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The Underdog’s Secret

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2022 9:00 am

The Underdog’s Secret

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 15, 2022 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. shows us how God can use anyone to accomplish his plan even when we feel stretched and afraid!

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Today on Summit Life with Jiddy Greer. I want you to rethink what God might be doing in your life. Maybe you're experiencing an army reduction right now, and I want you to be open to the essential lesson, the life-giving lesson that God is trying to teach you in it. He's trying to teach you to lean into Him. Welcome back to Summit Life with Jiddy Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich, and I'm so glad that you're back with us today. You know, everyone is a leader to someone, even if you don't realize it. Whether you're a mom or dad or a supervisor at work, someone, somewhere is looking to you for guidance. Today, Pastor Jiddy shows us how God can use anyone to accomplish His plan, even when we feel stretched and afraid or even unqualified. This series we've been in from the book of Judges is called Broken Saviors, and we're once again learning some new lessons from Gideon.

Remember, you can always reach out to us at jdgreer.com or give us a call at 866-335-5220. But for now, here's Pastor Jiddy with a new message he titled The Underdog's Secret. Well, if you have your Bibles this weekend, I would invite you to take them out right now and open them to the book of Judges chapter seven.

We are on our second week of this very fascinating and somewhat enigmatic and maybe inspiring figure known as Gideon in our series called Broken Saviors to the Book of Judges. As you're turning there, Americans love a good underdog story. I think it's because we see ourselves as the result of an underdog victory against Great Britain. But this week, right before I got on a flight from Atlanta, I tweeted out, what's the greatest underdog story of all time?

When I landed and checked my phone again, I had about 3,000 responses to that question. There was, of course, the usuals, Rudy, the Karate Kid. A lot of people referenced the greatest movie franchise of all time, the Rocky Balboa story, with the exception of Rocky V. No one ever really needs to talk about that one. There was, of course, the miracle US hockey team of the 1980 Olympics that beat the Soviet Union, essentially as a bunch of college students.

One person even said, you marrying Veronica was the greatest underdog story of all time, which I would tend to agree with that. Perhaps the most significant underdog story, at least for us around here, would be the 1983 National Championship by the Cardiac Wolfpack team led by the late Jimmy Valvano. If you are not from here, this is an important piece of North Carolina history that you need to know just to appreciate the place where you are. North Carolina State, 1983, went into the ACC tournament that year, ranked number four in the ACC. Not number four in the nation, number four in the ACC. They won their three ACC tournament games by a margin of 11 points. Not each game by 11, but a total of 11 points. That's all that they won by. One game was decided in overtime, one was decided by only one point.

That's where they got the name, by the way, Cardiac Pack, because every single one of their games they won, they trailed the whole game until the last minute. The NCAA tournament, the very first game, they went against the very lowly Pepperdine University. No offense if you are from Pepperdine, but they had to win that one in overtime.

By the way, not one overtime, but two overtimes, and they barely squeaked out a win. Two days later, they beat the heavily favored UNLV by a single point scored in the very last minute. Against great odds, they made it all the way to the championship game where they faced Houston, which were the heavy favorites that year to win the whole thing.

Their nickname was Phi Slamma Jamma. On that team, there were two future NBA hall of famers, Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They had steamrolled absolutely everyone that season up to the final game, winning by double digits. They were undefeated.

They were somewhat like Kentucky this year, which they say that the second five, the second string will be ranked in the AP top 10. Well, somehow NC State managed to stick around during that game. 44 seconds left. They got the ball. They ended up in those 44 seconds running one of the worst plays anyone had ever seen and forcing up the ugliest shot probably ever recorded in NCAA history. It missed not just by a little bit. It missed by like a foot and a half, and a guy named Lorenzo Charles caught it like it was a pass and dunked it as time expired. By the way, just to underscore how much of an upset this was, when they chose an MVP from the tournament that year, they chose a player from Houston, which never happens.

You always choose one from the winning team, but they chose one from Houston. Anyway, I share that story for two reasons. Number one, I just want to give something to you NC State fans out there.

I know that it's been a rough year. Number two, number two, I say that because you might be tempted to see the story that we're going to look at this weekend of Gideon going up against the Midianites. You might be tempted to read that as an underdog story, but it is so far beyond an underdog story.

It's not even funny. This is not a lesser army going up against a stronger army. This is the story of a powerless people going up against the mightiest force in the region. This would not be like Wake Forest taking on Duke.

This would be like a JV middle school team taking on Kentucky this year. That's how you need to read this. Judges chapter six is where we were last week. And we saw that God had sent the Midianites into Israel to chase in them because of their disobedience. But when Israel cried out in pain, God had compassion on them. And he raised up a deliverer for them, a deliverer named Gideon.

