Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. God does not call the brave. He makes brave the called. And so when he comes to us, he does not start with what we are. He starts with what he intends to make us in Christ. God, when he comes to you, does not start with you and the condition you are in. God sees you according to what Christ is going to make you, and he calls you by that name.
Is that not good news? Hey, welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. We all know that feeling of being asked to lead a group. It can be a little scary and a bit intimidating, but God assures us in his word that he can use anyone to accomplish his purposes, even when we feel insecure or unqualified.
Thankfully, he's not searching for experts. He's looking for men and women who are willing and obedient. Today, we look at the story of Gideon, one of God's mighty warriors of the Old Testament, and we see that even he had doubts and struggles as he considered the mantle of leadership being handed to him by God. We know you don't want to miss a single message here on the program, so if you're a little behind on any of this teaching through the book of Judges, you can always catch up at jdgreer.com. But for now, grab your Bible, take some notes, and let's join Pastor J.D.
as he continues our study with a message he titled, Calling and Courage. The other day, I was perusing some articles, and I came across one that was listing out an updated list of the most common phobias in our culture. The American Psychiatric Association doesn't give the official list, but it defines a phobia for us by saying it's something that causes such stress that it interrupts normal life function. Something that causes such stress that it interrupts normal life functions. Of course, there are the usual things on the list, things like arachnophobia, which is, of course, the fear of spiders, ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes.
For many of you, that would interrupt normal life functions. Necrophobia, the fear of death. Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. Interestingly, people rank the fear of public speaking as higher than they do the fear of death.
So that means, as Jerry Seinfeld often says, most people, if they had to go to a funeral, they would rather be the guy in the casket than the one on stage giving the eulogy. I was linked to this article because it caught my interest since I do a little bit of public speaking. It was giving techniques for how you can overcome the fear of public speaking. This is what it said.
It's a legit article. And I quote, Before you go on stage, stand still and feel the ground beneath your feet. Close your eyes and imagine yourself suspended from the ceiling by a thin thread. Then imagine you're made of rubber. Look into the mirror and make a horse's laugh with your lips. Why not lie on the ground and pretend you're floating or just collapse on the ground like a limp doll?
So if you guys ever wonder what I'm doing backstage right before I walk up here, now you know. The list included a lot more nontraditional fears like octophobia, the fear of the number eight, olfactophobia, which is the fear of foul smells. How about this one, doraphobia, which is the fear of animal fur.
That's right. It's not what you expected, is it? I have, as a dad of three girls, I have the other doraphobia, which, not that one. Tocophobia, which is the fear of pregnant women. Jason Gaston, I kid you not, our student pastor, swears that he has this.
I'm like, your wife has several kids now, how did you, whatever. Then there's ompholophobia, which is the fear of belly buttons. Did not specify whether innies or outies are the more terrifying of the two. Arachibutyrophobia, which obviously is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Windbagaphobia, which is the fear of long sermons. No, no, I just made that one up.
Here's an interesting one. Nomophobia, which is the fear of being without your phone or having it in another room. 50% of people get this, exhibit extreme anxiety symptoms if they are placed in a room without their phone or their phone is in another room.
So I know a number of you are exactly like that, which is why you've checked your phone six times already since I got up here. But fear of whatever kind, whether serious or not, is a part of life. And many people say that your success in life is in large part determined by how well you learn to manage your fears.
C.S. Lewis said that courage is the least talked about of all the Christian virtues. He said, but it is absolutely essential to all the others. He said, because none of the other virtues, he's channeling Aristotle here, by the way, none of the other virtues are you going to be able to persevere in without courage. He says you can be virtuous in every way, but courage is what gives you the tenacity and the perseverance to press on in those things. So we're going to look at a story today in Judges 6 that explains to you where courage comes from, how you get it, and how you maintain it.
