Gideon viewed himself as worthless and small. God saw him as a man of valor. How do you see yourself? How does God see you? 2 Corinthians 12:9 gives us some clues for those that let God work in them.
These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.
At several points in Israel’s history, God withdrew His blessings for disobedience. In one instance, for 7 years, they were plundered by the Midianites. They enjoyed doing their invasions during the harvest. The food was in one central location. They could do great damage to the Israelite’s food supplies. They were part of a group of nations. The Israelites were not familiar with the camel. The Midianites used the camels very successfully against the Israelites. They thought it was a very terrifying large beast. Let’s read the story of Gideon. Judges 6:11-15 The terebinth tree was used as source for turpentine. It had a yellowish fruit. It was used for bread, gum, tanning leather, and making soap. Lots of uses for this tree. It is interesting that he was hiding in a winepress. There were two parts to the winepress. The upper part was where they would put the grapes. The lower part was a vat to store the juice. In the middle was a grate that stopped impurities. Some of the larger winepresses had ropes hanging from the ceiling. You can imagine losing your balance as you tried to stomp down the grapes. He was hiding in this empty winepress. He was desperate. He was trying to protect himself and his crop. These winepresses were elevated. That would allow him to see over his fields. Vs. 13 – Why do they keep raiding us? Why do they keep destroying our crops? Sometimes in our busy and stress filled lives, we look around and think God has forsaken us. Where are the miracles? I’m going through all these things. Why am I having health problems? Why am I having financial problems? Vs. 15 – Who am I? You are here to do what with me? My clan is the smallest? I’m the weakest in my father’s house? Why would you want me? Gideon eventually accepts God’s offer. He destroys the idols in his city. He asks God for two miracles. He wants to see the dew on the ground but not on his sweater, then vice versa.
Judges 7:2-6, 12 We will do some math in a few verses. There are 32,000 men that come forward to join Gideon’s army. From 3 or 4 tribes. We would think that was good. But God said, “Oh, no, no. That is too many.” God wanted to be sure that He got the credit. Vs. 3 – Gideon said, “Anybody who wants to go home, go.” Instantly, 22,000 men left. He was left with 10,000 men. Gideon thought, 10,000 is good. Vs. 4 – Over the next couple of verses, God shows Gideon how to whittle down the army to 200. God told him to see how they drank water. Gideon’s original army was 32,000 up against 135,000 Midianites. But God whittled it down to 200 men. Vs. 12 – Their camels were without number. So many they couldn’t count them. If you do the math, it was 1 to 450. Significant odds. On top of that, the Midianites were professional soldiers. The Israelites were farmers. They were not trained for war. But God wanted to make sure that all the glory went to Him. You can read the rest of the story. Gideon divided his army into three groups. The Midianites were confused, and destroyed. Cool story. Gideon did not see himself like God saw him. How did Gideon view himself?
Judges 6:15 He viewed himself as worthless. But how did God view him? Judges 6:12 There is a big difference between “weakest man of my house” and “mighty man of valor”. How do you view yourself? Maybe beaten, drained, worn out, tired, depressed, all consumed with what is going on in our life. How does God view you? Maybe we haven’t thought about that one. We always assume that how we see ourselves is how everyone else sees us. How does God view you? With the trials you are facing, what does God see in you? Does He see the weakest in your city or neighborhood, or does He see a mighty person of valor. Paul didn’t lead a roses and peaches and cream life. He received jail terms for God’s way. He was beaten so many times they lost count. They used lashes and rods. On one occasion, he was stoned, but escaped. He was shipwrecked; it nearly cost his life. He spent a day and night in the ocean exposed to the elements. He embarked on endless journeys to teach the people of God. He didn’t know where or when he would eat. He faced the threat of robbers. He faced terrors from everywhere, from the country to the city. He had enemies. He spent countless nights in hunger and thirst. As if that was not enough, he had leadership of hundreds of congregations that depended on him for their spiritual growth. On top of that, he had a health problem. He still had it when he died. He had a tremendous life filled with perils and frustrations.
