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What to Do When the Odds Are Against You | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 12, 2023 3:00 am

What to Do When the Odds Are Against You | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 12, 2023 3:00 am

We have to remember that God's perspective is different than our own. As Pastor Greg Laurie says, where we see weakness, God sees potential. Where we see the past, He sees the future. We see a lump of clay, He sees a beautiful sculpture... More on that in this episode!

Notes:

“In those days, Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

Judges 17:6

Israel was living in despair, but they finally called out to God to deliver them, and He did.

Jeremiah 33:3

Read: Judges 6:12–14

“Why has all of this happened to us?

And where are all the miracles we heard about in days gone by?”

So, he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel?”

Judges 6:15

God uses people who are humble.

We see weakness, but God sees potential. We see a lump of clay, but God sees a beautiful sculpture. We see a lump of coal, but God sees a sparkling diamond.

If you want to be used by God, be faithful in the little things.

Judges 6:27

The hardest people to reach will always be your own family.

As Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own town.”

Your family will never be reached by you compromising.

This is what Lot did, trying to fit in with the culture around him.

You can never reach a person by sinking to their level.

Read: Judges 7:2–3

God wants the glory for the work He does.

There is always God’s part, and there is our part.

The Red Sea parted, but Israel had to still march through.

Fear is contagious.

Read: Judges 7:4–5

We, too, are in a spiritual battle, and God is looking for men and women today who will let their light shine in a dark place.

Jesus made radical statements about commitment that caused thousands to leave because He knew these fickle multitudes were simply fair-weather followers.

There are many in the church today that follow God in the sunshine, but when hardship or tragedy comes, they lose their faith.

The faith that cannot be tested is the faith that cannot be trusted.

The Lord is looking for some men and women who will blow the trumpet and are willing to take some chances and obey God, taking a stand first in their own homes.

Nicodemus had a weak beginning but a strong finish.

Better that than a strong beginning and a weak finish!

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Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie encouraging you.

If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. Amen. Let's pray together. Father, we are glad to be here today and we come with a heart that is expectant for what you will do for us and through your word to our hearts. So we ask you to speak to each of us now because you are with us and you are ready to change us. So bless this time of Bible study we would ask. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. You can all be seated. Hey everybody. Let's turn in our Bibles, you know.

And I spoke very quickly and I had more hair clearly. And it's great. It's always fun to look back, you know.

But I'm not one really for living in the past. I can thank God for what he did and the foundation of this ministry. But I'm so thrilled about what the Lord is doing today and in the future. You know, looking ahead. So much to do. Such a great opportunity. So I would like you all to grab your Bible and turn to the book of Judges. Judges chapter six. And the title of my message is What to do when the odds are against you.

What to do when the odds are against you. So my wife and I were with another couple the other night and they were asking us, is one of you the neater one or the messier one in your relationship? Oh yes, we said definitely. So he asked, well who's the messy one? I said, oh it's Kathy. She is so messy.

I said, we go to a hotel room. She trashes them like a rock star. It's so embarrassing. She's the messiest person I've ever met. They're both, him and his wife are like, why? I can't believe it. I said, I'm joking.

The very opposite is the case. She's very neat. Very organized. Always tidying up. Right after she makes a meal she's cleaning it up. She washes my clothes while I'm still wearing them. And I have to say it's very traumatizing the time I've spent in a dryer. I don't like it at all.

So it's not that at all. But I bring this up because sometimes in life you know we don't quite finish a job. I'll start a project at home and I won't finish it.

Kathy always finishes what she begins. And I think in life the same can happen. We say I'm going to commit this area to the Lord and I'm going to be disciplined in this other area. But then a little time passes and we could compromise here. I neglect something else there. And then I live to regret it later in life. We don't think about the long lasting repercussions of our actions on our lives, on our children's lives, on our grandchildren's lives, and even our great grandchildren's lives. But there is cause and effect.

There is action and reaction. And when you come back to the book of Joshua you might say well Greg you're in the book of Judges. Did you make a mistake?

No. Because what we're about to read picks up where Joshua leaves off. About 200 years later we find out what happened to Israel when they didn't do what God told them to do in the book of Joshua. In our last message we're seeing Joshua parcel out the land. The promised land that God gave to him and the Jewish people. And we remember old Caleb raising up his 85 year old arm and saying give me this mountain.

