Points Covered: Fearful to Fearless is a sermon based on the life of Gideon. Simple and practical steps as to how God changed a coward to a courageous warrior. Judges 6 & 7
Introduction: We need a lot of courage to carry on in this compact and competitive world. There comes situations in life where we act cowardly, lack courage and become fearful. You may be here this morning with situations not knowing what to do. You don’t have the courage to move on. Listen, whatever you are facing in life, God has a plan for it in your life. God wants to move you from the fearful to fearless realm to accomplish his plans upon your life.
Open with me your Bibles to Judges chapter 6. This morning we focus on Gideon. He is not very impressive at first look, but he makes some choices that flow from his faith in God. So significant is the mark this very ordinary man made in his time that he is listed in Hebrews 11, the heroes of faith.
As we open Judges 6, we find the nation of Israel coming off a time of relative ease. The bills are paid, business is good, everything’s going fine. And as it tends to happen to everyone, Israel forgot God. They became self-sufficient. They didn’t need God. So the Lord shook things up by rousing an enemy against them to show them how hard life can be without Him. Judges 6:1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.
The Midianites were extremely powerful and oppressed the Israelites mercilessly. Every year around harvest time, the Midianites would invade Israel. They would come in like locusts, ravaging the land. What they couldn’t carry with them they destroyed. The Bible reports that it was so bad many of the Israelites were fearful for their lives that they left their homes to live in caves. This went on for seven years. Judges 6:6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
There is a lesson for all of us here for what happens when we forget God?
- The Lord takes off his protective hand from us.
- They are unable to enjoy the blessings.
- You lose the presence of God. You feel the Lord has abandoned you.
Are you going through a tough time in your life? Are you feeling abandoned by God? Are you going through a tough time in your life?
1. God uses tough times to get our attention.
They waited until every possible option played out for 7 years and they couldn’t take it any longer. How many times have hard circumstances come to us, and we never stop to ask what God is planning for us in those circumstances? Instead we hold out, thinking that we can handle it on our own. Every experience in life is a test. Every trial in the lives of God’s people is tailored to draw us closer to God. When tough times come, instead of looking at them as if God is punishing you, try to see them as God’s gift of grace.
He loves you too much to let you keep living the way you are. He longs to be at the center of your life. So God has designs in our troubles, and they are always for our good. Proverbs 3:11-12 11My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
C.S. Lewis “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It’s His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Judges 6:7-8 7When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8he sent them a prophet. The wonderful thing about God is that even though we’re slow in returning to God, He is never slow in responding to us. When we cry out to God, He moves in mercy and love toward us. He tells us the truth, and begins to work behind the scenes to help us. For Israel, He first sends an unnamed prophet to call them back to total surrender and full devotion.
God’s plan also included a most unlikely man named Gideon. We meet Gideon in v11 where he is threshing some wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. Normally, you would want to thresh wheat out in the open so that the wind could blow away the chaff. But Gideon has apparently been stung before, so he goes into hiding in an underground winepress, hoping to avert the attention of the Midianites. It’s a pitiful sight, full of frustration, discouragement, and fear.
Judges 6:12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” The angel called Gideon “mighty warrior.” Was God being sarcastic? Gideon is fearful, running away from his enemy and God calls him mighty warrior. Did God see more than Gideon saw? I believe God saw what He was about to make of Gideon. It was time Gideon saw it too.
God calls you a mighty victor even when you are in fear because of what he is about to do in your life.
2. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you.
One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that God only uses special people. If you are a born-again believer, you are God’s child (John 1:12), His friend (John 15:15), and His masterpiece (Eph. 2:10). You have been justified (Rom. 5:1), freed forever from condemnation from God (Rom. 8:1). You are adopted into His family (Eph. 1:5) and your citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). You belong to God (1 Cor. 6:20), never to be separated from His love (Rom. 8:35)! And you have everything from Him you need for life and godliness!
God has a great plan for you even when you are going through defeat. He sees the big picture about your life and calls you a warrior. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you
After being called a mighty warrior, Gideon questions God: Judges 6:13 “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the 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.” Gideon’s conclusion was that the Lord has abandoned them. I don’t know if you are sitting here feeling abandoned by God. God loves you.
Verse 14 records something that must have reaffirmed Gideon. Judges 6:14 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?”
Judges 6:16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
3. God confirms His plans with His presence.
Gideon is given an undeniable commission, told the remarkable results in advance, and promised the unrivaled partnership of the Lord Himself.
Gideon is lonely, defeated and in loss. In the natural he does not have anything to be victorious. He is the weakest link in his clan, the youngest in his family. He doesn’t have any authority to call out the cavalry from his own tribe, let alone from others. God is telling, you don’t need anything. You just need my presence for victory in your life.
Illustration: It was said among Napoleon’s soldiers, “When Napoleon takes our hands and looks at us, we feel like conquerors.” There’s something that changes in us when we listen to His voice and look “full in His wonderful face.” Suddenly, His priorities become the most important thing on earth. God confirms his plans with his presence.
Gideon said, “I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!” His fears comforted, His calling affirmed. So he builds an altar to the Lord. Gideon needed a personal encounter with God. God met him right where he was, giving him a sense of peace and purpose by His promised presence. Gideon immediately obeyed God.
4. Each small obedience leads to final victory.
Anyone whom God has used has been obedient in small things of life. Private faithfulness is a prerequisite to public usefulness. Before Gideon can be used by God, he must first obey God in small things.
