Faith Church

UNDERDOGS – I Don’t Have Enough | Sermon from 8/11/2019

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One of the excuses that all underdogs use is: I don’t have enough.
• I don’t have enough vision to follow my dreams.
• I don’t have enough help to start that new project.
• I don’t have enough faith to trust God with this decision.
• I don’t have enough resources to make more out of my life.

When we always look at life and see what we don’t have and tell ourselves we don’t have enough – we will always remain the underdog, but today we are going to learn from Gideon that while we may say, I don’t have enough, God is right here to tell us that we have MORE than enough.

Gideon’s story is found in the OT book of Judges 6-8, and I want to encourage you to take some time this week to read his story.  In different ways we can all relate to Gideon because he said to God over and over again, I don’t have enough, but God patiently said in response, Gideon – I am more than enough for you.

When God first spoke to Gideon, Gideon would have been considered an underdog.  He was from the weakest clan among the people of Israel, and Gideon was the least in his family.  Not only that, the people of Israel were underdogs.  While God had led them out of slavery in Egypt, and they had lived in freedom for a while, they were back under the oppression of a foreign nation, the Midianites.  In fact, things were so bad that the people of Israel had fled the cities and were living in caves out in the wilderness.  Judges 6:2-6, 11-12

When God comes to Gideon, it says he was threshing wheat in a wine press.  What this tells us is that Gideon was in fact hiding from the Midianites.  Wheat threshing usually took place out in the open so that the wheat would fall to the ground and the chaff would be scattered to the wind.  The problem was that if the Israelites did it this way, the Midianites would have seen it from far away and come swooping in to take all the wheat.

So here is Gideon, hiding in a wine-press that would have been dug into the ground.  He’s threshing wheat very carefully and then digging through the chaff to get the food.  Gideon is the picture of an underdog, and yet what we have been learning throughout this series is that God never sees an underdog, so this is how God addressed him – Judges 6:12.

Mighty Warrior.  Gideon does not see himself as a mighty warrior, and he can’t even imagine an angel of God speaking to him because in his mind God had abandoned his people.  They were underdogs and so Gideon actually questions God.  Judge 6:12-16.

You have to give Gideon credit for being polite, Pardon me, my Lord, but what he says here shows us that Gideon does not have enough vision to see that God can still be with his people or that God could actually be calling him to lead the people.  Gideon is saying, I don’t have enough vision, and this is often the underdog excuse we use in life.  I don’t have enough vision to see that my life can be anything more than what it is right now.  I have always been this way and I will always be this way.

Here’s how this underdog excuse sounds in our lives, I’m just a _____________, so God can’t use me.  You fill in that blank.  I’m just a housewife, a teacher, a wage payroll employee at PSU, a student, a kid, a retiree…  Gideon was just a guy hiding in the hills threshing wheat in a wine press – he was nothing – he didn’t have enough vision to see anything more in his life, but God was calling him a mighty warrior.  What is it that God is calling you today?  Mighty Warrior.  Effective Teacher.  Faithful Servant.  Inspired Visionary.  Powerful Leader. Gifted Parent.  What is the name God has called you that you just can’t believe?  If we can begin to shed our underdog identity and hear and embrace this name, if we can begin to claim it, God can begin to do some great things in our lives.

It’s not just a lack of vision that holds us back, however, sometimes it is a lack of help and support.  Our excuse becomes, I can’t do this alone and there is no one with me.  Gideon was alone when God called him to be a Mighty Warrior but the lesson from his story is that he was never alone again.  When Gideon first stepped out in faith and tore down the altars of Baal in his hometown, it says he took 10 servants with him – Judges 6:25-27.

Gideon was afraid of his family and friends so went out at night, but he didn’t have to go alone.  The next day when people found out what Gideon did and they wanted to kill him, it was his father who then stood up to help him.  Judges 6:28-31

When Gideon later went into battle against the Midianites, he didn’t go alone, he went with those God gave him. Gideon was never alone again.  Not only was the power of God with him but he had the help of his friends.  While we often see ourselves alone in the fight, the truth is that God always provides people to fight with us.

One of the lessons I have learned in the church is that every time God wants to do something new, and every time God raises up a leader to start a new mission or ministry, God develops a team.  In Altoona, when we heard God calling us to reach out to care for the children on the streets, there were 5-6 people who jumped on board.  In Lewisburg, when we talked about starting a new worship service, there was a team that led the way and I wasn’t even part of it.  In the life of this church, when a vision started for the Faith Centre, a group of people committed themselves to the cause.  When small groups started up here, there were people who caught the vision and said, I’ll lead the group, and others said, I’ll let you use my home.  Even our mission team doesn’t go on trips alone but with a team from Calvary Church in Harrisburg and we have been working together for more than a decade and we are more effective and powerful because of that partnership.

If God is in the vision, then God will provide the people, but we have to be willing to ask for help and we have to take the help when it comes, but that doesn’t mean we still won’t struggle moving forward.  Gideon had the vision and the people but he struggled with having enough faith.  He couldn’t believe that God could defeat the powerful Midianite army with him as a leader, so Gideon asked God for a sign.  Two signs actually.

Last week, we saw in Peter that the miraculous catch of fish came in response to Peter’s faith.  He moved out into deep waters and let down his nets as Jesus asked him to and then the miracle happened.  Here, Gideon asks for the miracle before he is willing to go into battle, and God graciously gives him the miraculous sign, but we should be clear, Gideon has already taken some steps of faith in response to God’s calling.  Gideon has already torn down the altar of his family and faced the persecution of his friends and neighbors.  Gideon has already taken some steps of faith in response to God’s call, but going into battle against a large imposing army is something different, and Gideon doesn’t have enough faith at the moment, so he asks God for some assurance and reassurance.  And God provides.  Judges 6:36-40

Going into battle was a huge step for Gideon and he wanted to make sure God was in this.  He needed assurance so he asked God for a sign and God gave it to him.  The fleece was wet and the ground was dry.  Gideon had been given assurance that God was in this, but he still lacked faith and now needed some reassurance so again asked for another sign.  The next day the fleece was dry and the ground was wet.  While we use the excuse, I don’t have enough faith – God is willing to provide us with assurance and reassurance.