But then we fast forward 200 years and it's the year 1256 B.C. and they have not finished the job that they began. They did not drive all the Canaanites out and they came to regret it.

And you know it's a funny thing but you think about this. Israel was fighting for their survival in the book of Judges and they're fighting for their survival right now before our very eyes as they've been attacked by Hamas and possibly in the future Hezbollah. And behind all of this is Iran. And behind Iran is Russia like a puppet master. I read this article today that the Wagner group a Russian state funded private army is providing Hezbollah with sophisticated anti aircraft weapons.

Hezbollah described as Israel's monster to the north is an Iranian backed foe that claims a hundred thousand active fighters with a terrifying array of weapons. So the leader of Hamas who orchestrated this attack on October 7th told said in an interview recently the very existence of Israel is what causes all of the pain the blood and the tears. It's Israel not us. We he says are the victims of oppression.

This is the man that gave the order to decapitate people the man that gave the order to burn people alive the man who gave the order to slaughter even little babies. And he says that they're the victim here. And so when we hear this idea of a two state solution we need to understand the reality of what's happening in Israel today. The leaders of Hamas Hezbollah and all of them even Iran are saying Israel must be wiped from the face of the earth. Just the other day a hundred thousand people marched on the White House screaming messages like death to Israel and from the river to the sea Palestine will be free.

What does that mean. Well they say from the river to the sea Palestine will be free. They're talking about a world a Middle East in which there is no Israel at all.

They want them completely erratic want them to be completely eradicated. And so you see that this is a conflict that is not going to be easily resolved. So when we talk about a ceasefire let's understand what that means. Let's sort of extrapolate this out and make a comparison. Let's take the size of the nation of Israel compare it to the size of the United States. Think about the fact that 1400 Israelis were killed another 239 were taken hostage. Now if this happened to us in America proportionally this would be like waking up in the morning and reading that 48000 Americans were killed beheaded slaughtered burned alive and another 8000 were taken as hostages.

How would we react when we just say well we can't respond we just need to know. Think about what happened in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Think about what happened in the aftermath of 9-11. And that's what Israel is dealing with today. Now here's where it becomes of great importance to a Bible student. The Bible tells us that in the last days Israel would be scattered throughout the world and they would be regathered in their land again.

The Bible specifically says when they're scattered and regathered you know you're in the end times. On May 14th 1948 Israel officially became a nation. Now the Israelis have been living or the Jewish people have been living in the land of Israel for 3000 continuous years but they haven't always been in control. Israel becomes a nation again. Then the Bible not only predicts Israel returning to her land but the Bible says a large force from her north will attack her identified as Gog and Magog. We don't know for certain who Gog and Magog are but many scholars believe Magog is modern day Russia. I would concur with that but no one can say so with certainty.

But here's what I can say with certainty. One of the allies that marches with Magog is identified as Persia. Persia changed her name to Iran in 1935. And in the Bible the word Persia Persian or Persians is found 36 times.

35 of those are references to the past. Things that have already been fulfilled there's only one reference to Persia that has not been fulfilled and that's the reference of Ezekiel 38 5. It says Persia or Iran is going to be a powerful force in the end times against Israel. This is happening right now.

Now let's play this scenario out. So may Gog attack with Persia Israel. Then we read that God's going to intervene and destroy most of this army and he's going to pour his spirit out on Israel. So we're living in very critical very significant times. We need to pray for that part of the world and watch with great interest because I'm telling you this is a sign of the times. This is a reminder that we're in the last days and there's one takeaway message.

If you missed everything I just said here it is. Jesus Christ is coming back again. So be ready for his return.

Well Greg are you saying he's coming back like tomorrow? Well he could. It could be 10 years from now. Understand this. This has happened in a way before.

We might call them dress rehearsals. It happened in the 73 war when Israel was celebrating Yom Kippur they were attacked. Russia was involved in the forces that attacked Israel and many wondered is this it? And it escalated and then it sort of stopped. This could escalate. This could stop. This could de-escalate. It could get far worse. It could potentially lead to the Ezekiel 37-38 scenario and maybe it won't. I don't know.

I'm not a date setter. I try to be level headed about these things but I'll tell you what. As I read what's happening right now the Bible students should pay careful attention. So this fight for their survival is nothing new to Israel.

