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Audacious Faith for Supernatural Solutions to Enormous Problems

If you are facing a seemingly insurmountable problem, then this is for you. I pray that it blesses and encourages you. 

1 Samuel 14:6

Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

Nothing can hinder God…

1 Samuel 13 describes in detail the pickle that Israel had gotten themselves into. In the first place, their God-anointed leader, Saul, had disobeyed God’s direct instruction through Samuel bringing judgment both on him and on the nation that he represented before God. In the second, with an army of only three thousand fighting men, Israel had managed to provoke the Philistine army, which was now making preparations to annihilate them. This army, we are told, consisted of six thousand charioteers, two to a chariot, and soldiers on foot ‘as numerous as the sand on the seashore. But the equation only got worse. When Israel saw the position they were in, the army went into hiding in “caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.” Most simply ran away in fear. In the end, there were only 600 men left facing a foe of tens of thousands. In the third place, only two men among those 600 carried with them weapons of war. The oppression of the Philistines was such that Israel had been prevented from amassing the necessary arms for the battle. Things could not have gotten much worse. Indeed their situation, had it not been so desperate would have been almost comical. It could only have ended with their doom, were it not for the miraculous power of God. And yet, not even those circumstances could hinder God from what he had chosen to do.

I challenge you today to line up your own circumstances with those Israel was facing. Let faith arise. Let hope arise. Let boldness arise. If God did it then, he can do it now. Nothing can prevent God from saving because saving is essential to his character. Its not about how big your circumstances are. Its not even about how much God loves you (though he loves you more than you can possibly imagine). When it comes to saving, its about God remaining true to his character.

…from saving…
God is into saving because he is a saviour. God is into delivering because he is a deliverer. God is into granting victory over impossible circumstances. Watch how he does it:

1. Audacious faith arises. 

Despite all that had happened to Israel, Jonathan still believed that Yahweh is a God who saves. So do we by the way. The very name of Jesus (Yeshua) upon which we call for our salvation literally means “Yahweh saves.” Indeed this was the purpose of the mission of Jesus to the earth: to reveal God as saviour by effecting our deliverance from the oppressive enemies of sin and death.

But notice that Jonathan’s faith, while audacious, is not presumptious. It does not manifest as a manipulative insistence on a particular outcome. Indeed, it begins only as a flicker of hope—”perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf”. Rather, his faith is manifest in a dogged refusal to allow the present circumstances to compromise the revelation of God as deliverer—”nothing can hinder the Lord from saving…”. This is the same kind of faith that his close friend David will show three chapters later when he confronts the giant Goliath. Like Jonathan, he has no way of knowing whether God would act in a particular way at that particular time. Like Jonathan, David takes what seems to be a reckless punt on God’s unchangeable character. And just as here with Jonathan, God responds, proving true to his character, and delivering not only David, delivering the nation through him.

2. Contagious boldness replaces fear.

Light is stronger than darkness. And in the same way that a little light dispels a lot of darkness, it only takes a little boldness to dispel a lot of fear. The few that were left of the army of Israel, were so afraid that they had taken to hiding in caves and pits and cisterns. And yet as Jonathan decares his faith in God’s character, boldness takes hold. It spreads first to his armour bearer who says in response “Do all that you have in mind…Go ahead. I am with you heart and soul.” It then spreads to the entire army who, emboldened by Jonathan’s success join in the pursuit. 

At any point the Philistines could have woken up to the situation and realised that logically they were the superior army. Their pursuers were far less in number and weaponless. But fear is a funny thing. A little boldness can turn the weapon of fear back on itself. Have you ever thought about that? Fear is one of our enemy’s most effective weapons. Have you ever stopped to consider why? Your enemy fears you. Because he knows that if you will but realise who you are—a son or daughter of the King of kings and thus invested with his full authority and resources; if you will but confess your faith in God’s unchangeable character—an all powerfull God of deliverance who cannot be hindered from delivering from our enemies; if you will but step out in obedient action, your enemy will be utterly defeated. All of the fear and intimidation that keeps you bound and keeps you from pursuing God’s purposes is nothing but a con. Its bluff. Powerful though he may wish you to think him, he knows well what we would do well to remember. He is a defeated foe. Let boldness arise! 

3. A supernatural strategy/solution emerges. 

The idea was so ridiculous that it just might have come from God. But he still wasn’t sure. Jonathan’s plan was to come out of hiding and show himself to an outpost of the Philistines. If the Philistines called out to them to “come up,” that would be the sign that God would give him victory over them. But notice that if they decided to come down to him, that would have meant destruction for him and his armour bearer since they had already given away their hiding place. In other words, once he had committed, there was no safe option. He and his armour bearer would fight for their lives either way.

To follow the traditional route of “inquiring of the Lord” before the battle would have required alerting others to his plan, which would certainly have prevented its execution. Sometimes faith requires us to commit to a course of action and ask God to direct rather than just sitting around and asking God what to do next. And sometimes faith requires us to put ourselves in a position where God has to ‘show up’ or we’re done for.

