by Tiffany S.
from Virtuous Daughters, November 2014~Volume 14, Number 8
For the past year or so, God has been laying on my heart the importance of faithfulness to Him. I’d like to share with you some gleanings from the life of an ordinary man who held an ordinary job—yet he served an extraordinary God.
The book of Judges tells us the story of Gideon. He was just an average man performing a seemingly “small” task—hiding wheat, possibly for his father. Perhaps he was tempted to believe his work was insignificant or his life inconspicuous. Yet amidst his faithfulness (possibly for an extended period of time), God called him to defeat the Midianites. God always sees our attitudes and actions; He is searching for faithful men and women who are set apart for His work. But true faithfulness can only be revealed when it has been tested—with time. “The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men.”—Psalm 11:4
Notice Gideon’s dubious attitude. The Lord’s opening statement was a promise to be with him, yet Gideon replied, “Oh, my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Perhaps his pathetic response reveals that he was weary in well doing. He boldly doubted God’s steadfast Word and His past faithfulnesses, refusing to believe that if God were with His people, He would allow them to suffer these trials. But before we point our finger at Gideon, let us search our own hearts...while we know the truth in our heads, do we ever fail to believe it in our hearts? Do we question His faithfulness, simply because we do not see His powerful hand as vividly as we have in the past?
The fact of the matter is, God desires that “the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”—1 Peter 1:7 This is well explained in Deuteronomy 8:2-5: “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live….Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.”
You see, God allowed the Israelites to endure a wilderness season for numerous reasons, some of which included:
During times of testing, I have reminded myself, “By His grace, I must come forth as gold.” He has humbled me by revealing sin in my life. (I ask God to purge me of it—Psalm 51!) He has proved me. (What is truly in my heart? Have I made these convictions my own?) Will I keep His commandments? (Essentially, will I remain faithful to Him and “His dear cause”?!) He has allowed me to “hunger” so that I find sustenance and fulfillment in Christ alone. “For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”—Psalm 107:9 Retaining this mindset enables us to look to the Lord and His Word for joyful victory and grace as we endeavor to remain faithful.
You don’t typically say, “Mr. Such-and Such has been such a faithful Christian,” if he was just saved two weeks ago. No, you “wait and watch,” to see if he will stand strong, if he is building his house upon the Rock Jesus Christ and will weather the fiercest storms. It may take years—possibly a lifetime!—before you can say, “He was a faithful man” in all earnestness. Only time—and the inevitable trials that test one’s faith—truly tells. A season of testing won’t last forever, but the ramifications of how we respond to it will.
Back to Gideon. Our ever-loving, merciful heavenly Father chose to comfort, assure, and use this unworthy servant. (Isn’t that encouraging?!) Looking upon him, the Lord said, “Go...save...have not I sent thee?”
When God clearly sends us, there should be no queries, as His command is one of immense power. However, Gideon wrestled with additional doubts. He essentially asked, “But how? My family is poor; I am simply the least in my father’s household…” God’s answer was, “Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.” No explanation was provided, but a promise had been made. (Application: do we trust God’s promises, even when they are without explanation or perhaps do not “make sense” from the perspective of our limited understanding?)
Gideon then requested a sign, which God graciously granted. God reduced his army to impossible numbers (to demonstrate Who was truly conquering the enemy—Zechariah 4:6!!) and then, just before the battle, God provided final assurance and instructions, adding, “But if thou fear to go down, go with Phurah thy servant down to the host: and thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host.” Gideon accepted the offer, a glimpse of “sight” to give him a final boost. Though Scripture tells us that we walk by faith (not sight) and faith is certainly sufficient, sometimes the Lord graciously allows us to see with our eyes a glimpse of His power. For instance, Jesus told Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing….because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:27,29) While we can be extremely grateful when God grants us opportunities to see, we must also realize that tremendous blessing follows when we trust without sight.