So here we are reading the ancient book of Judges and they're dealing with the same thing. Because they did not drive out all of the inhabitants of the land they left a few. This came back to haunt them later. Sort of like if you had a big tree in your backyard that was tearing everything up so you cut the tree down but you don't tear up the roots.

It comes back later to cause problems. This is what's happening to Israel. They drove out the Canaanites and the Amorites and the Hittites and the Ammonites and the Perissites and everyite. But there was one force now that's in power called the Midianites. The Midianites have Israel under their thumb.

Why did God allow this to happen? It was his discipline on Israel. According to judges it says Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord so he handed them over to the Midianites. So as we come to this story that happens 200 years after the events of Joshua we see things are spiritually and morally upside down. In fact there's a verse Judges 17 6 that sums it up. It says in those days Israel had no king so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

Let me do a 60's paraphrase. Everyone was doing their own thing. It is then not a description of what is happening in America today. We're all doing our own thing. We're disregarding God. We're taking the Bible. We're deconstructing it.

We're saying we don't believe this anymore. We're going to redefine what a man is. We're going to redefine what a woman is. We're going to redefine what the family is.

We're going to do whatever seems right in our own eyes. And now as we sow the wind we're reaping the whirlwind. And the Midianites in this case are in control.

A little footnote. The Midianites are the first nation to domesticate the camel. Have you ever looked at a camel?

What a weird creature. There's many beautiful animals that the Lord has made. The camel is not one of them. I've heard it said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

Right? It's just a very strange animal with a hump. But they're actually very powerful and effective animals in warfare. They're big. They can move fast. They can go days without water. They're ugly. And they spit too.

I don't have a lot of experience with camels but over in Israel I've climbed up on one and ridden it around a little bit. And so here's what the Israelis are dealing with. They look over the hill and here come the Midianites on camels controlling them. And they're living in despair. And they're crying out to God. And the Lord says in Jeremiah 33, call to me and I will answer you.

Now God's going to answer their prayer. And He's going to answer it by choosing a man named Gideon to be the answer to the prayers of the people. I don't know why God chose Gideon. I certainly don't know why God chose me. I definitely don't know why God chose you.

But I know this. If I were God I wouldn't choose any human being. Because we mess everything up it seems. The Lord could just roll back the heavens and poke His face through and say, hello humanity. I'm God and you're not. But instead the Lord chooses to reach people through people. Ordinary, flawed people like you and me and Gideon. So as our story begins we find Gideon preparing the little wheat that he had hiding behind the walls of a small wine press.

Hardly a picture of heroism or courage. But this is the man that God chose. So Judges 6 verse 12.

We read this. The angel of the Lord appeared and said to him, mighty hero the Lord is with you. Gideon said, oh my Lord if the Lord is with us then why has all of this happened to us? And where are all of His miracles which our fathers told us about saying did not the Lord bring us from Egypt? But now Gideon says, the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. Then the Lord turned to him and said, go in this might of yours and you will save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.

Have I not sent you? We will stop there. Interesting response on the part of Gideon. The angel comes to him, hey you courageous man, you man of bravery the Lord is with you. He says, well if the Lord is with us then why have these things happened to us?

Where are all of the miracles that we heard about in days gone by? I heard the story of a mother who would read Bible stories to her little girl every night before bed. And she would hear the stories of David and Samson and Daniel and Ruth and Esther. And she said one night to her mom, Mommy it seemed like God was much more exciting back then than He is now. And that is probably how Gideon felt. Like Lord you did all of these miracles for Israel. We heard about you delivering them from Egypt and when they entered the promised land they marched around Jericho and the walls collapsed.

And here we are being dominated by these Midianites riding these crazy camels and we are hiding in fear. And God could have rebuked him. He could have said, hey man you brought this on yourself. But it is interesting the Lord didn't say that. You know sometimes we find ourselves in situations that are a result of our own bad decisions.

And then we have the audacity to blame God for it. You know you might have a failing marriage. Lord why do I have a failing marriage?

If you love me you would not let my marriage fail. The Lord could say maybe it has something to do with you being unfaithful to your spouse. Lord why did I just get fired from my job and I was just fired from another job a month before that and fired from another job a week before that.

