~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Joe Mandeville. You can hear the whole sermon, Remembering What God has Done, by clicking here.
Think of the Christian characters you can remember from TV shows or movies. Are they super cool? Why is there a perspective in the media that Christians are boring? If you take a minute to think about the idea of Christianity being boring, you realize that those who think that must not have read the Bible! The testimonies of what God has done in and through the lives of His people are amazing! Not only is the Bible wildly interesting, but we ourselves are invited to experience it as our own reality! How can that be boring?!?
Let’s look at the story of Gideon in Judges 6. As the story turns to Gideon, we see he is hiding in a winepress. He is using a winepress to work wheat – not because it is the right tool for the job but because he is afraid. Is this a picture of an exciting believer?!? And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” (Judges 6:11-13)
Did you take note of Gideon’s response? “If the Lord is with us …” We can see that Gideon is not unschooled in the history of his people with God. Gideon knows those facts for sure. Despite knowing this testimony, he believes, “but now the Lord has forsaken us.” Gideon remembered (recalled the facts) about what God had done, but did not remember in a way that affected him. True remembrance actually transcends time and space – bringing the past to today. It is not vague recollection, but instead a bringing forward of history to present day.
For example, I (Joe) can remember when my daughter was three years old in a much more visceral way than simply remembering the facts about her age at the time. Despite hearing of the salvation of God for the Israelites, Gideon did not have a personal, visceral remembrance of God’s goodness. You can read God’s word to hear facts. This is likely what Gideon had done. You can also, however, read the Word of God and actually extract power by putting yourself in the story. You can experience with your imagination what it would be like to be so afraid that you were hiding in a winepress and then visited by someone (who you think may or may not be an angel). The second way you can make the Word come alive in your life, is to imagine with God what it would be like to be in “Gideon’s story” in your own life – in modern times. What would it look like, how would you act? What would you do in this set of circumstances? How would you think? What would your emotions be? What would you be asking of God? When you read the Word experientially like this, it allows you to take ownership of another’s testimony. Testimonies are in fact meant to be handed down generationally. Psalms 71:15-18 says “My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation … until I declare Your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come.”
Likewise, Psalms 78:4-7 says, “We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.” When the angel of the Lord visited Gideon it seemed like he had forgotten the works of God. Why did that generational hand off of the testimony of the Lord not happen? Who was at fault? The answer is both Gideon and the previous generation were at fault as both the younger generation and the older generation have a responsibility in the hand-off of generational testimony.
Gideon surely had a responsibility to connect with what God had already done. When you read what God has done in His Word, that is an encouragement to you! When you hear what God has done in someone else’s life that should be an encouragement to you! God is God. He is no respecter of persons. If God did it for them, He wants to bless you too! We can read the Word experientially. We can listen to testimony experientially. We can say “what you have, I want” when we see someone walking in the presence and power of God. And that is up to us to individually go after. “I am going to experience THAT!” “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8) The younger generation must work to establish their own testimony!
After originally doubting God, Gideon went through a process in Judges 6 and 7 in which he learned to taste and see that the Lord is good! God reaffirmed Gideon concerning the exact question he had of God. God said, “Surely I will be with you” and Gideon finally realized that the Angel of the Lord was talking with him. Subsequently, the Lord tells Gideon to go and tear down an altar of Baal. Gideon was pretty nervous, but he stepped out and he did as God has directed him – tearing down the altar of Baal under the cloak of night. As Gideon walks this process out, he keeps checking in with God as if to say “is that still you?” He puts out a fleece before the Lord – twice. He is tasting and seeing; he is checking with the Lord. He is doing. He is moving forward.
At this point, Gideon was ready to roll! And then Judges 7:2-3 happened: “And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” Gideon originally had 32,000 soldiers and now he only has 10,000! Nevertheless, 10,000 is still a huge number so he kept moving forward with the plan.
Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” (Judges 7:7) Surely Gideon knew that God was with him, but he sure had to be getting nervous! God is so gracious though: He tells Gideon to go down into the enemy’s camp and Gideon takes a servant with him. He overhears someone in the enemy recounting a dream — listen to this interpretation: “Then his companion answered and said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.” Gideon returned to the camp and said “Arise, for the Lord has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand.”
Gideon’s story is our story too. The testimony of the previous generation had made it through to Gideon in fact, but he needed to make it his own in order to trust God deeply. He started small, believed that the Lord was speaking, and partnered with God to the result of an incredible victory! As much as it is the responsibility of the younger generation to establish their own testimonies, it is our responsibility, as we saw in Psalms 71, as the older generation to declare God’s strength! Psalm 78 tells us not to hide our testimony but to tell the generation to come the praises of the Lord – to tell of God’s strength and wonderful works. Not just in facts, but to actually pass along the power of the testimonies.
In any area of our Christian walk we can be either the new generation or the old. For instance, if we have really good history in healing, we can be the older generation in that aspect of our walk with God while being the “younger generation” in prophecy. There are a lot of areas where we can be the “Gideon” that needs to look up, find, seek, and experience through others’ experience in the Word.
Concurrently, we can also be those who are sharing our testimonies with other people. Consider areas of your life where you have experienced fantastic testimony. Connect with that testimony. Remember it in a way that is beyond facts. Remember the passion that you have for that topic because you have experienced such good things there. Consider that there are “Gideons” out there that want to experience what you have experienced. You have the opportunity to share out of the passion of your heart for that topic!
For instance, we are all the “older generation” with regards to salvation. There are a lot of pre believers out there that, as was true of you, do not know what they are missing! God is so good! “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (2 Pe. 4:13) What makes you glad with exceeding joy? When God’s glory is revealed! God’s presence is joy. The life of the Christian is not boring at all. God is 100% good!
When you see a good movie, you tell your friends about it. “Hey, you’ve got to check out this movie; it’s really good!” When you listen to a great band, hear a great song, or eat at a phenomenal restaurant, you tell others about it. We all are experiencing the goodness of God and there are people out there that literally don’t know. We have the opportunity to share our testimonies of His goodness. “This is what God has done in my life! You’ve got to see this because you can have it too!” Remember your testimony. Consider areas where you need to develop a testimony. Consider areas where you can share a testimony. Read the Word experientially. As others give testimonies, listen experientially. Establish your own testimonies with God – and help others establish theirs!