God’s Word is replete with promises for the faithful: abundant blessings, preservation, etc. It also poses the question: “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness, but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6) A truly faithful man is priceless, a treasure rare. Many people, who endure for a time, eventually settle for ease rather than victory. “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”—Psalm 12:1
Yet God’s Word also promises us this precious truth: God preserves the faithful and He knows where to find them!!! J (See Psalm 31:23, Proverbs 15:3, and Hebrews 6:10-12.) If you are endeavoring to lead a life of faithfulness unto the Lord, He sees. He knows. He is glorified, honored, and fully aware of your service to Him. In His infinitely perfect timing, He will direct you to the next step.
Last summer, a sweet young lady in Virtuous Daughters called to share with me the wonderful news of her engagement to a godly man. After I rejoiced with and prayed for her, she kindly encouraged me to press on in faithfully serving the Lord. She then prayed for me, specifically asking the Lord to remind me that nothing I do in this season of waiting on the Lord is vain or void, because it is all unto Him. Isn’t that such a special truth? Galatians 6:9 is an oft-quoted verse in our home, because my mom chose it for her “home schooling Scripture” over 20 years ago! :) Notice it in context: verses 7-9 seem to imply that the “reward” of not “fainting” isn’t necessarily the fulfillment of some personal desire or even visible “fruit.” It says we will reap. What we’ll reap is what we sowed—life everlasting. It’s an eternal reaping because we sowed to the Spirit. Sometimes we tend to view Galatians 6:9 as a promise that we will receive earthly remuneration if we remain faithful to the Lord’s cause. And although the Lord does provide fruit and blessings along the way, the ultimate reaping may not be fully visible until we get to heaven. Think of missionaries who toil for years without ever seeing a conversion; yet the seeds they plant are not in vain. “Let nothing be wasted,” Jesus said. I believe God utilizes every prayer, every deed, everything done through His Spirit, to incredible potential. But we must have faith to believe that, even during times when it might not be obvious.
A personal example from my life is many effectual, fervent prayers for a certain despondent woman, someone God definitely laid on my heart. My entire family (along with many Christian friends) was praying in one accord for a specific request regarding this person’s spiritual life. I felt such strong faith that God was going to work mightily through our prayers and efforts. However, just the opposite appeared to happen when the day (toward which we had been praying) for this opportunity came. Crushed and confused, I cried out to the Lord, feeling that all of our prayers were wasted. He lovingly reminded me that everything done through the power of the Holy Spirit has an eternal purpose and our prayers were not in vain. Somehow He is still working through them. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”—Psalm 126:5-6 Sometimes we see the mighty, powerful answers to our prayers; other times we do not. In both cases, we must remain faithful, trusting that God is constantly at work.
Isaiah 64:4 assures us, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.” If we think we can predict how God will use or reward our faithfulness to Him, we are likely mistaken. My sister often says, “Maybe He wants us to be a link in the chain.” God’s purposes are infinitely higher than our own. Isn’t our utmost desire to be in the center of His good, acceptable, perfect will?! We have His promise: “Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!”—Psalm 31:19
Ecclesiastes 3:14 is powerful truth: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him.” The work of our flesh is temporal, but the work of God is eternal. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.”—Proverbs 19:21 Are we allowing His work to take place in our lives? Are we walking in the power of His Spirit and working through the strength of our Lord and Savior?
During a generation of heart-wrenching compromise—at times, even in fellow believers—Galatians 6:9 contains a refreshing key to not fainting: do not grow weary! I would suggest that the key to not growing weary (and thus fainting, even “in in our minds”) is looking unto Jesus and considering all He endured for us. (See Hebrews. 12:1-3.) We must keep our eyes ever toward the Lord. Isaiah 50:10 exhorts those who are endeavoring to accomplish God’s will but feel confused, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” We “stay upon God” by abiding in Him, keeping our eyes on His face, and resting in the rock-solid promises of His Word, regardless of the culture’s contradictions or our own unstable feelings. Other correlating Scriptures are Isaiah 26:3-4, Philippians 4:6-7, and 2 Chronicles 20:12.
