Depending on God
About the Guest
Are you depending on God to see you through? Or are you holding back in fear, afraid to go forward? Priscilla Shirer takes us back to the Book of Judges and shows how God moved Gideon from a place of fear and timidity to a place of powerful influence for good in Israel.
Are you depending on God to see you through?
Depending on God
Bob: Do you ever feel like the odds are against you in life? Priscilla Shirer says, “When you feel that way, you’re right where Gideon was and right where God wants you to be.”
Priscilla: So, He says to them, “You have too many at your disposal.” He begins to dwindle down the army not once—two-thirds left the first time—but, then, a second time until Gideon only has 300 men left. Now, the ratio is 450 in the valley to one on the mountainside. God looks at them with that type of disparity in the ratio and says, “Now, you’re ready.” These are what I like to call the Paradoxical Principles of the Prince of Peace.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, December 6th. I’m Bob Lepine, along with the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey. Today, we’ll hear some of those Paradoxical Principles of the Prince of Peace from Priscilla Shirer. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. You know that old expression, “The apple does not fall far from the tree”?
Dennis: In this case, Tony Evans’ daughter didn’t fall very far from the tree. In fact, her tree—boy, it’s a pretty good tree because—Tony better step back.
Bob: His daughter is a pretty good Bible teacher. A lot of our listeners have been to hear Priscilla. She’s taught with Beth Moore and with Kay Arthur in a variety of settings. Folks have been out to hear her. They know she understands the Scriptures, and she explains them clearly. In fact, she was in our office not long ago and gave a message for our staff on the life of Gideon; and we’re going to hear Part Two of that message here in just a few minutes.
Before we get to that, we wanted to let our listeners know about some of what is happening around here at FamilyLife and some of the things we’re really excited about.
Dennis: We’ve got some cool things coming up in the next few weeks and months here on FamilyLife Today. We’ve got—Tim and Kathy Keller are going to be giving a message. We had Mark and Grace Driscoll share about their new book and what God had done in their marriage. Bill Bennett is going to come join us. Then, if you need a laugh or two, we’re even going to have Tim Hawkins back by popular demand.
We’re in the process of developing a brand-new Passport to Purity® resource for the parents of pre-teens; and Keith, you’ve worked on this. Keith is our chief engineer and coffee boy. (Laughter) He brings me coffee here on FamilyLife Today.
Bob: What a dignified title.
Dennis: He’s a true professional. Keith, you’ve been working on Passport to Purity; and you think it is better than the old one. How much better?
Dennis: Exponential. Some folks aren’t going to believe that, but it’s got brand-new music—lot of fun in this. It’s still a hard-hitting preparation for the adolescent years for a young person—a young lady or a young man who’s 10,11, 12—about to move into adolescence.
Barbara and I are working on some books. She’s working on a book on forgiveness, also, a book called Letters to My Daughters. That’s going to be a hot one. I’m working on a book for the parents of teenage boys to prepare your junior high or senior high son for overly-aggressive girls.
Bob: They are out there. Let me tell you.
Dennis: They are out there. Bob, you are working on a new video series.
Bob: Yes. We’ve taken your book, Stepping Up, and we’re developing a video series for men to call them to step up and embrace God’s design for manhood.
Dennis: As you know, our goal is to move from impacting just millions of people to tens of millions by unleashing a movement of HomeBuilders, who change homes all across the nation. That’s a lot to happen. Because of everything that is going on, a number of families have heard about this. They’ve decided to help put up $2.5 million in a matching fund that will match every gift up to that amount in the month of December.
The cool thing is other families are thinking about adding to that 2.5 million, and we think it could grow all the way up to potentially $5 million. To take advantage of this matching gift that’s been established, we need listeners to give $25, $50, $100, $1,000, or more to help us take full advantage of this matching gift.
Quite honestly, we need more listeners to join with us than we’ve ever had at any point in our history. FamilyLife Today is a listener-supported broadcast. When you give to this match, you are helping to keep FamilyLife Today on the air.
Bob: Of course, when you make a donation in December, your donation is matched dollar for dollar. So, if you can help us take advantage of this matching-gift opportunity, all you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click the button that says, “I Care” and make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone.
We do appreciate your partnership with us and your support of the ministry—particularly, here at the end of the year. That means a lot to us. We look forward to hearing from you.
I know that you’re looking forward to hearing from Priscilla Shirer with Part Two of the message that we’re going to feature today. This is a message from Judges,
Chapter 7—the story of Gideon.
In Part One of the message, Priscilla talked about how God changed Gideon’s name as a sign that God was really changing Gideon in the process. She didn’t get very far past Judges, Chapter 7, verse 1. She found a lot to look at in those opening verses of Judges, Chapter 7. So, here with Part Two of her message is Priscilla Shirer.
