Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Learning to Trust God

Posted by Chardon in Judges 6

TEXT: Judges 6:1- 7:25

Chuck Swindoll, in his book, "Living Above the Level of Mediocrity," tells about a church in the Soviet Union during the days of the Iron Curtain that was forced to meet secretly because house church services were illegal.
They tried to be as inconspicuous as possible as they gathered on Sunday to worship the Lord, so they came at different times & casually entered the house until all had arrived. Then they would lock the doors, pull the curtains, & quietly worship the Lord.
But one Lord's Day, right in the midst of their worship, two soldiers broke into the house, & at gunpoint commanded the Christians to raise their hands & line up against the wall. Then they told them that they had a choice, either to renounce Christ & leave, or to stay & suffer the consequences.
Several hurriedly left. They waited a few moments, which seemed like an eternity to those still lined up against the wall, & then the soldiers said, "This is your last chance. You may either renounce your faith in Jesus Christ & leave, or stay & suffer the consequences."
Another left, & then another, almost hiding their faces in shame as they left. But the rest remained, children standing beside their parents, trembling in fear, some even crying.
After all had left who chose to leave, the soldiers closed the doors, turned to those remaining & said, "Now keep your hands up, but this time in praise to our Lord."
The soldiers explained that some time earlier they had been sent to another house church to arrest the Christians there. But in the process, they had heard the gospel & had accepted Jesus as their Lord & Savior, too.
But as they explained to these Christians who had stayed behind, "We have learned that you can't trust anybody who is afraid to be true to his faith."
The HS Cross Country team goes through a team building exercise at the Outdoor YMCA as part of their summer camp.The goal is for your group to move through a series of obstacles as you build trust and a spirit of teamwork. For me the most challenging obstacle is the "trust" platform. At this obstacle, each person must take turns climbing up to a platform that is located 5 or 6 feet above ground level. Once you get on the platform, you are to fold your arms, turn your back, and fall from the platform into the waiting arms of your friends. That requires a great deal of trust. That is what occurs in healthy relationships. We trust the other persons with our lives.
PROP. The story of Gideon, found in Judges 6 & 7, is a great example of just an ordinary man who faced fear & overcame it with God's help. He learned to trust God, & became a man of impressive courage.
A. The story begins with an angel appearing to Gideon to give him the fearful task of leading Israel into battle against the Midianites. The Midianites were ruthless raiders who came in swarms to terrorize the Israelites, invading their land, stealing their crops & cattle, & burning their homes.
Judges 6:5 says, "These enemy hordes ... stayed until the land was stripped bare." And Gideon was afraid, for vs. 11 tells us he "was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites."
Wheat was usually threshed above ground where the wind could blow away the chaff. But Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, a large cistern or hole in the ground, to keep the Midianites from seeing him & stealing his grain.
While Gideon was down there Judges 6:12-15 says, "The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, 'Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!' 'Sir,' Gideon replied, 'if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?'
'And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? 'But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.'
The angel replied, 'Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!' 'But Lord,' Gideon replied, 'how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!'”
APPL. Sometimes we, like Gideon, think our feelings of inadequacy exempt us from involvement. In fact, we like to think that our lack of confidence impresses God because we're so humble.
But humility is not low self-image. Humility is discovering the gift God has given you & using it for His glory - not for your own.
Then the angel answered Gideon, "I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites ..."
SUM. It's been said, "God plus one equals a majority." That's true even if the one on God's side is weak & uncertain. God was going to use one man - Gideon - to save His people.
A. But Gideon wasn't convinced, so in vs. 17 he asks, "If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me." And God did.
When Gideon placed his offering of meat & bread on the rock before the angel, the angel took the tip of his staff & touched the sacrifice & fire flared from the rock & consumed it all. Then the angel disappeared & Gideon exclaimed, "I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!" (Judges 6:22).
B. Then God told Gideon to prepare another offering, "Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. Then build an altar to the LORD your God here on this hilltop sanctuary...
"Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.” (Judges 6:25-26).
When an Asherah pole stood next to an altar of Baal it indicated that this was a place of pagan prostitution. So God was instructing Gideon to destroy the symbols of idolatry & immorality & to burn the Asherah wood as a message that a time for repentance had come.
Vs. 27 says, "So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.
The next morning, when the townspeople found out what had been done, they were upset & demanded of his father, "Where is Gideon? We've come to kill him."
C. Joash, Gideon's father, was courageous. Although it had been his own altar & Asherah pole that Gideon had destroyed, Joash seems to have been the first to repent & turn back to the Lord.
Judges 6:31 tells us, "Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? ... If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!”
You see, courage can be contagious. One person standing up against evil can inspire others to do the same. And they needed to be inspired because vs. 33 says, "Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel."
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, & he sent messengers all over northern Israel calling them to arms. To his amazement, 32,000 men responded. They were ready to fight! All they needed was a leader to lead them.