It's our fourth week in this series called Broken Savior. So if you've got a Bible, Judges 6, I would imagine that there are any number of people here that are immobilized by some kind of fear. Your life, your normal life function of obedience has been disrupted because of it. Maybe it's a fear about the future. You've gotten medical news recently that leaves you uncertain about what's ahead and what is coming for your family. Maybe your marriage is not going well at all and you wonder what's my family going to look like in a year?
What's it going to look like in six months? Or maybe your kids are making some really poor decisions and you are afraid of what's happening as they grow up and where they are headed. Maybe it is the fear of entering into a new relationship. I know single people here at the Summit Church who quite often hear about ones that will not enter into a good relationship because they're scared of commitment. For others, it is fear that keeps you from ending a relationship that you know is wrong.
Maybe you are paralyzed by the fear of never being in a relationship and that's what keeps you making these bad decisions about who you're with because you're just terrified of the idea of being alone as you go through life. Well today in the book of Judges, we're going to see a guy, get this, who was not courageous. He's not a model but he is somebody that God made into somebody courageous. He made him into a hero and what you're going to see is that God doesn't reward courage in people.
God gives courage to people. Chapter 6 verse 1, after Deborah, who was the heroin all-star wonder woman judge from last week if you remember, after she died, the people of Israel did what was evil on the side of the Lord and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites would come up against them and leave no sustenance in Israel, no sheep or ox or donkey. They would come like locusts in numbers so they laid waste the land as they came in.
They were like the IRS. They devoured everything in its path. Not only did they take the crops, they took the animals and the tools that the people used to produce the crops. Verse 6, and Israel was brought very low because of Midian and the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord. When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on the account of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel and the prophet said to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I led you up from Egypt. I brought you out of the house of slavery. I drove out your oppressors from before you and gave you their land. Then I said to you, I am the Lord your God. You shall not fear but you have not obeyed my voice.
Now stop for a minute. This is kind of odd, is it not? They cried out to the Lord for deliverance, and he sent a prophet. They weren't asking for teaching. They were asking for help.
This would be like you being stranded on the side of the road and calling AAA for help, but instead of sending a tow truck, they email you a pamphlet on safe driving. Israel's problem, however, was not, the reason God did this is their problem was not the Midianites. They were their own problem, and so they were asking for deliverance, but what God said to them is you first need a sermon.
Yes, I want to deliver you. I want to help you, but what you most need is to be delivered from the problem that is you, and I would very humbly say to you that there are many of you listening to me that are in that very category this weekend. You're here seeking something from God. You need something from God, and it's not that God didn't want to give it to you. It's that what he wants first from you is to turn the spotlight onto your hearts.
Let me be very clear with you. Not every instance of suffering is in response to disobedience. In fact, I would say that most instances are not. God is not always trying to teach you something when you suffer. Believers often suffer like Jesus did, having done nothing wrong, but sometimes suffering is. Psalm 119, 67, the psalm says, Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now after I was afflicted, now I obey your word. There are some times that God sends some kind of trouble into our life, not to pay us back for our sin, but as we often say, to bring us back from our sin, and I think it's at least worth you asking the question this weekend.
Maybe you came here thinking you needed something from God, and what God needs to do is turn the spotlight on your heart and say, There's something in you that is walking away from me, and this trouble that you're going through is there to wake you up to what I am trying to do in your life. Verse 11, Now the angel of the Lord came and said, Under the terebinth tree at Oprah, and told Gideon, Look under your seat, and see if there... No, no, no, he didn't say that. How did the people... Here's what happens in verse 11.
Here's the question you should be asking as you're reading this. What happened to the sermon? How did the people respond? Did they repent? Isn't that how a sermon ends usually is that there's a response, and did the people repent or not?
Here's the thing. God interrupted the sermon with deliverance. He doesn't even wait for a response, and there is something very important about your relationship with God that you should learn from that. You see, it's not that you and I get ourselves into a place where God then comes to us and helps us after we fix ourselves before we ever even respond. God has already started the salvation process, but God demonstrates his love for us, and while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It wasn't that you got yourself in a condition and God came and loved you. It's that God came to you. He saved you, and then he drew you back to himself.
