It’s all Perspective! Judges 8:10

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Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in
Kakor, and their armies with them, 
about 15,000 men, all who were left
of the entire army of the sons of the 
east; for the fallen were 120,000 
swordsmen.
Judges 8:10

 

It’s a matter of perspective…

…I thought as I read verse 10.  Zebah and Zalmunna are on the run, and take up residence in Kakor, along with 15,000 men.  Let us recall that Gideon is staffed with 300 men, all whom where set apart for this assignment.Perspective

Gideon is leading his 300 troops against 15,000 troops, and while many would be overwhelmed with the ratio of 50 to 1, Gideon is more concerned with feeding the troops, than loosing the battle.

Though Zebah and Zalmunna felt vulnerable, and were in retreat, because of their prior victories, it is possible that they still felt a little rest and planning could turn the tides of the battle.  Meanwhile, Gideon was in pursuit, moving from town to town in search of bread for his army.  The Midionites were fed and rested, with 50 soldiers per 1 soldier waiting to defend themselves against the Israelite attack.

Favorable Numbers don’t Equal Favor

 

Though they had favorable numbers, they were not favored.

 

victory-clipart-1.jpgFrom the outside, Succoth and Peniel looked at the numbers and determined that Gideon was at a disadvantage, and that Zebah and Zalmunna should win.  According to the odds, they should be favored.  With these numbers, one would be a fool to choose the group of 300, when facing an army of 15,000, but as a believer, we must continue to trust God’s Word which says, if God be for us…!  With God, all things are possible!!!  This means, the odds are always with you, because God’s favor is with you!

Gideon is not focused on the Troop, He’s focused on God!

Gideon knows that God is for him!  He is favored, and this makes a 50 to 1 ratio a non factor.

I wonder to myself what your non-factor in your life?  What are you consumed with?  What odds have you betting against yourself?  What odds have you doubting what God can do?  What has you retreating?

Gideon wasn’t retreating, he was pursuing!

51935473-pursuing-word-on-keyboard-buttonI’m sure as he was going forward, he was thinking what odds!  When you have God’s favor with you, you don’t have to flee, you can chase down the vision and dream that God has shown you.  Not only can you walk towards what He has shown, you can lay claim to the desires of your heart.  Yes, instead of chasing after possessions you can seek the Kingdom of God and righteousness, and you can have the victory hand delivered to you!

When you realize God is for you and with you, you will pursue the 15,000.   Too many of us remain in neutral, afraid to switch into drive, and more comfortable living in reverse!  When we choose to pursue, we opt not to walk in victory, and concede defeat.

Victory will be Yours, when You know it belongs to You!

You are victorious!!!!  You will win!!  You have already won!!!! 

Remember, it’s all Perspective!

Verse 10 informs us that their army was once 120,000 men!  

Yes; 120,000 swordsmen, which has been reduced to 15,000!

 120,000 – 105,000 = 15,000

calculatorIt’s all a matter of perspective!   As opposed to thinking, “we have 15,000 soldiers to fight”, he was most likely thinking, “only 15,000 soldiers remain.”  Gideon realized over half of the soldiers had already met the same fate that was in store for the remaining 15,000.  Thought know one else believed, and was playing the odds, Gideon had already put all his chips (faith and trust) on God, and was trusting him not just for another fleece sign, but stepped out on it and was ready to blow the trumpets again.

impartationWhat’s your perspective?  Oh, you are still looking at the remaining barriers as though they can stop you?  You are still looking at the next challenge as a preventative force?  The obstacles you will face or just details for the testimony.   Gideon had to lift up his head, and thank God for handling the 105,000, and praise God that only 15,000 remained.  Though the odds were 50 to 1, they could be 400 to 1.

Each time Gideon presses Forward, the Odds get Better!

We must know that each step brings us closer to victory!   So the question is, will you continue taking steps forward?  Will you pursue until you are victorious, or will you retreat each time you face tough odds.

 

 

#PastorJDO3

 

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When I return!!!! Judges 8:9

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So he said to the men of Peniel,
“When I return in triumph,
I will tear down this tower.”
Judges 8:9

Honestly, I was so disappointed with Gideon for this encounter.  Why you ask?  It’s a road that I have traveled, and one I am sure some of you have gone down.  That road of “I’m going to show you!”  “I’m going to prove you wrong!” Haven’t we all been there?

discouragedAs a leader he had an ever larger matter at hand.  If you have ever had the responsibility that comes with those following you, you know the frustration and stress that come along with not being able to meet the needs of those entrusted to you.

