…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
In Hebrews 11, there’s a key reminder for us … regarding the believers who walked by faith,
Hebrews 11:32-34 (NIV)
32 And what more shall I say?
I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,
33 who through faith
conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword;whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
who through faith … whose weakness was turned to strength …
This post highlights believers whose weakness was turned to strength, … who by faith, heard His Word, … obeyed His Word, .. and saw the Lord’s infinite strength and power.
There are times when God challenges us to simply trust and obey Him,
… trust Him, … the Lord knows what He’s doing.
He gives strength to the weary
and strengthens the powerless.
Isaiah 40:29 (HCSB)
And by faith in the Lord, these believers became the living prayer of
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9, 10 (HCSB)
And as one joins them in stepping out in faith, … ignoring the thoughts & doubts of:
“Never seen before, … never done before … “
“Too young, … not enough experience
… not trained, … not qualified”
“.. the weakest … the least …”
“this does not make sense“
By the Holy Spirit, God works powerfully through our weakness and lack, … so that God ultimately gets the maximum glory!
As we trust Him in prayerful dependence to lead us step by step.
Let’s look at a few examples in the Old Testament (Joshua, David, Gideon, Hezekiah, etc) and the New Testament.
Consider God’s plan to Joshua to take the city Jericho,
Joshua 5:14,15, 6:1-5 (NIV)
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked,
“Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him,
“What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua,
“See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
The Lord’s promise for Joshua:
I have delivered Jericho into your hands
(your will be done … on earth … as it in heaven)
God’s plan for Joshua:
3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark.
On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.
5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets,
have the whole army give a loud shout;
then the wall of the city will collapse
and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
Before this, the Israelites had set themselves apart for the Lord through circumcision, and had celebrated the Passover with the Passover lamb (Joshua 5:1-12).
Then, they were ready to face their first battle in Canaan.
After Joshua took off his sandals,
he humbled and reverently submitted to the Lord,
God spoke to him clearly and precisely,
God gave him a detailed audacious plan,
and predicted the spectacular outcome,
the wall of the city will collapse
We know that Joshua was a mighty warrior (Exodus 17:8-16)
but this time God had a different way to triumph over the enemy,
a battle plan not based on brute force and might,
but by a 7-day silent march,
with priests (not soldiers) blowing trumpets,
and, … all it takes is just one faith shout in unity,
and solely by God’s power,
“the wall of the city will collapse”
Was the thought, “Never seen before, … never done before … “,
going to hinder Joshua and his army?
Imagine an army general taking this plan to his troops.
Will others follow?
In another battle,
The Philistine giant, Goliath, had taunted the Israel army for 40 days, demanding a challenger to fight him.
1 Samuel 14:32, 33 (NKJV)
32 Then David said to Saul,
“Let no man’s heart fail because of him;
your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
33 And Saul said to David,
“You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him;
for you are a youth,
and he a man of war from his youth.”
“Too young, … not enough experience
… not trained, not qualifed”
Will that quench David’s faith and courage?
By faith, young David stepped out and confidently faced the giant.
Before engaging him in battle,
David boldly declared to the giant, Goliath,
45 Then David said to the Philistine,
“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin.
But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
… 47 Then all this assembly shall know that
the Lord does not save with sword and spear;
for the battle is the Lord’s,
and He will give you into our hands.”
1 Samuel 17:45 (NKJV)
Goliath was clad in a seemingly impenetrable armor from head to toe,
but David clothed only in the armor of God
overcame the giant with just a stone from his sling shot.
50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone,
and struck the Philistine and killed him. …
1 Samuel 17:50 (NKJV)
Years later, David in worship and thanksgiving, wrote:
“I love You [fervently and devotedly],
O Lord, my strength.”
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress,
and the One who rescues me;
My God, my rock and strength
in whom I trust and take refuge;
My shield, and the horn of my salvation,
my high tower—my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
And I am saved from my enemies.
Psalm 18:1-3 (AMP)
For Joshua and the Israelite army at Jericho,
they had to trust the Lord,
and simply stand on God’s promise
— His word, and direction;
rather than trusting their human intellect & ingenuity, … muscular strength, … size of the army, … strategy and tactics.
One generation before them,
…. there was a fast approaching Egyptian army hot on the heels of the Israelites, … very close to annihilate all of them.
With the great Red Sea right in front of their path
and the Egyptian army closing in on them,
… Moses boldly declared in faith,
against the tide of “impossible odds”
13 And Moses said to the people,
“Do not be afraid.
Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord,
which He will accomplish for you today.
For the Egyptians whom you see today,
you shall see again no more forever.
14 The Lord will fight for you,
and you shall hold your peace.”
Exodus 14:13,14 (NKJV)
At Jericho, for Joshua and the Israelite army, its not easy to march round 7 days in silence around the city of Jericho,
with only the blowing of trumpets by the priests,
…. while the people of Jericho jeered, cajoled, provoked, taunted them, high from their solid fortress.
A test of restraint, patience, … self-control,
quietly obeying God’s plan.
By not attacking and just silently march round the city,
the Israelites would be vulnerable,
… easy targets for the Jericho army,
who were on the higher ground on their tightly shut solid fortress.
