Summary: God equips us with the power to do the jobs he has called us to do.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
June 23, 2002
“Go in the Strength You Have”
INTRODUCTION: Gideon lived during a terror-filled time when the Midionites did everything they could to steal or to destroy the crops and the animals of the Israelites. the Midianites were Bedouin who lived in tents and moved from place to place. They would swarm in like locust on the area and devastate the land. The Israelites were forced to hide in caves in the mountains almost starved out by these terrorists. This terrorism went on for a period of seven years and was actuly God’s chastisement for Israel’s sins. Although Israel had been warned by prophets that they were doing wrong, they still wouldn’t listen. They kept right on serving the false gods and paid no attention to anyone who tried to get them to change their ways. After this long period of terrorism, the people were so imposverished and so fearful that they finally cried out to God for help. God heard their plea for help but did not immediately raise up a leader. He sent a prophet to them who once again said, “I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not listened to me” (vs. 10).
How often we are just like this and God will allow us to experience the consequence of our choices even though he wants the best for us. At this point they were about ready to listen and change their ways. This is when Gideon comes on the scene. Gideon’s family all were worshippers of Baal. Apparently Gideon was one person in the family who was at least trying to serve the God of Israel but in quite a limited state. He was so beat down by all that had happened in the land that his faith was very weak and he was so fearful he was hiding in a winepress trying to do his work.
1. POTENTIAL--The Angel Sees Gideon’s potential: It was at this time in his life when we was about at his lowest point that the angel of the Lord climbed down into the winepress with him and greeted him with, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” Gideon was called a “mighty warrior” in anticipation of his remarkable bravery. God usually sees our potential long before we do.
I bet that stopped Gideon right in his tracks. Think about a time in your life when you were hiding out in the winepress of despair. One thing after another had caved in on you and you felt there was no way out. You were experiencing job problems, sickness, you felt no one cared what happened to you, couldn’t pay your bills, your car was repossessed, your friends all let you down and you were depressed besides. You name it, and it had hit you. Your self esteem was about as low as it could get and then the angel has the nerve to say, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” Somebody might have said something similar to you that showed that they could see your potential. You say, “No Way.”
That’s the way it was with Gideon that day. He is saying, “No Way. You must have the wrong person! There WERE mighty warriors in the land land but he sure didn’t consider himself one of them. (See Judges 11:1 Jephthah). Instead he is saying, “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 out of Egypt?” But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us in the hands of the Mideonites” (v. 13).
Gideon was so filled with despair that all of the problems just rolled out. He hadn’t experienced anything positive for a long time and all he could talk about was the current situation. This is the way we are when we are living in our problems.
What is interesting here is that the Angel of the Lord did not pay any attention to the hopelessness of the past problems. In fact he didn’t even comment on the whys. He is saying, “Gideon, you KNOW WHY these problems exist.” The angel was there for a specific purpose to call Gideon out--to make something out of the potential he idenfied in this man. He knew that God could make something out of Gideon but Gideon didn’t realize it at the time. God was patient in the process.
When God recognizes your potential, sometimes it takes awhile for us to catch up. He tries to “bring us up to speed” and we are just like Gideon. “Oh, I am not a mighty warrior. Oh, I could never do that. You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t have any money, I’m sick and depressed, and I don’t have...I could never...”