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Calling and Courage, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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June 14, 2022 9:00 am

Calling and Courage, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 14, 2022 9:00 am

When God transforms our generation, he’ll use ordinary men and women just like Gideon; those who are willing to step up and take the lead.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. God's work and His greatest works are not behind us.

They are ahead of us. And I believe, Summit Church, we can weary God by always talking about how awesome it must have been in the days of Billy Graham. How awesome it must have been in the days of the Great Awakening or in the days of the Reformation or in the days of the early church. Why? Because God wants to work in our generation.

C.S. Lewis once said courage is one of the least talked about Christian virtues, but courage is essential to all the others. During the next half hour, we'll discover how God took a man like Gideon, a man full of fear and doubt and transformed him into one of the greatest leaders of Israel. And the great news today is that when God transforms our generation, He'll use ordinary men and women just like Gideon or me or you.

He is just looking for those who are willing to step up and take the lead. Now, if you missed any of the messages in this study called Broken Saviors, be sure to catch up right away at Right now, let's rejoin Pastor JD for part two of our message titled Calling and Courage. We're going to look at a story today in Judges Chapter 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 Saviors. So if you've got a Bible, Judges Chapter 6, we're going to see a guy, get this, who was not courageous, 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. 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.

And I said to you, I am the Lord your God. You shall not fear, but you have not obeyed my voice. 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.

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. God is not describing him as he is. God is describing him as how he will be. 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? 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. So verse 15, Gideon said to Jesus, please Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I'm the least in 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 and you will strike the Midianites as one man. Verse 17, and Gideon said to him, if now I have found favor in your eyes, 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 the 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 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 cower did it by night.

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. 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. And Gideon said, wait a minute, wait a minute, God, that was way too easy. What I meant by that 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. What can we learn about courage and calling from this story? What can we learn about courage and calling from the story?

I'm going to 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. Number two, this story shows us that we are the activity of God in our generation. God answered Gideon's question, God, why aren't you doing awesome stuff in our generation like you did for our grandparents with a statement, Gideon, oh, I'm here to use you. We're the activity of God to others. Most of you know that last year I wrote a book called Jesus Continued. And the idea, I got that title from Acts 1 where Luke, who is the writer of Acts and is also the writer of the Gospel of Luke, opens up Acts this way. In the former book that I wrote, the Gospel of Luke, I recorded all that Jesus began to do and to teach. And I explained that began to do and to teach implies that Jesus is continuing to do and to teach in the book of Acts.

You see, it's not that in the Gospel of Luke Jesus was the one doing and teaching and now in the book of Acts, it is the church that is doing and teaching in his place, is that Jesus was at work in his flesh and blood in the Gospel of Luke, but he is just as much at work in his body, the church, now in the world. The idea is that Jesus is continuing what he does in the world. He is continuing his ministry through you. And he does that by means of spiritual gifts that he gives to every believer. You see, I believe very much that God's work and his greatest works are not behind us. They are ahead of us. And I believe some at church, we can weary God by always talking about how awesome it must have been in the days of Billy Graham. How awesome it must have been in the days of the Great Awakening or in the days of the Reformation or in the days of the early church.

Why? Because God wants to work in our generation. And you see, I'm a dad of children and my children, Lord willing, will one day grow up and have children and I ain't got to move in their lives and in their children's lives. And I'm also in a nation that seems to be on a race backwards into hell. And I'm also in a world where there are still 2.2 billion people that have never heard the name of Jesus.

And there are 6,000 unreached people groups. So I believe that God's greatest work are not something that we talk about in the past. It's something we look forward to in the future. We are the activity of God in this generation. And I will not for one second believe that we are here to coast until the rapture.

I believe that we are here to see the kingdom of God through us in the world like no generation has seen. And I will never give that up and we're always going to keep pushing for that because we are the activity of God in this generation. You are asking, God, why aren't you active in my family? Why aren't you active in my workplace?

Why aren't you active on my campus, my college campus? And maybe what God is saying to you this weekend is you are my answer to that prayer. I put the Spirit of God in you.

So be the conduit of my power. Number three, the story teaches us that revival starts at home. Gideon's first assignment was to get rid of the idol in his father's house. You see, before you can do battle with the enemies around you, you've got to throw off the enemies within you because these idols will weaken you and make you ineffective in what God has for you. You say, well, I ain't got any idols in my house.

