Summary: Gideon’s example shows us what God can do with people who will follow him even in the small things.

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play Nothing Ever Happens by Del Amitri

Describes a world that is not liked. The situation is no good. It refers to injustice, American business snap up Van Goghs for the price of a hospital wing. The Second World War, burning down the synagogues. And says it never changes, no matter what we do we cannot make a difference. To a certain extent you can agree it wasn’t that long ago that some of the mistakes of the second world war were again repeated in the Europe in the ethnic cleansing in the Old Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever feel overwhelmed with a task? Do you ever look out at the world and think wouldn’t it be great but … It’s too big. I’m too small. How can I possibly make a difference? Look at the world, there’s so many of them and only one of me. Governments come and governments go, yet everything seems to stay the same. A TV program I really enjoy watching is Babylon 5. One of my favourite episodes is about a plague which attacks an alien species called the Markab. Past recurrence of the disease was on an island known for its immorality and the Markab treat the disease as a punishment and think they are all right because they are pure. Cases are covered up. So the disease spreads. Different alien species, including humans, react with fear and blame the Markab and attack them fearing for their lives. Our heroes struggle against this in their own way, the doctor seeks a cure, the captain of the space station seeks to help the Markab, security tries to protect them, and one the alien ambassadors goes into their quarantine section to help them. The cure is found, but it is too late, all the Markab are dead. And so our characters console each other that at least a lesson has been learned, and then the final scene of the episode is a shot of a bar where they are discussion the incident and you can tell from the conversation that nothing has been learned. And we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes again. Even heroes and great men and woman do not seem to be able to make a change an impact, what hope have we.

How can I or we make a difference for God in this community?

And then we remember that we are Christians. We look at our circumstances and see all that’s wrong with them and our situations. And then we sit in church listening to sermons, read our daily devotional books or shock horror even read the Bible, and we hear the message God is with you. And we reply with Gideon, “If the lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, “The Lord has brought us up out of Egypt””, or insert your own example here, didn’t Jesus perform all those miracles, didn’t the early church really grow, didn’t God revive the land in the time of John Wesley, or didn’t this church use to have 100’s of members, “But now the Lord has abandoned us”.

Have you ever felt like that? If we serve God, and God’s so great, how come my circumstances? Now I don’t propose to give a full answer to this question this morning. There are many answers some of which are more true than others and combined they give a blurry shadow of an answer, but I think most of it has to do with the realities of evil and freewill. In fact in this passage God doesn’t answer Gideon. v13 Gideon asks God the question, v14 God tells Gideon to go and deliver the people. Sounds like dodging the question to me. On the basis of this, if Gideon had been Jeremy Paxman, several tedious chapters might have been added to judges, where he keeps asking the same question, while God continues to call him to action. However, we can deduce some answers from the surrounding story. But before we look at some of things that God says it is important to recognise that this is where our story starts and if we are honest this is where we often start from. At the bottom of a hole with impossibly high sides, the sky a small blue patch seemingly at almost a infinite distance above us, starving, smelling the barbecue in the field beside the hole. We sense, we seem to know that there is something better but how can we reach it? It seems so hard. So far. So much. The story of Gideon before we get to the bit everyone remembers, where Gideon wins the great battle with only 300 men, provides one of the ways out of the hole and to the barbecue. It’s not the only answer, nor is it applicable in all situations but it is a start. Lets look at the passage and see what we can learn.

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