Comedian Bill Engvall made a comfortable living for his family through his “Here’s Your Sign” routine. Just in case you haven’t heard of Bill, allow me to explain. He talks about some of the not so bright things people do and say. For example, at an airport the airline had lost his luggage. He went to the lost luggage department to report it. The girl at the counter asked, “Has your flight landed yet?” He replied, “No, princess. I’m having an out of body experience. I’m just checkin’ on it. Here’s your sign.”
I moved in 2004 and I was looking for a doctor. I made an appointment and when it was time to go, I decided to ride my bike. After waiting, my name was called. I grabbed my motorcycle helmet to follow the nurse. As we walked into the hall, she looked at my motorcycle helmet and asked, “Oh, do you ride a motorcycle?” But before I could reply, “Nope, always wanted one but this is all I could afford.” she laughed and said, “Well, here’s my sign!”
Seriously, signs are very important. If we are going out of town on vacation, business or family business to a place we’ve never been before we watch the signs. Signs show us when to stop, where to turn, how fast to safely go. Can you imagine highways without signs? That’s a horrible thought.
Men, we would be forced to ask for directions. I hate asking for directions because it means either I don’t know how to get somewhere, or I don’t know where I am. Signs Are For Protection, Direction And Clarity. Let’s pick up the story about some signs God knew Gideon needed in Judges 6:33-40 (N.L.T.)
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. 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. He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded.
Then Gideon said to God, “If You are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.
Gideon has assembled an army to fight the Midianites. But it’s not just the Midianites this time. They have come with the Amalekites, and what is called the people of the east. Now there are at least 3 times as many as before—bullies, thieves, and killers as far as the eye could see. When Gideon accepted the assignment, it was just the Midianites, and that was more than enough to face.
Now the threat has tripled. Gideon does the wise thing, he asks for clarity. “God, are you sure you want me to still go? It’s not just the Midianites down there.” So, Gideon asks for a sign. He puts a wool fleece on the threshing floor and asks God, “If YOU are really going to do this, in the morning let the fleece be wet and the ground be dry.” Next morning God makes the dew fall on the fleece but not the ground.
Good enough, right? But Gideon needs some reassurance, so he asks for another sign. This time let the fleece be dry and the ground be wet. And that’s exactly what happened. Who says men never asks for directions? I’ve heard some preachers and teachers criticize Gideon because he asked for a sign and then a second sign.
Can we talk? I don’t think this is a character flaw or lack of faith on Gideon’s part. In fact, today I Highly Commend Him For It. He is about to engage in the God-Sized Task of Changing His Culture. Look at Gideon’s culture.
He does not have scriptures for guidance. The Midianites were the most powerful army at the time and this time they’ve brought extras. They were ruthless killers. But one good thing Gideon did not have was a church full of folks to tell him, “We’ve Never Done It That Way Before! It costs too much! It doesn’t match up to what we want to do! It may bring in people who don’t fit in here!”
Gideon wants direction—not just any direction—he wants Clear Direction. Gideon needs The Assurance And The Reassurance that he has heard God correctly. Not one sign, but two. But don’t overlook what Gideon is seeking. Words and their placement in a statement is everything. “If You are truly going to use me…” Gideon does not ask, “Give me a sign that I can do it.”
Be honest now, how many times has that been your prayer. “Lord, if I can do this give me a sign.” I have! I’ve even asked God to give me one of those huge billboards with flashing arrow signs pointing at it. The Sign Gideon Seeks Is Not About His Abilities, But The Assurance Of God’s Presence.
And if you can remember just one thing today, it is imperative that you remember this: The Signs That God Will Change Our Culture Are Here—We Just Need To Follow Them. Did you hear how I phrased this: I did not say God can change the culture—God Will Change The Culture. To say our Culture cannot change is the Sign that we’ve lost our Confidence in God.
Gideon will go into battle, Gideon will change his Culture, but only If God Is With Him. Gideon assumes nothing. I’m sure at times it felt like it was a dream for Gideon. And I do not see God getting aggravated with Gideon. What I See Is That God Answers With The Assurance AND Reassurance Of His Promise! To change his Culture, Gideon needed the signs. To change our Culture, we need the signs. No, not putting the fleece on the ground, but something better.
God has signs of The Assurance And Reassurance that He is going to change our Culture and That He Is Going To Do It Through Us. We just need to know the signs, and we need to learn like Gideon, to follow the signs to wherever it is that God leads us. Gideon only needed 2 signs; but God has given us 3 (1-2-3) signs that He is going to change the Culture through you. Need a sign that God can use you to change the Culture? Well, here’s your first sign of the Assurance And Reassurance That God Will Do It Through You:
1. We Have The Sign Of The Cross
The Cross is more than an ornament in the Church or in our homes—much more. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18—The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. We don’t try to reform people to help them become better people.