Well, maybe that's because you don't understand what an idol is. For Gideon's family, these weren't things that they worshiped instead of God. They hadn't forsaken God and just given themselves to idols. These idols were things they worshiped, listen, in addition to God. They never rejected God. They just substantiated God with idols that guaranteed other things that they felt like they needed. So there was an idol that guaranteed reign and there was an idol of Baal that guaranteed fertility. Again, these weren't in the place of God. They were in addition to God.

Now, we hear that and we say, well, that's so silly. Ancient superstitions thought you could put idols and statues up. You're missing the point.

You're missing the point. Where do you have places that you aren't sure you can trust God so you have other things that act as a backup in your life? I give you two sure signs of an idol. Anytime you see any one of these two things, and by the way, they always go together, you can always know there's an idol there. Anytime you see one of these two things in your lives. The metaphor I've used is they're like smoke from a fire.

You can trace the smoke back down and find the altar of unbelief in your life. Here they are, disobedience and anxiety. For example, many people do not feel like they can trust God in the area of relationships.

They're like, God, you're awesome and everything. I believe that, but I've also got to be happily married if I'm going to be happy in life. And you don't seem to be providing it in the way that I want at the moment.

So I'm off to take that area into my own hands. And so they compromise in relationships. We have people who are with people they should not be with. We have people who are leaving their marriages, walking out in hopes of a better one, because this is just not something they can trust God with.

We have other people that feel like they couldn't be happy without a certain income. So they will cheat at their business, they will cheat on their taxes, they will harm their family by working all the time, or they refuse to be generous when God tells them to be generous. Disobedience is a sure sign of an idol. Disobedience is always accompanied by anxiety.

So you're worried about your ability to hold on to your relationship or to get one or to hold on to your finances. Maybe you worry about your kids all the time because you feel like you just can't trust God with them. Disobedience and anxiety are smoke from the fires of unbelief. And before God can ever really use you in the mission, he's got to go to war against your idols because you will never do well, battle with the enemies outside of you until you've gone to war with the ones within you. Number four, this story shows us that courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is following God in the midst of fear. God's one line answer to Gideon's fear, his one line answer to Gideon's sense of inadequacy is, I am with you. That's what God's one line answer to every feeling of fear and inadequacy.

So I've really only got one question for you on this. What would your life be like in any situation that makes you afraid if you knew God was with you? Before you went into the surgery, an angel appeared at your side and just said, I want you to know that I am with you and I will be with you under the knife and I'll be with you when you wake up. If you went into a new job and on the first day of that new job, God says to you at the breakfast table, I'm going with you in this job. If you entered into a new relationship on the first day, God said, I'm with you. If you begin a new ministry and God said, go because I am with you. If you knew you were supposed to talk to somebody about the gospel and it made you nervous, but before you open your mouth, God just grabbed your hand and said, Hey, I want you to know I'm going to be in you speaking. I'm going to be beside you.

I am with you. If you're dealing with a problem in your home, with your marriage or your kids, God says to you, go and be courageous because I am with you. That's God's one line answer to everything. It's like Isaiah 43 says, is that God, whatever he sends us into, God goes with us. He'll walk with us through the flames. God's one line answer to everything.

I am with you. Maybe that's what you needed to hear today. This is Summit Life, and we'll be right back with the rest of our teaching in just a moment. But I wanted to tell you a little bit about our new resource this month. You know, sometimes we have big questions about life, about faith, about God himself, and we need to know how to give solid answers in these difficult moments. In our newest resource, Pastor JD quickly answers some of those questions that keep us up at night. You may recall volume one of this book called Honest Questions, Quick Answers from two years ago. We have some copies of that first book available as well if you missed getting it.

Give a gift today by calling us at 866-335-5220, or go online to and reserve this resource today. Now let's return for the final moments of today's teaching. Here's Pastor JD. You see, I read a bunch of articles this week about how to overcome fear, most of them secular. One of the things that's true about all these articles about how to overcome fear, if you're thinking of it from a secular perspective, is they all say the same thing. You've got to learn to control your fears. You've got to learn to banish fearful thoughts from your mind.

You've got to find a happy place, say goosefaba, or whatever it is that makes you feel calm. It stuck out to me how opposite the Bible's counsel with fear is. The Bible doesn't tell you to close your eyes to anything. The Bible tells you to open your eyes to something greater. Don't stop thinking about what makes you afraid.