Well, Gideon was not, as I explained, your typical hero. When we first encounter Gideon, he is cowering in fear in a hole. But God turns him into a man of bravery by assuring him of his presence with him. And that might've been the most important lesson we learned last week is that God does not call us because we're brave. He makes brave those he calls. I told you that God doesn't call you because of something in you. He equips you after he calls you. So you might be a person who is timid.

You might not have that much courage. You're the very one God wants to use because God makes brave those that he calls. Well, at the end of chapter six, God tells Gideon to go and mount a resistance against the massive Maraudian Midianite militia. And Gideon, true to form, demurs. And so God has to reassure him through a couple of tests that we now call the fleece test.

Remember the famous fleece test? God make the washcloth wet when the ground's dry, make the ground dry, whatever. And he has to do it twice. And so Gideon finally gets the courage that God will give him the victory. That's where we begin in chapter seven, verse one. Then Jerabel, remember that's Gideon's nickname.

It literally in Hebrew means bale, tail whooper. Jerabel and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was just north of them. Verse two, the Lord said to Gideon, the people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me saying, my own hand has saved me. You ought really to marinate on that verse. It's one of my favorite Old Testament verses.

The people with you are too many because if now they get victory, they're going to say that they did this. You can learn so much about how God works in your life through that statement. Verse three, now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people saying, whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead. And 22,000 of Gideon's 32,000 person army went home and only 10,000 remained. I kind of wonder, whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return. I wonder if Gideon tried to go in that number.

He was like, hey, I'm just going to kind of, God's like, not you Gideon, I'm talking about other people. Now you might actually make the argument that this may have been a smart move. 10,000 brave soldiers, you might argue are better than 32,000 when two thirds of them are wimps. That would have made an underdog story for sure. But what you are going to see next makes absolutely no sense.

And it's what takes this so far beyond an underdog story. Verse four, the Lord then said to Gideon, the people are still too many. So take them down to the water. And everyone who lapsed the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself.

Likewise, everyone who kneels down to drink. And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouth and laughing like a dog was 300 men, because who does that? Verse seven, the Lord said to Gideon, with those 300 men who laughed, I will save you.

And I will give the Midianites into your hand and let all the others go every man back to his home. You say, what's the symbolism of keeping the ones who lapped like a dog. Does this prove that God loves dogs more than cats? Well, first that doesn't need proving. It is inherently obvious in nature. Okay. But no, there is absolutely no symbolism at all in what happened. It's just a random test designed to get rid of 97% of the army.

And it worked. I want you to think about this because it's really important. God intentionally weakened Gideon's army. There is so much for you to learn about how God works in your life through that.

Here it is. Number one, when God wants to use us, he often will first weaken us. When God wants to use us, a lot of times he will first weaken us. Now, God never delights in hurting us, but God wants us to trust him. He wants us to depend on him. According to him, that's the most important thing we can ever learn in life. So God will sometimes reduce the size of our army so we have no choice but to trust him. He said, what do you mean by reduce the size of our army? I mean, your health suddenly goes bad.

You lose your job, or maybe you take a reduction in pay. It might even be that your marriage goes through rocky times. I'm not saying that God is the one doing any of those things directly. I'm just saying that God's sovereign purpose in allowing them to happen might be teaching you to lean into him like you never have before. Or here is another statement for you to marinate on. I've given you this, but I think it's so important.

You just ought to write it somewhere and think about it all the time. If dependence is the objective, then weakness becomes an advantage. If dependence is the objective, the objective, then weaknesses can be an advantage.

You say, well, how could weakness ever be an advantage? If it makes you lean into Jesus where the real power is, that's when it becomes an advantage. You see, for some of you, it was when your husband failed you that you learned that you could rely on your heavenly father. It was when you got laid off that you learned that you could trust your heavenly supplier. It's when you were alone and lonely, that's when you learned that God would be the friend who sticks closer than a brother. Weakness can force you to lean into God and there, and sometimes only there, can you learn the four words that will absolutely transform your life. God is always faithful.

Have you experienced the faithfulness of God? Our prayer is that you're constantly reminded that He's always there. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Let me remind you about our latest resource created exclusively for our Summit Life family. In his latest book, Honest Questions, Quick Answers, Pastor J.D. tackles big questions with short, concise answers. They're the kind of responses you can give when chatting at the coffee shop with a friend or maybe even a stranger. We would love to get you this new book right now.

Equip yourself with answers to some of life's toughest questions by giving us a call right now at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. Now let's rejoin Pastor J.D. for the conclusion to today's teaching. Sometimes we say you will never know that God is all you need until He's all you have. You might say it, you might sing it with the rest of us, but you'll never know it here until He's all that you have. And then you say, now I know God is always faithful and that He is all that I need.

