Hit The Pause Button

Real Followers Of Jesus Live Out Of Their Faith Rather Than Through Their Circumstances.

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Truthfully, I love the Pause Button.  TV, DVD player, CD player—to me that ranks as one of the Top 100 Inventions that changed the world.  I can hit the Pause Button if something or someone needs my attention and then return back to it without missing a thing.  My deepest desire and prayer in this series is that you begin to build up hope that this culture of ours is not beyond Redemption—that another Great Awakening and growth here is possible.  And more than possible—but to be a Reality clearly seen by faith.

So today I am going to hit the Pause Button on this Series, Changing The Culture.  Hitting the Pause Button isn’t necessarily a bad thing—even in this God-Sized-Task Of Changing The Culture.  Even Jesus, as busy as He was ushering in The Kingdom of God, hit the Pause Button at times.  And those times made a difference for Jesus; and hopefully it will make a difference for us.

This God-Sized-Task is so important, that it may be that we would do well to hit the Pause Button.  Hitting the Pause Button in life helps bring both Perspective and Clarity.  And we never know, as we allow God to work through us, when we will need to hit the Pause Button.

Honestly, today’s message was going to be different.  It was going to be on the next part in Chapter 7 Verses 1-8—When Not Enough Is Too Many!  But last Sunday morning, around 5:15, I noticed something I had missed; an important part of this Saga that needs our attention.  At 5:15 a.m., well, that’s not enough time to give it the attention it deserves.

Maybe you caught it, but initially I did not catch it.  So, I am putting the Message intended for today on Pause in order to look at something really important.  It’s so important that I’m ashamed of myself for not seeing it sooner.  But I am glad the Spirit helped me see it.  The Scripture is just 3 verses from last week.  Look at Judges 6, verses 33-35 (NLT)

33 Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel.

 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. 

35 He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded.

The Verse that pulled on me, actually kicked me hard was the first half of Verse 34—Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power.  Follow the progression up to this point:

  1. God heard the cry for help from His people.
  2. God announced to Gideon that He, God, was going to answer their cry for help.
  3. God was going to change the culture and He was going to do it through Gideon.
  4. God promised His Presence.

Are you with me so far?  Good!  Do you notice anything missing?  I do!  Where’s the power for Gideon?  God could do this without Gideon, but God chose to do it Through Gideon.  Remember, Gideon’s qualification for this Task of Changing The Culture was that he was too weak.

God promised Gideon that things would change Through him.  But so far, the Promised Power hasn’t arrived yet in Gideon.  But Gideon is neither impatient nor panicked.  God said it would happen—it would happen through Gideon—and together they would successfully Change The Culture.

Here’s the thing:  God never said HOW He would do it—only that He WOULD do it—and that was enough for Gideon because Gideon Had Faith.  Faith is different.  Faith isn’t based on or built upon the Tangibles—But The Intangibles.  Remember how Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

And remember later on in this same chapter that Gideon made the Roster.  Gideon gets a spotlight on him in Hebrews 11 because of how he is beginning to see himself…and his circumstances.  Gideon is living In Anticipation Of God Changing The Culture Through Him

And the moment for Culture Change has arrived—in the form of Midianites, Amalekites and People From The East filling up the Jezreel Valley.  Imagine bullies, thieves and murders, a valley full of them.

What is about to happen is the Defining Moment for Gideon.  It has nothing to do with the battle weapons.  It has nothing to do with battle strategies  And it has nothing to do with the Midianites, Amalekites, and the People From The East—But It Has Everything To Do With Gideon’s Choice To Live Out Of His Faith Rather Than His Circumstances.  

And if you can remember only one thing from today’s message, this is it:  Real Followers Of Jesus Live Out Of Their Faith Rather Than Through Their Circumstances.  It Takes Faith To See God Changing The Culture Through You!  If you only watch the news you can’t see it

Before his encounter with God, Gideon had been living through his circumstances—circumstances that had been filled with fear and dread.  Living through his circumstances Gideon was losing hope of anything changing…and he was losing his confidence in God. 

