Tag Archives: bondage

God Prepares the Man

Peninsula Community Church 

God Prepares the Man

August 5, 2018 

Judges 6:11-16 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

As interesting as Gideon’s battle is, because there is so much to cover, I will be splitting this sermon into two parts. The fact is it is impossible to deal with everything that needs to be considered in one sitting. The two parts of this message will the preparation of the man, and the second part will be the preparation of the army. Both of these are important and we will look at these over the next couple of weeks. Let us begin by looking at the preparation of the man. 

As we consider this story, we find that Israel had become intimidated by the Midianites. The Midianites had been ruthless and had caused the Israelites to walk in fear and trepidation. It is noteworthy that the Midianites were descendants of Abraham. So in essence, this was family against family. They had become an enemy of Israel and the enemy of Israel is always an enemy of God. They might be fighting against Israel, but God was ready to fight against the Midianites. 

This situation however did not happen in a vacuum. In Judges 6, we find the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of God. What is critical here is that their sin was in the open. They did not even try to hide it. The result of their sin was they had been given over to the Midianites for seven long years. Their evil acts put them in the position to be manipulated by an outside force, rather than being lead by the power of God. In this, we are reminded that our decisions have consequences. When we reject God, there are consequences. When we go our own way, there are consequences. When we believe we do not need God, there are consequences. Here is the problem, Israel, like many of us, began to allow the Midianites to control their lives, their emotions, and actions rather than surrendering to the power of God to achieve His purposes. They willfully submitted themselves to these outside influences. The result was fear and intimidation had snared them. In Judges 6:2, we find the Midinaites had overpowered Israel. Israel had become so intimidated and fearful of the Midianites, they were driven into the mountains and caves. The Midianites were stealing and robbing them blind not only emotionally, but physically as well. When they planted crops, the Midianites would come in and take the crops they needed, and would destroy the rest. They would take their live stock and left them without anything to eat. 

Israel was desperate. In Judges 6:6, we see they were at a low point in their life and “… the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.” They had given territory to the enemy because of their disobedience before God. When we give territory to the enemy, we can feel intimidated and robbed as well. When we are disobedient to the word and ways of God, we give up territory to the enemy. We become trapped by the lies, the pride, and actions that are opposed to the ways of God. Throughout Scripture, we find that disobedience by His people led to destruction and bondage. 

At this point, Israel felt hopeless, but God was working behind the scenes. Listen to Judges 6:7-10 When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”

In those days, God appointed judges to rule and lead for short periods of time. Israel was in a cycle of obedience and then disobedience. It seemed that Israel would do their own thing, walk in sin, and then become desperate. God would then appoint judges to rule over them to save them. Then they would return to obedience and His ways. In our story, we see God calls Gideon. What is noteworthy is where God finds Gideon. He is beating out wheat in a winepress so that he would not be discovered by the Midianites. He, like Israel, is intimidated and afraid. He is hiding in the hopes that the enemy would not find him and steal his food. But God knew where he was, God knew what he was doing, and God had a plan for His life. 

You might question God’s choice here, but before we question God’s choice and chastise Gideon for his emotional bankruptcy, we need to be aware that many times we have reached this place of discouragement and despair. We often reach the place where we feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the events and the issues of life. We have become more intimated by the enemy and the problems we face than we should be. The enemy has gained more territory than he should have in our lives. The truth is this does not have to be the case. We can live in victory and the power of God’s grace. 

When Gideon is called to rescue Israel against the Midianites, he does what many of us would do. He rejects the calling of God. He felt he did not merit or deserve what God was asking him to do. In Judges 6:15 we see his response. “How can I save Israel? Behold my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my father’s house.” Too often we are defeated before we even get started. We believe we are powerless to accomplish anything of merit. But, God does not see us through our eyes, He sees us through the eyes of what Christ has done on our behalf. God does not see Gideon as weak and demoralized, He sees him as a mighty man of valor. God does not see Gideon as defeated, but as victorious. Therefore, to overcome, we must see ourselves as God sees us. We must see ourselves in light of God’s view of us.

