Esther Penny - First Oak Lodge - 1993

We are very, very thankful to be sharing in these privileges with you all, although we feel unworthy of it all.  We are grateful and appreciate the love and kindness we have received.  It just proves to us we are just one big family on this earth.

I have been thinking of the word 'valiant' and thinking of Gideon in the 6th chapter of Judges and the condition of God's people at that time was very bad.  The enemy had prevailed because of disobedience and they were robbing all the produce of the land.

The Israelites were hiding in strongholds, dens, and caves.  One man was fighting the battle and there he was, threshing the wheat by the winepress.  Somehow he had fought against discouragement, somehow he had sowed and watched that wheat until he could reap it.  Now he was threshing it in a place where nobody would expect to find a man threshing wheat, near the winepress.

No wonder the angel could draw near to him and said to him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.”  He hadn't fought an open battle to be seen by others, as far as we know he had no weapon in his hand, but I love to think of those words: the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God... and this man possessed those weapons that helped him fight a very real battle within his own heart against discouragement. Where others were hiding for fear, there he was, trying to do what he could do.

Thou mighty man of valour...” Sometimes we don’t realize just being in our place, doing what we can do in adverse circumstances, the enemy whispering to us: is it worth trying? Give up! But there was no question of giving up in Gideon's heart and I am sure he was surprised, he wouldn't realize God was noticing all he was doing.  God appreciated the valour in his heart that helped him just to keep doing what he could do and that was what made him that he could be used by God.

Maybe, sometimes we feel we can't do it but if we do what we can do, in spite of circumstances that will make us that God could use us. God was able to use Gideon.

I love to think of this mighty man of valour that was valiant. We surely need valiance to fight the secret battles, some of the most real battles that face one nobody else knows. In our own heart we are fighting against self and sin, willfulness, unwillingness.

Others don't know, we need to be valiant fighting human nature and all the things that belong to it, things that could discourage and tell us: just give up, it isn't worth it.  These am the battles we need to have valiance in facing them, in fighting them.

I was thinking one time in Jeremiah's day, bewailing the sins of God's people; this is one of the things he said, "They were not valiant for the Truth."  What a sad thing for God's people, if we are not valiant for the Truth. I remember when we were children at school, how often we were chided and mocked, reproached for the way we dressed, for the way our hair was done but I am thank­ful for a mother who never pitied us in this.  Sometimes we would go home and tell her the children at school today said this and that, she would just say, "Learn to suffer with Jesus now."  I am thankful for a mother like that, trying to put valiance in us as children, valiant for the Truth of God, for all that is right even though a thousand others round us are wrong.

I like some words I read, "Right is right even if only one person is doing it and wrong is wrong even if a thousand people are doing it."  Always we need to be valiant to stand by what is true and right. We pray for the children amongst us, they won’t be afraid to stand true.  They would be valiant for this Truth of God, stand up to the jibes and all that comes from this world.

I thought of those a little older, as we are facing decisions in life, how good if we could just be valiant, to stand by what is right and true, not just choosing what pleases human nature but being valiant in choosing that which God would choose for us. We are thankful for those older too, who have been valiant in standing by the Truth, defending the Truth.

I have often thought of the time when I found myself standing on a nest of ants, I was unaware of it until those little creatures came out and seemed to sting in forty places at once, until I ran from that place. I often like to think of those ants in connection with being valiant.  If they had measured the size of the enemy, they would have run for fear but they came up in numbers and the enemy was soon running from them.

We can do this too, if we are valiant for the Truth.  Don't let us measure the size of the enemy but measure everything by the strength of our all-powerful God.

I like to think of those words also in Hebrews.  We are told in the 11th chapter so much that was achieved by faith and there's one little expression there means so much to me, that is, out of weakness were made strong.

We feel weak, don't we, so often but it is good when it is put into the hands of God in full faith.  When we are weak, submit ourselves to God, it gives Him the opportunity to show His strength.  The weaker we are the more God's strength is manifested and by faith, out of weakness we can be made strong.

I often fear lest I make weakness an excuse not to do things.  It just means we are lacking in faith because, by faith, out of weakness we can be made strong and there it says, "By faith, waxed valiant in fight."  Of ourselves, we couldn't do that but as we believe in the mighty power of God, we can do what is valiant in fight, battle self and sin, worldliness, all that would drag us down and lead us far away from God.

I like to think as God spoke to Gideon in this chapter Gideon couldn't understand why is this? Why are we in this condition if God is with us? He said, "But now the Lord hath forsaken us."  I wondered how others would face an experience like that when we feel God doesn't mind any more, He is not thinking about us more but, in spite of this, this valiant man was fighting on still doing what he could do and others saw that. In verse 15, he said, “Wherewith shall I save Israel... I can't do it. Isn't that how we all feel?”

I remember so well when the Lord began to lay upon my heart the need for the harvest field, I told the Lord, "I can't do it and if I did offer my­self, I won’t be accepted."  I felt my family is the least amongst God's people, I felt if I offer myself for the Work I would be told, "Who do you think you are? You'll never be able to preach the Gospel."

I am grateful for the day when the thought of that little boy with the loaves and fishes just broke down my pride and I thought, "However weak I am, I yield my life into the hand of God." Out of weakness were made strong, and then the time came God began to trouble my heart about foreign fields; that was a worse struggle. I told myself, "Imagine it, just as if the Lord would ask you to go to a foreign field, you can't learn another language, you won’t be able to stand up to it, your health would stand up to this, and this and that."  For three months I fought the battle, the struggle, I had no peace at all and I knew I wasn't easy to live with during that time and the time came when those words were very, very real to me, "Abraham believed and it was imputed to him for righteousness."

I asked myself that day, "What did Abraham believe?"  He believed the impossible, that he could have a child when they were both past age. If Abraham could believe that and it was imputed to him for righteousness, why then could I not believe God is calling me, God is asking me to go to another land, and again I bowed my proud heart.  In faith I believed what I couldn't do God could do and I am very, very thankful for the experiences that have helped me understand that my weakness is no excuse for saying I won’t do anything at all, because, out of weakness I can be made strong.  We all can be made strong to fight this battle and I am sure when we honestly fight the battle against self and all in our human nature, the other battles will be fought also.  The Lord will help us.

I love that hymn we have just sung and those last words just say, "Oh soldier brave, fight on."  How good if we go out in this coming year encouraging one another, not to lose faith, not to make weakness an excuse but just to say to each other, "Oh soldier brave, fight on!"

That we bear it and for eternity it is working something in our lives, something of weight and value, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen...

That is how we can face the affliction and just to keep our eyes on things that are above, not our circumstances or situation but just to remember that this is only for a season, for a moment and to remember that God knows how to do His work, what He brings into our experience is for our good so that He can perfect His work in us. For His sake.