Judges 7:2 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, …”
This verse should be a comfort and encouragement to any church in Japan! In America, a church of 100 is considered small, but in Japan, that’s a pretty big church. However, the issue is not numbers, but pride. The bigger the group, the easier it is for it to do something, even if it has nothing to do with the will of God. I’m reminded of a group of Chinese pastors who were able to visit the US some years ago. Dealing with persecution from a capricious government at home, they found American churches to be very different. As they were preparing to leave, they were asked what their biggest impression was. They replied, “We are amazed that you can accomplish so much without the Holy Spirit.” What a condemnation! The one “advantage” of active persecution is that it forces reliance on God. We are so quick to rely on ourselves and our own resources! God didn’t want that to happen, so He cut Gideon’s numbers to less than 1% of what he started with. That’s pretty drastic thinning! In the process He delivered a lesson that is repeated throughout the Bible, stated most clearly in Zechariah 4:6: “’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” We sing that set to music, but too often we don’t really grasp it. We want to see what we’re depending on, and depend on what we can see. That’s not the way of God’s kingdom! We need to grasp, deep down to the core of our being, that man’s greatest power can’t compare with God, so we’d better not rely on man. Even physically, compared to the power of even a small star, man’s biggest hydrogen bomb is equivalent to a small burp, barely noticeable! God wants us to trust and depend on Him, so sometimes He takes away everything else.
Of course this applies to me. This church is no more than a small group fellowship, by American standards, even though we have our own building, by the grace of God. I am all too prone to look at our circumstances and fail to expect God to do great things. Cathy and I have the strong feeling that He is going to do some remarkable things in this fiscal year (April through March), but we don’t really know what. We need to be aware that it won’t be without opposition. Yesterday I was in an emotional funk such as I thankfully haven’t had in a long time, and for no logical reason. I need to submit to God and stand firm against all such attacks, because when I’m wobbly, that negatively affects those around me. I do have a packed schedule ahead of me, particularly tomorrow and the next day, but that’s no big deal for God, certainly. As He has told me to do, I need to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him, looking forward to what He’s going to do next. If I could do it on my own, I’d be tempted to steal His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for yesterday, to pound it home to me that I can’t do it on my own. Thank You that it’s no big deal for You. May Your plans, for today, tomorrow, and each day, be fulfilled on Your schedule in Your way for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!