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When the Odds Are Against You - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
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September 12, 2022 12:00 am

When the Odds Are Against You - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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September 12, 2022 12:00 am

When you're in a difficult situation, how do you respond?

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In Touch
Charles Stanley

Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, September 12th. If you've ever been in a situation where you felt like you just couldn't win, you'll be able to relate to the story of Gideon. Today's podcast helps you learn to thrive even when the odds are against you. When you're facing a very, very difficult situation, the odds are all stacked against you. How do you respond? Do you respond in fear, anger, or real determination that somehow you're going to make your way through that?

Well, I've learned something in the Scriptures and I keep on learning this, and that is that when I find myself in one of those situations with my back to the wall, the wisest thing I can do is turn to the Old Testament and look to find somebody who was going through a similar situation and look at the principles that guided their life. What did God say to them? How did they respond that brought about success?

Or what mistakes did they make that resulted in their failure? One of those that I've often turned to is a man named Gideon. And today what I would like to do is to take this incident in his life and give you biblical truths that will guide you to victory when your back's to the wall and the odds are against you and you're not quite sure which way to turn. So if you'll turn for just a moment to the book of Judges. And in the book of Judges, there is an event in the life of Gideon that none of us will go through exactly like this, but oftentimes we will find ourselves in a similar one.

So I'm going to give you the background on the sixth and seventh chapter, but I want us to read the seventh chapter of Judges beginning in verse one and read through the seventh verse. And the scripture says, Then Jerubal, that is Gideon, and all the people who were with him rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod, and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Morai in the valley. And the Lord said to Gideon, The people who are with you are too many for me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful, saying, My own power has delivered me. Now therefore come, proclaiming the hearing of the people, saying, Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead. So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained. Then the Lord said to Gideon, The people are still too many.

Bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, This one shall go with you, he shall go with you. But every one of whom I say to you, This one shall not go with you, he shall not go. So he brought the people down to the water, and the Lord said to Gideon, You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink. Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands, so let all the other people go, each man to his house or to his home.

So the 300 men took the people's provisions and their trumpets into their hands, and Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men, and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. Now let me give you some background of what's happening here. And I want you to keep your Bible open throughout this message, if you will, and also want you to get a piece of paper and a pencil.

If you will respond in like fashion when your back's to the wall and the odds are against you, you will come out a winner. Now look in the sixth chapter for a moment. What is the condition that brought about this particular situation? Chapter 6, verse 1 says, the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. And if you'll notice in verse 10, I am the Lord your God, you shall not fear the gods of Amorites in whose land you live, but you have not obeyed me. So the reason the Israelites are in the condition they're in is because they did evil in the sight of the Lord, they disobeyed God. And the Scripture says their condition beginning in verse 2 of chapter 6 is like this, that the Midianites came up, seven years they had been coming up and absolutely ravaging the nation of Israel.

They were running into the dens, the caves, and the strongholds. Verse 4 says they were destroying the produce of the earth, leaving no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. Verse 5, they would come up with their livestock and their tents.

They would come in like locusts for number. Both they and their camels were innumerable, and they came into the land to devastate it. So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the Lord. And the very last verse of this book gives the theme of the whole book. The last verse says in those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. The reason they got in the mess they were in is everybody decided to do his own thing and forget God and everyone else. And so what happens here is for seven years now they've been defeated by the same enemy. Every year when the crops come in, here come the Midianites with all of their camels and all their soldiers, and they absolutely devastate the nation of Israel.

Well, this time something happens. The Bible says, if you'll stay in chapter 6 now, that on one occasion the angel of the Lord came to a man by the name of Gideon and addresses him in verse 12, the last part, The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior. And so when he does this, Gideon says, wait a minute. The next verse says, If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?

Where are all the miracles which our fathers told us about? Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us in the land of Midian. And then the Lord challenges him to be the deliverer, that is, the conqueror, the commander of the forces of Israel.

And his first response is, well, I'm not even sure who's talking to me. And so he asks the Lord for some kind of a sign in verse 17. And so he goes in and makes, prepares an offering, brings it out, lays it on a rock.

The Bible says the angel of the Lord points his rod or lays his rod to the rock and fire comes out of the rock and consumes the offering. And so this is rather convincing to our friend Gideon. And so something begins to happen now in his life that God has called him. He faces the greatest challenge in his life. Now listen, all the odds are against him. I mean, they are stacked heavily against him. When the odds are against you stacked heavily, no matter what they may be. It may be in your business.

