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The Underdog’s Secret, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 16, 2022 9:00 am

The Underdog’s Secret, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 16, 2022 9:00 am

Behind every hero in the Bible, we see a God who remains faithful even though our heroes--and let’s admit it--we are often faithless. Good news for those of us who feel unworthy--thankfully God is the one who gives us value!

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Scripture says that your word God is a lamp to my feet. I've always thought that verse was a little odd because I don't want a lamp for my feet.

I want a spotlight. I want to see what's at the end of this road. What God does is he gives you enough to take a step and then you take the next step and then he reveals a little more and then you take the next step and God cultivates your faith as you go. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, when God wants to use us, he often humbles us. And in this refining process, he shapes us into an instrument that can be used for his glory. In fact, the Bible often shows us how God used flawed characters to accomplish amazing feats. Pastor J.D. titled today's message, the underdog secret, and make sure you listen all the way to the end where we'll give you more information on a practical new resource to help you engage in hard topics. But right now let's join pastor J.D.

in Judges, chapter seven. 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.

Okay. 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. Well, at the end of chapter six, God tells Gideon to go and mount a resistance against the massive Moradian 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. 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.

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. 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.

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. 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. Now God never delights in hurting us, but God wants us to trust him. 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.

God does not send his miracles through human might, he sends them through faith and humble obedience. Here's another bird story for you. I've told you this one, I think it's been a while though. It's the woodpecker, the faithful woodpecker who's just tapping away at a telephone pole, not doing anything except make a noise, right? Make a little tiny hole in there when all of a sudden it gets struck with lightning, splits the tree in two. And the little woodpecker's like, kind of goes back and is like, dang, flies off and goes and gets his buddies and brings them back and says, there she is boys, look at what I did. Woodpecker didn't do that, the woodpecker wouldn't even be able to make a small indentation in the pole, God sent the lightning. And that's a picture of what God does as you and I faithfully obey. It's not our abilities as a parent, it's not my ability to provide, it's not my ability as a preacher to stand up here, I just faithfully obey and God sends the lightning bolt because that's always how it works. He saves not through human power, but humble obedience. Well, God finally gets Gideon's army down to the size that he needs it. In verse nine, that same night, the Lord said to him, arise Gideon and go down against the camp for I've given it into your hand.

But if you are afraid, that's a given, go down to the camp with Purah your servant first. So Gideon takes Purah and they sneak down to the Midianite camp. The Midianites are along the valley like locusts in abundance, they're camels without number like the sand that's on the seashore.

I mean, imagine that, I mean, just so much that you can't even count them. Verse 13, Gideon sneaks into the camp and behold, as he comes close to a tent, he overhears a man telling a dream to his comrade. And the man says, behold, I dreamed a dream. And behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat. And his comrade answered, this is none other than the sword of Gideon. God has given into his hand Midian and all our camp.

Now, do not miss the humor. The picture of Gideon is not of a spear, it's not of a hurricane, it's not even of a hurled rock. He is a tumbling piece of bread.

What team chooses that for their mascot? You know, we're the biscuits, you know, it's like, yet this biscuit flattens a mighty tent. Now, I'm not much of a camper and if you threw a piece of bread at a tent I set up, it might fall down, but not for a soldier. And Gideon recognizes in this that God is reassuring him, though insulting him, reassuring him. Verse 15, as soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped and he returned to the camp of Israel and said, arise, arise for the Lord has given the host of Midian into our hands. The third thing we learned from this story is God patiently deals with faltering faith.

This is a very sweet lesson to me. I find it really comforting in this story that God takes such time and such patience to reassure Gideon. You see, we often picture God as this one sitting up in heaven saying, if you don't have absolute confidence in me all the time, then I will reject you.

But that's not what you see here, is it? No, you see a God who is taking time to cultivate faith, a God who was sympathetic with fear and doubt, reminded me of the man who came to Jesus in Mark 9, the man who came to Jesus in with a very sick son and says to Jesus, what has to be considered blasphemy. He says to Jesus, Jesus, my son is very sick.

If you're able, could you do something? I would expect Jesus to respond with, if I'm able, do you know who I am? Jesus doesn't say that. He said, everything is possible to the one who believes. He gives them a very tender invitation to believe. And how does the man respond to Jesus' invitation? The man says, Lord, I believe, kind of, help my unbelief. In other words, I'm 60, 40 on this, God. Maybe 40, 60, I don't really know.