2 Corinthians 12:9 We will be back here a lot. Vs. 9 – This phrase is very interesting. This is Jesus Christ speaking. Is our life full of pain and sorrow and loss and frustrations? Absolutely. But in our weakened state, God is made perfect in us. That is very interesting. It is a double edged sword. It almost doesn’t make sense. Let’s dive into this. “My grace”. That literally means “that which affords joy.” It means pleasure. What makes God happy. What makes God happy? There are numerous verses on this. One is when a sinner repents. When they acknowledge they have sinned and turn. At baptism, even the angels rejoice. What else? When we walk and talk with God? When we pay attention to God and make Him priority in our life. God wants to give us gifts. He wants us to succeed spiritually and be in His family. He wants us to make Him happy. We could rephrase this, “The things that make me smile.” “Is sufficient” means “to be enough”. At Thanksgiving, when Grandma passed the plate the third time, we said, that was enough. Nothing more is needed. So this is, “The things that make me smile are all that is needed.” “For My strength” means “the power residing in a thing.” Strength power and ability. Dunamis is the Greek word used here for “strength”. It is translated as power, wonderful, powerful works, ability, virtue, strength and might. G1411 δύναμις dunamis doo'-nam-is From G1410; force (literally or figuratively); specifically miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself): - ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle (-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work.
Thayer Definition: 1) strength power, ability 1a) inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth 1b) power for performing miracles 1c) moral power and excellence of soul 1d) the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth 1e) power and resources arising from numbers 1f) power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts Part of Speech: noun feminine A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G1410 Citing in TDNT: 2:284, 186 What is God’s power? What is God’s strength? Romans 15:13 “Power” is “dunamis”. God’s power is His spirit. Acts 1:8 (read this later.) This is another “dunamis”. God gives us His power – to those who are baptized and striving to live His way. He lives in us through that strength – through that power. “Is made perfect” comes from one Greek word that means “to carry through completely. To finish. To bring to an end.” G5048 τελειόω teleioō tel-i-o'-o From G5046; to complete, that is, (literally) accomplish, or (figuratively) consummate (in character): - consecrate, finish, fulfill, (make) perfect.
Thayer Definition: 1) to make perfect, complete 1a) to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end 2) to complete (perfect) 2a) add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full 2b) to be found perfect 3) to bring to the end (goal) proposed 4) to accomplish 4a) bring to a close or fulfillment by event 4a1) of the prophecies of the scriptures Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G5046 Citing in TDNT: 8:79, 1161 God wants us to be perfect. This is what we are designed for. I want to give a sermon on being perfect. We think it means without spot or blemish. But is that really what God expects of us right now? It is really different. I’ll give that in the future. God expects us to be perfect, but not like we think. God’s spirit makes that possible. “Perfect in weakness” means… Are we weak? Some may be weaker than others. There is a workout now called the P 90 X. It is severe. The goal is to break you down and rebuild the muscles from the inside out. It shows how weak you are and then build you back up. We lack strength. Because of our weakness, God is able to be in us. We can be made clean and God can live in us. That is what God wants. He wants to be part of our life. He wants His holy spirit to be filled in us. The New Living Translation has this well. (He is reading different translations.) It is an oxymoron. We think we have to be strong and able. But God says He works best through our weaknesses. He works best when we are humble and moldable. Remember the potter? He can shape the lump of clay into what he wants. That is what God wants; but we must be humble for Him to do that.