APPL. It's a sobering day in the life of a young leader when he or she realizes, "People are following me. People are listening to what I say. They are doing what I ask them to do. I'm making a difference!"
D. But Gideon was still afraid, & he asked God for another sign. Vs's 36-37 says, "Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight.
"If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised."
The next morning, God had dramatically answered his request. Gideon wrung out a bowl full of water from the fleece! But then he had second thoughts.
Vs. 39 says, "Then Gideon said to God, 'Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.”
In other words, "Reverse the process, just to prove it really was a miracle."
Vs. 40 says, "So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew." There was no mistake. God truly was with Gideon!
A. So now it was time for Gideon to demonstrate his trust in God.
Judges 7:1-2 says that Gideon & his army got up early & went as far as the spring of Harod. There the Lord said to Gideon, "You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.'
Now let me condense the rest of the story for you. God told Gideon, "You don't need a powerful military; you need a confident spirit. So let's begin to trim down your troops. Tell them that anyone trembling with fear may go home."
So Gideon did, & 22,000 went home, & Gideon's heart must have sunk! Big numbers almost always represent strength to us. A loss of more than 2/3rds of your army would be devastating. But God said to Gideon, "There are still too many. Take them down to the water & I will sift them out there."
"When they get to the water, watch how they drink, & send back those who kneel down at the water to drink. The ones who lift the water to their mouths & lap it from their hands you keep." Only 300 men lapped the water from their hands.
"The Lord told Gideon, 'With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home." (Judges 7:7).
Only 300 were left out of the original 32,000. But Gideon did as God said. He sent the others home, but he kept all their ram's horn trumpets.
B. Now let's notice 2 things Gideon did that helped conquer his fear.
1. First, he trusted God completely. He'd seen enough to be convinced God was with Him. That's what God asks of us, too. Jesus tells us, "Don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ (Matthew 6:31 (NLT)
How many years must God provide for us before we're convinced that He will supply our needs?
2. Secondly, Gideon was obedient. When God instructed him to go, he went - even though he was afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is being afraid but proceeding anyway!
C. Judges 7:9-10 tells us, "That night the LORD said, 'Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them!
"But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack."
Gideon didn't say, "Oh, no, that won't be necessary, Lord." Instead, that night, he & his servant sneaked down to the edge of the enemy camp, where they overheard two enemy soldiers discussing a weird dream.
One soldier said, "I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!"
"His companion answered, 'Your dream can mean only one thing - God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!' (7:13-14)
D. Judges 7:15 says, "When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord."
Now it was time for boldness. When he returned to the camp, he awakened the troops. “Get up! For the LORD has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” (Judges 7:16)
He gave every man a torch, with instructions to put the torch inside a clay jar. Every man was also given a ram's horn trumpet. Then Gideon told them, "Keep your eyes on me. When I come to the edge of the camp, do just as I do." (7:17)
Now notice, 3 essentials of an effective leader stand out in Gideon. First is a reassuring confidence - "We're going to do it!"
Second, there is a clear communication - "This is what you are to do."
Finally, there is a positive example - "Do as I do." Gideon had now become a mighty warrior!
The Israelites silently surrounded the Midianite camp. At a given signal, all 300 men smashed their clay jars, waved their flaming torches, & shouted "A sword for the Lord & for Gideon!" (vs. 20), instantly awakening the sleeping enemy. Then they blew their trumpets, making the loudest racket they could make.
When the suddenly startled Midianites saw the torches & heard the awful racket, they panicked. They thought they were surrounded by a powerful army.
Vs. 22 says, "When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the Lord caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords."
Those who survived fled for their lives. Gideon & his mighty 300 were victorious, & God was once again honored in Israel.
ILL. Years ago, when many other young men were enlisting or being drafted, Roy Coop was a student in a Bible College preparing to be a preacher.
Some of his former high school classmates were critical of him for not enlisting. They accused him of "ducking his duty" & "taking the coward's way out."
One day, Roy approached a group of his former classmates, & one said, "Here comes chicken Roy! He went off to Bible College because he's afraid to fight for his country!"
Roy Coop straightened his 6'2" frame that supported a muscular 200-pound body & replied, "I joined an army that the rest of you don't have the guts to join!"
It takes courage to enlist in the Lord's army. It takes courage to live counter to the popular trends of this world today. But many are doing it!
What enemies are you facing? What has made you feel defeated & discouraged? Perhaps today is the time to take a stand. God is coming to you in this moment & saying, “The Lord is with you, Mighty Hero!”
“Who me?” you might answer. “If you are with me then why am I going through all this?”
But God is calling you to victory. He is calling you to leave your doubt & walk in faith. He is calling you to be a doer, not a complainer.
We keep wanting God to do something without our help. We keep wanting somebody else to do it. But God wants to use you & me. He always works through people.
God called Gideon a mighty warrior, but that was not who he was at first. It was who he would become - with God’s help. God looked at his potential rather than his weaknesses.
That is what God is doing now if you will walk in faith & do what He is calling you to do. The Lord challenges us, “Go with the strength you have...for I am sending you!”