I'm not really sure. What does Jesus say back to him? If I had been Jesus, I would have said, a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Why don't you go home, memorize some scripture and come back when you're ready to go all in.

That's what I would have said. Thankfully, I'm not Jesus. Jesus says, well, you don't want to say anything. He just heals the boy.

What are you seeing there? God's okay with your doubt. God's okay with you coming to him with your questions. He knows your fear. He's okay with you asking them. If you doubt here this weekend, listen to me, it's okay.

It's okay. God's not scared of your question. Just ask them, ask God to reveal his faithfulness to you. God is tender and he's compassionate with developing your faith, but you also got to consider point number four. And that is that at some point, you're going to have to take the risk. Think for a minute about what's going on in this scene. Gideon's afraid. And so to reassure Gideon, God tells Gideon to go down into the Midianite camp at night. If I had been Gideon, I would have said, God, I'm not sure if this came through or not, but I'm afraid.

I don't want to be sneaking down into the Midianite sleeping chambers at night. Can we do the fleece test again? God, I've got the fleece right here, right?

I'll turn my back, count to 10, and maybe you can fold it up into an origami structure. And then I'll know that you're really with me. Well, that's what I would have asked for. Why did God make Gideon go down into the camp, into the place of danger to get reassurance? It is to teach us this lesson that if you want God to develop your faith, it means that you've got to take some steps of faith of your own. You see, here's how it works. Here's how faith works. God reveals a little, you take a step. God reveals a little, you take a step. God reveals a little more, you take another step. The way Scripture says this is draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Picture, if you will, two men on the stage behind me, each one at opposite sides. It's as if one takes a step and then the other one takes a step. That's how God develops your faith. That's not to imply that you're going to work your way to God. All that it's saying is this is how God develops faith.

You draw near to Him and He draws near to you. Or Scripture in another place says that your word God is a lamp to my feet. I've always thought that verse was a little odd because I don't want a lamp for my feet, I want a spotlight. I want to see what's at the end of this road. And God says, you don't get headlights, you get a lamp. You get enough for the next step, but you take that step and I'll show you the next step. You see, that means that if you're here this weekend waiting on God to answer all of your questions before you will follow Him, you're never going to get there. What God does is He gives you enough to take a step and then you take the next step and then He reveals a little more and then you take the next step and God cultivates your faith as you go. So what's the step of faith you need to take today? Ponder that question when we return to our teaching in just a moment. I wanted to quickly tell you about a daily email devotional from Pastor JD that's available to our Summit Life family. I know the busyness of life can quickly choke out any joy we feel in our walk with God.

So why not cut those weeds away each morning with a word from the Lord? These devotionals even follow along with our current teaching here on the program so you can stay plugged into these messages regardless of your schedule. To sign up for this free resource, visit us at jdgrier.com slash resources.

You can also learn more about our featured monthly resource when you visit. Now let's return for the conclusion of our message today. Once again here's Pastor JD. You need to take that step some of you. What does that mean? For some of you that means you need to begin to read your Bible.

Read it with the person who invited you this week. What I mean is you guys read the Bible and then you come back once a week and you talk about what you're learning. That would be your step of faith.

God develops our faith by making us take faith risk of our own. We've all heard of the third little bird story. Birds that teach their young to fly by pushing them out of the nest.

Well we've all known that right? I remember the first time when I would hear that as a kid I would always think about it from the perspective of the little bird. Little bird's like mom what are you doing?

You know like what? But the mom knows the bird can fly and the mom knows the bird's never going to fly until she gets him into a place where he has to do that. That's what God is doing with you is he's inviting you to take these steps of faith. So Gideon divides the men into three into three companies of 100 each. He gives each man a trumpet, a jar, and a torch. What is the one of the things that's missing from that list?

How about a sword, slingshot, an RPG, whatever, but none of that. He tells each of the men light your torch and put it in a jar. Then we're going to line the valley wall all around the Midianites up on the mountain. When I blow my trumpet each of you are going to blow your trumpet and then you're going to smash your jar and raise your torch. Well they waited, verse 19, until the beginning of the middle watch, that's going to be important, after they just set the watch. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches and in the right hands they blew the trumpets and they cried out a sword for the Lord and for Gideon.