1 Corinthians 1:27 The word “weak” is the same word we read in 2 Corinthians. God is calling the weak. He is not calling the strong or the mighty. He is not calling the P 90 X certified, spiritually speaking. But He doesn’t expect us to stagnate. He expects us to grow and overcome. If we are weak, we need help. If we try to lift a bookcase on our own we need help. We can’t overcome sin on our own. Hopefully, we tried that before we were baptized. I did. I was stubborn. I refused to acknowledge I was weak for a long time. How many of you got baptized thinking you could do it on your own? If so, we need to talk. God wants us to acknowledge that we need Him. And He wants to help. He doesn’t want to kick us to the side. He wants to give us His strength – His dunamis. But those things can only happen when we acknowledge we are weak and need His help. Matthew 22:14 Remember, God has chosen the weak things of the earth. Here, we read many are called but few are chosen. “Chosen” is the same Greek in both cases. Many are called and have the opportunity to follow God’s way of life. But few answer by saying I’m weak; I can’t do it on my own. But when we acknowledge that, He chooses us. He chooses us because of our attitude. Because we know we need help. We are weak and need His dunamis. God can then live in us. That makes our purpose perfect; to be sons and daughters of God in His family. Let’s see who gets to rule with Christ: Revelation 17:14 The called, chosen, and faithful are the ones that get to rule with Christ. Those who are baptized decided to try to overcome with God’s help. God then chooses us because of our attitude. But then the monkey is on our back to be faithful, to persevere. We have to remain faithful until the day we die. The word “called” is the same as in Matthew. “Chosen”, too.
The word “faithful” here means “trusty; one who can be trusted; one who shows themselves faithful in the transaction of business.” The question for us today is, “Will we remain chosen? Will we remain faithful?” Satan is very patient. Sometimes you take the blade off your lawn mower and put it on the grinding wheel. It doesn’t instantly cut through the blade. It is a slow process. Satan is like a grinding wheel. As we are put against him, he works on us. How long can we stand it? Satan has us on a slow grind in this stress filled life? Are you more faithful than he is patient? This life is perfect for us. In this life, it allows God to live in us. As we strive to overcome, it allows God to build a relationship with us. We begin to draw closer and closer to God. We have to overcome and change and be transformed and put on the new man. That is what God wants out of us; that is perfection. But there are scriptures that show this is not an easy life. It won’t be a cakewalk. It won’t be easy. Have you ever thought that this life is not easy for society as well? They may have short term pleasures, but they are not happy in the long term. They are having relationship issues, they are losing their jobs. You name it; they have it.
Judges 6:13 Through it all, it is easy to get depressed and angry and feel that God doesn’t care. Insert your name here. If the Lord is with Ed Dowd, where are all the great stories in the Bible? Why is all this happening to me? Why the troubles with jobs? With relationships? Just like the Midianites stepped up their attacks during harvest, Satan likes to step up his attacks during the holy days. We are only a bit over 3 months till Passover. He wants us to throw up our hands. Realize that the extra stress is not from God; it is from the one that wants us to give up. Realize where it is coming from. Remember David and Goliath. David was 12 to 14. A young teenager. He didn’t use big weaponry. He tried to use the armor and couldn’t move. He took it all off. He picked up some stones, and used a stone to defeat Goliath. It was not by might, but through weakness. It was through David’s reliance on God. How dare you to talk about my God that way? The Israelite army was terrified of this man. David beat Goliath by acknowledging that he needed God?
A bit of trivia: Why did David pick up extra stones? In case he missed? Chat with me if you think you know. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (I’m reading the Amplified Bible.) Vs. 9 – It is an interesting paraphrase of that verse. God works with the weak. He works with the Gideons. The Davids. Vs. 10 – How can you be weak and strong? Weak because we acknowledge the need for God, but strong by the power of God. God is working great things in us. How do you see yourself versus how God sees you? We see struggles and frustrations from this life’s experiences. We see weaknesses. But God sees a person of valor. A full on future son or daughter in His family. He sees us with the full benefits of being in His family. There is a Jewish proverb: There are some matters that appear little to men, but by them God shows us that small things are important to God, and God can work great miracles even by small things. You and I overcoming and being there at Christ’s return. Like David defeating Goliath. Nothing in this life is as awesome as our potential down the road. You are called; you are chosen. Be sure you remain faithful. The Lord is with you, you mighty people of valor.