For the Israelites, by faith,
they had to ‘walk the talk’ … of God being their shield and fortress, … that no matter what, … God would protect them, according to His word.
This was God’s plan, God’s way … the way of ‘trust and obey’.
The victory was to be gained in weakness,
… not in human strength, or human ingenuity/strategy.
That is why, for Christ’s sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak,
then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
May we trust the Lord’s grace & strength, and stand on the Lord’s side … like Joshua,
standing steadfastly on His word,
obediently and patiently, … in submission to the Lord,
march round the city for 6 days,
on the 7th day, march round 7 times,
“have the whole army give a loud shout;
… the wall of the city will collapse”
May we stand steadfastly and firmly on God’s word,
even though His ways and methods are so contrary to our experience and expertise
… even when we feel so weak and vulnerable
and all we hear the Lord saying is … “Trust me”
Hebrews 11:30 (NIV)
By faith the walls of Jericho fell,
after the army had marched around them for seven days.
Amen. Praise the Lord!
According to God’s word, .. according to God’s plan.
Joshua first heard and saw
the fall of the walls of Jericho,
when he heard the Lord’s word,
“I have delivered Jericho into your hands,
… the wall of the city will collapse
and the army will go up …”
Joshua saw and heard by faith,
and he acted in faith on God’s Word.
Yes, faith without action is as dead
as a body without a soul.
James 2:26 (Philips)
God honored His Word,
as they obeyed His Word, … by stepping out in faith.
Faith sees the invisible, believes the impossible
receives the incredible, no matter what was
Faith moves the unmovable, proves the unprovable
for anyone willing to trust
believe and you’ll see what faith does
When the angel visited Mary to announce the conception of Jesus,
The angel said,
37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord;
let it be to me
according to your word.” …
Luke 1:38 (ESV)
Faith in the Lord,
… let it be to me … according to your Word,
Thus, nothing will be impossible with God
the size of the enemy he was facing — 135, 000 soldiers (Judges 8:10)
And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. Judges 7:12 (ESV)
Judges 7:7 (NIV)
7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped
I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand,
and let all the others go every man to his home.”
With an initial large army of 32,000 Israelites, …
the Lord only needed 300 to defeat all the Midianties, Amalekites and other eastern peoples.
300 vs 135, 000 (i.e. 0.22%)
and led by an unlikely candidate as their leader,
in Gideon’s own words,
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied,
“but how can I save Israel?
My clan is the weakest in Manasseh,
and I am the least in my family.”
Judges 8:15 (NIV)
“.. the weakest … the least …”
No plan B, … no risk contingency plans.
Trusting the Lord.
By our human sight, … impossible, crazy odds !
Jesus looked at them and said,
“With man this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
By His Word, God turns our impossibilities,
into great, awesome possibilities
for His glory!
Your name be honored as holy. …
on earth … as it is in heaven.
God had given His word to Gideon,
“With the three hundred men
.. I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands.”
Why does the Lord challenge our faith, against the odds?
Judges 7:2 (NIV)
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men.
I cannot deliver Midian into their hands,
or Israel would boast against me,
‘My own strength has saved me.’
Thus, through only 300,
it would be crystal clear that the Lord had given them the victory,
and not of themselves.
God’s supernatural power,
not man’s strength,
so that the people will return their hearts to the Lord;
in trust & worship to the Lord.
Humble faith and trust in the Lord.
On the night of the ambush,
Judges 7:16, 19-22 (ESV)
16 And Gideon divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars.
In spite of the odds, Gideon obeyed by faith, and went up to face the enemy.
19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch.
And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands.
20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”
21 Every man stood in his place around the camp,
and all the army ran.
They cried out and fled.
unexpectedly, suddenly, … chaos reigned in the enemy
22 When they blew the 300 trumpets,
the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army.
And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.
When the 300 blew their trumpets,
the Lord caused the enemy to fight among themselves and kill each other!
Thus, the great army of 135,000 was decimated, destroyed and scattered,
by a mere 300,
by the Lord’s mighty hand!
… Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
Joshua 10:14 (NIV)
Years later, in another battle of impossible odds,
In the face of a large invading army from Assyria,
King Hezekiah by faith in the Lord,
boldly declared God’s truth to his people,
2 Chronicles 32:7, 8, 20-22 (ESV)
7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him,
for there are more with us
than with him.
8 With him is an arm of flesh,
but with us is the Lord our God,
to help us and to fight our battles.”
And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
Here’s how the battle was won by the Lord,
20 Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz,
prayed because of this
and cried to heaven.
the Lord sent
an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria.
So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword.
22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.
Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed,
the Lord sent an angel,
Our prayers are powerful.
… your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
Hezekiah was right,
there are more with us … than with him
Hezekiah was convinced that the Lord our God, helps us and fights our battles.
When Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed and cried to heaven
The Lord sent an angel who destroyed the vast Assyrian army
… and later, Sennacherib king of Assyria was assassinated by his own sons.
A devastating, crushing victory!
The battle was won on their knees, … in prayer,
united in prayer, … in agreement with the Lord.
