“Embracing Change: Overcoming Our Fears” – August 27, 2017

Rev. Bruce Lamb

Sermon – Judges 6:1-7:1

Pentecost 12A

August 27, 2017

 

Embracing Change Sermon Series

“Overcoming Our Fears”

 

Earlier this summer, two women visiting Panama City Beach in Florida heard screams and saw two young boys hundreds of feet out from shore. They’d been caught in a rip current and couldn’t get back. There being no lifeguards on duty, the women went out on boogie boards to try to save them, and got stuck themselves. Multiple other rescue attempts failed, until there were nine people caught in the water and in danger of drowning.

That’s when the people on the beach realized that no single person was going to be able to save them. This was a problem that was bigger than any one swimmer, even a strong one, could handle. So one by one, then ten by ten by ten, they linked arms, forming a human chain reaching out toward the stranded swimmers. And having made their human bodies into one huge super-human body, they plucked those swimmers from the waters and passed them back to shore. Not one person died that day on Panama City Beach.

There are problems in this world and in our churches that a body cannot handle alone. There are situations that cannot be saved by a single person. There are currents you can never swim your own way out of. Which is why God gave us the church, the place where we link ourselves up, make our bodies into the Body, and perform miracles that none of us could perform alone.

The church doesn’t exist for your salvation; it exists to give you a way to participate in the saving of the world. We are all called to respond to God’s call working together, serving together living out our mission making disciples.

SLIDE 1 – Say – “making disciples.”

That’s our mission of the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

SLIDE 2 – Say – “transformation of the world.”

This morning we are talking about an ordinary man named Gideon. Gideon was a man who was reluctant to respond to God’s call. He was not a born leader and had no aspirations to be famous or receive glory. He doubted God’s call on him at all. God called Gideon to lead his people against the Mideanites and nurtured his confidence to lead. He was an ordinary man that God used to do extraordinary things to follow after God to be used in great ways.

Do you ever think that God is unable to use you?

Maybe you feel that you aren’t gifted or talented. Maybe you just feel like an ordinary person. Or maybe you feel less than ordinary. No matter what stage in life you are in, what hindrances lay in front of you – physical, emotional – no matter what – how much you lack in gifts, abilities or knowledge, God desires to use you in extraordinary ways to expand His kingdom. We are continuing in our sermon series embracing change and talking about overcoming our fears and we are going to look at how Gideon was able to overcome his fears and do extraordinary things.

We are going to look at what we can learn from the story of Gideon that may prepare us to be used by God in an extraordinary way. The story of Gideon is constantly marked with doubt and uncertainty. Like Gideon, we all go through periods of doubt and uncertainty in our lives.

Gideon was really good at saying, “Lord if.” God has a way of choosing unlikely characters. Gideon was no great warrior and was least among his family and was least among his village. He wasn’t the guy in which you would say lets bring all the warriors out.

Before Gideon comes to the scene let’s look at where we are in the Book of Judges. Joshua has recently led the Israelites out of the wilderness to the Promised Land, the people of Israel served the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime. After Joshua’s generation died, Israel turned away from the Lord. Throughout Judges we see a repeated cycle of God’s blessing, spiritual complacency, sin and idolatry, suffering at the hand of enemies, a cry for help and God’s deliverances through someone he raised up – a Judge. Gideon is one of the people God raises up during the time of the Israelities. During this time Israel has been sinning and turning to false Gods and the Lord has given them into the hand of the Mideanites. The Mideanities would attack the Istaelites and take their crops and destroy what they did not take. This had been going on for about 7 years when God came to Gideon.

Rochelle and I read about Gideon’s journey in chapter 6 and we see later in chapter 7 and 8 that about 32 thousand men came out to follow Gideon into battle against 132 thousand Mideanites. God whittled that number down to 300 men that Gideon had to fight against the Mideanites because he did not want Israel to boast they did this great miracle. God wanted them to know that it was God that was watching over them and protecting them and that they needed to always trust him.

