Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

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Learning to trust God is no easy task. We explored the testing of Abraham last week in worship; God required intense trust as he ventured up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac. On one level, we question God’s intentions in such a situation. Has God lost it? Has he turned evil? Is God contradicting Himself? God’s instructions required momentous faith; Abraham responded in trust.

Sometimes it is difficult to trust God because we cannot see the end result. In Judges 7, the story of Gideon reminds us that God intends us to live in a dependent posture. Gideon was probably pleased with extensive troops. Yet God felt his army was too large.

(Judges 7:2 NIV) The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her . . .”

Too many? When is the last time you felt too prepared? or that you had too much money? or your team had too much talent? In our world, bigger is better; the more the merrier. But God explains his comment. If the army is successful, they will boast. They will take the credit for their skill. God knows us too well.

The first step is to give free passes home. Gideon offers an honorary discharge to anyone who wants it; he has plenty of takers.

(Judges 7:3 NIV) So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

From 32K to 10K. That is quite a drop in manpower. Gideon’s confidence must have taken a blow. But God is not finished.

(Judges 7:4 NIV) There are still too many men

Are you kidding God? More cuts? This time God has a plan to whittle the group down; he has them drink from a stream and determines that 300 qualify for the battle.

(Judges 7:7 NIV) The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.”

Notice God’s language, He is the one who will win the battle. He will do it with the men. You probably know the rest of the story. The men follow God’s instructions to win the battle. They do very little to engage the enemy; God does all the work.

(Judges 7:22 NIV) When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.

This story reminds us that God deeply desires our reliance on Him. He will often go to extreme measures to insure our dependency. As we follow God, we need to remember that God yearns for relationship; He wants us to turn to Him. Can we have too much (talent, resources, dollars)? Can our assets deprive us of our need for God? As we discern God’s leading, may we remember this story. Sometimes God may lead us to less. This shift challenges everything that our culture values. Yet God needs to make adjustments so that our dependance on Him will not falter.