Here's how the Apostle Paul would say it. Therefore, he said, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me. Brag about your weaknesses?

Who does that? Here's another place I'm subpar. Here's another place I have failed miserably. Here's another place you can't depend on me, right? Paul says I share these things and I do it gladly.

I might do it out of duty because I know that I'm supposed to. Why would Paul just get his jollies off of sharing about his weaknesses? Because it was there he was able to put on display Christ's power and not his own. You see, if I stand up here and brag on my strengths or if Paul stood up here and bragged on his strengths, you might sit out there and say, man, I wish I were more like him. Then you hang your head and say, but I can't be. But if I brag on my weaknesses and I tell you about what Christ's power has done through them, then maybe you'll sit out there and you'll say, wow, I've got access to what He has access to. Effective preaching, I've often told you, is just one beggar telling a bunch of other beggars where they can find bread. And so maybe the best thing I can help you toward that end is to make you understand that I'm a beggar too. And to say it's not that you need to be like me or need to be like Paul or need to be like Gideon. You just need to understand that we're all a bunch of beggars who have found bread and living water at a place that is very accessible to you and it is faith in Jesus Christ.

Or let me show it to you from another place. 1 Peter 1 says that your faith, that is your confidence in God's goodness and grace, your faith is more precious than gold. And whatever battle you're in, what is the greatest asset that you have?

Well, certainly you would say in a battle, it's going to be my army. God says, nope, the greatest asset you can have in any situation is your confidence in me. In the battle to provide for yourself, what would be your greatest asset? Well, in Peter's day, it would have been gold. And Peter said, nope, that's not your greatest asset. The greatest asset you can have in any situation is never your ability, never your provision.

It's always your faith in what God, his goodness, and what he is willing to do. Elise Fitzpatrick, who's going to be speaking here in a couple months with me here on Mother's Day, she wrote a book called Give Them Grace, which I would very much commend to you parents. But it's a book on parenting. And she said, you know, the problem, she applies this principle to parenting. And she says, you know, the problem with most Christian books on parenting is they essentially imply that if you do steps one through five, then your kids are going to turn out fine.

That this is how you, it's like you plug in these variables and out come these fine kids. She said the problem with that is twofold. She said, number one, the first problem is God was a perfect parent. And the only two humans that he created directly and a third of the angels rebelled against him. She said, do you really feel like you're going to out technique God?

Probably not. She said the second problem and the more insidious problem is that this kind of teaching implies, implies, or excuse me, this kind of teaching keeps you from the one thing you most need as a parent. And that is hope and the grace of God for your children. It is not your technique that's going to produce hearts that love God.

It's going to be God's mercy and grace. And sometimes your strength as a parent can keep you from the hope and the one thing that your kids desperately need. I'm not saying that you don't master the principles of parenting.

You most certainly should. I'm just saying at the end of the day, my hope for my kids should not be in my ability to be a good parent. It's in the mercy of God for them. And God wants you to learn that it's your most valuable asset. What keeps us from the riches of God's power is not our weaknesses.

It's that we feel like we have our own riches and we don't need God. This is one of the most important spiritual truths I could ever teach you. Your strengths are more dangerous to you than your weaknesses because your strengths keep you from hoping in God's mercy. To be saved, to be saved, to begin the Christian life means you come to a point where you know you can't save yourself and you fall, you fall in desperation on the mercy of God.

You are utterly unrighteous and you realize that utterly hopeless and he does it all. To be used by God from that point forward means repeating the same process. You come to a point where you realize how absolutely impotent you are and you fall in hope on God's mercy. So sometimes God will weaken us to bring us to that point.

Maybe write it down this way, A.W. Tozer. It is doubtful, Tozer says, whether God can bless a man greatly until he has first hurt him very deeply. Sometimes to get you to lean into his power he has to reduce your army so he lets you fail. Two of the most growing seasons in my life, three, all came from failure.