4. God brings supernatural multiplication.

So Jonathan and his armour bearer did exactly what Jonathan had suggested. They stepped out of their hiding place and challenged the enemy. From this point there was no turning back. And their enemies called out to them to “come up”—the sign. And so, with growing boldness, that’s exactly what they did. They had to climb with hands and feet to reach the Philistine outpost, which in itself would have been exhausting, and as soon as they got to the top, they had to engage in a battle where they were outnumbered at least ten to one. And yet, as they simply spent the energy that they had, God brought a multiplication to their efforts. He supplied what they needed for the climb and for the assault—surely no small miracle in itself—but then God brought a panic on the Philistines. They were in total confusion and began killing each other. Another miracle. And then there was a great multiplication of the resources as the other Israelites came out of hiding and joined in the pursuit.

…by many or by few
And so God brought about a great deliverance for Israel. It was miraculous from start to finish, but in order to accomplish it, he needed somebody to respond to him in faith; to declare the truth of God’s unchanging character, and then to prove that truth by his faith filled action.

Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few. In other words, God always acts in a way that is consistent with God’s character. And he is not limited by what we perceive as limitations. If your enemy is debt and you only have a few dollars, if your enemy is stress and you only have a few hours, if your enemy is the godlessness of a city or region and you only have a few people, nothing can hinder God from bringing victory over your enemies. God will deliever by many or by few. The question is, will he do it by you?


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Grace #5: Confidence in God’s Grace

The importance of Confidence
Confidence is incredibly important. The world calls it self-belief. And though I often get frustrated when I hear successful athletes and others who seem to have ‘made it’ in the world’s eyes tritely exhorting others to ‘just believe in yourself,’ there is a kernel of truth in what they say. And this is it. Confidence makes things that seemed impossible possible, and gives us the energy and motivation to persevere, even when things look hopeless. Confidence stands up for truth, while others bow down to idolatrous lies. Confidence speaks up for justice while others tolerate the tyranny of the status quo. Confidence steps up for sacrifice, while others hold back in self preservation. Confidence starts up with optimism, while others surrender to the unhappy comfort of procrastination. The one thing confidence does not do is give up, which is why a confident person is so difficult to defeat. And that is where we Christians are at a huge advantage, because we do not have to believe solely in ourselves. We believe in a God who is infinitely greater, but more than that, who loves us, who has gone to extraordinary lengths to have relationship with us, and who empowers us by his Holy Spirit, to do good in the world. So while self-belief might be capable of winning games, God-confidence changes the world for eternal good. It is literally invincible.

Sin and the Grace Plan
Why is it then, that we sometimes lack the confidence to stand up, speak up, step up, start up for God? Why is it that at times we lack the confidence even to come into his presence? The answer: Sin. Or more precisely, the guilt and shame that is caused by sin. And I actually think that was the devil’s motivation for introducing sin into the world. His desire was not the sin itself, but the separation from the heart of God that the resulting guilt and shame would cause. The devil’s plan was to rob us of our sonship (forgive me – I haven’t found a suitable gender neutral term for this, but of course I mean sonship and daughtership – ‘childhood’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Suggestions?) and our confidence before God, and thus of our inheritance. He knows how powerful our confidence can be. In 1 John 3:21–22 we are told that

…If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask…

His strategy then, is a relatively simple one, and we would do well to be aware of it. All he needs to do is to get us to sin and our own hearts will do the rest through the condemnation of guilt and shame. If our hearts condemn us, we will be separated from God, not because he removes himself from us, but because we ourselves will shrink back from approaching him.
But the devil made one fatal error when he tempted Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden. He activated the Grace Plan. In its simplest form this plan can be found in Romans 5:20

“Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

This does not mean that we should “continue sinning so that grace may increase.” Romans 6:2 clearly excludes this—“certainly not!” What it means is that God’s grace is always more powerful than your sin. Sin was never going to win, and it it does not need to win in your life. Jesus has made provision. All we need to do is to turn to God and ask for the forgiveness that his grace has already guaranteed.

The throne of grace
The Grace Plan was not a Plan B. It was plan A. The Incarnate Son of God was already there hidden within the parents of humanity as the “Seed of the Woman.” God was always one step ahead. It was his plan that this Son was to come, not just to give his life as a sacrifice for human sin, but to live his life as an example for human behaviour, and then to ascend back to heaven to take his seat at the Father’s right hand, as the perfect advocate for humanity. So Jesus died in our place to take the punishment that we deserved. That is God’s mercy. And he lived the perfect life also in our place so that we might be accounted righteous before a Holy God. That is God’s grace. That is why the throne that he took at his Father’s right hand is know as the “throne of Grace.” From that throne, he makes intercession for us, representing us to the Father. This is why Hebrews refers to him as our “high priest,” for it was the priest’s role in the Old Testament to stand between God and man offering sacrifices for sins, and interceding for people before God.

Hebrews 4:14–15
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith that we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Confidence in God’s grace

So what has this got to do with confidence? Everything. It is with sin that the devil causes us the guilt that keeps us from God’s presence. But grace is greater. And so the next verse urges us to approach the throne of grace with confidence:

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

When is our time of need? Now! Specifically, any time when our hearts condemn us, when we are feeling guilty or ashamed on account of sin. In other words, the very time that we feel like running and hiding, that is the time to run into his presence, repent and receive forgiveness. The blood of Christ has opened the gates of heaven to us and spoken to the King of kings for us. I’ll finish with the words of an old song by Chris Christensen. Hard to believe its 20 years old this year!

“By your blood I will come boldly,
Run into your presence,
Bow in humble reverence before your throne.
For the blood of Christ has spoken,
The power of sin is broken,
The gates of heaven are open
By your blood.”

Come. Just come. Come now. And come boldly!