to do is print out the forms and mail them in. Sounds easy…accept this time it wasn’t. I spent a very frustrating couple of hours in front of my computer trying to figure everything out. Every time I thought I had done everything correct I would get to the end and it would tell me I had an error. Eventually though, I gave up, went home, and just tried to forget about it.