Why did you allow this to happen? The Lord could say maybe it is because you are a horrible worker and you are lazy. You show up late.

You leave early. And there is some cause and effect here. So God could have said you brought this on yourself Gideon you and the Israelites. But instead the Lord didn't say that. He said just go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites.

I am sending you. In other words Gideon we don't have time to get into that right now. That will take too long. Here is the battle plan.

I am going to bring a solution and I am going to make things different and I am going to do it through you. But Gideon isn't seeing it. He says in verse 15, Lord how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least of my father's house. Another translation puts it this way. I am the runt of the litter.

I am the lowest of the low. That is how he felt. And now we see some very interesting principles on the kind of man or woman that God will use.

If you are taking notes here is point number one. God uses people who are humble. God uses people who are humble. They are not proud.

They are not arrogant. They see themselves for what they are. God tells Gideon what He is going to do through him. In verse 15 Gideon says who am I? The Lord effectively says it doesn't matter who you are. The real question is who am I?

Listen buddy it is me working through you. The Bible says that the Spirit of the Lord is searching throughout the earth for a man or a woman that He can show Himself strong on behalf of. It doesn't say He is searching for a strong man or a strong woman. He is looking for someone that will just admit their weakness and their vulnerability but will say here I am Lord.

Send me. As I have often said God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called. He can do extraordinary things through ordinary people and it would appear as you look at the people that God selects in the pages of Scripture that He goes out of His way to choose the most unlikely people.

Why do you think that is? He wants to get the glory. I mean this is shown in what He says to Gideon. Verse 12. Mighty hero the Lord is with you. That almost sounds like mockery.

Mighty hero. It would be like going to an F student and saying hey Einstein. Or going to a kid that can't throw a football. Hey Tom Brady.

Hardly Tom Brady there. But God sees you for what you can become. See I see what I am. God sees what I can be. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Well it depends on what kind of mirror. If it is a magnifying mirror you are probably somewhat horrified. I was holding my little niece the other day newborn baby.

She is so sweet. And I was just amazed at her skin. The skin of a baby. And you look at your own skin.

I just had a visit with my dermatologist and you know that is not a pleasant experience. And so we see our weaknesses. We see our flaws. It has been said mirrors don't lie.

Lucky for you they don't laugh either. So I look in the mirror and I see weakness. But God sees potential. I see what I am. God sees what I can be.

I see the past and I am crippled by it. God sees the future. I see a lump of clay. God sees a beautiful sculpture. I see a blank canvas. God sees a Van Gogh. I see a lump of coal. God sees a beautiful sparkling diamond.

I see a vacillating unsure Simon. God sees a powerful rock like Peter. I see a persecuting Saul of Tarsus. God sees a mighty apostle called Paul.

God sees what you can become. I love the story of when Jesus went to the woman caught in the act of adultery. After he dismissed her accusers he turned to her and he said, woman where are your accusers? She said, I have none Lord. He said, neither do I condemn you.

Go and sin no more. But it is interesting the word that Jesus used for this woman caught in the act of sexual sin. He called her woman or we might translate it lady or even ma'am.

It is a term of respect. Ma'am. Lady. She had been called a lot of things. I don't think anyone had ever called her lady before. She wasn't behaving as a lady at that time. But Jesus didn't just see her for what she was. He saw her for what she would become. You see.

The same with Gideon. You man of valor. You man of courage.

You are a hero. Gideon just saw a zero. Now a series of tests come to Gideon to prepare him for what he is about to do.

The first test happened in his home. The Lord said, ok here is what I want you to do. I want you to go home. And your dad Joash built an altar to bail a false god.

I want you to tear it down. Gideon is like ugh. Ok. You know what he loved his dad. He respected his father.

Obviously this is going to cause a lot of tension to tear down his father's altar to bail. But he does it. But he does it at night because he was afraid of what his father would think. He was afraid of what the people would think. He did tear the altar down.

But he did it at night. Bringing me to principle number two if you want to be used by God. You need to be faithful in the little things. Be faithful in the little things. God gave him a little test. A bigger one was coming.

Here is a little test. Just go take care of this. Tear down that altar.