It may be in some financial circumstance or whatever it might be. There are situations in which we oftentimes feel our backs to the wall and we don't know which way to turn. So I want you to jot these down and remember what the situation is now. Down in the valley there are 135,000 Midianites. The Bible says they're like locust as far as you can see. They're well armed and for seven years they've been victorious.

Why would anybody question the fact that they weren't going to be victorious the eighth year when they're coming like they have the last seven years? And what happens is the people of Israel are living in the dens and the caves and fleeing for their lives. But something happens here. In the process of what God does, he teaches us some very, very profound truths. Very simple but profound when applied to our life. Now the first one I want you to jot down and what we'll do is I'll give you each one of these and then let's look to see how it worked in the life of Gideon. And then God will show you how to apply it to your life.

The first one is this. God will use our difficulty to build our faith. Because you see, one of God's goals for your life and my life is that we trust him. And that is the process.

That's what we learn to do. It doesn't take us very long early in life to begin to distrust. When things don't work out to suit us, we question, we doubt. And if you'll notice that in the very beginning how Gideon and God begin to deal with this whole matter of doubt. When the angel of the Lord comes to him, the first thing that Gideon says, if you recall, in the sixth chapter is that Gideon says, Wait a minute, hold it. You tell me, oh valiant warrior.

I want to remind you of something. First of all, if God is with us, why is Israel in the condition it is in? And where all these miracles our forefathers told us about that God performed for them, bringing us out of Egypt, why isn't that happening now? So first of all, he begins with a problem of doubt and God will take advantage of every opportunity to build our trust in him. Because God desires that you and I put our full trust in him and believe the testimony that he's given to us in the Word about himself.

And so what does he do? He looks for every opportunity to demonstrate his faithfulness to his Word. And then if you'll recall that Gideon says, Well, all right, if this is really the Lord speaking to me, then let's see if it is. And so he goes in, prepares the offering, and again God demonstrates that it is the Lord and consumes his offering. Look in verse 36. He comes again even though he knows that God has spoken to him and that the Lord has given him the Word now to defend Israel, to lead them in the battle, and to bring them to victory. And he's already sent the Word in verse 34. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.

He blew a trumpet and the men gathered together, 32,000 strong, gathered together to fight with Gideon. But verse 36 says, Then Gideon said to God, Now if you will deliver Israel through me... Now God had already told him he was going to. He said to him twice. He says, I'm going to do it.

I'm going to do it through you. He says, Now if you'll do that, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only and it's dry on all the ground, then I will know that thou will deliver Israel through me as you've spoken. He says, I'm going to throw out a fleece. And now you'll hear people saying, Well, I'm going to throw out a fleece and see what God does.

Let me tell you something about fleece throwing. Fleece throwing is not a principle of Scripture whereby to find the will of God. You and I have the Holy Spirit. We have the Word of God.

We have promise after promise in the Word of God, illustration after illustration to show us that God will hear and answer our prayer and give us clear direction when we want it and when we need it. Of course, Gideon didn't have all that you and I have. And so to show you that doesn't work very well, God did exactly what he said. And so what happens? He comes back. Verse 39, Then Gideon said to God, Now don't get upset with me, Lord. He says, But I'd like to try this one more time because I'm going to be real, real sure.

Have you ever done that? So he comes back and he says this time, Lord, let it now be dry only on the fleece. Let there be dew on all the ground. God did so that night, for it was dry only on the fleece and dew was all on the ground. Now, God took this man, Gideon, in his faithlessness, in his doubting, in his questioning, in his fear. And God's preparation for his ministry began with building his faith. If you want to be used of God, you've got to be willing to trust the Lord. And if you want your faith built, you've got to be willing for God to allow you or put you in situations and circumstances where you're absolutely helpless and the only thing you can do is trust him and then allow him to demonstrate his faithfulness in order to learn to trust God. The only way you're going to learn to trust God is get into a hot place where the bottom drops out and there's no way out and then you have to trust God.