Priscilla: [recorded message] There’s something else I saw in this very first verse. It says, “Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, [they] rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod.”
Let’s just talk for a moment about this spring that Gideon camped by. You all know that there were 32,000 men that went with Gideon to camp and prepare for battle because the Midianites were coming again. They were preparing for this very famous battle that you read about here in Judges, Chapter 7. Gideon takes his men, and they camp at a spring called Harod.
This spring was a very famous spring. In 1 Samuel, Chapter 28, Saul also went to this particular spring to prepare for battle against the Philistine army. So, this is a place where lots of people prepared for war because it seemed like a great place to take your men.
I’ll tell you why. Number one: It was a fresh body of water. It was an effervescent pool of water that was formed from a fall that was spilling out from the side of this mountainside. So, there was a great, fresh body of water where troops could be refreshed and prepared for battle.
Now, because it was a fresh body of water, it is very likely that there were so many nutrients in the water that that also meant that there was lots of fresh vegetation that was surrounding the body of water. So, they had food. They had water. Seemed like the perfect place to be.
Not only that, this spring was on the side of Mount Gilboa. It looked out over the valley. From this vantage point, they could get a clear view of their enemies—which in later verses we find out—were in that particular valley.
Here they were on the side of a mountain. They could see if there was any transformation or moves on the camps below with the Midianites. So, they were in a great place to be refreshed and a great place to see their enemies. It would seem like the perfect place for Gideon, the leader of the 32,000, to take his men to prepare for battle; but there’s a problem.
In the original language, the word, harod, means “to tremble”. It means fear. Gideon—think about it—takes his men to prepare for battle and camps them out at a spring called “Fear”.
I wonder that, if left to your natural devices, your natural tendencies in your flesh, where are the places that you would normally let yourself go? I don’t mean that you don’t feel fear, or you don’t feel the intimidation, or you don’t feel the insecurity; but you know what it is to feel something and to let yourself go there.
When you’re not the same person that you used to be, there are just some places that you just ought not to go anymore—some places where you and I just have no business being. If the Enemy were to have his way with us, what he would like is for you and I to go to those places where we have no business going. They’re called strongholds, where he takes a hold of you in some area of your life where you are vulnerable—some place where you have no business going.
You go there just long enough. You give the Devil an opportunity, and he will place a stronghold in your life and in mine; so that, we are not functioning in a way that is conducive to the brand-new identity that we have been given in Him. When you’re not the same person that you used to be, you have no business going where you used to go.
What is interesting about this—and you all know this story—that when God begins the dwindling process, that we’ll talk about in a moment, where He takes the army. He cuts it down, not once but twice in number.
The very first set of parameters that He places around the dwindling process is that He says to the guys, “Listen, Gideon, why don’t you send home everybody who is afraid?” Two-thirds of the army goes home. Twenty-two thousand people leave Gideon. Is it any wonder should Gideon have been surprised that so many people left because of fear when he had camped them out at a spring called Fear? Could it be that it had something to do with where he, the leader, had taken them?
I want to ask you, as a leader—and, my friend, you are a leader. If you are a father, or a husband, you are a leader. If you are a mother with small children—you always thought you’d be the president of IBM; but now, you are the president of HOME; and you’re trying to figure out if there is any value in what it is that you are doing, which you know that all those little people that are looking at you all day—the little fingers, the little toes, the little noses, the little toys—my friends, you are a leader. Wherever it is that you go, they’re going there, too.
Wherever it is that you camp, wherever it is that you settle into, you need to know that there are people that are watching you that are going—on your job, in your ministry. Listen, you are a leader that people are watching. Where you go, other people will be following.
In your neighborhood, you may be the only Christian family in your neighborhood. Don’t move to another neighborhood! God has specifically and purposefully divinely designed that you would be set in that particular neighborhood; so that, people would have somebody to look at that’s worth following.
If you are on a job, where you are the only Christian on that job, don’t go get a new job! You’re the light in the midst of that darkness; so that, there will be somebody that goes somewhere that is worth other people following. You and I are the leaders that God has specifically placed in our sphere of influence; so that, we will take people to places that are worth going to.
Not only is it interesting for us to think about it from that perspective, but we also need to consider this, “Are you hanging around people that are going places worth you going to? Are you with people that are taking you to places where you have no business being?” So, I want to ask you, “Who are the people that you are around? Are they taking you to a place worth going? Are they taking you to a place that is not worth going?”
Friendship has got to be more. Accountability has got to be more than just someone that is nice to go golfing with, or go to Starbucks® with, or to go shopping with, ladies. It’s got to be somebody who’s holding our arms up, who’s keeping us accountable, who’s helping us to realize that we are not the same people that we used to be. So, we have no business going where we used to go.
