Faithful to the Call
My sermon title is Faithful to the Call… but the tag line is a bit… different. And guys, if you attended Legendary Men’s Conference, this might seem a bit familiar. The tag line is “Calling out the Chicken Strip.” and no… I’m not talking about deep fried chunks of meat you buy from the deli in your grocery store.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to work in an industry that had always fascinated me… but I really didn’t know anything about. CHICKEN STRIP ILLUSTRATION...
The chicken strip on the tire was a visible indicator of untouched potential… it showed just how far the rider was willing to go. It indicated the line of what the rider was comfortable to do.
Now, I want to hit on that word potential for a moment. What is potential? Defined, potential is having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future. Potential is NOT about who you are today, but who you can become tomorrow.
Untouched potential is a situation where all that is needed for growth is there, but it is not tapped into. It’s left on the shelf, it’s the unused tread on the tire, it’s the missed opportunities for growth or for change. It is commonly a result of a lack of confidence, drive, motivation, strength, or desire.
Today we are going to talk about reaching for our God-given potential. We are going to talk about not being satisfied with the way things are, but reaching what they can be with the help of our God – His Spirit and His Word. Truly what we are talking about goes further than potential… what we are talking about is the call of God.
Listen, the world is trying to get us to go its direction, but the Word, who is Jesus, would call us to go another direction. When the world says sit down and be quiet, the Word of God tells us to rise up and make a difference! And as we move forward by faith, all of us in this room need to reach for the call God has placed upon our lives.
The Lord has a plan for you, God has a design for you, it is NOT a plan for you to be a passive, indifferent, sidelined, neutralized individual. His plan is for us… all of us… to be spiritual warriors in our home, our workplace, our communities, and in this nation. His plan is for us to be warriors for His cause, to be Spirit-filled witnesses for His glory! But before we can begin to reach for our God-given potential, before we can be faithful to the call, we must first believe that God has a plan for our lives!
Our main text comes from Judges 6-7 and it speaks of a man who had… in a sense… given up and given in to the circumstances of his day.
In context, an enemy known as the Midianites were severely oppressing the Israelites and verse 1 tells us why – The Israelites had done evil in the eyes of the Lord. The enemy was great in number and Scripture describes them as locusts – they were destroying everything for the sake of destruction. The people of Israel were doing all they could to survive – they were hiding in caves and strongholds. Judges 6:6 tells us “6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.”
The circumstance they found themselves in was hopeless. What could they do against an enemy so large? And with that fear – they began to live in missed opportunity. They began to accept their reality. Indicators of missing God’s calling became visible… and we are going to talk about one of those indicators this morning.
In their desperation, the people began to cry out to God and God heard the cry of the people… and went to work and this is where we find our main text. Judges 6:11-12 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. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
God comes to Gideon, but who is Gideon? Who is this guy who is threshing wheat in a winepress? Gideon was a guy who had given up and given in to his circumstances. He was doing all he could to protect what he could from the enemy… the angel finds Gideon living in fear… living with that chicken strip – that untouched potential – that missed calling of God - And God is about to call Him out.
Gideon had given up on his situation… But God had not given up on Gideon!
God spoke to Gideon a new Identity
God spoke to Gideon a new Identity
We need to notice something very important in our main text as God began to move. When Gideon has his first encounter with the angel, the words spoken by the angel are extremely important: “THE LORD IS WITH YOU, MIGHTY WARRIOR.”
Mighty warrior? The guy is hiding out in a winepress threshing wheat! That’s like trying to harvest a field with a push lawn mower or tow a cattle trailer with a tricycle! Gideon is cowering to his conditions, and the angel calls him a mighty warrior?
Gideon doesn’t even believe this! Look at his response in verse 13, “Pardon me, my lord, but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”
Had Gideon forgotten that Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord? Gideon is such conformer and a coward at this point that he won’t even take responsibilities for the actions that led the Israelites to this position in the first place!!!
Here’s what I want you to see: The angel doesn’t call Gideon what he is… but rather what God desires for him to be! God DID NOT speak to Gideon’s current reality and circumstance. God spoke to his potential… to what he could become. God CALLED Gideon to action.
God speaks to his potential. God speaks to his calling – God speaks of what Gideon could become. God gives him a new identity. Why? Gideon was full aware of where he was but he needed some help in understanding who God desired him to be.
I don’t know what you might be facing today… but God does. I don’t know what kind of challenges are before you… but God does. I don’t know how these things came about… but God does. And I believe with all my heart that God is calling you out this this morning - calling you from where you are to who He desires you to be!
Today is about breaking free of that which would have you in hiding. Maybe you feel inadequate. Maybe you feel like a failure. Maybe you feel like you’ve tried everything. Maybe you feel like there’s no hope. What ever it is people of God, it’s got you hiding, living in the reality of untapped, God-given potential. I’m here to tell you this is NOT a day of conformity but a day of transformation.
Right now I believe God is reminding hearts of your new identity in Christ. Do not settle for what the world would say to you… be transformed by the truth that God’s Spirit is speaking to your heart this very moment!
After God spoke a new identity to Gideon,He began to move Gideon away from his fear, and back to faith. You see, this wasn’t about what Gideon could do on his own. It was all about what God could do through Gideon!
God moved Gideon from fear to faith.
God moved Gideon from fear to faith.