The battle was first won in the Spirit realm through prayer.
On a side note,Hezekiah was king, Isaiah was prophet and priest, … a collaborative partnership of ministries in agreement in prayer.
For another example, see 2 Chronicles 20.
In a personal situation,
general Naaman of Aram (Syria) was faced with God’s plan that doesn’t make sense in the natural.
For Naaman to receive his healing for leprosy, all he had to do was
— Go and wash in the Jordan seven times
2 Kings 5:10-15 (NKJV)
10 And Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.”
11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage
Naaman had pre-conceived ideas how God was going to heal him,
i.e. Elisha stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand …;
following a methodology, a recipe, a formula, … some ‘magic’ prayer words ?
Naaman was angry that Elisha did not even honor his visit by coming out to meet him,
after all isn’t he the great general from Aram, … a VIP ?
Why was Elisha so specific, … Jordan river only?
Why not Abanah or Pharpar rivers in Assyria?
It just “does not make sense”.
Thus when Naaman visited Elisha, … Naaman’s heart was not yet ready to receive healing.
Thankfully, Naaman’s servants managed to calm him down.
13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said,
“My father, if the prophet
had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?
How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
How great was Naaman’s desire to be healed?
Wise encouragement from Naaman’s servants.
Naaman obeyed and humbly went to the Jordan.
He stripped off his honors, his uniform,
dis-armed his sword and weapons;
a bare, vulnerable general in a river, in a foreign country.
He dipped himself into the river … 1, 2, 3, …. 7 times.
14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God;
and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Naaman received his healing, without any prophet or special man of God present,
Naaman received his healing directly from the Lord.
Thus, Naaman understood that God is spirit. God is ever-present with him, even after he returns to Aram.
Naaman by faith obeyed God’s Word,
and God honored His word, … with His healing!
Years later, … even Jesus commended Naaman for his faith and obedience in trusting the Lord’s plan,
“And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet,
and none of them was cleansed
except Naaman the Syrian.”
Luke 4:27 (NKJV)
Unlike so many others in Israel,
Naaman, a Gentile, received healing.
Although, Naaman had limited knowledge of God, Jehovah.
Naaman believed that God was able to heal him,
while the others in Israel did not,
even though they knew a lot more than Naaman, and had the scriptures.
God healed Naaman.
Furthermore, Naaman’s faith was not perfect,
… with some doubt and hesitation.
Naaman in his mustard seed faith took the Lord at His Word,
obeyed and received his healing.
Naaman acted out his faith.
God honored His word,
He healed Naaman.
In the New Testament in John 9,
the man born blind testified of his miraculous healing
11 He answered and said,
“A Man called Jesus made clay
and anointed my eyes
and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’
So I went and washed, and I received sight.”
25… One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
John 9:11,25 (NKJV)
The blind man could not see who Jesus was
until his sight was restored.
The blind man only heard Jesus voice,
… and he obeyed,
For we walk by faith,
not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)
From these examples, we can see that the Lord revealed to each one of them … ‘what to do‘.
However, He left the ultimate surprise … of ‘how it will be achieved‘
… until they stepped out in obedience,
by faith according to God’s Word and plan.
Your will be done … on earth as it is in heaven
Also, .. each one’s faith experience and instruction from the Lord was personalised and unique. There’s no methodology, recipe, formula or magical words of prayer.
Rather, its a mustard seed faith in God and His Word; prayerful dependence on the Lord.
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them
to us through His Spirit. …
1 Corinthians 2:9, 10 (NKJV)
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us,
21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20,21 (NKJV)
In closing, let’s consider the area of ministry.
In Acts, the apostle to the Jews was Peter, and the apostle to the Gentiles was Paul.
To the Jews, … God sent a fisherman from Galilee, … unschooled and unlearned (Acts 4:13),
who grew up fishing, … far from the center of religious learning in Jerusalem.
To the Gentiles, … God sent a top Pharisee,
a Hebrew of Hebrews, … and as to the law, blameless (Philippians 3:5,6).
educated by Gamaliel a leading authority in the Sanhedrin,
A squeaky clean Pharisee who had little experience with Gentiles, … until he met Jesus.
With Paul’s Phd, MDiv, etc, … and wide Jewish network and contacts.
its highly likely that we’ll pick Paul as our first choice over Peter to be sent to the Jews.
1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (ESV)
27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
28 God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
31 so that, as it is written,
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Sound familiar? Similar reasons as to why the Lord directed Gideon to choose only 300, and send young David to meet the experienced and huge Goliath.
Prayerful dependence on the Lord.
Paul confessed his weakness when he first came to minister to the Corinthians in the next section of his letter to them,
3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,
4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men
but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (ESV)
Hence, the paradox of serving and trusting in the Lord,
wisely & humbly articulated by Paul
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak,
then I am strong.
Hebrews 11:33, 35 (NIV)
33 who through faith
conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword;
whose weakness was turned to strength;
who through faith
whose weakness was turned to strength;
Proverbs 3:5,6 (NKJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Isaiah 55:8-11 (NKJV)
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
April 1, 2017
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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