Remember at the beginning of chapter 6, Gideon was questioning God’s faithfulness.  “God if you are with us, if You care about us, then why is all this happening to us?”  This is what living through your circumstances rather than living out of your faith does to you.  So, here are some lessons we better get a grasp on if God is going to use you to change the culture:

1.  See Your Culture As Your Opportunity, Not A Problem.

For a season in my life I, I worked for Hallmark Corporation as an Installation Team Leader.  My job required that I assemble a Team that would either set up a new department or remodel an existing department.  Inevitably, someone would either fail to send the right parts, or the display couldn’t be put together with the supplies provided.  My team would come to me regularly and say, “Randy, we’ve got a problem.” I saw it as a problem and my attitude infected the Team.  Eventually, I learned the correct response:  “No, we don’t have a problem.  We have an opportunity for creativity.”

Midianites, Amalekites, and People From The East show up.  The Jezreel Valley could have been viewed as another problem for Gideon.  He could have thought, “Oh, no!  Here they go again!”  Had Gideon been operating through his circumstances that would have been his response.

But Gideon is not operating through his circumstances but out of God’s Power his Faith.  There is nothing here to indicate that the Tangibles are in any way affecting The Intangibles.  The Tangibles are the Midianites, Amalekites, and the Eastern Folks.  The Intangibles are the Presence, Promise and Power of God.  Lesson 1—You can either have a problem, or you can have an opportunity, but not both.  The choice is yours! 

2.  Don’t Expect The Power Until You Are Willing To Face The Challenge.

All those bullies, thieves and murderers have arrived.  When Gideon operated through his circumstances, he saw them and we found him hiding.  He was fearful, resentful and bitter at God.  This is what living through your circumstances looks like.  It buries us under a mountain of doubt.

But this time when Gideon sees the valley full of bullies, thieves and murderers he faces them rather than hiding.  Gideon is in an entirely different place—He’s different mentally, emotionally and now spiritually.  Now that he’s facing the challenge of Changing The Culture instead of hiding from The Challenge, look at what God does:  “Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power.” 

When Gideon faced his circumstances rather than hiding from them, his Faith kicks in and God responds in the way God works when His people operate out of Faith—God clothed Gideon with Power!  God Reveals His Power In The Places That Only He Can Transform.  Gideon is covered in and with that audacious bravery only God provides.  And here’s Lesson 2—God’s Power Isn’t For Making Us Look Good—But To Reveal That He Is Greater!  God was greater than everything in the Valley, and Gideon knew it!  Do you?

3.  There Has To Be A Call To Action!

Once Gideon faced his circumstances and operated out of his Faith, he issued The Call!  Now that Gideon is arrayed with power, he calls out to his clan.  And they answered the call because they could see something different in Gideon now.  Changing The Culture is too much for one person.  He called out to those closest to him.

Then Gideon extended The Call.  He reached out beyond his clan—to include others who were wanting to see their Culture Change.  It’s not about a call to whine, complain and sign petitions.  It’s The Call To Move With God.  The time of hiding in the wine pits is over.  Wishing and wanting doesn’t change anything.  Being dissatisfied doesn’t change anything.  Gideon extended the call beyond his clan and tribe.  We need to extend the call beyond us to those who may not yet know Jesus, but would love to see our culture change.

  Which leads me to Lesson 3—The Action We Take With God’s Presence, Promise and Power Determines The Outcome.  If we engage the culture expecting to lose—guess what will happen?  Gideon HAD lost confidence in God, but NOT ANYMORE!

Gideon is operating out of Faith—He’s Operating From The Perspective That God Is Going To Change The Culture Through Him.  Think about Hebrews 11:1.

I believe that God is changing the culture! I believe that God is going to fill this sanctuary with people! Do you Hope For The Culture To Change?  Do you have the Evidence that God is going to fill this sanctuary?  Here is your Next Step:

Call Out To People Around You To Join You As God Changes The Culture Through All Of You.

I’m not asking you to do something I won’t do.  In fact, I’m calling out right now:  Who Wants To Join Me In What God Is Doing To Change The?  And will you call out to others who want to see things change—others who don’t know Jesus, yet?