J. Hudson Taylor said, “The meek do not possess by force, but as children, by inheritance. I do not believe that our Heavenly Father will ever forget His children. I am a very poor father, but it is not my habit to forget my children. God is a very, very good Father. It is not His habit to forget His children.” Your faithfulness does not go unnoticed by our loving heavenly Father. (See Isaiah 44:21 and 49:15-16.) Neither does it go unnoticed by people looking in on your life; you will never know this side of heaven how God is using your humble testimony of devotion to impact the lives of others. Yet even if they did not see, one father shared that when we are walking in obedience to Christ, it brings great glory to God and is a witness even to the angels in heaven (1 Peter 1:12).
One of the tremendous blessings that accompanies being in the center of God’s will is the unspeakable, unsurpassed joy with which He fills our hearts. It is eternally rewarding and fulfilling to serve the King of kings in whatever specific capacity He has ordained for us in this season of our lives. We echo the words of Psalm 40:8: “I delight to do Thy will, O my God,” and we are spurred on—stimulated—by the daily joys that fill our lives. What others might view as trivial work brings incredible pleasure to us because it is a “divine assignment.” But to experience this “peace that passes understanding,” we must be faithful to abide in the Lord and in His calling on our lives. A preacher at my church recently pointed out that if Ruth had not remained faithful to abide where God had her (Ruth 2:8), she would have missed out on incredible blessing. There is a “full reward” in store for those who remain faithful to the Lord (Ruth 2:12). Boaz, Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, is a picture of Christ, Who is the altogether lovely One, the full reward—in the truest sense—to each of us.
Are we remaining faithful to what the Lord has called us? Are we tending and cultivating whatever “fig tree” He has entrusted to our care (Proverbs 27:18)? Like Gideon, we are unworthy, but God has given us the privilege of serving Him—and He has already provided the victory if we rely on His Holy Spirit to accomplish the work through us. 1 Corinthians 7:20 exhorts, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” Until God clearly directs elsewhere, we are to demonstrate faith and obedience by remaining faithful in the work He has lovingly ordained right now. Hebrews 6:10-13 promises, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shown toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Though faith and patience will be required, it will be worth it all when we see our Savior and hear His voice, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
May the Lord’s richest blessings be upon each of you as you continue to seek Him and live for His glory!
Much Love in Christ,
“God is a wise husbandman, ‘Who waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it.’ He cannot gather the fruit till it is ripe. He knows when we are spiritually ready to receive the blessing to our profit and His glory. Waiting in the sunshine of His love is what will ripen the soul for His blessing. Waiting under the cloud of trial, that breaks in showers of blessings, is as needful. Be assured that if God waits longer than you could wish, it is only to make the blessing doubly precious. God waited four thousand years, till the fullness of time, ere He sent His Son. Our times are in His hands; He will avenge His elect speedily; He will make haste for our help, and not delay one hour too long.” ~Andrew Murray
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed”—John 8:31 A reminder that continuing in the way of the Lord is the mark of a faithful disciple.
Did you know that it requires FAITH to be faithful? That’s right! Ask the Lord to enable you to walk by faith, not by sight!!! He will increasingly strengthen your faith as you trust Him more. (See Habakkuk 2:4; Luke 17:5, 18:8, 22:32; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 6:16; Colossians 1:23, 2:5; Hebrews 11, 12:1-3; James 1:3.) God’s thoughts are so much higher than our own! He has a perfect timetable for all things (see Luke 22:14 and Galatians 4:4), and He is always “on schedule.” Without faith, it is impossible to please our Lord. Without faith, it is impossible to be faithful to Him.
I think one of the greatest practical suggestions I could offer is to saturate your heart and mind in the Word of God. It will truly transform your life, spurring you on to a life of joyful faithfulness to your King!!!! Spending time with the Lord—truly delighting in Him—is of essence, and it is the most rewarding (now and for all eternity) investment we can make. (See Romans 10:17.)
“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” —Isaiah 40:28-31
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