Know this, God does not see us as weaklings, because in our weakness He becomes our strength.This reminds us of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. In our failures, He becomes our success. He becomes the power we need to act on His behalf. Look at the Lord’s response to Gideon. “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Here is the point God is making. If He is with you and you are doing what He called you to do, you have already won. Notice God says “You shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Together, we will overcome. We will be victorious. 

In the New Testament, we find that God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong … (1 Corinthians 1:27). Here is the point. In relationship to the world’s wisdom and idea of leadership, Gideon would have never been chosen. They would have chosen someone already proven and who had already won many battles but, God does not do this. God sees in Gideon, what Gideon did not see in himself. 

As we bring this to a close, let me make a couple of final points. First, God equips those He calls. It has been said that He does not call the equipped, He equips the called. We see this in the case of Gideon. God is preparing Him and working in Him. God is equipping him for a mission.

Second, God had to deal with Gideon’s heart before He could use Gideon. Gideon is called to tear down the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole. This was a test for Gideon and a work of the Lord to build confidence in Him. Notice, Gideon does this under the cloak of darkness. He does it so no one sees him. He goes at night because he is still afraid and scared of the Midianites. The success of his mission builds confidence and hope in him however. You see, sometimes, God calls us to do small things behind the scenes in order to be successful in the open. Our hidden successes become outward successes. 

Thirdly, God prepared his heart and moved him from fear and intimidation to peace with God. How do we know this? In Judges 6:23-24, we find the following. But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. Though, inwardly, he continued to have fear and was still dealing with intimidation, he stepped out in faith to accomplish the will of God. 

Here is what we need to know. God has a plan for our life. God has something for you and nothing can stop that but ourselves. We may be fearful. We may be intimidated. We may feel less than capable of doing what we have been called to do but God equips us and God gives us all we need.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Price of Freedom

Peninsula Community Church 

The Price of Freedom 

July 2, 2017

Galatians 5:1,13; 1 Peter 2:16 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

This is the week we set aside to celebrate our freedom as a nation. As a result I have been thinking a lot about our freedom both as a nation and as a believer in Christ. As I was thinking about this I have a couple of thoughts about freedom I would like to share with you.

The first of these is freedom is never free. Throughout our history as a nation, wars have been waged and lives have been sacrificed for freedom. The men who founded our nation loved their freedom. They were weary of the constraints and the bondage the state and the church had on them. In that day the Church of England controlled its members and the state controlled the church. They wanted their freedom from an oppressive state of rules and laws of the state and church. That is why in our constitution it states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

They wanted a separation from a government run church but their goal was not to remove God from government but rather it was to remove the state’s control over one’s religious beliefs. They had a conviction that mankind should be able to worship freely however they may choose without constraint from the government. Because of their convictions these men were willing to pay whatever price necessary to make their freedom a reality. In the end, they sacrificed their lives, their homes, and their finances to secure this new freedom. What a price to be paid!

Our freedom as believers is no different. We were under the constraints and bondage of a spiritual force that was set on keeping us bound with guilt, regret, and sin. Something needed to be done, so the Father of all creation devised a plan. He would send His son to pay the ultimate price that would secure our freedom. He was no ordinary man. He was the very son of God who came to this world for one reason. He would give His life and every drop of blood to secure our spiritual freedom. He died so that the curse of sin would be lifted and we would be free from the chains that bound us and held us back. He did what man’s law and religious rituals could not do, He died to purchase our freedom. And oh what a price!

Secondly, freedom must be preserved! Our freedom as a nation cannot be taken for granted. We have been so blessed as a nation but too often people find a way to complain, grumble, and find-fault. They would rather complain than actually do something. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot to complain about. Politicians promise one thing and do something else. There are those who obstruct what is right and march in the streets and bring violence to the streets in the name of liberty and freedom.  We have become selfish and have sought political correctness and financial gain at the expense of truth and righteousness. The problem we have is that when freedom is not preserved it leads to bondage.