So yes, God has a sermon for you this weekend, but he has already provided the substance of your deliverance because he's like a father pursuing a child. Well, the angel takes a seat by this tree at Oprah while Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to hide it from the Midianites. Now, let me tell you a little something about threshing wheat in case you don't do that often in your backyard. In those days, the way that you would thresh wheat is you would put it into a basket, and you would throw it really high up in the air when a breeze was blowing, and the breeze would blow away with the light part, what they called the chaff, and the heavy part, the good stuff, would fall back down into the basket. The wine press, which is where Gideon was, would have been a terrible place to thresh wheat.
Why? Because a wine press is in this kind of like divot underground. There's not that much wind underground.
Why would Gideon choose a wine press as a place to thresh wheat? Well, it tells you it's because he is afraid. He is hiding in a hole. The point is this is no Jack Bauer. This is no Chuck Norris.
This is no Nicolas Cage. Verse 12, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, the Lord is with you, oh mighty man of valor. If this were a stage play, at this point, everybody in the audience would have laughed. I mean, Gideon is hiding in a hole.
This is like going up to a four-foot-11, 130-pound man and saying, what's up, big fella? It sounds like mockery. But listen, and this is probably the main point today, it's not mockery. Gideon is not called because he is courageous. He is courageous as a result of God's call. God is not describing him as he is. God is describing him as how he will be. You see, God does not call the brave.
He makes brave the called. And so when he comes to us, he does not start with what we are. He starts with what he intends to make us in Christ.
Aren't you grateful for that truth? God sees what you will be, and that gives confidence that what he asks of you, he can accomplish. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment. You know, when faced with difficult questions, we all need to be able to give a reason for the hope we have in Jesus. By tackling some of these difficult questions in our newest resource, we hope to equip you with quick answers that make sense and aren't overly complicated. In Honest Questions, Quick Answers, we'll address questions like, what is an idol?
And is it okay to ask for success? We'll send it as our thanks for your gift to the ministry right now. So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to our teaching. Here's Pastor JD. God, when he comes to you, does not start with you in the condition you are in. God sees you according to what Christ is going to make you, and he calls you by that name.
Is that not good news? It is because when God came to you and he found you, you were in a mess. You were in a total mess. And if God described you as where you were, you would not have wanted to have heard that. But God came to you and he spoke a word over your life. That word was in the resurrection of Christ, and this is not what you are.
It is what you will be. So he says to a man in a hole, get up, mighty man of valor. Verse 13, but Gideon said to him, two questions. Number one, please, sir, if the Lord is really with us, why then has all this happened to us? Now, based on what you know from the text already, that's a very wrongheaded question, isn't it? I mean, has God left the people? No, the people have left God.
Second question is even more confusing though. Where, God, are all your wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us? Well, first of all, Gideon, there's an angel sitting in front of you.
I think I would qualify as a wonderful deed. But look at specifically God's answer. Verse 14, the Lord turned to him and said, go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Do not I send you? God's answer to Gideon is, where are all my wonderful deeds, Gideon?
Why? I'm about to do them through you. You see, we often look to heaven and we ask God, where are you? And God turns it around on us and says, you are to be the work of God.
You are to be my work in this generation. And by the way, who is this angel that is speaking to Gideon? You want a little Bible trivia?
Did you see, if you read through this, you'll see starts to see contradictions. For example, the angel talks about God in the third person and he is called an angel. Yet in verse 14, Gideon addresses the angel directly as God and the angel does not correct him. This was a mystery all through the Hebrew Bible. They really couldn't figure this out, but it made sense after the coming of Jesus. This is what theologians call a Christophany, a Christophany, which is a pre incarnate, a before baby Jesus appearance of Jesus Christ. When Jesus showed up, this makes total sense because Jesus talked about God in the third person, but Jesus was himself God.
This is simply Jesus showing up before he appears in the womb of Mary. So verse 15, Gideon said to Jesus, please Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my plan is the weakest in Manasseh and I'm the least of my father's house.