The irony is nobody has a sword. Verse 21, every man stood in his place around the camp and all the army ran. All the Midianites cried out and fled and the Lord said every man's sword against his comrade and against all the army.

Here's how this worked. Usually a torch and a trumpet signified an entire battalion. You've got 300 torches and 300 trumpets around the valley.

The smashing of the jars, think about what that would have sounded like, would have sounded like the clash of hundreds of thousands or maybe tens of thousands of swords being raised at once, right? So now you've got what looks like 300 battalions, the sound of tens of thousands of swords. You've got the trumpets and on top of all that, the middle watch means it's about 3 a.m. The first watch of soldiers, a third of the army has been out watching. They're coming back in, they're dead tired ready to get some sleep. The second watch has just gotten up, they're all groggy and the third watch is fast asleep. You wake up to the sound of swords and trumpets and this fearful scene and on top of all that, now you've got an army marching back into your camp. You don't realize that it's your army so everybody pulls out their sword and starts to fight and they all kill each other. The end. That's the end of the battle and they all live happily ever after except for the Midianites, all right? Let me point out something here and I hope I'm not stretching too much here but let me point out something I think that's really awesome that that's teaching us. Watch this, number five. God can turn weakness itself into strength.

You know what's really cool about this situation to me? God never tells Gideon how to do this. Gideon seems to have come up with that plan of his own cowardly noggin yet it was his weakness that forced him into that ingenuity. God's reduction of Gideon's army forced him to come up with a new plan and it was a better plan because that plan resulted in victory without a single Israelite casualty.

Not one. If Gideon had gone with 32,000 even if he'd have gotten the victory some of them would have died. Now he does it in a way that fixes the whole thing and nobody dies. Gideon's weakness actually became the source of his strength. Often in weakness God will reorganize not just one part of your life, he'll reorganize the whole thing. He'll turn that weakness into one of the greatest blessings in your life.

Give you an example, take this out of up here and kind of put it. I remember hearing the story at one time of a man who when he had three kids, when his oldest daughter turned 13 he began to get very concerned about her because like many parents are fearful of his daughter started to hang out with the wrong crowd. And she started walking around this bored sullen look on her face all the time and she'd sit through church and look bored and at home she just kind of distanced herself from her parents. She started to date this boy that was bad news. He was like two years older than her, he was 15 years old and she started to dress just in a way that he didn't want to see her dressing and wore dark makeup and dressed all goth and everything.

And he was just not what he wanted to see from his little girl. So he goes to the pastor and he said, pastor, we've done everything right. We've always been, you know, we've always come to church. We come to church, you know, we're pretty regular here and I just don't understand. The more I talk to my daughter, we just get in arguments. And the pastor said, well, if you'll let me be really bold with you in this moment, I want to tell you that the problem is that your family is just a spectator at church.

Yes, you guys are here a lot, but all you do is sit on the sidelines. You're not involved in ministry at all. And the problem is, is that the world that your daughter lives in is telling her a better story than you are telling her. The world is giving her adventure. You're just basically presenting God as somebody who lectures her on the weekend.

And the world is more enticing to her. He says, if you're going to win your daughter's heart in part, you're gonna have to tell a better story. So the dad, he makes sense to him. So he goes home, does a little research. He gets his family involved in the church and ministry. They volunteer and they get involved in a local ministry. And he also adopts an overseas orphanage as kind of their project. He takes his family and he says to his three kids, we're going to own this as ours.

So I need some ideas of what we can do. The kids begin to contribute ideas and they begin to execute those ideas. The guy says that over the next few months, his daughter even began to give some ideas and begin to lead out on her own.

The dad said, over the next 18 months, I watched the most remarkable thing happen without me commenting on any of these things. They all disappeared. She said, she began to change her wardrobe.

She broke up with the boy. She began to bring a Bible and a notebook to church. And it all came because we got off the sidelines and got into ministry.

Now, why do I share that with you? He had a weakness with his daughter, but God used that to transform his entire family and get them off the sidelines and into the game, which not only affected her, it affected everybody. You realize that in certain situations, what God is doing with you is he's using one point to transform your whole life. You might be here because you need God's help with X, Y, and Z. And God says, you know what?

I want to help with X, Y, and Z, but we're going to have to go back with A through X, Y, and Z. We need to go back to the beginning and I need to go to work there. Maybe what you came in for this week is not what God wants to do in your life. Maybe he wants to turn that point of weakness into something that will transform your entire life. Here's number six, the final one that Gideon teaches us. Success is joining Jesus wherever he is. That's what Gideon's life teaches.