Spiritually, Paul warns us that we are to be careful and not become slaves again to sin. We can never coast so to speak. We must continue to move forward by allowing God’s truth to permeate us. You see there is a battle for your soul. It is a fierce battle that is being waged at all levels of our life. This hit home this week when the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, stated that he envisions Facebook becoming the entity that will mimic religion’s role in society.

But why not, especially since many in modern Christianity have settled for less than God’s best. The church in many ways has abrogated its role in society. It seems that there is one of two extremes that occur. There is the legalistic arm of the church, where the rules and law are paramount. Sin is managed through a list of do’s and don’ts rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to bring change and transformation. They bind people up in rules and regulations rather than through grace and love. They demand legalism but cannot obey all the rules themselves.

The second extreme is to compromise one’s lifestyle and Biblical truth. It is here that anything goes. There is no moral high ground and there are no absolutes of truth. The gospel is watered down in an effort to attract people but in so doing it becomes powerless to bring change. John Wesley the founder and leader of the methodist movement understood this when he made the following observation. I am not afraid that the people called Methodists (add whatever church you want here) should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out (from Thoughts Upon Methodism, 1786). Sadly for many churches this has become their commentary. They have a form of religion but one absent of God’s power. I read this week that one church is removing God from its vocabulary as it has become too offensive.

You see the overarching question today is whether or not we will be transformed by society or we will transformer the society in which we live. That was Paul’s exhortation to the church at Rome when he stated in Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. You see it is easy to be conformed and shaped by society. It is easy to go with the flow. It is easy to settle for less than God’s best. It is much harder to go against the flow and be a transformer. To be a transformer we must do more than just talk about freedom we must live as freedmen. Freedom requires accountability and it requires responsibility. Without these elements we tend to drift. Without these we risk losing our freedom.

The third concept here is that freedom has never been a license to do whatever we want! The greatest misunderstanding about freedom is that we can do whatever we want to. Some believe that freedom gives them permission to act and to say whatever they may choose. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. We must have a system of reasonable laws and boundaries. For example, how many would say to your child or grandchild “go be free.” There are no boundaries or rules. Go ahead run with those scissors. Go ahead stick your finger into the electrical outlet. Go ahead cross that busy street without looking. Do not worry about it because you are free to run and roam. The truth is none of us would consider doing this as we have an understanding that there are some non debatable rules for us to have a long life and a full life. At the same time we would not place our child in their bedroom never to venture outside the door in fear of something happening to them. You see, there is a necessity for man to have real boundaries in which to live. It is in these boundaries that one is the freest.

As a believer, we have been freed from sin but we have also been called to righteousness. Therefore, we cannot live any way we want to because there is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to destruction. We are saved by faith alone but salvation leads us to obedience. God has given us reasonable boundaries in which we can live. It is in those boundaries that real freedom exists.

One of the problems is that too many promise freedom but the result is bondage to a greater degree. Notice here that whatever overcomes a person is what they become enslaved to. This can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental issues. What we give ourselves to is what we become ensnared by. In 2 Peter 2:19 Peter stated, They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. Peter also understood that we must never use our freedom to cover up evil. We see that today in our society. We see so much that is allowed because we use freedom as a means to do whatever we decide.

Fourth freedom is to be received! 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. The Holy Spirit’s presence brings the freedom we need. When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we are exposed to the power of freedom. That is God’s plan. We receive Him and He gives us freedom. He convicts of sin. He speaks truth. He warns us of impending trouble. We always have the right to refuse but if we allow Him to He will guide us into truth and real freedom of heart, mind, and spirit.

The Holy Spirit never seeks to bring us into bondage but chooses to free us from the power and guilt of sin. Christ frees us from the power of sin. He frees us from the cringing fear of God. He frees us from the fear of man. He frees us from the fear of death. He frees us forever. We never have to go back to the way was. As Jesus said “Whom the son sets free is free indeed!”

How are you doing? Are you living as a free man? Do you allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your steps? He wants to and He will if we give Him full reign of our hearts!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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