I mean, I'm cowering in a hole for crying out loud. Verse 16, the Lord said to him, but I will be with you, but I will be with you. This is God's one line answer to everything.
You can underline something in the story. That's the phrase. Everything you need is in that statement. I will be with you and you will strike the Midianites as one man. In other words, you're going to take out this massive Midianite army as if this is one puny little guy. Verse 17, and Gideon said to him, if now I have found favor in your eyes, which is kind of a petulant question, isn't it? Because then angel is standing there having a conversation.
I think you can conclude he's found favor in his eyes, but nonetheless, show me a sign that it's you who speak with me. So the angel tells Gideon to go prepare some food and Gideon puts it on the table and the angel takes a staff and touches the food and the food burst into flames and the angel disappears. And Gideon says, okay, I'm convinced for the moment.
Verse 25, that night the Lord says to him, pull down the altar of Baal that your father has. In other words, Gideon, we got to start this right in your own house and go build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold there. So Gideon took 10 of his servants and did what the Lord had commanded him, but because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, the little coward did it by night.
Again, this is no William Wallace. Yet God doesn't criticize Gideon for this because to God obedience is more important than bravado and Gideon obeyed. Well, the next morning, everybody gets up and says, what happened to our God? And then somebody said, Gideon did it, we saw him out last night. And they said, let's kill Gideon. Verse 31, but Joash, who was Gideon's father, said to all who stood against Gideon, if Baal really is a God, why don't you let Baal fight for himself? Verse 32, therefore, on that day, Gideon was called Jerabel. That is to say, let Baal defend himself because Gideon had broken down his altar.
Again, don't miss the humor here. This small cowardly guy gets the nickname, Baal tail whooper, is essentially how you would read that in Hebrew. Well, after this, verse 33, the Midianites launch a massive assault on Israel, at which point the angel of God reappears to Gideon and tells him to mount a resistance against this assault. And Gideon says, okay, God, again, how can I be sure you're going to do this?
And then Gideon comes up with his own brilliant idea. God, I'm going to put this animal skin, this fleece out on the ground. If you're really with me, then in the morning, let the ground be dry, but let this fleece be soaking wet. Verse 38, and it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Gideon said, wait a minute, wait a minute, God, that was way too easy. What I meant to say, what I meant to say was, let the ground be wet and the fleece be dry.
That would be a real miracle. Verse 40, and God did so that night, and only the fleece was dry and on all the ground there was dew. Ah, the famous fleece test. This concept has been more abused and more twisted than just about anything else in the Bible, including by me. People come up with these litmus tests to determine if God has really in something. I'm going to show you this in a little while, but that's not really the point of what's going on here. God trying to give you a way to make decisions.
We'll come back to that. But let's just ask you, let's get to it in order. What can we learn about courage and calling from this story? What can we learn about courage and calling from the story?
I'm gonna give you five things. Number one, we learn that God does not call the brave, he makes brave the called. When God comes to you, he never starts with what you are, he starts with what he intends to make you in Christ. So he looks at a man cowering in a hole and he says, men of valor, stand up. Man, you see God do this all through the Bible. He comes to Moses who has a speech impediment, and he stutters all the time. And God says, I'm going to make you the greatest orator. You're going to stand in front of Pharaoh and people are going to still be talking about your teaching 3000 years later. And Moses says, but I can't hardly put three sentences together. And God said, I will be your mouth. Maybe the clearest example is Abraham, the father of our faith. When God comes to him, when he's in his eighties, he has no children.
He is sterile. And God says to him, you are going to be a father of many nations. That was so humorous. It was mockable.
That's why Sarah laughed. But God says in the book of Romans, Romans four, that Abraham was the father of our faith, because he believed what God said, even when there was no evidence to back it up. He believed that God calls into existence the things that do not yet exist. When you come to God in faith, you believe things not based on what they are in you, but what God has declared them to be.