We Lead Them To Jesus Where The Cross Transforms Them. On that Cross evil men did their worst to Jesus. They thought the Cross would silence Jesus and put an end to the Message. What they failed to recognize is that The Cross Intended To Silence The Message, Is In Fact THE Message!
On that Cross Jesus conquered our biggest problem—SIN! What we couldn’t do about our sin, Jesus did for us. He took the penalty for my sin, your sin, everybody’s sin and paid it in full. Now, if God can do that—and He did—don’t you think He can use you to change the Culture? That Cross Has Already Changed The World And God Invites Us To Join Him In Changing The Culture. Need a sign that God will use you? The Cross—Here’s your sign! Here’s your second sign:
2. We Have The Sign Of The Empty Tomb
When all those Mary’s went to the tomb, they didn’t find Jesus in a tomb. They found an angel with a message. The message we find in Mark 16:6-7—
“Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
The message of the Resurrection is that Jesus is always going ahead of us and we will see him. And what Jesus does is share with us the Resurrection. He Resurrected the hopes of Mary and Mary and Mary and the other Mary, and Peter and John and Thomas and all of them. He took on death and made it look like a wimp.
If He can do that to death, You Cannot Imagine What God Can Do Through You. To know Jesus as Savior AND Lord is to know the power He has over death. That power of Resurrection lives in us who are following Jesus. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10—I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.
You Don’t Have To Ask For That Power To Come To You. That Power Lives In You When Jesus Lives In You. Need a sign that God will use you to change your world? The Resurrection—Here’s Your Sign! And here is your third sign:
3. We Have The Sign Of The Spirit
There is not a single ability that we all have. We all have different abilities. There is not a single talent that every one of us have. We all have a variety of talents. There is not a particular spiritual gift that we all possess. We have different spiritual gifts. This is the way God designed the Koinonia. But there is something—rather some ONE—that lives inside of every believer.
He is the same inside me as He is in you. He is the same inside you as He is in the person sitting next to you. Though we have different abilities, different gifts, different levels of maturity—we have living inside us the same Spirit—God’s Spirit—The Holy Spirit.
And Because He Is The Same Spirit, We All Share The Same Result Of The Spirit. It’s Called The Fruit Of The Spirit. Listen to how Paul describes the result of His Spirit living in us from Galatians 5:22-23—
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Here’s another one of my personal missions in life. It’s Not FRUITS Of The Spirit, Meaning Many. It IS The FRUIT Of The Spirit—Meaning One Single Fruit Produced By The Holy Spirit.
The Sign That The Holy Spirit Is Living Inside Us Is Not In An Ability Or Ministry—It Is The Fruit That Only He Can Produce In Us! Let me repeat this: The Sign That The Holy Spirit Is Living Inside Us Is Not In An Ability Or Ministry—It Is The Fruit That Only He Can Produce In Us! If that fruit Is Growing In Us, it means that HE Is Living In Us.
AND—If HE Is Living IN Us, Then We Can Count On Jesus Living THROUGH Us To Change Our World! The Sign Of The Spirit Is That We Can Count On God! Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22—“He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Need a sign that God will use you to change The Culture? The Holy Spirit—Here’s Your Sign!
What is God guaranteeing that is to come? Oh, yes, most definitely our home in heaven. But before we get to heaven, there is something else to do. It’s the reason why we are the Church. Matthew 28:18-19—Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
But before we get our guaranteed home in heaven, we have a God-Sized mission—to change The Culture by making more disciples for Jesus. The story of Gideon Should Become your story. The story of Gideon Can Become your story.
Are serious about Following Jesus? Then The Story Of Gideon IS Your Story, If You Can Read And Follow The Signs. Gideon changed his Culture because God was working through Gideon. And God can change our Culture by working through you. And here’s your sign:
Do you have the First Sign? Have you truly asked Jesus to forgive you and believe that His Cross is enough? If not, then come to His altar because He has a Sign for you.
If you’ve done this, have you taken the second step? Do you truly believe that the Power that conquered death is living in you and are you living in and with that power? If not, come to His altar for He has a sign for you. If you’ve done the first two, let me ask:
Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in you? In other words, does the Holy Spirit have control of your heart and mind.
And here’s your Next Step.
If You Believe God Is Going To Change The Culture Through You, Then Produce The Fruit! These are not multiple choice of fruits—but a Single Fruit Produced By The Holy Spirit.
To be qualified for a God-Sized task Gideon has taught us the first 3 lessons:
1. Only the weakest become the strongest. God wants the many, the humble, the weakest.
2. Cut down the Asherah Poles. Get rid of those things that are holding power over us. Our confidence and strength comes from our relationship with God—a relationship that comes through Grace, Grace revealed on the Cross.
3. Follow the Signs—The Cross, The Empty Tomb, The Holy Spirit. Follow these signs and you can count on God to change your world through you.
Next week we are going to see WHEN NOT ENOUGH IS TOO MANY!