Listen to this. God calls busy people. It has been said if you want to get something done ask a busy person. And you will see that so often when the Lord called people they were doing something. Gideon is threshing wheat. Elisha was plowing a field when he was called by Elijah. The apostles to be were mending nets when Jesus called them.

David was tending sheep. So the idea is they are just doing what is in front of them. They are willing to do whatever needs to be done. Listen. You are never too small for God to use.

Only too big. If you will say Lord I will do whatever needs to be done. I will volunteer here. You will be amazed at how the Lord will bless you and give you more opportunities. Jesus said if you are unfaithful in small matters you won't be faithful in large ones.

If you cheat even a little you won't be honest with greater responsibilities. So be faithful in the little things. Now coming back to what Gideon did. He tore this altar down but he did it at night. Some have criticized him. Why didn't he do it in broad daylight?

Well because he was afraid. But at least he did it. I would rather do something imperfectly than do nothing.

It is so easy to critique people. You know when we started this church. I have to be honest with you. We had no idea what we were doing. We really didn't.

I was 20 years old. I had only been a Christian three years. But we took bold steps of faith and we said let's see what the Lord will do. Did we do everything perfectly?

Of course not. But we learned from our mistakes. And we have been able to see the Lord do some amazing things over the years.

But we have always had our critics. I remember when we started our evangelistic crusades. People said oh that is not going to work. Crusade evangelism died with Billy Graham. And then when Billy started his evangelistic ministry they said to him this isn't going to work. Crusade evangelism died with Billy Sunday another evangelist. And when Billy Sunday started his ministry they said it is not going to work. Because crusade evangelism died with D.L.

Moody. No crusade evangelism or evangelism in general will never die because God will always raise up someone to do it. Someone to preach the gospel. But people will push back. Well I don't like the way you do this or I don't like the way you do that.

Or it is not going to work here and it is not going to work there. And we just kept going to new places and seeing the Lord work. I heard the story of speaking of D.L. Moody a lady who came to him. She said Mr. Moody I don't like the way you do evangelism. Moody said well ma'am I am always willing to learn something new.

Tell me how you do evangelism. She said I don't. He said well I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it. Right. So yeah maybe Gideon didn't do this perfectly. He did it at night but at least he did it.

Now here is what is interesting is after his dad found out he was kind of proud of his boy. The people in the city were so angry. Kill this guy. He tore down this altar. His father Joash says do you have to defend Baal now? Can't Baal defend himself? And it seems like Joash sees the stupidity of worshiping a false god and he defends his son. And I love how it starts in the home of Gideon.

Listen to this. The hardest people to reach are your own family. The hardest. Your family. We read that Jesus did not do many mighty works in his hometown of Nazareth because of the unbelief of his people. Jesus himself said a prophet is not without honor except in his own country.

It is hard to reach your family. And think about Jesus. Who was a better example than Jesus? He was the perfect son. Never disrespectful. Always finished every job he set his hand to.

Just absolute perfection. The only perfect man that ever lived on this earth. Imagine being one of the siblings of Jesus and yes Jesus did have brothers and sisters. Contrary to what the Catholic Church says.

He did. And they didn't believe in him until later. And who was a better example than Jesus? Can you imagine Mary lecturing her kids? Kids why can't you be more like your big brother Jesus? But mom he is like perfect.

I know. But try to follow his example. Joseph made a little bracelet for you to wear. In his workshop. WWJD. Wear this. What would Jesus do?

Come on mom. He is a hard act to follow. They didn't believe in Jesus until he was crucified and resurrected from the dead. But he was a perfect example but it is hard to reach your family. I think of my own mother. It took years for her to come around. Here I was in ministry and leading people to Christ and my own mom was not a believer. And it was so challenging and it wasn't until the age of 70 she made a recommitment to the Lord. And sadly she died not long after that. But I am so glad she did make that recommitment.

But we have opportunities to reach our family. Of course the holidays are upon us. I have to make a confession to you. I already hung my Christmas lights. That is pagan. Oh no. I think it is a great time to let our light so shine.

In this case literally. And it is weird. I am the only person in my entire neighborhood with Christmas lights on. Isn't it fascinating how people seem to be more excited nowadays about celebrating Halloween than Christmas.

Have you noticed that? People are going big with Halloween now. Adults wearing Halloween costumes.

