Judges 6 Confidence in Self or Confidence in God
Confidence in Self or Confidence in God?
In whom do you place your trust – in yourself or in God? All things are possible to him who believes! But what do we believe in? The depth of possibilities within yourself is dependant on the depth of character that you contain. Think about this. You may have loads of experience. You may have gifts coming out of your ears. But you will only be able to operate at the level of your area of weakness. It is the flawed area of your character that will bring you down and destroy the very things for which you aspire. Think of many great church and statesmen who have been destroyed by their lack of control in the sexual arena. Many leaders of industry who have been bought down by their greed for more wealth than they have earned. Many gifted leaders who have been destroyed by their lust for power and become dictators. In whom do you trust? Woe to the man who puts his confidence in himself and his own abilities. Conversely, there are many who do not rise to the level of ability that has been placed in them, because they are consumed by their own weaknesses and failures. They are so aware of their own inabilities that they do not take the risks that are needed to reach out beyond the mundane into the heights of greatness. Or they are cowed under by the strength and dominance of others around them and they feel insignificant, insecure or inexperienced and so they never take the risks that will extend them into greatness. I look around at our church and wonder why we do not rise to the prophetic words that have been spoken over this church. What is the stumbling block that causes us to flounder when we have been called to be a church that shines with the light of Jesus in our community. Now some will say we do shine. But I think we are more like a flickering flame than a brightly shining light operating under Jesus Christ. I look at myself and wonder why I operate at such a low level of spiritual maturity? Part of the problem is our desire to cover over our own weaknesses. We seek to be what we have not been created to be. We demonstrate a remarkable ability to try to be something we are not. It is these very flaws that cause us to invert the truths of the kingdom of God and to live in ways that we are not called. The kingdom of God is found in service, but we seek to be served. It is found in weakness, but we seek to be strong. It is found in simplicity, but we complicate the gospel message. Today we have heard the story of Gideon. Now think about the context of this story. It starts in chapter 6 of the book of Judges with the comment that the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and then God reminding them that he had rescued them from the hands of their oppressors and led the Israelites out of Egypt and gave the people the land. Then in verse 10 we read the warning he gave the Israelites,“I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed my voice. God had led the Israelites into freedom. If they had obeyed God they would have retained their freedom, but instead they were victims of the Amorites who had taken away their freedom. Why? Because they worshipped the gods of the Midianites. As a consequence they were given over to the Midianites for seven years.Now stop and think here. Is it possible that God would do the same thing in this generation that he did in the past. What I mean is that we have received Jesus Christ. He has given us the victory over all the schemes of the enemy. But in reality we have often not walked in our salvation but worshipped our own security and comfort ahead of putting our trust in God. Post war New Zealand saw a country that began to inherit the comforts of modern society. We have continues to benefit from this. And in the process I believe we have turned our back on Jesus and looked more and more to our inventions. We have become a consumerist society. As members of the church we are holding out against the pressures of society but only in part. We are battling constantly with the problems of materialism. We are not a Christian community that can put our trust in God to sustain and keep us in our old age, but rather we turn to insurance. We seem to need homes that are bigger than any our parents could ever have desired. We have brought into the gods of our society. In some ways we are also like Gideon. He hid in a winepress while he threshed his corn, fearful of the world around him. As Christians we are fearful of speaking out for our faith. We cower in our homes and our churches lest we be discovered and discarded by society. Has God delivered us over to society to pull down the false beliefs and the contaminating influence of the world around us, until a church rises up that like Gideon knows its total dependence on God for success. Why do we hide in fear? Because we are dominated by the world around us! In Gideon, God found a man who though scared of the power of the world around him, continued to hope for the fulfillment of the promises of God and to ask where all the miracles were that his fathers had told him about. God is looking for a people who will continue to believe even as we seem to be in hiding. He is looking for people who will not seek success as the world proclaims it, but in humility continue to serve and hold out against the pressures that lie all around. He is looking for a people who do not seek to climb beyond the level where their character will keep them – people who are faithful and humble. I believe the time is coming when God will fulfill the promises he has made throughout the generations and when the words of prophecy over our church will be fulfilled. But for now God is looking for the Gideons. These are those who know their place. They are the weakest and the least, brushed over and rejected by the world, seen as archaic and irrelevant, but who are great in the eyes of God. Are you such a person? What prevents you from being the Gideon for this generation? What stops you from being the one who will lead revival in this land? You say, “It could never be me!” So did Gideon. Jesus too wished that the cup be taken from him. He agonized with the pain and weight of the pressure of evil that gathered around him. But he persevered and sought the will of God rather than the ease of escape. Oh my people. We are standing on the brink of eternity. God will play out his hand. He has from its inception worked out his plan of salvation through the church. Even now the angel of the Lord is searching for those souls who will remain faithful. Even now there is a stripping going on. There is a separation taking place between those who will walk WITH God and those who choose the path of ease. Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts as you did at Meribah, at Massah in the desert when you moaned and complained and sought your comfort and the security of the world. Today, turn back to God. Today, humble yourselves before Jesus and cry out to him that he will fulfill in our time all that has been promised. You are saying inside yourself, “The pain of faithfulness is so great.” You are saying, “The isolation from family and people in society is so hard to bear.” You are saying, “How hard it is to remain faithful to gather with the family of faith each Sunday.” Even now, Jesus sees and knows the secret thoughts of your hearts. He once wanted to run from the pressures that gathered around him. Even now he is calling you to step forward, to remain faithful, to bear the pain in faith and trust in his Word and his leading. Even now, when the church seems to be losing ground, God is preparing us for his greatest victory. Even now! Come forward before God. Declare to him your willingness to walk in his paths. Let us seek a revelation from God, a prophetic word, a word of encouragement, the impartation of faith and truth and courage. Step forward today as the musicians play.