What can we learn from Gideon when embracing change and overcoming our own fears?

SLIDE – 3. Focus on who God says we are instead of who society says we are.

God calls Gideon a mighty warrior. In his society, God was a nobody, a zero. His family was the weakest in his tribe and he is the weakest in his family. Gideon is saying, “hey God, I can’t be used. God you have got it wrong. You must not know who I am. God you must have mistaken me for someone else.”

Do you ever feel like Gideon?

Like you can’t do anything right?

Maybe you feel like Gideon just barely struggling to survive. Sometimes our churches feel like Gideon where we are in a “survival ministry” setting rather than a “thriving ministry” setting.

Notice where Gideon is.

He’s at a winepress. He’s threshing wheat at a winepress. Our cultural context limits our ability to fully realize what is going on here. A winepress in ancient Israel was typically hewn out of stone. It would be a small area in which was ideal for threshing wheat. Typically wheat would be threshed in an open area. It would be beat or trampled to separate the wheat from the straw and then winnowed or thrown into the air to let the wind take the straw while the wheat dropped to the ground.

This is far from an ideal place to thresh wheat, but Gideon is afraid. He is afraid of having his food stolen. He is afraid of the MIdeanites coming to kill him. He is afraid of losing everything. So he is in a winepress threshing wheat to keep what little he can. Maybe you are in a winepress right now.

Maybe you are just trying to keep your job.

Maybe you are just trying to provide for your family.

Maybe you are afraid of changes that are taking place at church, you were just fine with the way things were and would like them to stay that way, thank you very much.

SLIDE 4- Stop focusing on who you say you are and focus on who God says you are.

You see God not only knows who you are, the important thing is that He knows who He is. God can do all things, he is with us always. God has plans and a purpose for us to prosper just like Gideon.

SLIDE 5– You are a child of God.

John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who receive God, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

SLIDE 6– You are valuable to God.

Matthew 6:26-33 says, “26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? …

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? … 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

In our own eyes and the eyes of society we may believe that God doesn’t have a purpose for us in ministry. God has great things in store for us wherever God leads us. The reality is that God is not dependent on you to accomplish anything, but God has chosen ordinary people like you and me to accomplish great things for God’s glory.

Are you passionate for God?

Have you seen God do too much not to be passionate for Him?

SLIDE 7– Are we allowing ourselves to be put in situations and places where God is leading us and God is moving?

So often what we want us guarded Christianity. We want safe, secure walls of comfort and a life that has dis-ease involved. We pray Lord please do a miracle in my life and then in the next breath we pray Lord please keep me out of any situation in which a miracle would be required. Lord keep me out of any risky situation where I won’t be in a position where I don’t feel that I can take care of it myself.

When God calls us into a risky place where we don’t have the talent, the skills or resources that’s because he is setting us up to see his hand and work and

SLIDE 8 – God will help us through anything that comes our way and equip us to do what God is calling us to do.

So as we embrace change together, let us bathe everything we do in prayer. Let us be in deep prayer about where God is leading us. Gideon received a great blessing that God did unbelievable things through him. We see in our scripture that Gideon had faith that was small. I want to encourage you that God has given you mustard seed faith and God is patient with us. We don’t see God blast Gideon for his weak faith. We see God patiently work to grow Gideon’s faith. God knows right where Gideon is at. God knows right where you are at. God is patiently working to grow your faith.

It is not so much that God needed a sign to know what to do. He know what God wanted him to do. It is that he needed a sign of encouragement to do it. God is merciful and patient with Gideon and always with him. God is merciful and patient and always with us as well. God is faithful to help you grow even when you fell like you have no faith at all as well.

God has extraordinary things for us in store as we embrace change. Let us remember that God uses ordinary people just like Gideon and just like us to do great things. Let us be in prayer about where God is leading us.

Amen.

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