God had some work to do on ole’ Gideon. Gideon had not only conformed, but had taken the bait of his circumstance hook, line, and sinker. Before Gideon could see forward or move forward, his fear had to be dealt with.
According to Scripture, Gideon BELIEVED he was the least in his family. Gideon BELIEVED his clan was the weakest in Manasseh. Gideon struggled to receive his new identity due to his current belief. So God moves on the source. God targets the source of Gideon’s misguided beliefs.
God does something very important… Gideon is instructed to deal with a problem within his camp. Judges 6:25 “Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 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.”
Problem: Gideon’s family had an altar to a false god in their camp. They were worshipping the wrong god – a powerless and false god.
Gideon’s obedience to God does not go unchallenged. After doing as commanded, there are several who are upset with him and his actions. Gideon went against the flow – stood out from the rest, as he began to step in faith with the Lord.
The removal of this altar is key in Gideon reaching the potential… the call God had spoken over him. Here’s the reality church: The real enemy in this story was that altar. The real enemy was misplaced faith in a false god.
False gods can take on a lot of different forms and sizes. They might “appear” to give power, but end up leaving us powerless.
Before we can tear down the enemy’s stronghold, we must make sure we deal with ANYTHING in our camp that might be of the enemy!
How could Gideon fearlessly march against the Midianites while worshiping a false god? Baal worship had done NOTHING for his family except cause the oppression they found themselves in. If you desire to embrace that new identity God is speaking over you, it’s time to start worshiping at the right altar! It’s time to get rid of the old, and come alive in Jesus!
Once the sin was dealt with, God began to rebuild Gideon’s faith.
The enemy’s army had grown in number. Judges 7:12 tells us the Midianites joined forces with the Amalekites, and other eastern peoples. This was NOT going to be an easy victory…
Gideon goes through a series of test… he asks God to give him signs… reassurances that Israel would truly be saved from this enemy. GOD ALLOWS THIS. Why? Because Gideon’s faith in God was building and God would show him what can be accomplished through faith.
In the end.. All that Gideon asks for is done… and Gideon’s number of fighting men is reduced to 300. The enemy’s number is compared to sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12).
The point being made is it was NEVER about what Gideon could do, but about what God could do through Gideon! Gideon looked only to his circumstances and only saw hopelessness. But God was showing Gideon that NOTHING is impossible for the Lord! But we must be willing to receive that new identity, come out from under the weight of our sin, and trust in God! God was making a way for the Israelites where there seemed to be no way!
Where the world says it impossible God says “Through me all things are possible.” Where the world wants us to conform Gods says “I want you to transform.” Where the world asks what are you doing? God says TRUST IN ME!
BUT NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF GIDEON WOULD HAVE STAYED IN HIDING! None of this would have happened if Gideon didn’t begin to reach for his God-given potential - stay faithful to the call God placed upon his life!
I can promise you this, if you stay where you are, you will remain as you are, but if you step out in faith, GOD WILL DO A NEW WORK IN YOU!
God transformed Gideon’s reality through victory.
God transformed Gideon’s reality through victory.
One man, called out by God, walking in faith, leading an army of three hundred, was able to overcome an enemy as numerous as the sand on the seashore. He didn’t do it his way… He walked in the way of the Lord. God guided and directed his steps… and even when the rest of the world seemed to be against him, Gideon continued by faith. From out of the wine press came a warrior who would do the unthinkable.
His reality is transformed. Israel is set free from the Midianites, and the enemy is sent running. It seemed a sure win for the enemy, yet God said otherwise
Battles are not won… on the sidelines. Battles are not won in our “hiding place.” Battles are won on the front line.
Your reality will not change as long as you are willing to settle for defeat. Your marriage is NOT going to get better, your finances are NOT going to get better, your relationships are NOT going to get better until you start listening to what… rather WHO God is calling you to be.
Gideon had conformed to his circumstance until God called him out. BAD things were happening and instead of working to change his reality… he just began to accept it and live with it.
Here’s the deal: The sin of the Israelites had brought them into a state of brokenness… to a state of helplessness… to a place of defeat. GOD didn’t lead you there… and here’s the really cool part: GOD IS NOT GOING TO LEAVE YOU THERE!
God is calling you out! God is calling you out by a new identity. God is leading you to lay down fear for faith.
Maybe you’ve been called hopeless, afraid, useless, deadbeat, purposeless, cowardly… God is calling out… God is calling out to His warriors, to the faithful, to the ones who will stand for Him by faith!
It’s time to deal with whatever it is that is keeping you in hiding… hiding from your potential and calling as a father, mother, spiritual leader or influence in your home and community. Listen church: Christ is the key to coming alive in your new identity. That old you needs to be crucified and done away with so that you might come alive in Jesus.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
When Gideon built the altar and made a sacrifice before God, that sacrifice became an atonement for sin. The sin in the camp had been dealt with. Before we can move forward, ALL sin must come under the blood of the Lamb.
PRAYER – Salvation – first we must deal with every and any sin that might be in the camp.
PRAYER - Step into your calling. God is calling – will you answer? God is leading, will you follow? God is calling you out of hiding… will you trust in His leading and become the mighty warrior of Faith He is calling you to be?
Final thought… hold your position of faith. Stand for the things of the Lord. Judges 7:21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
The “mighty” became weak as the faithful held their position – they stood for God. They watched as the enemy ran and fled. THE ENEMY HAS BEEN DEFEATED. Hold your ground as you hold on to God!