Tag Archives: intimidation

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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Focusing on God in the Midst of the Struggle

Peninsula Community Church

February 5, 2017

Focusing on God in the Midst of the Struggle 

Daniel 3:24-25; 28 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods”… Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Last week we looked at the promise given to the Children of Israel as it related to their captivity in Babylon. This week we will look at one of the stories that occurred during the captivity and how the promise of God was fulfilled even in the midst of the captivity. As always, we must look at the back story so we can understand the story before us even better. When the Babylonians carried the Children of Israel into captivity they desired to indoctrinate the young people in the ways of Babylon. They envisioned winning the people of Israel by winning the hearts and minds of the children.

While this was their desire they had not figured on the number of youth whose faith in God would always trump anything that the Babylonians would try to do to them. We will see that in this story and in the story of Daniel that the Babylonians tried to change their perspective but that would not work as they had fully committed their way to the Lord. The fact is, the Hebrew children were not willing to give themselves to the ways of Babylon. Rather than live by a way of life that would leave them empty and longing for more they did not compromise their beliefs or their way of life.

In this story, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, built a statue that was to worshipped by the people of Babylon and the Hebrew captors. This was motivated by his pride and his arrogance as he believed that he was a god. As we see in the story, while everyone else bowed their knee to worship the statue the three Hebrew children did not. In fact, they refused to bow down which led them to be judged and subsequently they received a judgement against them.

As we review this story, we find that there were at least three tools used against them. The first tool used was the tool of false accusation. The Chaldeans came to destroy the three Hebrew children’s integrity and their standing in Babylon. In Daniel 3:8, we see they maliciously accused the Jews. The problem was that the Chaldeans were jealous of what the King had done for the Jews in that he had elevated the Israelites to positions of power often at the expense of the Chaldeans and men of Babylon. Their goal was to remove them from power by falsely accusing them. You see they did not just accuse them but they did so with an intent to get rid of them and to neutralize their effectiveness.

As we discussed last week, there is never a lack of people to try and tear us down. There will always be accusers in our life. We are accused by the enemy. We are accused by others. Sadly, we are also accused by ourselves. Have you ever noticed for example that when you are sad or down there will be those who think you are too sad and others who think you are not sad enough. You cannot please others and that often results in accusation most often founded in false truth. It is interesting that when trouble comes there is always someone around to accuse us and try to convince us there is no hope and that we should just submit to whatever issue we face. These accusers were no different. They wanted to create an atmosphere to discourage and defeat the faith of the Hebrews but they failed big time. They could not deter their faith nor could they defeat the Hebrew children.

The second tool used against the Hebrews was compromise! You see if the Hebrews only bowed their knee and followed the commands of the King everything would have been good. They would not have had to suffer the judgment that was to come but they chose to suffer death rather than compromise what they believed. Most often you can know that you face an attack of the enemy when there is a push to compromise the truth of the gospel and what you believe.

The fact is the enemy always wants us to compromise what we believe and what we stand for but in this story faith and trust in God prevailed. Rather than compromising they stood strong in their faith. The goal of compromise is to get us to diminish our faith and to begin to trust in everything but God. They refused to compromise because they had an unmovable faith in God. This is witnessed in the statement they made before being thrown into the fiery furnace. “God is able to deliver us. He will deliver us. And if He doesn’t we will not worship your gods.” That is the faith we need. We know God can deliver us but even if he doesn’t we will not stop serving him or believing in him. That is true faith.

The words of the Hebrew children are reminiscent of Paul’s words in Corinthians when he made the following observation. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

The third tool used by the enemy is intimidation! The King did two things to create an atmosphere of intimidation. First of all, he had his men turn the heat up seven times the normal heat. Have you ever noticed how the heat is turned up when you are walking through difficult times? There is great pressure and the heat of the problems you face cause you to take a step back. Secondly, the king ordered his mighty men to bind them before they were thrown into the furnace. The point of the intimidation was to cause them to give up and surrender their belief. Think about this. We have three young teenage boys being obedient to God and He sends them some of the biggest and most powerful men in his army to bind them. It seems like overkill but that is what the enemy does. He tends to do overkill in every aspect of our life to force us to become depressed or discouraged.

As we read the story while we see the tools used by the enemy we also see God’s intervention. The three Hebrew children I am sure would have desired that God would have intervened and kept them from the furnace but instead God allows the Babylonians to throw them into the fiery furnace. Being thrown into the furnace was not the end of the story because even in the furnace God chose to deliver them in a big way! We see at the end of this that God had a greater plan. The plan was to reach those in Babylon.

As we review the story we see that God did so much more than just intervene. Notice what the King and his men witnessed what they returned to the furnace the next day. They saw four men who were unbound and they were walking around in the fire. The miracle was that they were not hurt in anyway. In fact, they saw a fourth person in the furnace that looked a whole lot like God. In fact, we know now that it was the Son of God. He had intervened and made a way of enduring the fiery furnace at all cost. I can promise you today that God will intervene and make a way of escape for you. Sometimes it means that we are able to endure the trouble we face. You see the three Hebrew children were not delivered from the furnace but they were delivered in the furnace. How powerful that is and how encouraging it is when we face all kinds of difficulty in our life that God will deliver us?

Here is what we know. God was present with them. God’s presence in the furnace made all of the difference in the world. He was with them and He protected them. He guarded them. His presence brought comfort, protection, and deliverance in the midst of their greatest difficulty. It is noteworthy that God did not keep them from the furnace but He certainly met them in the furnace. That is God’s mode of operation. He either delivers us from the furnace or He meets us in the furnace. We will not know His plan until we encounter the events of our life that require an intervention. As promised in Joshua, God will never leave us or forsake us. God is always there.

We also know that God delivered them from the effects of the fiery furnace. They were in the furnace but they were not effected by the fiery furnace. Look at this, the fire had no power over them. Their hair was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and there was no smell of smoke on them. God had delivered them from the effects of the furnace and He wants to deliver us from the effects of the accusations and intimidation offered to us by the enemy of our souls. How many of us are effected by past events that have shaped and formed who we are today. Notice that physically they were not negatively effected. The lesson is the issues we face do not have to define us. We can navigate the issues of our lives without being harmed by the power of the test. As Paul stated in Romans “If God is for us who or what can be against us.”

Finally and most important, God brings redemption. In this story, we see the redemption of the King. Through this amazing story Nebuchadnezzar honors God and acknowledges God as God. In fact Nebuchadnezzar is so moved by this event, he declares that God is the one God and that He is worthy of praise. The purpose of trials is for us to honor God and then to assist others in honoring God. It is noteworthy that Nebuchadnezzar is not changed immediately, but God uses this and other opportunities to reveal Himself. I am so glad for the redemption that comes from God and how He uses the trials of our lives to touch others and to bring them to a point where they recognize the power of God. If God can turn the heart of a wicked King He can touch every person around us for His glory.

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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