Find Favor

Judges 6:17-24

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” 19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.
22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Introduction

One parenting practice that has polarized opinions is sibling comparison. When one child barely or not doing well while another child excels in school, some parents would encourage the former to emulate the latter, and say, “Why can’t you be like your brother?” Or, “Why don’t you follow the footsteps of your brother?”

Many parents would favor children who behave well. It’s easy to favor or appreciate excellent behavior. Such is human nature of favouritism.

It says in Romans 5:8, 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God’s love for us is not influenced by good or bad behaviour. But why do we still need to obey His command if God still loves us even when we commit sin? The purpose of obedience is not to win His love. Obedience to Him is designed for us to maximize the best lifestyle He has designed for believers. It favors us to obey the Lord.

Does God favor the obedient?

Gideon presumed that God favoured him because he was chosen to lead Israel against Midian. And, he wanted to be sure of it. He brought a present before the Lord.

1. Present

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”

Older Bible versions used the word “present” instead of “offering.” Gideon offered to bring a present. He had a present before God, why? In many Eastern cultures, the host would offer food to visitors. To ‘eat’ the food presented by the host demonstrates “trust,’ and to ‘reject’ the food may signal that the visitor does ‘not trust’ the host.

The angel told Gideon that God chose him to lead Israel but Gideon wanted to be sure that the Lord fully trusted him. So, Gideon brought a present to prove it. 19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

Assuming that his servants helped him, preparing the goat for broth and making bread may take more than an hour of effort. He presented his offering under the oak, which may imply that it could have been a hot summer day. Waiting for the preparation of present, it means that the visitor was sincere about the message.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.

Did Gideon expect God to eat like human? Did Gideon offer a present to test if his visitor was God’s messenger or just anyone who tried to make fun of him? Have you ever heard someone telling you that God has chosen you for a certain project or mission? How would you respond if God favors you to be His instrument of a mission project?

In this world, where frauds, scams and deceptions are increasingly aggressive, we need to be more prayerful on how we may get involved in a particular ministry outside the church. This is when short-term missions become essential to long-term involvement. We also need to be careful and prayerful about accepting church membership.

It is says in Jude 17-21, 17Remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

In this church, we have proven that the warnings of the apostles are true and accurate. We experienced undesirable situations because we have been deceived or we are misled by the thought that numbers means great ministry. We may even wish to be known as pleasant Christians. We don’t want an image of conservative believers.

In our decisions, as a church or as individuals, we need to pray and be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Great ideas may excite or deceive us. Therefore, we need to discern which great idea is applicable to us. God has a particular design for each local church. We need to be prayerful for our leaders that they may decide which activity is suitable for us that God wants church members to be involved with.
There will be unpopular decisions of which ministry we may focus on. The peace of God that surpasses understanding will sustain us in Christ Jesus to do His will.

2. Peace

22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”  24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace.

The Israelites may have believed that anyone who sees an angel of God will die because of sinfulness. Gideon expected that he will die when he saw the angel. His expectation was not what transpired. The angel of the Lord knew that Gideon was scared to die but instead, peace was assured to remove the fear from Gideon’s heart.

Someone said, “Expectation leads to frustration.” Yet, we have expectations. We expect results based on what we did before. Hesitation to make risky decision prevails when we expect disastrous result. We’re scared of failure and become indecisive often.
We want to be sure of every step we make. Gideon wanted to make sure that God trusted him to lead Israel. He can’t even trust himself. Being the weakest, he thought he didn’t deserve to lead. And, what if the visitor just wanted to make fun of him?

Gideon wanted to make the right decision of accepting the challenge to lead Israel. He wanted a proof that he was really chosen. Gideon may not have taken risky efforts before. He may have just been satisfied of doing ordinary things that others did.

Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress when the angel approached him. Winepress is a very limited space. It was not mentioned if it was a portable winepress. Gideon was cautious that the Midian might see what he was doing. So, if ever he was caught threshing wheat, the enemy can only take the little wheat he was threshing.

That implies that Gideon was just a practical person. He did ordinary things to survive a day. Don’t we act like Gideon most of the time? We don’t like to take risk especially when we know that making the wrong move would result to tragedy.

Joy

In the movie “Joy,” the leading leady risked the future of her family when she double mortgaged their house to start a business. She personally designed a cleaning tool to sell. People around her—father, mother and sister discouraged her not to take the risk. A problem came and they concertedly rebuked her and said, “I told you so!”

Nonetheless, she overcame the problem. Her business progresses, and her relatives who used to discourage her, worked for her and quietly waited for her instructions.

In the ministry, many churches are cautious of taking risky endeavour. It is much easier to imitate established ministry that have been proven successful at one time. It is also more certain to support established ministries outside the church than to start or be a pioneer of ministry. In reality, some churches are called to pioneering mission ministries. Others are called to support established mission ministries.

So, while we pray to understand our identity—called to pioneering work or supporter of mission ministries, we will continue to support established churches or mission ministries abroad. However, we need also to be prayerful and watchful of the Lord’s revelation while supporting other ministries outside the church premises.

The mission statement of this church has been established: “To reach out to people for Christ, nurture and disciple them to Christ-like maturity, equip them for their ministry in the church and mission in the world, for the glory of God.”

Appropriate approach or method in fulfilling this mission is what we need to identify. Let’s keep praying for our elected ministry leaders and BOT members that God may reveal to them which ministry, activity, or project that God has designed for us.

Even as we may be careful in our decision, if the peace of God prevails in our hearts as our assurance of what He wants us to do such ministry, it’s worth the risk. It says in Philippians 4:5-7, 5The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If we’ve the peace of God in our hearts, we’ve found favor in His eyes.

<‘))):< ltsii >:(((‘>

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