Start thinking about the God whose presence is greater than all of these fears that are around you. But see, that leads us to a final question, and that is Gideon's question, how do we know that God is with us? How do we know we found favor? That was Gideon's question.

That's number five. The cross is our wet fleece. Gideon asked God to prove he was with him by making a fleece wet when the ground was dry.

I mentioned a moment ago that this concept has been so abused. We give God these random litmus tests to prove he wants us to do something. I will confess to you, it is more than once, as late as my sophomore year of college that I stood on a basketball court with a basketball at half court saying, God, if you want me to ask her out, if this relationship is going to end in marriage, make this half court shot go in. I did that with different girls, and one time I was so wanting it to work out that I shot nine times from half court hoping that God would make one go in, and this one I'm serious. I'm not saying that you should never seek confirmation on any decision that you make. I will tell you that if you do seek some kind of confirmation, that ought to be like one part out of a thousand in what goes into making a decision.

The bigger parts are scripture, prayer, the counsel of other believers. I'm not saying you never do that, but what I'm saying is that's not the main point of what's going on here. First of all, Gideon knew this was unwise. You know how I know that? In verse 39, look at it, Gideon asked God not to be angry at him. He's like, God, please don't be addicted to this. So he knew it wasn't wise. Secondly, Gideon wasn't asking what decision to make.

He already knew what he was supposed to do. What Gideon was asking, listen, was confirmation that God was with him and that God was in control. We have something much better than a wet fleece that shows us that God is indeed in control and that God is on our side, and that is the cross of Jesus Christ. In the cross of Jesus Christ, we see God is indeed in control because we see that in the worst moment in history, when evil looked like it was winning, when people were doing the most horrible things, God commandeered the situation to turn it to our salvation. And what that means, Paul tells us, is if that God was at work controlling that situation for our good, don't you think that in various parts of my life, God is also turning what others intend for evil into the good of my life and into God's great plan for me.

That's what it means. It also shows me, the cross shows me that God is on my side because I see that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. And I see that if God did not turn his back on me when I was wandering as a child and putting nails in his hands and his feet, that God will not turn on me now that I am his child, so I know through the cross what Gideon did not know, and that is God will never leave me.

God is fully in control and God could not be against me because of what Jesus has done. That's what gives us courage. My favorite verse on courage in the Bible, 1 John 4 18, there is no fear in love. Perfect love cast out, drives out fear.

Look at the next verse. For fear, where's fear come from? It has to do with punishment. Whoever fears has not been perfected in love. Fear has to do with punishment. We see something that makes us afraid and we feel vulnerable. And that sense of vulnerability goes back to the first thing that happened when we sinned in the Garden of Eden, that is we felt exposed in our nakedness. We felt vulnerable. We felt afraid. And so in our lives we clothe ourselves with the security of a good job.

We clothe ourselves with the security of a good reputation or a good relationship, but at any point we are aware that any of those clothes might be ripped away. But in the cross we see that God has clothed us irrevocably with his love and his presence. And when you understand that perfect love, it drives out any fear because you know God's love is, think about the different ways God's love is perfect.

God's love is perfect in its intensity, in its constancy, in its sufficiency, in its sovereignty with God's perfect love. What else could there be to be afraid of? So when they're getting ready to go into the promised land, God says to them, number 23, 23, there is no sorcery that can succeed against Jacob. You see the people were like, oh, what if we go in there and what if the people have bigger armies? What if they have more powerful magic than we do? What if Lord Voldemort is on their side and they're going to put a curse on it? And God says, would you shut up about, who cares if Lord Voldemort is on their side? I'll mention his name because his name is nothing. My name is bigger than his name and there's no sorcery that he can give that's going to overcome that. Psalm 56, 11, and God, I trust, says David, I shall not be afraid.

Why? Because what could man do to me? What could man do that would override the plans of the almighty God?

The answer is nothing. If you are afraid about anything, it is because you have lost touch with one of those four dimensions of the perfect love of God. You either have lost touch with its intensity and its constancy. You've lost touch with the fact that God loved you with a perfect love. God sought you when you were his enemy. God made you a child.

He promises because Christ was forsaken for you that you'll never be forsaken. You've lost touch with its sufficiency. You think that there's something else you got to have, money, relationship. You think I got to have that too. No, it's sufficient.