After three years of college at MSU I had made plans to transfer to the USC, but those plans completely fell through and I was at a loss for what to do with my life.  I was back home in CT and working full time in a deli, and began to feel like God wanted me to go back to MSU.  Because I had just come off a bad experience in making decisions, I wasn’t sure if this was really God’s will, so I asked God for a sign.  God, if it’s your will for me to return to MSU in the next few months then You have to get me back into classes.  God got me back in classes without a problem.  But then I thought, that was too easy, so I said, God if it really is your will then get me an apartment in Spartan Village.  Spartan Village was the only place I wanted to live and it was not easy to get in there, but I got an apartment without any problem.

I am thankful that God was patient and understanding and that he gave me both assurance and reassurance.  While God may not always want to lead us with signs and miracles, when we genuinely ask God for direction and assurance – God is willing to provide.  When we need more direction and courage – God gives reassurance.  God wants to reassure us because he knows that at times it will take boldness and courage to follow him.  What God was going to ask Gideon to do was going to take extreme boldness, great courage, and unwavering faith – so God took the time to give him assurance and reassurance.

Gideon was asked to go into battle against the Midianite army that numbered as much as 140,000 soldiers,   Gideon had 32,000 men.  This means for every soldier Gideon had, the enemy had 4.  These are not good odds and most people might say, I don’t have enough resources to do this, but God was about to ask more of Gideon.  God said, Gideon, you have too many men so tell all those who are afraid to go home, and 22,000 men go home.

Now Gideon has 10,000 men going up against 140,000.  For every soldier Gideon had, the enemy had 14.  Again, most leaders might say, I don’t have enough resources, but wait, God wasn’t done.  God said, Gideon you still have too many men.  Go down to the river and let them drink.  Those who bring water to their mouth using their hands will be your army.  Gideon goes down to the river and 300 men use their hands to drink water.

300 soldiers vs 140,000.  For every soldier Gideon now has the enemy has 450!  Gideon could have easily said, I don’t have enough to do this, but God still isn’t done.  While Gideon tried to arm his men with the weapons of the soldiers who just went home, God said, your weapons will be trumpets, torches, and jars.  Gideon must be beside himself at this point.  How can we possibly go into battle down 450 to 1 without any weapons?  God, I don’t have enough.

And once again, this is often our underdog excuse.  God I don’t have enough resources to do what you are asking me to do.  We don’t have enough money as a church to step out in faith.  Our family doesn’t have enough money to go on a mission trip.  I don’t have enough money to go to college, or get trained in a new area.  I don’t have enough!  It is an excuse we use all too often, and yet the story of Gideon tells us that as long as we have God, and it’s God’s vision and God’s will, we have enough.  In fact we have more than enough.

10 years ago Faith Church had raised all the money we needed to install new carpet in the Sanctuary, but we realized that when the carpet and pews were out it would be the perfect time to upgrade the sound system, but we didn’t have enough money.  I was meeting with some people for prayer and I shared our situation with them and said, I don’t know what we should do.  We really need to do this upgrade when the carpet and pews out.  We need God to find a way. We prayed for God to find a way.

As we explored the carpet project we asked a contractor to give us a bid for the installation and he asked if he could bid on both the carpet and the installation.  We said sure.  He sent his bid and we had to ask him three times if the bid he gave us included the carpet AND the installation.  Each time he said yes.  The reason we had to ask him over and over again is that his bid came in $10,000 less than what we were expecting, which was the same amount we needed for the sound system upgrade.

Just when we are ready to say, we don’t have enough, God came along and said, with me you have more than enough. At every turn here at Faith Church, God has said, you have more than enough. We wanted to raise $10,000 for Sierra Leone and we raised $30,000. We built a new parsonage with an ambitious plan to pay it off in 5 years and we paid it off in two and a half.  God has more than enough resources to accomplish his purpose and plan if we will trust him.

Gideon and his 300 men went into battle armed with trumpets, torches and jars and this is what happened.  Judges 7:19-22a

God had more than enough for Gideon to go from underdog to top dog.  God saw Gideon as a Mighty Warrior and God gave him all the faith and resources that he needed to make that vision become a reality.  God has a vision for our lives, he sees so much more in us than we see in ourselves and while we often want to give in with the excuse – I don’t have enough – God is here, right here to say to us, I have all you need and MORE.

Next Steps

Underdogs – I Don’t Have Enough

1. Read the story of Gideon found in Judges 6-8.
Identify those places where Gideon could have said:
• I don’t have enough vision.
• I don’t have enough help.
• I don’t have enough faith.
• I don’t have enough resources.

2. God called Gideon a “Mighty Warrior”.
• What name is God calling you?
______________________  ___ _________________
• Begin to claim this name by sharing it with a friend.

3. Who has God placed in your life to help you become the person God has called you to be?  Ask them for their help, support, and prayers.

4. Where do you need God’s assurance and reassurance in your life?  How might God already be giving you signs of his power at work in your life?  What sign would ask from God?

5. What lack of resources is holding you back in life?  Ask God to show you how he can meet those needs and open the door to MORE in your life.

6. In what way can you help be the MORE in the lives of others?
• How can you help people take hold of God’s vision for their lives?
• How can you support others in their work?
• How can you encourage & inspire the faith of others?
• How can you provide the resources that others need?

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