I would summarize Gideon's life in one statement. Join Jesus where he is because it is better to be with Jesus before the most impossible odds than to have the odds in your favor and be without Jesus. Listen, Christian maturity is when you learn to say, I'll go anywhere with Jesus.

And I would not want to be anywhere with any size army at my back without him. The mature Christian knows, you see, that Jesus plus nothing equals everything. And the mature Christian knows that Jesus or everything without Jesus equals nothing. A mature Christian says in Christ, I can give up all that I have because in Christ, I've already got all that I need.

So the question is not, what do I prefer? The question is not, what do I feel capable for? The question is simply, what does Jesus want from me? Because wherever he is, that's where I want to be. And when God shows up to me in the Judges chapter six of my life, and I'm afraid, and I don't want this, I'll go where you are because where you are is where success is as you define success. The question for the mature Christian is only God, where do you want me?

I just want to be with you. Hudson Taylor, the missionary again, who opened up China, said it this way, I love it. All God's giants, all of them have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.

That's it. Hudson Taylor says, there's three stages to any work that God does in the world. Impossible, difficult, done. You are in a situation, some of you, where you are up against what feels like it is impossible and that is divinely ordained. Do you want to see God begin to work in your life? If you go from impossible to done, then get yourself in a posture of weakness and confess your need of God and begin to obey him and go where he is.

That's the whole point. That's what he's been trying to teach you from the very beginning of your life. Success is joining him. I'd love to put a period right there and say thus ends the story of Gideon, but unfortunately I cannot. Gideon's story does not end well. You're going to see that at the end of his life, Gideon gets proud. His power and success goes to his head. He starts reading his own press releases. He starts using this position for personal vendettas.

He makes an idol, commemorating his victories, and the Israelites start to worship that idol. To hear that story, you're going to have to come back next week. But for right now, I just want to say something that really pertains to what we've talked about today. The danger, the danger in your life is never a Midianite army of any kind. The danger is you losing that posture of weakness. That's the only danger for the Christian. The only danger that can destroy your life is the life, the only one. It's not sickness. It's not poverty. It's not losing your job.

It's not even your marriage breaking up. The danger that will destroy your life is for you to get proud and lose your sense of dependence upon God. Christians more often than not will pass the test of adversity, but they will most often fail the test of prosperity. When you get strong, when you begin to think to yourself, I have all that I need, that's when you fall apart. Never forget where you were when God found you. Never forget the grace he showed to you and how much you owe to that grace. You see, I'm talking to some of you that are not dependent on God. At one point in your life, you were because he broke you and you got dependent on God. But you can't remember the last time you had a meaningful conversation with God. And the reason you don't pray, the reason you don't cling to God daily, the reason you don't get up and the first impulse is, I've got to talk to my heavenly father is because you're not dependent on him. You've gotten puffed up with what God's provision has been and God's provision has turned into a curse to you. You need to be aware that after the greatest spiritual victories, you can slide right back down into the hole from which you came. Christianity begins with the statement, I'm not righteous enough to save myself. I'm utterly hopeless.

I'm utterly unrighteous. Lord Jesus, you have to do it all. It continues every step from that point forward with this statement. God, I am utterly impotent to do what you want me to do. I need your power for every good thing in my life.

Every good thing. When you feel like Gideon up against an intimidating enemy without the resources to defeat them, that's when God can do his greatest work. These are the moments we rejoice that God is in control and empowers his people to do great things. You're listening to Summit Life featuring the Bible teaching of Pastor JD Greer. Help us continue reaching your fellow listeners by joining our team of gospel partners who faithfully make this ministry possible. A gospel partner commits to regular monthly giving because they believe in this ministry. As a token of our thanks, we'll send you monthly resources, including the current resource.

We've put 16 honest questions, quick answers into a book to help give you words of grace when discussing hard things. Call us right away at 866-335-5220, or give and request your set online at jdgreer.com. While you're on the website, you can also sign up for our email list to get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor JD's latest blog post delivered straight to your inbox. It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life and is completely free to subscribe. Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Bittovitch. Come back at this same time Friday when Pastor JD Greer continues our teaching series called Broken Saviors right here on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-04 06:39:39 / 2023-04-04 06:50:37 / 11

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