You know adults trick or cheating. That makes me uncomfortable. I just see people wearing masks standing at my door and I feel slightly threatened. Right? It is almost like people are downplaying the celebration of Christmas now. So I want more lights. But you know you will gather with your family on Thanksgiving and we probably all come or have extended dysfunctional families.

Right? Does anyone have a perfect family? I don't think so. And maybe you are the token Christian in your family. And I am just going to encourage you if you are with family members who are not believers. You don't have to constantly preach sermons to everybody. You might be surprised hearing that from a preacher. But sometimes you need to be the sermon. But here is a thought. You might be asked to do a prayer at your Thanksgiving gathering and you have all these relatives.

Not all of them are believers. You know so you have the floor. Seize the moment. And I don't know if you should extend an evangelistic invitation during that prayer.

Let's all just pray. Not while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed. There is someone here today that has been an alcoholic for 30 years. Uncle Harry. I am talking to you.

Oh he passed out again. And if you want to accept Jesus Christ just raise your hand up right now. God bless you. God bless you.

I see that hand. I guess you could do that. I don't know if I would recommend it. Just pray a simple succinct prayer. Don't pray for an hour. I would just pray something like, Lord thank you for this food that you have provided. Thank you that we live in a free country. Thank you for this meal. Thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sin. And rise again from the dead. And thank you for my family. Now bless the food in Jesus' name. Amen.

You know. And you know just sow that seed. Be that witness among your family members. So Gideon took a stand in his home first. Now the next test is coming.

This is a big one. God says get a bunch of men together. Start forming your army. Incredibly impressively Gideon manages to form an army of 32,000 men.

This is what happened next. Judges 7 verse 2. The Lord said to Gideon, You have too many warriors with you. If I let you all fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they save themselves by their own strength.

Therefore tell the people, whoever is timid or afraid, they can leave this mountain and go home. So 22,000 of them went home. Leaving only 10,000 willing to fight. Wow.

Hey if you don't want to fight go home. 22,000 guys see you man. Wow. Now he is down to 10,000 men.

What a disappointment. God was putting Gideon in a place where if the Lord didn't come through for him he was dead in the water. And sometimes the Lord does this. To pull away our security blanket. We don't have all the backup plans in place. And we are facing an emergency. We are facing a crisis.

We are facing a problem. It might be a financial crisis. It might be a health crisis. It might be a family crisis.

And it is getting worse and worse. And you need to just call out and say, Lord if you don't come through for me I don't have any hope. But that is not a bad place to be. Because that means you are in complete dependence upon God. So sometimes the Lord will allow this to happen so we will realize the only way out is him.

There will be times in life where you will face what seem to be insurmountable obstacles. Like the Red Sea he wants you to get through. Or the towering walls of a Jericho he wants you to fell. Or a frightening giant like Goliath he wants you to defeat. But there is God doing his part and then there is us doing our part.

There is always his part and our part. The Red Sea parted but Israel had to march through. The walls of Jericho fell but Israel still had to march around them. The giant Goliath fell but David still had to attack him. So Gideon says to the men that don't want to fight, Okay go home to mommy. Now he is down to a much smaller fighting force. Why did he dismiss those men? Because fear is contagious.

Listen to this. If you are looking for an easy life. If you are looking for a life with no conflict, with no challenge, go home to mommy. Because the Christian life is not an easy life. It is a life where you will face spiritual warfare. It is a life where you will need to resist temptation. It is a life where you will need to obey God and be counter-cultural in almost every way imaginable and perhaps even more so right now than I can remember.

But here is the thing. It is the only life that is worthwhile. Following Jesus Christ.

Now one final test. Judges 7 verse 4. The Lord told Gideon, You still have too many.

Bring them down to the spring and I will sort out who will go with you and who will not. When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord said, Divide them into two groups and one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. And the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream. This reminds me of something that happened years ago. We were in Israel leading a tour. And we came to Gideon's spring. The actual place for this happened.

So I wanted to illustrate. And I said to one of our pastors, Steve Wilburn, who was in the video you saw earlier, who is now the pastor of a church in L.A. called Core Church. I said, Steve, I need you to go down to the water and I need you to take the water and cup it in your hand and drink it so I can point to you and use you as an illustration.