D. L. Moody: “Give me ten men who fear nothing but sin and love nothing but God, and I shall change the world.”
a. Gideon voluntarily brought an offering to the Lord. Judges 6:18 Gideon replied, “Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you. And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
Judges 6:20-21 20The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” 21With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.
b. Gideon obeyed God in cleansing his property. Gideon’s family was breaking the 1st and 2nd commandments, with idols to Baal on their property. So God told Gideon to take down his dad’s special seven-year-old bull and tear down the idols. Then, Gideon was to build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice a burnt offering.
If you want to go from fearful to fearless, you must first set your own house in order. Before God can use you mightily, He must be magnified in your own life, in your own home. Private worship prepares us for public power from God. There are no short cuts. So is there anything you’ve been holding on to? Is there any sin that you’re clinging to? Knock down your idols. Confess you sin. Deal with it and return to full obedience to God.
Will Gideon face opposition in doing this? Sure it will, but God will honor those who honor Him! It happened for Gideon. The men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die.” But Gideon’s act was already affecting change. His father, Joash, awoke to the truth and stood up to the men. His father defended him and God defended Gideon. You obey God, God will stand for you.
5. God is patient with our faith process.
But watch this: Even after his encounter with Almighty God, even though he had been obedient to cleanse his home and the Lord protecting him, and even though God appointed him, Gideon still struggled with doubts. He was fearful. He knows that God has promised to save Israel through him, but he’s looking in the mirror and the reflection he sees doesn’t look encouraging.
Gideon is asking God for signs. Gideon said, “I will put a fleece of wool here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that You will deliver Israel by my strength, as You said.” I love how loving, tender, and patient God is with us. Gideon is making a deal with God. He wants a confirming sign. And the Bible says the next morning, God gave it to him: the fleece was wet and the ground was dry. The next day Gideon reverses the test, asking that the fleece be dry and the ground covered with dew. He then asked God not to be angry with him. God graciously confirmed this sign Gideon. Our Lord was developing this man into a fully convinced servant, matching each doubt with kind reassurance. God will show you the same patience as well, as you seek His face, allaying your fears to grow you into a man or woman of God. He is ready to give you assurance when you doubt him.
6. Success is determined only by God’s power.
Gideon is convinced, fearless and is now ready to fight but God has other plans. Gideon prepared an army of 32000 soldiers. In Judges 7, the Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to handle the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might boast: ‘I did it myself.'”
God hates pride and boasting. When someone takes credit for God’s work in their lives God hates it. When we say, “I studied hard, its my money, I have achieved so much in life” God hates it.
God proceeds to give Gideon a couple of tests to whittle the number down. In the first test, God asked everyone with fear to return home. 22,000 men left the army, leaving 10,000. Still too many, said God. A second test was given. God tells Gideon to take his men down to the water and let them drink. Weed out any men who stick their face down into the water to drink; keep the ones who ladle the water to their mouths with their hands. Gideon must have gulped hard when he counted how many were disqualified: 9700 were out, leaving only 300 men.
Can you imagine how Gideon felt? Chapter 8 tells us that the Midianite army numbered 135,000 men. That’s 450 Midianites to every one Israeli soldier. God wants Gideon’s army to face this horde with a mere 300 men. In the natural it was next to impossible. Gideon could have thought, “What can I do with what I have got?” Many of you are thinking, “Lord what can I do with my little education? How can one life make a difference in the world? I have only little money with me.
God created an impossible situation of human weakness to exalt His own strength. This is His specialty! Jesus said in Luke 18:27 What is impossible with men is possible with God.
Now the Midianite camp lay below in the valley. During the night the Lord said to Gideon, “If you are afraid to fight with 300 men I will give you another sign.” God asked Gideon to go down to the Midianite camp. Gideon was definitely fearful. God told him to take servant with him. As Gideon arrived, a man was telling his friend his dream. “A loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed. See what the friend replied: Judges 7:14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”
Gideon was encouraged. He just turned from being fearful to fearless. He worshipped God and said, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” God is patient with our faith process until you have the courage to face your situation.
Gideon divided the camp into 100s of three and marched around the mountain. They carry with them trumpets, empty mud jars, and torches. The Midianites are down in the valley. The Israelites take position around them, blow the trumpet and break the jar. This Midianites woke up and saw people with torches all around them, they are surrounded. They felt that the enemy has invaded them and with the sword turned on each other.
In one of the strangest battle strategies in history, the 300 went out with trumpets, torches, and jars to meet the marauding Midianites. God sent confusion into the ranks of the enemy so that they began attacking each other. When it was over, 120,000 Midianites had killed one another and the other 15,000 fled. It was over. God had answered Israel’s prayers. He used a common man who believed God.
God’s ways are often surprising and challenging but always the best and the most successful. Accomplishing God’s purposes is not determined by our bank balance, our influence, or in the efficiency of our plans. We need to attend to all those things, sure. But the truth is, God is looking to glorify Himself on earth through people who are fully dependent on Him. God doesn’t need a majority. If you are available God is willing to do great things with you.
Conclusion: God uses tough times to get our attention. Is He getting your attention today? His presence is with you now, urging you to trust Him. Remember, small obedience leads to greater victories. Are there things in your life, in your home, that need to go so God can move in power in your life? God is patient with our faith process. He meets you right where you are with what you need.
Success is determined by God’s power. Will you trust Him today, with your life, with your children, your finances, your decisions, your husband or wife? God wants you to move from the fearful to fearless like Gideon and give you the victory. Don’t underestimate what God can do in and through you. God will always be with you in whatever he called you to do.