The third and final thing I want to share with you. Verse 2 says, “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many to give Midian into their hands.’” Now, this is a very interesting line. He says to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into your hands.”
This is an interesting statement because 32,000 men sounds like a lot, except that the Midianites—we find out later—have 135,000 in the valley. So, the 32,000 are looking down into the valley at 135,000. The ratio was four in the valley to one on the mountainside.
From this perspective at the spring of trembling—from this vantage point—it seemed to the children of Israel, the text says, that there was a swarming brood of locusts in the valley. They were completely overwhelmed. They sensed that they were completely outnumbered.
Is there any wonder, by the way, from this vantage point—wherever you camp out—is the vantage point with which you will see the enemy. Wherever you are, wherever you station yourself, whatever posture you take that will be the vantage point, the perspective you take on the crisis that may enter your life. You’ve got to determine, “How do I want to see what’s coming?” and then position yourself in a place that will allow you to have that particular perspective.
God looks at the underdog, 4 to 1. The one that’s outnumbered, and He says, “You’ve got too many people with you.” Now, that just doesn’t make sense. God’s economy is all off. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but sometimes the things that the Lord will share with us are normally backward to us. They normally don’t quite go with what it is that makes sense to our minds.
Could it be Isaiah 55:8, “That His ways just aren’t like ours; His thoughts, they just don’t do what our thoughts do?” High as the heavens are above the earth, that’s how high His thoughts, His ways—that’s how high they are above us. These are what I like to call the Paradoxical Principles of the Prince of Peace: When He takes what we think is accurate and turns it on its head and, then, says, “Come on and follow Me.”
He says to them, “You have too many at your disposal.” He begins to dwindle down the army not once—two-thirds left the first time—but, then, a second time until Gideon only has 300 men left. Now, the ratio is 450 in the valley to one on the mountainside. God looks at them with that type of disparity in the ratio and says, “Now, you’re ready,” because when you are not the same person that you used to be, you have no business going where you used to go. You just don’t need everything that you think that you need.
Do you know, sometimes when we’re outnumbered, when we’re outmatched—not in people necessarily like Gideon was—but when you don’t have the emotional reserves to hang in there with your marriage anymore, when you feel like you just don’t have the financial resources to start that business or the ministry that God is calling you to start, when you feel like your patience quota has completely run out and you have nothing left in your reserves to be able to handle that particular relationship—
—when you feel like, “Lord, I don’t have the time; I don’t have the talents; I don’t have the gifting to do what it is that You are asking me to do. I’m completely outnumbered, God, and not just on a 4 to 1 ratio. Lord, I am completely outnumbered, 450 to 1. I mean, Lord, I’m not even in the running.” God says, “You’re exactly where I want you” because then, we get to experience what Paul wrote down in the second book of Corinthians. He said, “In my weakness”—he says, “I boast in them. I like them. I’m content with my weaknesses” because when I’m outnumbered 450 to one, that’s when I get to see how strong my God is, when I get to see Him supernaturally work in and through my weaknesses.
That’s what makes the Christian life such an adventure. It’s not when we’re up against stuff we can handle in our own resources—“What’s exciting about that?” It’s when were outnumbered; it’s when we’re completely maxed out. It’s when we’ve done everything we can, when we’ve spent all of our time, our money, our resources, our skill, our talent. We have just done in our natural ability all we can do; and then, God kicks in.
We’re in the God-margin—where we’re in front of the Red Sea. Unless God divides this thing, we’re just going to be completely in trouble. Then, we get to stand back and see Him divide the Red Sea and let us walk across on dry ground, and Pharaoh’s army gets swallowed up after us. When we get to see the supernatural operating in our lives—that is the adventure of the Christian life.
The tragedy is—like my friend—Christine says, “We pray for miracles”—I mean, we, Christians—we beg God for miracles, but then we all also pray to stay out of circumstances in which a miracle will actually be required. We pray that God will do big stuff. Then, nobody wants to be in a situation where He actually needs to do something big.
When He says to you, when He impresses upon your heart, when He convicts you to: hang-in in the marriage, to be the mom that God has called you to be, to be the dad that God has called you to be—when He challenges you to start that ministry, to prepare to start that business, to partner up with this person, and you know, “Lord, if I start this Bible study, you know I’m not a speaker right? You know I’m not. I can’t stand in front of people and speak. Are you crazy, God?”
You remember that when you feel outnumbered, that’s when He’s invited—it’s a golden sealed invitation for you to step into the God-margin and see what He does when you don’t have everything you think that you need.
These are the lessons of Gideon. So many more, but these are the lessons that the Lord has challenged me with. I’m not the same person I used to be; so, I don’t need to handle circumstances the same way I used to. If I’m not the same person that I used to be, I have just no business going to places I used to let myself go. If God is for me, who in the world can be against me? So, I don’t need all the stuff that I thought I needed to be successful; I just don’t need it.