He said, Boss I am going to do it. And he went down there. That is how Steve talks by the way. And so I am giving the little message on Gideon and I said, Look this is the way they drank the water. And Steve is down there drinking the water. And suddenly I notice a sign that says, Do not drink water.

It is toxic and poisonous. Oh no. We are going to have to pray for Steve to be raised from the dead.

Fortunately he was ok. So here are the guys drinking the water. We could divide them into two categories. We will call them the lappers and the cuppers. The lappers could have been easily ambushed and killed. They just have their face buried in the water drinking not alert to what is going on around them. But the cuppers, those who kneeled bringing the water to their lips were alert, cautious, watching. The Lord said that is it.

Now he has got it down to 3 percent of the original 10,000. This is the Delta Force. These are the Green Berets. These are the Army Rangers.

These are the SWAT team. These are the elite ones now that God is going to use. The Lord says, Ok here is the battle plan. Are you ready?

Yes. You are going to break them into two groups. And here is what you do. On one hand you are going to hold a torch. Fire.

Put a clay pot over it. And on the other hand you hold a sword. No. A little knife.

No knife. A trumpet. Really? Isn't this like what happened at Jericho where they are marching around blowing trumpets. What is the thing with trumpets? A trumpet. A torch and a trumpet. Ok. Then what? So you run down the hill. You say for the Lord and for Gideon. You smash the clay pot.

They see the torch. Blow your little trumpet. That is it. That is it. Wow.

And that is exactly what they did. They come running down the hill at night. Boom. They break the pot. Now the enemies see the flame. They blow their trumpet.

The sword of the Lord. And of Gideon the Midianites completely freak out. They are so disoriented they don't know what is happening. And they start attacking each other and kill themselves. And God gave to Israel the victory. It is so crazy.

But it is classic. And the Lord did it in such a way so he would get all the glory. They were outnumbered 450 to one. And they won a crushing victory over the Midianites. This would be like a Pop Warner team beating the New England Patriots.

Or a Little League team beating the Texas Rangers. Right. This is ridiculous. How could this happen? It happened. So what is the take away truth of all of this?

Simple. God is looking for men and women today that will shine their lights in our very dark world. He is looking for people who will make a stand for their faith wherever they are starting with their family. Because there is a lot of people that I would describe as fair weather followers. You know they say they are Christians but they won't make the stand. They are like the people that were fearful and afraid. But then there are those that are really committed. And they say I want to be used by God.

I wonder if some of you are here right now. God can do more with a handful of people that are fully committed than He can with thousands who aren't. Will you be a real committed follower of Jesus Christ? God can do a lot with a little. If you don't believe me when you get to heaven ask the little boy that offered his loaves and fish. He offered what he had. God multiplied it.

And God used it for His glory. You know when Jesus walked this earth a lot of people started following Him. Especially after He did His most popular of all of His miracles.

Which one do you think that was? When He healed blind Bartimaeus? No. When He healed the leprous man? Again no. How about when He raised Lazarus from the dead?

No that wasn't it either. It is when He provided free lunch and multiplied those loaves and fishes. They are like resurrection from the dead is great but free food.

Now we are talking. And the crowd swelled. And they are following Jesus. And Jesus actually challenged them. And offered some hard words to them. And thousands of them turned away. And He turned to His own disciples and He said, Will you also go away? They said, Lord where else are we going to go?

You alone have the words of eternal life. There is an interesting little passage at the end of the Gospel of John. It says that many believed in Him when they saw the signs that He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them. Another way to translate that would be many believed in Him but He didn't believe in them.

Why? It tells us. Because He knew it was in the heart of man. He could see that their faith was fickle. He could see that their commitment was not genuine.

So He did not commit Himself to them. But then John 3 starts. Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night. And we see the Lord unfolding the truths of the kingdom of God to this man named Nicodemus. Who came by night.

Nick at night. If you laughed you were old because that is a really dated reference. But it is all good.

And I have been using it a long time. But why did Jesus open His heart to Nicodemus when He effectively closed it. To these other people. Because Nicodemus really wanted to know God.

And those other people did not. Yeah Gideon came and did what he did at night and so did Nicodemus. But the Lord opened the truth up to him and He said, You must be born again. We have all heard the news about the tragic death of Matthew Perry. One of the stars of Friends. And I watched a little interview that Matthew did a while ago. In which he said when he was a very young man he prayed a prayer to God. And his prayer was, God make me famous. No matter what more than anything else my prayer is make me famous. He said a couple of weeks later he was offered the role that he played on Friends.

