April 29, 2014

Overcoming Obstacles-Gideon-Inadequacy

We are in a message series looking at Overcoming some of the major Obstacles we face in life. And we are looking at them through the lives of seem major Bible characters. Today we are looking the obstacle of inadequacy. 

Actors and Leaders and people who have accomplished some great things come up with some great quotes about believing in yourself and having the perseverance to push through…

Maya Angelou says, 
“You want me to do something…tell me I can’t do it!”

John Wooden said, 
“Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”

The problem with quotes like this, for me, is they give the false sense these people never experienced moments of insecurity or doubt. They set up this idealized world where a person is always positive, forward facing, and never once think to themselves…I think I might be over my head on this one…

I like the honesty of Robert Hughes. He says, 
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize."

I think Hughes reminds us unless we have a healthy sense that we are in over our heads…we get a little carried away with ourselves….

This morning I’m going to let you in on a not-so-secret secret. Unless they are pompous, arrogant, self-deceiving jerks…everyone who has accomplished anything worth doing has struggled with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. They are able to write these quotes because they are on the other side of their goal…the other side of their dream. And they have forgotten what it was like to live in the uncertainty of fulfilling a challenging dream.

I believe if your goal doesn’t scare you…it isn’t big enough. 

And when we think about this in regards to our calling from God…if what God is calling you to do doesn’t scare you…it probably isn’t from God.

This doesn’t mean you are going to go out and pastor or plant a church…it doesn't mean you have to be called to be a missionary…it might, but God’s call comes with fear because it calls us out of our comfort zone…it calls us to do something we are not able or prepared to do.

Throughout the Bible God’s call scares the snot out everyone who received it. And not many more than Gideon. Today we are looking at a couple of chapters from the book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7. Let me give you a little background…

A Little Background

Throughout the book of Judges the Israelites, God’s chosen people, go through a cycle. It is a bit like the instructions on a shampoo bottles. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Except they aren’t getting clean.

It starts with the Israelites sinning and turning from God to worship other idols. God then allows another nation to come and oppress them as punishment for their sin. The people cry out to God for forgiveness and for Him to rescue them. God sends someone to lead them out of the oppression and back to God. Then after the leader dies the people start the process all over again. 

In Judges 6 we are in the middle of another sin cycle.

Judge 6:1-6 says, 
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

So Israel sins…the Lord hands them over to the Midianites…they realize the trouble they are in and cry out to the Lord… So God has to send a judge, a leader, someone to rescue them and He gets Gideon.

Judges 6:11 says
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

I find God’s choices surprising. He doesn’t go looking for the man who is already plotting a rebellion against the Midianites. He isn’t looking for the man with a powerful presence, a man with wealth or standing or even respect in his community. When we look at Gideon we see none of these things.

In Judges 6:15, Gideon says,
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

Near the end of chapter 6 God tells Gideon to destroy the shrines and altars his people had made to the false gods…Gideon does it, but Judges 6:27 says

So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

Gideon is hiding from the Midianites. He is hiding his actions from his family. Yet in Judges 6:12 when the angel of the Lord first meets Gideon it says…
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Mighty hero!?!? He doesn’t sound like a mighty hero to me. But…

God sees things in us we can’t even see ourselves…

When God looked at a childless couple named Abraham and Sarah…he said, “I will make you the father of a great nation!”

When God looked at a puny shepherd boy named David…he said, “Here is a man after my own heart! He will be Israel’s greatest king!”

When he looked at a loud-mouthed, flip-flopper named Simon…he said, “You will be the leader of the church and I will call you a rock…You are Peter.”

When he looked at an angry, murdering Pharisee name Saul…he said, “You will be our greatest theologian and church planter. I will call you Paul!”

God sees things in us we can’t even see ourselves. So when God calls us…when he chooses us and asks us to take part in or start a ministry…he sees something we can’t even see ourselves. 

We may look ourselves in the mirror and not see much that matters, but when God looks at us he says, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some motivational speech. 

Most of those speeches sound a bit like this to me…


One of the funniest commercials ever.

I’m not giving you a pep talk about your potential. I’m saying God sees things in us we can’t see ourselves, He calls those gifts and abilities out of us, and He challenges us to use them to make a difference for the Kingdom…

For some of us it might mean getting involved in a ministry. Do you want a good, general way to know when God is calling you to take part in a ministry? It is when you start a sentence with, “Do you know what we should do as a church…” or “You know what we need to do…” 

Your idea may not be the right one, but when you see a need it means you have a heart for that area. You see a need for an area to step up. You see an area of ministry that is lacking. When that thought comes to mind, it might be God saying, “I want you to help in this area.”  

