I struggle with wanting to control situations, things, people...like I said I struggle! I am thankful for the day I read Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
That verse helped teach me to turn my worries and need for control (which, as we know, lack of control leads to stress when control is what we seek) over to Jesus. As pastor shared, God answers prayers, maybe not the way we would like to see them answered, but He does find creative solutions to our prayers. The cool truth is that we can do so much more through God than we can on our own!
I know, that takes a lot of faith, to turn your worries about your finances, health, you name it...over to Him! The awesome truth is that when we let Him, He fights for us! Thankfully God is patient with us! Judges 6:11-39 NIV shows the patience God showed Gideon with his lack of faith.
The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
"But sir," Gideon replied, "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 up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
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?"
"But Lord , " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
Gideon replied, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 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."
Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And Gideon did so. With 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. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"
But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."
So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.
Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering."
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal's altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
They asked each other, "Who did this?" When they carefully investigated, they were told, "Gideon son of Joash did it."
The men of the town demanded of Joash, "Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it."
But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, "Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar." So that day they called Gideon "Jerub-Baal, " saying, "Let Baal contend with him," because he broke down Baal's altar.
Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised- look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said." And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
What can we learn from this passage? Pastor Rickey shared what happens Before The Fight:
1. Before God asks me to do something big, He will start small.
2. After God asks me to do something, He will confirm it.
Confirmation from God usually comes in 4 ways:
- God's Word We have the answers to how God wants us to live in the Bible!
- Prayer Sometimes we need to pray for wisdom or understanding, not just for things.
- Fasting If you are healthy, skipping lunch can help you sharpen your focus on Him.
- Godly Counsel Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
3. Sometimes God will empty your resources so that He gets the glory for victory. Pastor shared how God took Gideon's 32,000 men willing to fight down to 10,000 and finally to 300! Why? So they could not take pride in themselves for the victory, instead they would know it was God's victory!
I don't know about you, but this is encouraging to me! When we rely and lean on Him, then when the victory comes, we know and can give Him praise that if it were not for Him we would not be celebrating a victory! I shared before that we are putting our faith and trust in God with our home (is your home worth less than you owe too?), the change in my hubby's pay, whether we will be blessed with another child, me staying home with our daughter...boy, God sure does take on a bunch of our worries, huh? Thank YOU!
How To Let God Fight For You
1. Listen for direction from God before facing the conflict. I know, that takes patience from us, but it is so worth the pain we are saved from mistakes of haste!
The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place." So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. During that night the LORD said to Gideon, "Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp." So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. "I had a dream," he was saying. "A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed."
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."
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. Judges 7:7-15 (NIV)
2. Act in Faith! Pastor shared that God knew Gideon's faith wasn't strong so He gave Gideon confirmation. Aren't you thankful that God knows each of us so well, knows what we need?
He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, "Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands." Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
"Watch me," he told them. "Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, 'For the LORD and for Gideon.' " Judges 7:15-18 (NIV)
3. Unleash the power of praise and let God fight for you! You may know what God wants you to do, take a step of faith, don't let fear, lack of control or anything hold you back! Pastor reminded us that it is not our weapons that win, it is God who wins fights!
Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. Judges 7:19-22 (NIV)
Give Him thanks and praise in all circumstances, knowing that He will be victorious for you!
Pastor ended service with this exercise:
- Put your fists on your knees and close your eyes
- Picture your biggest battle you are facing in your fists
- Then, turn your palms down, name it, and tell Him you are releasing it to Him
- Face your palms up and ask Him to fill you with joy, the Holy Spirit and a heart to praise in the middle of this mess
- Tell Him you know that He will take care of everything and Thank Him