Monday, September 17, 2012

Heroes and Zeroes

He was an unlikely hero! He and his family had been under oppression of the enemy for seven years. It was a time of punishment for the Jewish people because so many had strayed from worshipping God since they had come out of Egypt. They tolerated and then participated in the worship of Baal and God wanted to see change come. God put His finger on one ordinary man, a farmer—Gideon. The story is found in Judges 6. God sent an angel to Gideon at Ophrah. Like you and me, he questioned the call God was placing on him. Where was this place where God sought out Gideon? Ophrah was a small community under Midianite control. Ophrah means “dusty”. How often do we feel we are just sitting on the dusty shelves of life, with no hope and no future. But God chose this ‘dusty’ place to seek out a potential hero. Gideon did not think of himself as a ‘hero.’ He thought of himself as a ’zero’. He was just trying to survive. He would take a few sheaves of wheat, go down into this low place where there was a wine press, and there try to beat the grain with a stick to winnow the grain so his family would have something to eat. The Midianites would often raid any farm that had grain and take it for themselves or completely destroy the crop. So Gideon, fearing the enemy, hiding in this low place, prepared just a little grain at a time.
  It was in this place of fear that God met with Gideon.  How often do we find ourselves in a place of fear that hinders us?  It is interesting to note that God did not pick on Gideon because of his fear. Instead God called him..."God is with you, O mighty warrior!"  Gideon was in shock, “Me? A mighty warrior?”  Gideon replied, "With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, 'Didn't God deliver us from Egypt?' The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian." Judges 6:13 and again he questions this amazing call: Gideon said to him, "Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan's the weakest in Manasseh and I'm the runt of the litter." Judges 6:15 Have you ever felt like that? You look at your skills, your abilities and feel like there is nothing in you that God could use. But when God calls us, he not only prepares us, but he enables us to do what he calls us to do. He takes our weaknesses and makes them strengths. When we feel like nothing...God makes us something special.  Though we are filled with insecurities, God wants to fill us with Himself. You may feel like a failure in life but God sees your potential, and He looks beyond your vision of yourself as the ‘runt of the litter’. He sees you as a mighty warrior. God wants you to see Him as the Almighty God.  When we see God for who He really is, nothing will be impossible for us.
  When Gideon built the altar God had instructed him to build, he names it (v24) “The Lord is Peace” Then Gideon built an altar there to God and named it "God's Peace." God’s peace is always waiting for the obedient servant of God. This peace becomes the source of your spiritual strength.  While Satan throws at you all the chaos he can muster, when we rest in God’s peace, there is nothing that can disturb or alarm us.  God wants you spiritually strong. He tests us emotionally, physically and spiritually. He is looking for our obedience, our faith, our total reliance on God.  God and you make a majority.  When the fear comes, we need to remember, 2 Timothy 1:7 (Amp)For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. Gideon had such a mindset. When he had his encounter with God, it filled him with a spirit of power, love and calm. He was well-balanced, disciplined and filled with self-control. It enabled him to stand against his father, and to gather a mighty army to fight the Midianites. God will enable you to fight your battles too.  Don’t fear your tomorrow. Be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and the peace of God. The battle is already won.
  Now the story goes on to tell us that Gideon’s father was a high priest of Baal. So whatever God tells Gideon to do will be in direct opposition to his family and his father. God tells Gideon to take his fathers prime seven year old bull and offer it as a whole sacrificial burnt offering, using the Asherah pole to burn the sacrifice. He was to tear down his Fathers altar, and build a new altar to God. He took ten of his own servants to help him do what God told him to do. The zero was becoming a hero! But fear was still in his heart so he did it all at night and in the morning the people found the old altar destroyed and a bull sacrifice burning on a new altar.  Of course this was the question of the day? “Who did this?” The answer came back….”Gideon, son of Joash”.  Now it was Joash’s turn to accuse or defend his son. Instead, Joash chose to make Baal the scapegoat. He told the people… If Baal is a god in fact, let him fight his own battles and defend his own altar." Judges 6:31 From that day onward, Gideon had a new nickname...They nicknamed Gideon that day Jerub-Baal because after he had torn down the Baal altar, he had said, "Let Baal fight his own battles." v 32 Every day we fight a battle against the enemy of our soul, Satan. His desire is to draw us into his web of deceit and doubt. He attacks us when we are down. He creates chaos in our homes and families. He steals our joy and peace. But like Joash, we need to turn away from him and recognize that if he has the power over us that he pretends to have, when we move into his territory and go on the attack, we need to let him lose the battle and defend his own ‘altars’.  We need to see ourselves as the mighty warrior...the hero in the battles we face daily. We need to let Satan fight his own battles and loose. He is a looser! With Christ on our side, we are winners, victorious mighty warriors.
But God, a most fierce warrior, is at my side. Those who are after me will be sent sprawling— Slapstick buffoons falling all over themselves, a spectacle of humiliation no one will ever forget. Jeremiah 20:11 We become mighty warriors because of the most fierce warrior who stands at our side, who protects us on every side, who fights our battles for us. Jesus in no wimpy Savior. We need to see Jesus the way John the Revelator saw him….Revelation 19:11-16 Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that's known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as "Word of God." The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords. This is no zero...he’s my hero!
  J. Johnson