You've lost touch with its sovereignty. You've lost touch with the fact that there is not one stray molecule in the entire universe that God has not commandeered for his glory, your good, and his plan. True courage comes from the presence and the promises of God, and the presence and the promises of God are given to us in Christ. You see, what God wants you to know this weekend as you go is that he goes with you and none of the fire will touch you. When Jesus gave his disciples what we call the Great Commission, it was dangerous.

You're going to go all throughout the world, and you're going to preach Christ to people who are going to hate you and try to kill you. What we fail to notice sometimes is what he says right before he tells him that. It's basically what he told Gideon. He says, go into all the nations and preach the gospel, and behold, I am with you until the end of the age. The Great Commission, listen to this, grows out of the great announcement.

The commission to go comes out of the announcement that he goes with. God is sending you, some of you, into various things. Some of you, it's a ministry assignment.

Some of you, it is a conversation. Some of you, it is a trial, and what God says is, go, my son. Go, my daughter. Be a mighty or man or woman of valor because I am with you. If God is sending you somewhere, I can tell you exactly what he says to you.

Listen to my voice and hear his promise in that. God first of all says, saint, righteous one. You say, God, I don't feel like a saint. I don't feel like a righteous one. God says, I know. I see you for what you are, but I also see what the resurrected Christ is making you, and I see what you are in him.

So, saint of God, let go of the past and walk into the future. He says, my ambassador. My ambassador means that I will provide for you.

I'm going to send you on a mission where I won't provide for you. You're my ambassador. You're my son.

You're my daughter. I'll never leave you or forsake you. He says, you are going to be a mighty man of valor. Be strong and courageous.

Go into this place for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. You see, virtues like courage don't grow out of our personality. They're not something we work out through learning enough scripture. Virtues like courage flow from our identity in Christ. Virtues like every virtue, courage does not lead us closer to salvation. Courage comes from our salvation. So, do not look to your courage to give you identity in Christ. Look to your identity in Christ to give you courage. Your identity in Christ is given as a gift. It's in the promises of God. So, are you a coward?

Join the club. Join the club and believe in the promises of God because God doesn't call or reward the brave. He makes brave the called. Your courage will come from your identity in Christ and the fact that God is with you with a perfect love that can never be separated from you. Where is the Holy Spirit? Where is He beckoning you to follow? It's time for mighty men and women to step up to the plate, to take the mantle, and to let God work through them as they lead God's people. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor and Bible teacher J.D.

Greer. Okay, J.D., in our newest resource, you take some time to answer a lot of questions over a very broad range of topics. What do you hope that we'll take away from this new book?

Well, this book is pretty different from a lot of the resources that we offer. Namely, in that it's done in the same style as my other podcast, Ask Me Anything, where I take a challenging or difficult question that we're often asked as believers and I attempt to give you a few short talking points of how to think about the answer and how to share it with somebody else. The idea is that when we're faced with difficult questions, and we will be, and the Apostle Peter tells us to be ready to answer those, we need to be able to answer them in a way that's not overly complicated and in a way that is seasoned with grace. We want to be able to give reasons and be able to remove obstacles for people who just, for whatever reason, one of these questions becomes an obstacle to their being able to believe. And so it's one of the things I love to do is to help remove obstacles while I'm preaching here on Summit Life and we're preaching the gospel.

This can be part of that hard work of winning somebody to Christ by taking out some of the big objections that they have about the Christian faith. And I think this resource will help you do that. This is a second volume. We offered volume one a couple of years ago. If you'll go to, it'll give you instructions on how you can get volume two and volume one if there's still copies of that left, you could get these and I think it'll help you whether you're trying to answer a question to your kid or trying to answer a question for your own heart or for a neighbor that's asking you.

Just go to and you can grab a copy today. We'll get you a copy of the most recent volume of Honest Questions Quick Answers today with our thanks when you donate to support this program. You can also request to add on volume one if you missed it a couple of years ago. Summit Life is kept on the radio and online by listeners like you.

So when you're hearing our program, you've got a friend of the ministry, maybe even a gospel partner to thank for the message. Give today and remember to ask for volume two of Honest Questions Quick Answers. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can donate and request this resource online at That's

I'm Molly Vitovich. Be sure to listen again Wednesday when we'll hear more from J.D. Greer's study in the book of Judges called Broken Saviors here on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-05 09:26:46 / 2023-04-05 09:38:16 / 12

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