October 24, 2012

Mighty Men, Heros in the Lord

Passage: Judges 6 - 7

Bible Text: Judges 6 – 7 | Preacher: Pastor Steve | Series: Seal Training
How big is your God? How big is Jesus in your life?
If we live with a small God, we will find it unnatural to pray when we have a need, because we are not really sure, to be honest, that God makes a difference and that prayer matters. If we live with a small God, we will become a slave to whatever other people think of us, because we don’t live in the security of a big God’s acceptance of me. If we face temptation to speak deceitful words in order to avoid trouble, we will do it.
When human beings reduce the size of God, they pray without faith, worship without awe, serve without joy, suffer without hope, and the result is a life of stagnation and fear, a loss of vision, an inability to persevere and see it through.
Whatever we need, God is bigger. Whatever our weakness, God is stronger.
Men who are bold, determined in the face of danger especially in battle, heroic courage; bravery; these are men who are heroes of faith and have courage to fight for what is righteous and Godly in the midst of opposition.
The seven years of oppression under the hands of Midianites:
Judges 6:1-5 Again the Israelites did what was evil in the LORD’s sight. So the LORD handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites fled to the mountains, where they made hiding places for themselves in caves and dens. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, oxen, and donkeys. These enemy hordes, coming with their cattle and tents as thick as locusts, arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare.
What was happening? This was a seasonal invasion by the Midianites at harvest time, and whenever the Israelites harvested their crops.
Judges 6:6-7 So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help… they cried out to the LORD because of Midian,
This brought Israel to the place of crying out to the LORD for help. But they were not aware of the cause behind the enemy’s oppression until the Lord sent a prophet to point this out (Judges 6:7-10). The reason for this oppression was that Israel was not serving the Lord, not walking in obedience to the Lord.
What is it like to live with a God who is so big?
Gideon’s fear: God is going to come to one of the most unlikely characters in all of Israel — a man named Gideon.
Here’s what happened: The angel of the Lord came and sat down under an oak tree where Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress hidding it from the Midianites. Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. A winepress was a little pit in the stony ground. Normally wheat would be threshed on a threshing floor out in the open where the wind could help separate the chaff from the wheat.
But threshing wheat in a winepress would be like making coffee in a thimble; it would be a ridiculous process. Gideon chose to do this because he was terrified of the Midianites; he was afraid they would spy on him and take away what wheat he had.
We are told about Gideon’s behavior because it is crucial that we get a correct picture of him.
When we live with a little God, we live in a world without dreams or possibilities, for things cannot really change. As things were yesterday, so they will be again tomorrow—our habits, our failures, our relationships, our flaws, our problems. We’ll have to settle on threshing wheat in a winepress, because our neighborhoods, our schools, our community, our world–the Midianites–are too big for us. Our job is simply to survive.
The Lord is still the same today as He was yesterday
Judges 6:8-10 … the LORD sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. I told you, I am the LORD your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.
God responds to the cry of the people. God hears us and responds. But we get trapped into a cycle:
Blessing of God comes;
The people forget the blessing and lose their commitment;
The people turn to other gods;
The people are oppressed; ending in bondage; the crying out of people;
God sends prophets to judge them;
They respond and come under the blessing of God…again
So why don’t we just stay under the blessing of God?
Judges 6:11-12 Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the oak tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash had been threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!”
Judges 6:14-15 Gideon, go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord,” Gideon asked, How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family
How would you assess Gideon’s self-image here?
God said to Gideon, I will be with you and you will strike down the Midianites as if they were but one man (Judges 6:15-16)
This is the hinge on which everything turns–not just for Gideon, but also for you and for me. What is unthinkable and undoable on my own becomes unstoppable when it’s God and me. Our study about Gideon poses this question for me and for you:
How big is your God?
Next week Gideon’s first challenge…

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