Sun am 18 February 2018 – Johan Esterhuizen

Judges 6:11-16 (New Living Translation); Jude 20-21; James 1:1-4; James 1:1-4 Phillips; 2 Tim. 1:6-7; Gal. 2: 20; Col. 1:13; Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:6; Ps. 103:1-7; (Dan. 3); (Phil. 4:13, 19); 1 Cor. 1:27-29

This morning we are going to look at Gideon. It is such a powerful story. The Midianites, the Amalekites all came against Israel and the Bible says that their number were like grasshoppers. They systematically destroyed the food security of the nation. Everyone was hiding away. Then the Angel appeared to Gideon (Judges 6:11-16). Just two observations about life: 10% of your life is what happens to you and 90% of your life is responding to what happened to you. Very often, we cannot choose what happens to us but what we can choose is our response to what happens. That is a vital key.

When life happens, and things go wrong, stay within the boundaries where God’s love can reach you. Getting depressed, discouraged and discontent, the way we respond, that is not where God’s love can reach us. James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:1-4). Why are they scattered abroad? They were being persecuted (James 1:1-4- Phillips). When things go wrong, and life happens, God is going to do something.

Gideon finds himself hiding at the wine press. He was pressing out the wheat to make bread, hiding it from the Midianites. Strangely, the Midianites were related to the Israelites, one of Abrahams’ concubines gave birth to a son named Midian. Later Abraham sent him and his family to the East where the Ishmaelites were, they formed an alliance with the Amalekites and the people of the east to come and attack Israel and that is exactly what they did. They were like grasshoppers. They waited for Israel to grow their crop and they will attack and destroy it. It continued for seven years! They would attack with camels and they were the first nation to use camels in warfare. They destroyed the food security of the nation. Israel became depressed, discouraged, discontent. They were intimidated and they were in fear. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:6-7), but we choose to live in intimidation and fear. Gideon was in that position. I think we South Africans have reached that point. The time has come for us to stand up and to raise the standard! If you want to join Gideon’s army and be part of the remnant, you have to be different from the rest. The Lord said to Gideon “you man of valour, God is with you!” We know Gideon’s response, but do not judge him because it is also our response. His father had a position in order to have the idol in his house and Gideon was not as poor as he had said (Judges. 7). We make excuses and have a poor self-image. There is no such a thing as a poor self-image. We have to be transformed into the image of Christ (Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:13). The only image we should be portraying is the image of Christ; salt and light! There should be a common denominator. We should be the same as children of God (Rom. 5:5; Gal.5:6).

Only when Gideon realised that he should not operate in the spirit of timidity but in love, power and sound mind, then the Lord started using him. There are many reasons why people do not move ahead in life, one of them being that they are waiting for the right time. The lack of confidence, a sense of entitlement! Life owes you nothing, you owe to life. Nobody is going to be excited about you if you are not excited about yourself. Paranoia is when you think, ‘everybody is against me’. It is astounding the excuses and the reasons people use not to move ahead.

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel (Ps. 103:7). There are tremendous benefits for serving the Lord. The people saw the acts of God, Moses learned the ways of God. It is interesting to study the ways of God. ‘Ways’ are where the secrets of God are concerning what He is going to do. We can all pray for rain but why is the rain being withheld? God can show us His ways. I have found that the Lord is more interested in our character than our comfort. Everything you want is one step outside of your comfort zone. I have found that in our most difficult and challenging circumstances our biggest and greatest breakthroughs come. We ask God: “Why me? Why must this happen?” The Lord says, “Go forth in your strength, God is with you”.

We read of the Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (Dan. 3). They went into the fiery furnace and Daniel went into the lions’ den. But I noticed something very interesting. When each of them came out they were promoted. They came out of the fire into a higher position. Either God is in control or He is not in control. Stay within the boundaries where God’s love can reach you and bless you.

Gideon finally made the announcement that God had called him to deliver the nation. Thirty-two thousand men added themselves to Gideon, but the Lord said that it was too many. Twenty-two thousand who were afraid and concerned left. This is God showing His ways until only three hundred were left. The Lord gave a mighty victory to the three hundred. In order for us to change there is a very important thing that must happen. Our mind must be renewed. Change takes place in the mind, in the thoughts. You cannot think like a pauper and think you are going to live in a palace. Your mind has to change. When I change my thoughts, something happens – I change my belief. I am no longer the least in my family, the poorest in Manasseh. I change my belief that God will supply my needs (Phil. 4:19). I change my belief that I can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13). When I change my thinking, I change my belief, when I change my beliefs I change my attitude. I start to live and act like a conqueror, I start to look and act like a child of God, I start to walk in love and forgiveness. When I change my attitude, my behaviour is changed; when I change my behaviour, my performance changes and when my performance changes, my life is changed. You see this process taking place through the life of Gideon.

Many years ago, Bruce Wilkinson had a course entitled, “The three chairs”: the first chair is the first generation. They go to church, they are committed and active in the kingdom of God, and the second chair is the next generation. They go to church with the first generation but they are not committed and the third chair is the third generation, they see the hypocrisy. They cannot wait to get off the bus when they get older. We are sitting today with disillusioned Christians. We have to address the problem. Each generation must make a commitment to Christ. Each generation has to come to the place where they receive Christ and have a personal relationship with the Lord and get involved in the kingdom of God. God is looking for that remnant, those three hundred that are prepared to be different. A little is much in the hands of God (1 Cor. 1:27-29). I am excited about what God is doing! Our response should be “Here I am, send me”.