Things To Know For Times Of Trouble

Posted by Chardon in Judges 6

Things To Know For Times Of Trouble
Judges 6:1 – 7:15

A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination, and looked at the old pages as he turned them. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible, and he picked it up and looked at it closely. It was an old leaf from a tree that had been pressed between the pages.

'Momma, look what I found,' the boy called out.

'What have you got there, dear?' his mother asked.

With astonishment in the young boy's voice, he answered: 'I think it's Adam's suit!'

• How many of you have had a life where you have had no difficulties? Life has been easy with no challenges. I would venture to say there are not too many people who can lay claim to a life without challenges and difficulty.
• How many times have you been in the midst of a difficult time and you just did not know what to do, you did not know where to turn. In desperation you cried out to God for help.
• When we get in tough situations we feel very helpless. Sometimes we feel so helpless that we forget that God can use us as part of the solution to the problem.
• When we feel helpless, there are a lot of things that we seem to forget regarding God and our problem.
• Today we are going to look in the book of Judges Chapters 6 and 7.  I want to look at someone who was in a terrible situation and I want us to look at some things that we need to know for times of trouble.
• The nation of Israel was in the throws of oppression, this time at the hands of the Midianites. The nation had enjoyed close to 40 years worth of prosperity and peace after Jabin had delivered them from the last oppression.
• Near the end of the 40 years, the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Now they were in the middle of 7 years of oppression at the hands of the Midianites. Each year during the harvest the Midians along with their allies would sweep into Israel and take all the grain and livestock they could take, thus ruining the harvest for the nation. READ Judges 6:3-6
3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east; they came up against them; 4 and they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance in Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. 5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents; they came in as locusts for multitude; both they and their camels were without number: and they came into the land to destroy it. 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian; and the children of Israel cried unto Jehovah.
• The nation was scared. Listen to verse 2 of chapter 6. “The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.”
• The nation of Israel was desperate to the point that they were once again crying out to God. JUDGES 6:6&7
• The nation was at a low point and they felt abandoned by God and they did not know what to do. Have you ever felt that way? They were so absorbed by the problem that the people could not see what to do in order to fix it.
• From our story today I want us to look at some things we need to know for times of trouble.
During times of trouble we need to know that:
• How many times do we find our selves in a situation where we really do not see what got us unto the situation, or maybe down deep we knew why things were happening but we did not want to admit it?
• The nation had to know why they were in the throws of oppression; it is not like it had never happened before.
• Nevertheless the people were distraught. Verse six told us that the nation was at a low point.
• It has amazed me in my own life how many times I would be in the middle of something and not really want to acknowledge what the real problem was. How many times has this happened with money?
• The nation cried out to God. What did God do? He came in and immediately pushed the oppressors out of the county! WRONG.
• READ 6:7-10
7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto Jehovah because of Midian, 8 that Jehovah sent a prophet unto the children of Israel: and he said unto them, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;
9 and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; 10 and I said unto you, I am Jehovah your God; ye shall not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell. But ye have not hearkened unto my voice.
• God gave them an answer in a strange way. God sent an unnamed prophet to let the nation know WHY they were having the problems they were facing. God did not give the people what they wanted, but instead what they needed. They needed to know why the oppression was happening
• In order to fix a problem, we need to know what the real problem is. If I thought my money problems resulted from a lack of money instead of a lack of discipline, as soon as I would get more money, I would just face more problems until I took care of the real issue.
• For the Israelites, the real issue was not the oppression, but instead their lack of obedience towards God.
• God knows what your real issues are so He can help you in your times of trouble.
During times of trouble we need to know that:
• Let’s look at what God was about to do. READ 6:11-16
11 And the angel of Jehovah came, and sat under the [a]oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him, and said unto him, Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty man of valor. 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh, my lord, if Jehovah is with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where are all his wondrous works which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not Jehovah bring us up from Egypt?
but now Jehovah hath cast us off, and delivered us into the hand of Midian. 14 And Jehovah [b]looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and save Israel from the hand of Midian: have not I sent thee? 15 And he said unto him, Oh, Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my [c]family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. 16 And Jehovah said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
