Those Who Followed 5. Gideon
Those Who Followed 5. Gideon Key Text: Judges 6:1-8:35 I am always amazed at the incredible and impossible things that God has done in me and through me over my few years of life; I don’t say this to boast; I say this because most of you have no idea who I was before I got saved. Many of us here tonight can also share of incredible things that God has done in them and with them; and the reality is that when we stop and reflect on the journey to those incredible things; we have to conclude that theses only happened because God is God; not because we are who we are. As we finish off our series on those who followed; we settle on an unlikely follower of God; Gideon. What I love about the story of Gideon is who Gideon is as a person; he is an unlikely leader; filled with doubt and forced into something that is far greater than his ability. But at the end of it all; he was a man who committed himself in trust to God to follow after God and trust in what He said that He could do. And I guess he balances out the series; for the people we have looked at so far almost seem bigger than life. Gideon however, grounds those who follow; showing us again as I have tried to make real in every case that these were just simple men; who decided to follow God. The first thing that is a lesson to us with the life of Gideon actually has nothing to do with Gideon; rather it has to do with the circumstances that Gideon finds himself in. Our first lesson is that; 1.Tough times don’t mean that God is not at work We see at the beginning of the story of Gideon the reality that He finds himself in. We read this in Judges 6:1-10 We will just read till verse 3. Let's read. 1 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. It was a dark time for the people of Israel; they had themselves abandoned God and then being abandoned to their fate. Every aspect of life would have been constantly in flux and filled with fear and terror. Imagine every day worrying if your house and livelihood would be raided by armies and destroyed or taken away. This is the world that Gideon was called in. Many of us know the call of Gideon; you can read it in 6:11 – Gideon wasn't bravely standing against the Midianites; he was beating wheat in a wine press to hide from the Midianites. There is a simple and crucial lesson from all this church; and I think a lesson that is deeply relevant for us especially in light of the political climate we find ourselves in; the instability that we face; and the fear that we all experience due to all this. Just because things look bad it doesn’t mean that God is not at work! Just because we feel like things are getting worse; does not mean that God is not with us. In fact the complete opposite is true; God called Gideon when He was hiding! Let that sink in! God called Gideon when He was at his weakest. This is the reality church; God doesn’t need us to be strong for Him to be strong; our God is strong. Things don't have to be rosy for us to know God is at work for good. God is at work! I have been chatting to people about how they feel about zupta-gate and there is a sense of hopelessness and despondency around, but I know that God is still at work. Church we must see that God will work in us and through us even in our darkest times. I have experienced too many times that it is actually when it is the darkest times in our lives that God is doing the most. My first year on ministry is just one example; it was super tough, but God was at work! In ways that I am deeply grateful for. Gideon started his journey in a mess; but it didn’t mean that God was not working or that God didn’t have a plan. Church you might find yourself in a place where things just seem too bad for God to be actually working; He is! Trust him! The next lesson we learn is that…
2. Small beginnings doesn’t mean that God can’t use you We see that Gideon judges himself by human standards when God calls him. And by human standards he is not impressive. We see this in Judges 6:11-27 – we will be reading 14-16, it says; 14And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” I love how God dismisses Gideon’s claim to be to weak and small to make a difference; he simply says; I’m am with you. The simple reality is that who we are and how small our influence is not what God is looking for; God is seeking those who would follow Him, and He Himself will empower them to do that which He calls us to. We often know what God calls us to do; but often lack the confidence to go through with it. This is generally because our focus generally is upon ourselves and our abilities. Jesus reminds us that unless we abide in Him we can do nothing John 15:4. You see church we often are convinced that God needs us; or on some level God needs us to be something in order to be used by Him. The reality is that God does not need us to be something He needs us to remain in Him. I guess this become most real to us individually when we are seeking to do something for God; like witnessing to our friends. Often we clam up and worry about saying the right words etc. The reality is that it is not about us; we don’t have the power to do the things that God calls us to do; rather we are called to remain in Him. Being small, insignificant; shy, weak etc, is by no means a problem for God. My pervious youth pastor who is a dynamic guy who has lead multiple large youth ministries and has been instrumental in leading many young people into the ministry would often tell me how introverted he was as a child. In fact I am often amazed at how often God uses the cast off things of the world those people that the world has rejected to do the things that change eternities! Your beginnings do not define what God is going to do in you; your obedience and your remaining in Him define that. If we think that we don’t have what it takes to be used by God; good! Because you don’t; be He has what it takes to use you! And the command is to simply remain in Him! Which leads us to the last lesson for tonight; 3. Impossible is nothing with God The story of Gideon is the story of a man that did not have what it takes to do a task beyond his ability; but God was with him. Most of us know the story of the Lord’s victory through Gideon; however for those that do not; the story goes that Gideon started an insurrection against the Midianites who had oppressed the people of Israel for years. Things started well he gather a relatively large army that arose early in the morning to fight against the Midianites; but God said there are too many, the people might think that they overcame the Midianites; let anyone who is fearful go home. I’m sure Gideon was thinking; okay God you’ll let a couple of hundred people go home. But 22,000 went home. Gideon was down to just 10,000 men. God said Gideon there are still too many people. Get you men to drink and whoever drinks lapping the water with his tongue let him stay; but whoever kneels down and pulls the water up to their mouth with their hands they must go home. Only 300 men lapped the water; God said ja that will do! From over 30,000 to 300! Yet this is what God was going to use to overcome; why because he wanted to show the people; that He could do whatever He pleases; even if this seemed impossible. Church this lesson is one directly to us today; it is not by might or human plans; but by a surrender to God and His will that we do that which He call us to do. The question is are we truly willing to fall into the direction of God for our lives, and trust His plans for us. I am always amazed that God took a bunch of fishermen and outcasts and led them to be used by God in such incredible ways; we forget that these ragtag group of fishermen and outcasts (the disciples) changed the world forever through the message of Grace. The world was never the same because of these outcasts. We have to see it was not due to the brilliance of the disciples; but rather to their remaining in the one who is truly brilliant! I believe that God is calling us to be used by Him in incredible ways; ways that when we look back we will wonder at what was accomplished in us through His leading and power, the thing is church; we need to see that our current circumstances don’t determine our destination; just because we are going through tough times now doesn’t mean that God is not working; and just because we seem insignificant now does not mean that God doesn’t have big things in store for us and finally with God church nothing is impossible. So I don’t know what God is leading you towards; maybe it is to be used more in your school; in your business in your home. Maybe it is to overcome something that has been in your life for years. Let us remember that it is not about us but about Him; it is not about our ability; but about His. And let us fall in dependence upon what only He can do!