You believe that just like God, Paul says, declared to Jesus in his body in the grave, that it was alive and it became alive. You believe what God has said about you. And you believe it when God says, you are going to be righteous. You are going to be a Saint. You are going to be a man of valor, that though you are not that in yourself, God is going to make you that in Christ. And he is going to overturn the law of death in you and make you alive. The question becomes, will you believe him? You see, because Satan also will speak to you, but he's going to do it in a different way.
Satan is the one who starts with who you are and what you've done and defines you by that. And by the way, he says true things to you. He whispers to you, you're a failure. You're a coward.
You're a reject. And then he lines up a bunch of evidence that is true to prove those things. That's why he's called the accuser of the brethren, because he before God and before you will just remind you of what you've done and what you are. But God comes to you and he speaks a louder word. And he says, no, you are a Saint. You are righteous. You are my beloved.
You are a mighty man of valor. But you say, God, I'm none of those things. And God says, I know, but you will be. You want to know how you tell the difference between the Holy Spirit's voice and Satan's voice? Satan starts with who you are and what you've done and beats you up for it. The Holy Spirit will also point out your sin, but he will start with a declaration of what he's making you in Christ. And he will grow you up into that. Satan will constantly remind you of what you are and define you by it. The Holy Spirit will start with what God has made you in Christ. And he will say, this is what you will be.
And this is how you will grow. I've told you before that my worst parenting moment, I think, came when I was my oldest daughter, who's 11 now, was six years old. She's always been a little timid to try new things. And we get frustrated because we'd go to the fair and she wouldn't want to ride the rides. We would, I don't know, she wouldn't want to go body surfing with me in the ocean.
Wouldn't want to skydive. Just all kinds of frustrating things. And when she was six and my second daughter was four, they were riding the back of my car. And as we were driving down the road, I was telling her about something we were about to go do.
Maybe we were going to Disney World and I was talking about the Dumbo ride. But whatever, I just remember her getting this look and her being like, oh no, no, I'm not going to do that. I'm scared. And so I look back at her and I'm like, I'm like, sweetheart, you have got to overcome this fear of trying new things because if not, you're going to struggle all through, you know, because you're always going to have new stuff in your life. And my daughter drops her head and she says, I know daddy, sometimes I think I'm just a big scaredy cat. And in my finest parenting moment, I said, that's exactly right. And if you don't change, you're not going to go anywhere in life. And my four year old daughter, I look back up and just that moment, I see my four year old daughter looking over at her and she says, no, Karis, you are not a scaredy cat.
You are my big sister. And I was like, oh, my daughter is the voice of the Holy Spirit and I am the voice of Satan. But see, that is exactly what God does and what Satan does when he comes to you. Satan starts with true statements about what you've done and uses that to define who you are. But what God does in the gospel is he declares a louder word and he says to things that do not yet exist.
He speaks about them as if they do. And by faith, you become those things. So God says to you righteous.
God says to you living one. God says to you mighty man of valor and you become those things. God does not call the brave. He makes brave the called. Or here's another way of saying it. God does not call the equipped.
He equips the called. That's an encouragement to all of us who are sincere about following Jesus. Powerful teaching from Judges chapter six here on Summit Life. If you missed any portion of today's message or if you'd like to listen again, you can easily access this program at JDGrier.com. We have a brand new takeaway resource this month that pairs perfectly with this teaching series. We've created a second volume of a book called Honest Questions, Quick Answers. Some of you might remember when we offered volume one two years ago, but this is a new resource by Pastor JD and it is full of new questions and answers like how important is correct doctrine? Can you lose your salvation?
And how can I trust Christians when so many are hypocritical? Let's make sure you get this as soon as possible. We'll send you this new release as our way of saying thanks for your financial gift of thirty five dollars or more to support this ministry. And for a small additional donation, we also have volume one available for those who missed it the first time. Be sure to ask about it when you call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or give online at JDGrier.com. I'm Molly Bittovitch inviting you to join us again tomorrow when Pastor JD Greer continues our study about Gideon called Courage and Calling. That's Tuesday on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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