• God is about to offer a solution for the people through a most unlikely source. We do not know what attracted God to Gideon.
• An angel of the Lord comes to Gideon and more or less tells Gideon he is the solution to the problem the nation is facing.
• When Gideon is called by God, Gideon challenges the angel in verse 13. He wants to know why they are in the shape they are in and why God has done nothing about it.
• The angel tells Gideon that Gideon in going to deliver the nation.
• Gideon does not feel qualified to be one to lead the nation out of oppression.
• Gideon had many strikes against him. He was the youngest son; in a family the youngest son was not usually very highly esteemed. He was from an obscure family (Verse 15). Not only that but Gideon’s father is part of the problem, he was an idolater himself (Judges 6:28).
• Even with all the strikes against him, God knew Gideon’s capabilities. Notice in verse 12 the angel calls him a valiant warrior. This is kind of a strange greeting considering there was a good possibility Gideon was hiding while beating out the wheat lest it got taken from him.
• It was time for Gideon to quit feeling helpless and start feeling empowered! The angel tells Gideon in verse 14 to: "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?"
• Look at verse 16. “But the Lord said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man."
• Notice the lord tells Gideon that He sent him and that He will be with him and that through Gideon, Gideon would defeat the Midianites!
• When we get into difficult situations, we forget that God knows what we can and cannot do. God will not call us to do what we cannot do unless He is going to be there with us. We MUST remember “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
• We need to also need to remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
• No matter how small, insignificant, young or old you are, God can use you for great things!
During times of trouble we need to know that:
• When we have issues in our lives that need attention, there are times that God will lead us to do some tough things, to make some tough choices.
• Before Gideon could cleanse the nation of it’s’ idolatry, Gideon was going to have to do some house cleaning of his own first. READ 6:25-27
25 And it came to pass the same night, that Jehovah said unto him, Take thy father’s bullock,
[g]even the second bullock seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the Asherah that is [h]by it; 26 and build an altar unto Jehovah thy God upon the top of this stronghold, [i]in the orderly manner, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt-offering with the wood of the Asherah which thou shalt cut down. 27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as Jehovah had spoken unto him: and it came to pass, because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city, so that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.
• Gideon was called to clean up his house. Gideon was willing but afraid to do it so he did it at night.
• Many times the road to recovery starts with us. I wonder how many times we really know this but are unwilling to face it.
• Sometimes God will lead us to do things that are not popular with other people. Look at verses 28-30. The people were not too happy with what Gideon did, but it had to be done. Sometimes you will need to do some things that are not popular, but they are things that need to be done.
• It is interesting how Gideon’s father defended Gideon. He says that if Baal is real, Baal will take care of it.
During times of trouble we need to know that:
• When we are called to do some drastic things, God will give us the confidence we need to accomplish the task at hand.
• After Gideon took the stand and decided to obey God, he gained confidence. When the Midians heard about what happened, they gathered all their allies and Gideon send messengers out to build his army to go up against them. (Judges 6;32-35)
• Judges 6:36-40 gives us an interesting exchange. Follow with me. READ JUDGES 6:36-40.
36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast spoken, 37 behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing-floor; if there be dew on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the ground, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast spoken. 38 And it was so; for he rose up early on the morrow, and pressed the fleece together, and wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be kindled against me, and I will speak but this once: let me make trial, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
• Gideon still lacked a bit of confidence. He asked God to show him a sign. Gideon put out the fleece. Notice that God did not scold Gideon for a lack of faith, but instead He did what Gideon asked, not only once, but twice!
• I know when I have had to face some tough choices in life and I felt God was leading me one way, I have “put out the fleece” asking God for a conformation.
• We also see God giving Gideon another sign in Judges 7:10-15.
• God gave Gideon the confidence he needed to accomplish the task at hand.
• God will do the same for you if you seek Him.
During times of trouble we need to know that:
• How many times has God bailed you out of something or helped you in a time of need only for you to take the credit and for get what God had done for you?
• In Chapter 7:1-4, Gideon has an army an army of over 32,000 men respond to his call. IF you had 32,000 plus men, would you feel a bit more confident in your chances?
• God told Gideon He had too many people in the army so it was time to reduce the number.
• READ Judges 7:1-2
Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of [p]Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, [q]by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
2 And Jehovah said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