For some of you it means you need to recognize God’s call in the skills you already have. God will often use the the areas we are already gifted in to make a difference. For me, I loved to teach and speak…for others they like to do the behind the scenes stuff. Others are great cooks and so they minister by cooking for the homeless or making meals for shut-ins and the sick. We have a great opportunity to do that this week. Rhonda Bade had surgery and we have a sign-up sheet for people to take her and her families some meals. Others have carpentry and construction skills and God can use those…I mean our contractors who built the walls of this church could have used someone with actual construction skills!

God looks deep inside us and sees things we might never see ourselves. And don’t get caught up in the excuse of, “There are better people than me!”

God works through ordinary people like you and me.

We have the tendency to overspiritualize and glorify those we read about in Scripture. Moses, David, Peter, Paul…they are seen as heroes and we romanticize them. They become these spiritual giants and we could NEVER be like them.

That was Gideon’s thought…He wasn’t one of THOSE guys. 

But look at Judges 6:14,
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
There are two things happening here.

God has given us giftings and strengths He expects us to use…but it isn’t all about us.

Go with the strength you have…there is something in Gideon God wanted to use. He needed Gideon to step up and use those skills.

But God also says, “I am sending you!” When God sends us, when God calls us to get involved it is He who sends us and He will give us the strength to do it!

Judges 6:16 
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
I will be with you!

God has placed something in each one of us. He has placed a dream, a call, a ministry…something meant to bring glory to the Kingdom…and He asks us to go in the strength we have…he asks us to trust that when obey his call on our lives that He will go with us. 

This isn’t just about you. This isn’t just about me. We have a part to play…but it is about God using our willingness.

But do you know the great challenge that will come our way? The thing that will challenge our insecurities to the max? 

The Greatest Challenge we will face to our insecurity will be God himself. Because He will regularly lead us into areas and challenges where we could never succeed on our own.


God did this over and over for Gideon. Judges 7 tells the story many of us know about Gideon. He gathers an army ready to go after the Midianites, but God says, “You have too many men!” 

So Gideon says, “If you are afraid to fight, go home!” So 22,000 men leave. And 10,000 are left. 

Not the direction I would want to God…but we’ll go with it.

10,000 men is still a respectable army. 

But then God says, “You have too many men!” 

By the time God is done….there are only 300 men left in Gideon’s army. 10,000 was cutting it close…the Midianites had a vast army! Possibly hundreds of thousands…far more than 300 men would be able to handle…

Do you know why God led Gideon to use so few men? Judges 7:2 says, 
“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’

God will call us to tasks that are too big for us to handle on our own. They will scare us to death! And he does this because HE is the one accomplishing this dream through us. It so big we have to depend on him to see it accomplished. We have to use His strength. We have to pray. 

That old cliche “God never gives us more than we can handle…is nonsense. He gives us more than we can handle all time because the dream is bigger than us and only God can accomplish it.

Conclusion

As we move into our new space, we are entering a new stage of ministry at Crossroads Vineyard. When God called us to start the church it felt like a large, almost insurmountable task. Where were we going to meet? Who was going to help start it? How were we going to pay for it all?

Here we are 3 years later entering a new phase. We have our own space. But we also have a new challenge ahead of us. We are faced some similar questions, but also with some new ones. 

We have the opportunity to make a difference here in the north side of Dayton; throughout Huber Heights, Riverside, Vandalia, Northridge, and Fairborn. God is calling us…he is leading us into a task that is far too big for us…a task where everyone of us is needed to make this happen. Our goal is to be a place where people are loved into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Where people are regularly taking that next step whether it be salvation, or a step into ministry, or a step into serving, or a step into deeper levels of discipleship. We want to be a place that serves and loves and cares for those who are hurting and broken. 

In order to do this we have to regularly ask What is God be calling me to do so see this accomplished? 

I know the difference God can make in a person’s life. I know the difference God can make in people’s lives through those who are following Him too. I want to see us become a place that follows God with all that we have…that follows him into those impossible dreams on a personal level and as a church…I want us to be a place and people who have dreams of the Kingdom that are so big they scare us to death…but we charge in because God says to go!

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