Date: 19/08/2017
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Watch for Signs

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? I’m talking about loading up the car with friends and/or family, taking along snacks and your favorite tunes, and heading out for an adventure. Back in the day (yeah, saying that makes me officially old), we didn’t have a GPS, or cell phones for that matter. We mapped out our route with an actual map, which never wanted to fold back into the same form you started with. We counted on the road signs along the way to keep us going in the right direction. Occasionally, we would miss a sign and have to get ourselves turned around and back on track, but we always made it to our destination.

Life is a journey, just like a road trip. You are traveling with friends and family on a great adventure, but sometimes you don’t know which way to go. You pray and ask God for guidance. You listen and watch for signs that will direct you. It’s a great feeling when you know you have heard from God, seen the signs He has given you, and you can move forward in confidence. However, sometimes you miss the signs and so you get a little lost. Other times, you question the signs until you are doing nothing but chasing your own tail.

Is that you, God? Is it really you, God? Is it really, really you? How can I be sure?

Gideon is known from the Bible for being a man who questioned if he was really hearing from God. He was also a man who questioned himself and his abilities. Gideon saw himself as the least of his father’s house, which belonged to the weakest clan in the tribe of Manasseh. He was hiding from the Midianites in a winepress, threshing wheat so that he and his family would have something to eat. It was no wonder that when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and told him he was a mighty man of valor and that in his might he would save Israel from the hand of the Midianites, he was a little skeptical. “Who me?” he might have said, looking around the winepress to see if anyone else was there. “You must have the wrong guy. I’m nobody special. I’m the least in my family. How can I be sure it is you, God?” Gideon wanted a sign.

Judges 6:17-21 -- Then he said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me.” 

Gideon asked for a sign and he was given one … actually two. He prepared an offering and presented it. The Angel of the Lord then touched it with his staff, and fire rose of out the rock, consuming the offering. If that wasn’t enough, the Angel of the Lord then disappeared from sight.  This freaked Gideon out because he realized he truly had seen the Angel of the Lord face to face, which the Jews believed meant death. Later, the Lord spoke with him and reassured him that he wasn’t going to die. Encouraged by this, Gideon followed God’s direction to destroy the altar of Baal on his father’s property and to prepare an altar and sacrifice for the Lord. Later, as Gideon prepared to lead his people against the Midianites, he reached out to God again for a sign.

Judges 6:36-40 -- So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.

Is that you, God? Is it really, really you?

Apparently God wasn’t angry with Gideon for asking for multiple signs. After the fleece tests, Gideon no longer needed signs. As he continued to put his trust in God, he grew stronger and more confidant that he was hearing His voice. He listened and heard God and obeyed, and as a result he lead Israelite to defeat its enemies.

Throughout the Bible, we read how God used signs to show who He is, that we may believe. He set the sun and the moon in the heavens to divide the day from night, to be signs and seasons for days and years.  When He made the covenant with Noah, He gave the rainbow as a sign of His promise. We see the signs of God all around us. Romans 1:20  says “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even, His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” When Moses was trying to convince Pharaoh to let his people go, great signs and wonders were done, like the waters of the river turning to blood, to let Pharaoh know who he was dealing with. Yet Pharaoh continued to go against God’s people, to his destruction. God performed signs and wonders in the Wilderness, but still the people struggled to believe and obey, and so they wandered. Throughout His ministry, Jesus did many signs and miracles. This lead many to believe and put their trust in Him, while others refused to accept Him.

John 20:30-31--  And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

They were written so that you may believe. It was written for you, and me, and everyone today…not just for the people back in those days. Jesus did so many miracles and there were so many signs that followed Him. He turned water into wine, healed sickness, cast out demons, raised the dead, fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes, calmed the storm, walked on water, opened blind eyes, healed the deaf, healed the mute, healed the lepers,  healed the lame, restored a shriveled hand, walked away from a crowd intent on stoning Him or throwing Him off a cliff, restored an ear that had been cut off, provided a miraculous catch of fish, paid taxes with a coin from a fish’s mouth, told a woman at a well everything about her life … and if that weren’t enough, He died on the cross and rose again on the third day to eternal life.  How many does it take for someone to believe?

Is that you God? Is it really, really you?

Matthew 16:1-4 -- Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.

This request for a sign was not the same as Gideon’s. Gideon wanted to believe and trust that he was hearing from God. He wanted to be obedient to Him. The Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious leadership. They had great knowledge of scriptures and would have known of the many prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. They should have been able to discern the signs and recognize Jesus. Their eyes were blinded by their greed and desire for power. They wanted a custom-ordered sign, and Jesus was not playing their game. No matter what He did, they had already made up their mind about Him.

Just as the Pharisees and Sadducees were blind to the signs, the world today is also blind to the signs of His second coming. In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples ask what will be the sign of His coming and the end of the age. Matthew 24:4-8 says: “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” We don’t want to be like the Pharisees and Sadducees. We should be able to discern these signs and be the watchmen for the world.

Is that you, God? Is it really, really you?

Signs and wonders followed Jesus everywhere He went. Because He lives in those who believe in Him and have accepted Him as their Savior, it stands to reason that signs and wonders should follow believers. Mark 16:17-18 says: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Now, that is not an invitation or a directive to throw down a bottle of poison and go wrangle venomous snakes. It means that when we are operating in the Spirit and the will of God, we are going to see signs and miracles manifest in our lives.

When we are making important decisions or looking for guidance, we want to hear from God. We pray and wait for Him to answer. He may speak directly to our spirit. Other times He directs us to a scripture or sends a word through another believer. Sometimes, even when we aren’t looking for one, God will give us a sign.  Hopefully, we don’t get distracted and miss or ignore those signs. Even if that happens, we are secure in knowing we can turn around and get back on the right track with His help. Think of it as Him saying it’s Me, it’s really, really Me.

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