Careful what you wish for you might get it. Matthew spent the rest of his life dealing with alcohol and drugs. It was a great struggle. In another interview that he was a seeker of truth.

I hope he found his way to Jesus Christ. But this is the thing we think man if I just had fame I would be happy. We did a whole film about it.

It is actually over on our new streaming website called Harvest Plus that you can download. A fame called Film. We explore the emptiness of fame. And there are so many things that we can choose in life saying this will make me happy. And it won't. And there are these tragic illustrations of this. And the lives of people that have been there done that.

Bought the t-shirt and in some cases they have been the t-shirt. And they are telling us this is not the answer. It is Christ we are looking for. So God revealed himself to Nicodemus because the Bible says those that seek me will find me. So when I meet someone who says well I am seeking God. My test as to whether or not they are seeking God is how they react to the gospel.

It is interesting when someone says well I am seeking God. Well really let me tell you what the Bible says. Wait put that away.

Put it away. Don't quote the Bible to me man. Wait I thought you were seeking God.

I am. Have you ever read the Bible? No. Can I tell you a version of the Bible?

No. Wait if you are seeking God. If you are seeking truth. Why will you not even listen to what the Bible says?

Answer. They are not seeking God. Because God says I will reveal myself to those that seek me. So if you really want to know truth you will at least be open to what the Scripture says. And here is what the Scripture says. It is what Jesus said to Nicodemus.

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son. And whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. That is the gospel truth. That is the gospel in a nutshell.

And that is what Jesus said to Nicodemus and that is what he says to all of us right now. So in closing maybe I am talking to somebody that has had the bottom in life drop out. Maybe you have realized your dreams and then some.

Maybe you have checked all of those boxes that you thought you should check to make you happy. And there is something missing still. It is not something. It is someone. It is Jesus you are looking for. And he is here with us right now in this place speaking to you. Standing at the door of your life and he is knocking. And he is saying if you will hear his voice and open the door he will come in. So if you need Jesus to come into your life and forgive you of your sin that can happen for you right here right now. In a moment we are going to bow our heads and pray.

And I am going to extend an invitation for anyone here that wants to find what you have always been looking for. You know when I was a little boy I lived with my grandparents for a few years. And I would go to bed at night and I would pull the covers over my head. And I would talk to an imaginary character that I made up and I named him Mr. Nobody. And I would tell Mr. Nobody all of my problems. The sad thing is I was 30 when this happened.

No I was actually very very young. And I would tell Mr. Nobody what was troubling me. I would tell him what happened to me that day. I was reaching out. I didn't know who to talk to. And one day I realized Mr. Nobody had a name. It was Jesus. My little boy way with as little as I knew I was trying to find God. And he revealed himself to me.

As he will reveal himself to you if you really want to know him. Let's pray. Father I pray you will speak to the heart of every person here, every person listening, watching, wherever they may be. If they don't know you let this be the day they believe.

The moment they are forgiven of all of their sins we commit them to you now. Now when our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed maybe there is somebody here that would say I need Jesus today. I want this relationship with God you have been talking about.

I want to fill this hole in my heart, this void in my life. Pray for me. If you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. If you want him to forgive you of your sin.

If you want to go to heaven when you die. Why don't you just raise your hand up right now and let me pray for you. Wherever you are just raise your hand up. God bless you. God bless you. Wherever you are just lift your hand up saying I need Jesus. God bless you.

Some of you are watching the screen right now. I can't see you there of course but you can raise your hand too. Just saying I need the Lord in my life. Pray for me wherever you are.

Raise your hand up. Let me pray for you. God bless you. I am going to lead you now in a prayer and I am going to ask everyone to pray this prayer out loud after me to sort of affirm those that are praying this for the first time. So again as I pray everybody just pray this out loud after me.

Just pray these words. Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner and I know that you are the Savior who died on the cross for my sin. I repent of my sin. I choose to follow you Lord from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer. Thank you for answering this prayer. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. God bless each one of you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-12 04:11:10 / 2023-11-12 04:29:49 / 19

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