Sunday, 13 May 2018

Gideon - Judges 6:25-29

We start this new series on male spirituality by looking at Gideon (the series will be good for women too!). Gideon lived in dark times for the Israelite people. They had lost sight of following God, and were oppressed by the Midianites who rampaged their land.

This rampaging caused many back then to live in caves. Yet even today many guys seem to settle for living in caves, hiding out of sight! Our first point for blokes is come out fro the caves!. For sure out there will be dangerous and risky, but consider who you are in Christ: a son of the living God, who serves the risen Jesus who has conquered death and the grave. With a status like that do you really think you are supposed to be hiding away?

You don't have to be the strongest or bravest, for the simple reason that God is with you. That was the deal with Gideon (v12 & 16). See in v15 how he was the least of the least of the least - yet none of that matters. What matters is you see the potential of God in you - remember that Gideon was instructed to deliberately reduce the size of his army. So our second point for blokes is that when God is with you size doesn't matter!

Note that Gideon asked questions of God (/angel/messengers). In v13 it is questions, v17 for a sign, v36 another sign (the classic 'fleece'), and then for that fleece in reverse to doubly prove it. This makes us ask 'is it okay to question God?' or is it not a lack of faith. The answer lies deep in Gideon's heart. There is a difference between open questions that want to believe and closed moaning questions. The question of v13 shows an understanding of who God is, what He has done, and so asks 'why are things like they are now?'.

Its as if Gideon wants to believe but circumstances are blocking him. He wants to grow spiritually. Our third point for blokes is: be the same - open to growth. Gideon shows a progression: v17 he asks 'is this even God speaking?', in v34 he now recognises the Spirit's voice yet still asks for confirmation of the outcome, then in chapter 7 we see God gives instructions and Gideon seems to just get on with it. So let us actively seek God for growth. Questioning is okay when we are open to the Spirit being our personal trainer, embracing spiritual exercises to learn and grow. I would guess women would like to see their husbands take this seriously and up their game spiritually!

Yet our focus today is v25 - 29 which deals with an 'asherah pole', an object of idol worship that is planted in the family land. God says 'take it down'. Put simply: to up our game we have to remove spiritual strongholds in our lives. A thing to remember through this whole series is that the battle is spiritual. Keep 2 Corinthians 10:3 - 5 handy: 'we fight with different weapons, spiritual with divine power to demolish strongholds'. This of course matches Ephesians 6 and the 'armour of God': our battle is spiritual and in the heavenlies. It is not at a human level - getting one up on your boss, your neighbour or a rival supplier or .... In Gideon's family the pole was a problem. Remember it was planted by his father, so your problem may not have originated with yourself, but nevertheless it is there as a distraction from God's call that needs to be discerned and removed. Hence the key question:

Key Qn: [OUT] What distracts you from your God-given call?   
Challenge: Ask God: 'What is my next growth area?'

Note Gideon did this at night, worried about what his family would think. I would suggest you do this in consultation with your family (in age appropriate ways with children), for you want your whole family to grow spiritually. Yet it is not about making a show, there is nothing to tweet here. So the fourth point for blokes is just get it done!

So a good exercise to do is as follows. First trace a circle around you and your family. Step up to your responsibility for you and your family - pray for your own personal revival, pray for theirs. Note that responsibility doesn't mean you get your way in every decision! It means you want your wife & children to flourish in God's purposes. Sometimes that will mean letting them go their way rather than yours.

Second draw a line over what is not healthy, what is ungodly. Separate it off, move on and leave it behind - with the attitude "I ain't doing that stuff any more".

Thirdly step up and forward - be prepared to step up, to say "I'm in". No more hiding in caves ...

Read these chapters in Judges and see how Gideon with his small army goes against the Midianites. God enables them to win (chapter 7). In chapter 8 Gideon goes further. Yet in 8:22-27 Gideon has a trophy made which requires us to note two other points. The first is that trophies are troublesome. It becomes an object of worship, a distraction, so we are back to another spiritual stronghold. So secondly we see that Gideon wasn't perfect, and yet God still used him powerfully.

We are not asking you to be perfect, but this is an invitation to seek God like never before. Come out from the caves, size doesn't matter, be open to growth and identify/remove strongholds. Use the circle/line/step exercise to appreciate God's calling on your life, how He wants you to grow and step forward to be the person He is calling you to be.

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