Summary: I want to address the fact that some people have left the church in the past year. You might be discouraged as you look around and see the empty chairs.Hopefully I can provide some encouragement for you. Let's see what God did through Gideon's army.
A BIG VICTORY BY A SMALL ARMY (part one)
Today I want to address the elephant in the room-the fact that some people have left the church in the past year. You might be discouraged as you look around and see the empty chairs. You might be wondering if we're doing something wrong. You may be wondering about the future of the church. Hopefully I can provide some encouragement today. Let's look at what God did with and through Gideon and the Israelite army.
1) Who, me?
In the first ten verses of chapt. 6, the Israelites were not doing a good job at following God. So, God gave them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Israelites cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent them a prophet who told them that they hadn't listened to God who told them to stop worshipping foreign Gods. This set the stage for the calling of Gideon.
Judges 6:11-16, "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. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
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?” “But Lord,’” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. ” The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
"Mighty warrior". I can see Gideon thinking, "what? Mighty warrior? You talking to me?" But we see God calling Gideon what he was to become, not what he was currently. God knows what we will become. Isn't that encouraging? As a Christian you are now a warrior. You might not think of yourself as such but that's what we are.
Paul often talked about the battle we're in and the things that wage war against our souls. He said we fight with spiritual weapons and we're taught to put on the armor of God. We have the ability through Jesus to be mighty warriors; brave, courageous and victorious in battle.
"If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" Have you ever felt this way? 'If the Lord is with me then why has all this happened to me?' We could speak like that in regards to what has happened here at Cornerstone. 'God, if you are with us then why have we been going through all this?'
With the Israelites, their hardship was due to not listening to the Lord and worshiping other gods. I don't believe that's what's happening with us. But Gideon was going by his current circumstances. When our current circumstances appear to be bleak it's hard to believe that the Lord is with us or that anything could get better.
But God tells Gideon in vs. 14 to 'go in the strength you have'. What strength did he have? The Lord's. 'The Lord is with you, mighty warrior'. What strength do we have? The Lord's.
Isa. 12:2, "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” When the Lord is your strength you don't have to be afraid; you don't have to worry.
"Am I not sending you". God will never ask us to do what he will not equip us to do. God will move us to do what seems impossible. That's on purpose. He wants us to trust in him and believe in his ability to equip us to do the impossible. But often times our reaction is like Gideon's.
"But Lord". Have you ever said this when God prompted you to do something? "But, Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest and I am the least." Gideon is basically saying that he would be the last person in all of Israel likely to be chosen. But isn't that what God does?
When Samuel was to find a replacement for king Saul God showed him David, the least likely of Jesse's sons to be chosen for the next king. And what did God turn the young shepherd boy into? A mighty warrior. David brought a stone to a sword fight and slew the giant. Maybe all you have in your arsenal is a few stones. Don't ever think you don't have enough to take on your giants.