God said to Gideon the exact same thing He says to you and me: Chapter 7, verse 7, “I will deliver you with 300.” My friends, you are better off with God’s 300 than your 32,000 any day of the week. His 300, empowered by His Spirit, will give you more favor and more victory than your own personal—or my own personal—32,000 could give us any day of the week.
So, just like He says to Gideon in that verse, “Go ahead and let go of the other people.” He said, “Gideon, don’t be afraid. Whoever is leaving, you let them leave because my 300 is all you need.” So, my friends, if there is anything that you feel like God is asking you to go ahead and let go of; don’t be afraid. Let it go because His 300 is all you really need anyway. (Applause)
Bob: [studio] Well, again, today we’ve been listening to Part Two of a message from Priscilla Shirer, a message from Judges, Chapter 7, about the life of Gideon. I have a sense there may be some listeners who’d say, “I’d like to hear that again.” Of course, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and download the programs, or you can order a copy of the message on CD if you’d like to. It really was a great message.
Dennis: It really was. I have to believe, Bob, that there is a listener right now who needs to step into the God-margin. They’re outside of it. They know they need to step into it. They’ve been playing it safe, and it’s time—sorry to use the phrase—but it’s time to step up. It’s time for you, by faith, to step out, take God at what His Word promises—“that He’ll deliver you, He’ll be with you, He’ll go ahead of you, and He’ll provide,” and see if He uses you.
I have to tell you. I’ve not done this perfectly—nobody has. Forty-one years ago—actually 42 years ago, matter of speaking—I stepped out to start to work with high school kids. I would never in my wildest imagination have thought God would take me in a route to work with high school kids for five years so I could see the impact families were having on young people.
Then, take me to seminary. Then, help be a part of launching FamilyLife. Then, kind of step back and stay out of the way of what God wanted to do in raising up an army—a movement of HomeBuilders across the country that are going to make a difference in literally tens of millions of homes in the years to come.
If you’re not in the God-margin, what’s keeping you from going there? Let’s go! I won’t get this right, but Helen Keller made a statement. She said, “Life is either an outright adventure, or it’s a dull, boring experience.” Why would you want to embrace a dull, boring experience when God has a filet, medium rare—with béarnaise sauce cascading over the edges of that steak? He has a steak for all of us to experience, but it demands that we step out in faith and obey Him. Will you do it?
Bob: That’s a good challenge, a good word. I was sitting here thinking about the fact that we haven’t said much about the upcoming FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It Cruise® that’s going to be happening in February. We’ve got a lot of folks who are signed up. In fact, it’s either sold out, or it’s on the cusp of being sold out. I’m not sure which it is yet, but Priscilla is going to be with us on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise that we are planning to do in February of 2013.
I’m just thinking with Christmas coming up, there may be some folks who go, “You know, that’d be a good Christmas gift.”
Dennis: Great gift.
Bob: Plan ahead. I mean, I know it’s now a year and a few months away from when the cruise will set sail; but actually, if you sign up now for the cruise in 2013 and you want to make monthly payments on that, the payments will be a little bit lower. So, that’s a good way to go.
Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. There is more information about how you can get registered for the 2013 Love Like You Mean It Cruise, Valentine’s week, February 2013. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about how you can join us for that event; or call toll free 1-800-FL-TODAY. We can get you more information when you contact us.
Don’t forget, Priscilla has a book that she has written called The Resolution for Women. It’s a great book about what God’s calling is for a woman’s life. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about how to get a copy of the book; or call us, again, at 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
A quick reminder—Dennis mentioned this at the beginning of today’s program—we have some friends of the ministry who have very generously agreed to match the donations that we receive during the month of December on a dollar for dollar basis. Every donation that comes in will release matching funds to help support FamilyLife Today, up to a total of $2.5 million.
In fact, we’ve started to hear from some other friends who have said, “We might want to add to that total.” If that happens, we’ll let you know. We’re waiting to hear back from some of those folks.
Even at $2.5 million, we’re going to need as many of our listeners as possible to consider making a year-end contribution to support FamilyLife Today. So, would you think about going online or calling us and making as generous a donation as you possibly can? When you do, you’re donation will open up the matching-gift fund. The same number that you donate will be released to us from that matching-gift fund, up to a total of right now $2.5 million. We do hope to hear from you.
Again, you can donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can donate by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance for your support of the ministry and whatever you are able to do with a year-end gift for FamilyLife Today.
We want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to meet a guy who today spends a lot of time counseling married couples who are facing real challenges in their marriage. One of the reasons he’s so good at what he does is because he had a lot of things in his own marriage he had to figure out the hard way. We’ll introduce you to Doyle Roth on tomorrow’s program. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank today’s engineer, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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