One was a failure in something I was trying to do, one was a failure in a very key relationship and one was a failure in courage, a failure in character. And I look back and I see that it was during those times that God forced me to lean into him and filled me with his power instead of my own. So listen to me, I want you this weekend to rethink what God might be doing in your life. Maybe you're experiencing an army reduction right now and I want you to be open to the essential lesson, the life-giving lesson that God is trying to teach you in it. He's trying to teach you to lean into him. As I was thinking through this this week, I was reminded of a story that I've told you before but I could not remember how long it's been since I've told you. I feel like it's been about two years, it might have been six weeks, I don't know, it all kinds of runs together so I hope that you haven't heard this recently, but it was the story I've told you of the little bird that was flying south for the winter. Remember this, the little bird got a late start and he missed his friends had already left and so because he got a late start it got colder than he was planning for and on the way in the air his wings froze and he crash landed and there he is on the the cold ground with his wings frozen thinking great now I'm going to freeze to death when along by comes a cow and the cow drops manure on him and again the bird thinks well this just went from bad to worse not only do I have to die of freezing to death I got to die with the stench of manure in my nostrils ah but the manure was warm and the manure thawed his wings and the wing and the little bird said I can use my wings now and he got excited and he began to shake the manure off and he began to chirp and sing and that attracted a cat who came by and ate him and I told you that there are three essential lessons for you to learn from that story lesson number one not everyone who drops manure on you is your enemy number two not everyone who digs you out is your friend lesson number three when you are in manure sometimes it's helpful for you to keep your little chirper shut because God might be doing something amazing at that very moment lesson number four is cats are evil okay that's obvious Hudson Taylor says it this way listen Hudson Taylor the great missionary to China God wants you to have something far better than riches and gold and that is helpless dependence upon him and if God's got to reduce your army to teach you that then you will call it a blessing the second thing that God is trying to teach us to the reduction of Gideon's army and this is another common theme we've looked at in Judges number two God would send salvation not through human might he would send salvation to the weakness of humble obedience this is also something I've explained to you but not only is each story in the book of Judges teaching us a lesson the book of Judges as a whole has a message for us you see a rather odd and counter-intuitive trajectory has been established in the book of Judges the book of Judges I explained opens up with Joshua who was a mighty general in charge of a strong Israelite army but right on his heels we have Ehud who is a left-handed crippled leader and then following him you have Deborah who is a female judge who teams up with the other heroine of the story Jael who is a housewife essentially with a frying pan after that you have Gideon whose army God whittles down to 300 you see if Gideon had gone in with 32,000 we might be tempted to put him in the category with Joshua but God doesn't want that happening God wants us going from strength to weakness so at the end of the book of Judges we're going to encounter Samson and Samson's going to fight all by himself the Israelite army is not even going to help and then we're going to come in the very next book first Samuel to a guy named David who was a scrawny little shepherd boy who writes poems and ends up defeating the giant Goliath while the all the Israelite army stands on the sidelines in fear and just watches and that is pointing us to the most important point in the whole bible right well what's the trajectory make sure you get this the trajectory is from strength to weakness isn't it I had a business mentor one time tell me any time you're presenting stuff to business people always do it in the form of a graph that goes up business people like graphs that go up this graph is not going up this graph is going down why are we seeing a reduction from strength to weakness and here's why because the main point of the bible is that God's not going to send salvation into the world through a king who conquers the world's armies by a superior army he's going to send salvation by one who would lay down his life and service and humility and obedience so time and time again in Jesus's life we are confronted with the weakness of Jesus now hear me when I say Jesus is the son of God I mean but but all we see throughout the gospels we see his weakness before Jesus's trial we find him washing the disciples feet the activity of the lowest of the lowest of servants during Jesus's trial he is maligned mocked spit upon seemingly unable to defend himself he's so weak he can't even carry his cross to the place of crucifixion the other prisoners seem to be able to but Jesus is so weak he can't even do that Jesus will die with his hands stretched out the ultimate picture of powerlessness and weakness yet through that God brings a resurrection see that's how it happens you humbly obey in weakness often and God brings power I realize that it's possible that you may feel like an underdog today facing personal battles that appear unwinnable and maybe you're afraid or discouraged but let me encourage you to keep listening to this series from Pastor JD the biblical principles he shares will help you understand how to rely on God to give you the courage needed to press on to thank you for your support and to help you grow in your faith this month we have created a new book that helps you tackle some pretty huge questions JD how can you provide answers in just a few pages for each question yeah good question you know our goal is not to give the overly deep comprehensive answer but a quick answer the kind of answer you would give to somebody if you were sitting down for a cup of coffee sometimes we even be coached on the posture we take like what's the right thing to say here how do I perceive what the person is really asking and so I feel like a big part of my own ministry is answering questions I look at it like removing objections that people have to belief like clearing the path for belief I think this resource that I'm excited to share with you can help you do that with other people as well if you'll just go to jdgrid.com there's a volume two that we're offering now and I think there's some copies left of volume one if you didn't get that one again just head on over to jdgrid.com and you'll see instructions for how you can get one or both of these of these volumes we want to invite you to partner with us financially as our way of saying thanks we'll send you this newest book by pastor jd honest questions quick answers call us right now the number is 866-335-5220 you can also give online at jdgrier.com I'm molly vinovich inviting you to join us again tomorrow when we'll continue our teaching about the underdog Gideon Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-04 17:46:38 / 2023-04-04 17:57:16 / 11

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