Then he teaches you it will work for you. If you just read it in books and listen to sermons, you'll say, well, it'll work for him, it'll work for her, but what about me? God says, all right, let's find out. Put you in a bad spot, tough situation, difficulties, and the odds are against you and all of a sudden what happens? God demonstrates his awesome power and we learn to trust him. That's the way, one of the very important steps God uses in preparing us to be used of him. So the first thing I want you to notice here is that God will use our difficulties in order to build our faith in him. Number two, God will oftentimes require us to do those things that seem very, very unreasonable.

And that's where sometimes we choose our own defeat. Because it's not reasonable, because it doesn't sound logical, we say, now, Lord, that couldn't be from you because that doesn't sound reasonable at all. So God says to him, comes to him, the Bible says, in this seventh chapter and says, Gideon, you've got 32,000 men, that's too many. Now, wait a minute, Lord, I must not be listening right because we're already outnumbered four to one.

God says, no. He says, you've got too many. And so I want to give you a test. And I wanted you to give all of your soldiers this test. It's a twofold test. One of them is a fear test and the other one is a fervency test. And so, well, what's the fear test? He says the fear test is simply this. You get all of your men together and you tell, you ask them this question. How many of you are afraid to go into battle when the odds are four to one?

Raise your hand. God knew how contagious fear was. And he knew how negative fear was. And he knew that one coward breeds another coward. And that fear could run through an army and absolutely devastate its enthusiasm.

So God's first test was the test of fear. How many of you are afraid to go to battle when the odds are four to one? Please raise your hand. And so 22,000 of them raised their hand. And so he said, pack up your duds and head for home. 22,000 men leave. If you'd have been one of those 10,000 who were remaining, you know what you'd have been doing?

The same thing I'd have been doing. Wait a minute. What are the odds now? The odds now are better than 13 to one. And so things are getting a little worse. And so God says to get in, get in, you still have too many. Now wait a minute.

I want to be sure I hear this right. The odds were four to one. Now they're 13 to one and you're telling me that I have too many. God says we've only had one test.

The second test is the fervency test. Now here's what I want you to do. He says I want you to send them all down to the spring. Now the spring was close by the enemy camp and probably surrounded by hedges or bushes or trees and so forth. And so they were going to be more than likely almost in sight if not in sight of the enemy. And so they were to go down and they were to drink. 10,000 of them now. And God said now I want you to watch the way they drink.

Here's the test. He said some of them are going to get on their knees and they're going to bow their heads to the water and they're going to put their heads down and drink out of the creek or out of the spring. He says take note of those. Some of them are going to get on one knee and they're going to reach down and they're going to take a handful of water and slurp it up. That's the way they're going to drink.

He said now I want you to watch these two groups. So they all went down and had themselves a big drink. Then God said to Gideon, Now Gideon, I want you to send all of those who got on their knees and bowed their head to drink out of the spring, I want you to tell them to pack their bags and go home. 10,000 were left and then now we're down to 300.

There must be some misunderstanding. The natural, normal, reasonable thing to do would have been to count my 32,000 against the 135,000, blow the trumpet again to the Ephraimites who were ready to go to battle and who got a little bit upset later on anyway because Gideon didn't call them. Call all of them and let's get, listen, we can get this thing at least equal.

God said no. Four to one, the odds are too much in your favor. Too much in my favor. Thirteen to one, there's still too much in your favor. Now they're down to 300. You know what the odds are?

If there were exactly 300 men and exactly 135,000, the odds are exactly 450 to one. Now, it's getting exciting. Now you say, well, now why did God give them that test? Now I want you to listen very carefully. Do you know that oftentimes God chooses people to use, that He will use to serve Him on the basis of things that you and I would never think about?

We look at people and we'd say, boy, God's going to use that man and He never does. When they went down there to drink, they got down to drink and one group got on their knees now on their face and they got down to the water and drank. What did they do? They were concerned primarily with getting their need met of quenching their thirst. They took their eye off their enemy, laid their sword down by their side, got on all fours and the only thing that consumed them was being down there with the water and consuming their thirst. Those men, only 300 of them, who knelt down and reached down to the water and slurped the water had their eye on the enemy. Those men were committed to winning this battle.

The other 9,700 men were committed in those moments to getting their own need met of quenching their thirst. Now listen carefully. Sometimes it is a simple little test that seems insignificant to you and to me and God allows us to get into it.

And we think it's insignificant, but our response in that given situation will sometimes be the determining factor with what God will do in our life. Thank you for listening to When the Odds Are Against You. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 15:21:40 / 2023-02-26 15:29:55 / 8

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