DevotionalUnleashed: A call to manhood

“Who Am I”? | Lessons from Gideon

by: Jeff Schachinger

Judges 6

If someone were to ask you to describe yourself in a few short sentences, what would you say? What if they were to describe you? What would they say? Odds are, the words they spoke would be your “defining characteristics.” These are the things that make you…you! Good or bad! We want much more good than bad! Gideon had a few things to work on! God was able to re-define his characteristics to be more in line with His. Let’s see what he did.

Judges 6:1-10  

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

Dreadful time for Israel!  Was a battle raging on! God knew what they were going through and let them go through it. Everything that happens in life God either initiates it or allows it. All there for a reason, usually to get us to lean on God.

We can feel overwhelmed by stuff dealing with. Maybe we feel we’re not able to bear it. The opposition too great, problem are too big, wall too high, ect…When that happens, we do 1 of 2 things: with courage and faith, face them head on, or we run away and hide!

Israel ran! They hid in caves! Overwhelmed with fear and driven away from own land! What about you? We all have stuff right now. We are all in a personal battle past hurts,  marriage issues, career problems, stress – pressure, insecurities, fears, doubts, weaknesses, family challenges…etc. These rage on in your heart and mind and into your soul. How well you do in THIS battle determines how well you do period!

Are you retreating, hiding in a cave somewhere? Do you find yourself running from the very things you should be drawing near to…including God. Is God trying to get your attention right now? If been in a cave / see yourself headed that way – time to come out! You are needed!!!! Gideon got that message:

11-16 :

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

God calls Gideon out / calls him to rise up! V12: “mighty warrior” What’s god really saying here?  Man up! I need you – rise above all this stuff  and be the man I created you to be! People need your help! I’m depending on you!

Gideon was full of fears and doubts. God really didn’t want to hear it! Tells him: “Go in the strength you have” Gideon:  “what strength?” God: The strength I have given you! “you and I will take care of this so you can take care of the people that need you most”

How strong are you? Being physically strong – good thing. Just not only thing. Not even most imp thing.

1 Tim 4:8  our real strength “might” comes from our spiritual fitness. We are truly strong when we are spiritually strong. Where do we get this strength?

 2 Tim 1:7   all we need to be / to do / all strength we need comes only from HS of God – which we get only from a rel. w/ Christ.  w/ that – we should be quite confident in the battle – not always the case!

Gideon still not too confident. lays out a series of “tests” (fleece) God allows them! He wanted Gideon to be sure He would be with him and victorious! 

Maybe we need a “test.” “Is God really going to be w/ me in this battle?

  1. Have some think time “who am I, what’s really going on?” where are my battle lines? Am I on the front lines or am I in a cave? Ask God to reveal some things about yourself. Maybe a personal retreat – even if just a day.
  2. Pick 1 thing revealed – ask God for direction (ie: need to open up more, more trusting, more patient, understanding)  …make a move! See God work! 

When see God working – ready for more! God will call you higher – greater victories will follow!    Gideon had his answer – ready move ahead!

Judges 7:1-3  

Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

32,000 men! Gideon feeling extra confident now! (22K bail right away) Even 10K pretty strong – Gideon feeling good. 

 V 4-9 

But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.

God gives him 300, that’s it!  – This would be the greatest challenge of his life! would have to be a God driven victory! Look at what he tells him to do:

10-14

10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

 “Listen to what they’re saying”

  • this was the menacing voice of opposition! 
  • This was the big threat! 
  •  This – what scaring Gideon / everyone else to death!
  • This is what had them frozen in tracks!
  • This was the great wall
  • This is what drove them into a cave!

God tells Gideon, once you really hear what they’re thinking / saying…you will fear and doubt no more!  In fact…you’ll be encouraged! So much so – you’ll run head first at them!

He hears a man telling a dream.  They KNEW – victory given to Gideon. Piece of bread hitting the tent spelled utter and complete defeat for Midian! 

What was God trying to show Gideon? Us?  Maybe the opposition / wall / oppression / problems you have are not as tough as you thought they were? Maybe it’s just a big front. Satan’s ploy – keep you keep hiding!

Greatest battle you will ever wage – not against anyone / anything out there! Greatest battle is what goes on in your own heart and mind. 

Eph 6:11-12     The battle is a spiritual one. The problem with Gideon and Israelites is that they were spiritually unprepared for battle!!

“Midianites” we face are only overpowering if we allow them to be. Are they holding a bigger place in your life than God?

Make it Practical: 

Look at your life situations. With God, turn around and take command – make a move!

  1. I. Do an inventory of who you are
  2. Do a personal “Character Inventory”

-What are my core values? What’s important to me? Where do I draw the line and where do I cross the line?

-What are my convictions? Do I really believe the things I say I do? Can they be found in my actions as well as my words?

-Do an integrity check. How well did I do?  Where is my line here?

Q:  How would you describe your character? What needs work?

Write down what you are seeing about yourself.

  • Do a “Strength and Weakness” inventory.
  1. What are my character strengths? How have they helped me so far in life?
  2. What are my character weaknesses? How have they hurt me?

Q: Where do you see some of yours? 

    Make every effort to turn your weaknesses into strengths!

 

 

  • Move forward with who you want to be!

If your not happy with your present defining characteristics than make a decision to redefine yourself! 

  1. What kind of person do I want to be know as? By my peers? My wife? My family? What do I want people to say about me?
  2. What from my “Character Inventory” do I need to change to get there?
  3. What character strengths do I still need to develop? Why would that be important to my life plans? Where would I be if I had those strengths?
  4. How will all this character development impact the things most important to me? (be specific)

What are my “defining characteristics?”

 19-25  Do you see what’s going on here? Impact that’s being made? What do you see as most important here? 

  • Wasn’t that the plan would work – knew it would!
  • Wasn’t that Midianites fled – knew they would!

Most important thing here is what Gideon shouted. “A sword for the Lord AND for Gideon” This was a partnership with God! 

  • Came out of the cave.  Made a plan / ran with it
  • Faced the giant – my own fears / insecurities
  • Took responsibility for his life / family / people
  • Grew in confidence / faith

With God – went from feeling defeat to victory

A sword for the Lord AND for Gideon! He was totally redefined as a man – he was the mighty warrior!  “A sword for the Lord, and YOU! God wants to give you the same victory. Won’t just be his / or even yours…the victory will be your wife’s / kids / friends / church!

This needs to be your time…lets man up and seize it!  “Who am I?”                                   Let God define who you are!

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