• God did not want Israel taking the credit for something they did not do.
3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and [r]depart from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
• Well, 22,000 left with the first test. Well, 10,000 is not too bad.
• God said, “too many”. So God told Gideon to have the men drink at the river and separate the ones who lap the water like dogs from the ones who kneel to drink. (7:5-8)
• Now Gideon has a whopping 300 people left.
• How were 300 men going to defeat several thousand of the enemy? It could only be God. Sometimes things will not get better for us until we are ready to rely on God. DO you think Gideon would have been successful if he would have told God He was crazy and went to battle with the 32,000 men? Do you think you will succeed if you do the same?
During times of trouble we need to know that:
• How many times have we tried to go out to battle on our own?
• Through this whole process, did God expect Gideon to do battle without Him? Did God expect Gideon to defeat the Midians without His help?
• NO!
• Does God want you to do battle on your own with Him? NO!
• Gideon took the 300 men he had and divided them into three companies. Judges 7:19-22.
• Always remember, the battle belongs to the Lord. You are not going it alone! Gideon did the impossible with 300 men and the Lord.
• When we are having trouble in our lives, know that God is with you.
• Do not wait until all seems lost to go to God. Start with Him.
• Gideon was a man whom would not have been chosen to lead the nation out of oppression, but God knew there was something special about him.
• When we start realizing that through God we have power and strength, nothing will defeat us! We will stand strong and we will realize that the battle belongs to the Lord!

 Based on a sermon given

by Jeffery Anselmi


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