Now this isn’t for everyone!  As said, there are many that don’t have concern or have lost concern for those that follow, save their ability to help them accomplish their goals, however, there are some that genuinely care about those that follow them.

Gideon was one of those men, who valued those who God had hand selected to help him carry out hit earthly assignment.    Though discouraged from the people of Succoth, he walks up to Peniel, and speaks to their men, only to get the same response as he received in Succoth.  Their response was not that of a lack of resources, it was one of doubt and self perseverance.

if

Though Jacob wrestled at Peniel until he was blessed, Gideon chose to press on, but with a promise to return.  He says, “When I return in triumph…”  I love that he says, “when” not “if”.  This is a promise.  It is as though he has seen tomorrow, and knows that the victory is inevitable. 

 

 

Are you speaking “if” or “when” over your life?

Most of us spend our time speaking “if” into the atmosphere.  We lean upon God’s Word as though its an unproven patent.  We stand on it as though its the first version, and we are waiting for them to work the kinks out before we invest.  But not this guy!  The only “if” in our life should be “if” we choose to believe God’s Word.  “If” we believe God to be true!  At worst, “if” it’s God’s will!

when

Outside of this, we should speak in “when”.  When is great because if shows faith, but doesn’t dictate the timeline date.  For though we know God’s Word to be true, we do not know when God is going to allow things to manifest in our lives.  I am sure many of us have had the pleasure of waiting on “when”, and had to find rest in it coming.  It’s not important to know the date, but its important to know the one holding the promise.

Gideon informed Succoth and Peniel that “when” was coming!  When we are going through, we like Gideon must remain confident that God is going to come through.  When facing rejection, it opens the doors for, disappointment, and leads to a hallway that many express called depression.  Gideon remains encouraged by choosing to focus on the spiritual promise of God, which to him is a fact and not a possibility or knowledge.  

Do you see God’s Word as Fact or Possibility?

Guaranteed-imageFor many of us, the Word of God is more possibility than fact.  We believe it has potential, and are inspired by the revelations extracted from it, but proceed as though it is powerless.  We must receive and carry the revelation as though it is an impartation or proclamation over our lives, and then to walk forward in faith as though it is so.  We can let the disappointments of today prevent us from experiencing the victories of tomorrow.

Sadly, though confident that he will experience victory, He is still set on rubbing the noses of the people of Peniel in it.  He says, “I will destroy this tower.”  Gideon is so upset about their unwillingness to feed his troops, that his planned not only to return and bring suffering and harm to Succoth, but to further tear down the tower of Peniel.

Towers were very important to protection.  They helped the cities identify when they were going to be attacked.  The tower helped them identify their opponent and to get an eye on the resources they had to attack them with.  Gideon is telling them, because they have chosen not to help nourish his troops, He would cripple their ability to defend themselves (which is basicaly what their refusal to feed the troops is doing to them).

chastizeIsn’t this like us?  And eye for an eye!  Many of us want others to suffer as we suffer.  Many of us don’t mind crippling others and will position ourselves to watch their demise.  This is not of God!   God is the one that carries out vengeance.  He does this because He is the only one who is balanced enough with mercy, grace, truth and justice to deliver to each of us not what is deserved, but what will punish, teach and correct us.

Honestly, returning in victory should be enough!  God has set him up to be exalted among mankind because they will witness his victory over those who doubted and questioned his ability.  He would, in deed, have the last word, and be proven great in the sight of all those who criticized him.  He would be lifted up in the eyes of man, knowing that he had access to power, and that this power was at the finger tips of the one they held in low esteem.

But it wasn’t enough!  Why is it so important to see the tower of others fall?  Why is it that many people would invest the time or exert the energy needed to destroy the work of others?

Are you competing with others, or conquering for God?  

towerfallingMy concern is that many of us miss the beauty of the journey, and don’t get to celebrate the mighty work of God, because while and after we carry it it out, we are thinking about destroying the Tower and collecting the briers and thorns to punish all that doubted us.  Sadly, there are some that get more joy out of returning to destroy than building and accomplishing things for and in God.  This is, and should be considered sinful to us all!  Some get to the 7th day, but can’t rest because they are excited about making the doubters eat their words, and being a destructive force in their lives.

 

 

#PastorJDO3

Confidence to Ask Again! Judges 8:8

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From there he went up to Peniel
and made the same request of them,
but they answered as the men of
Succoth had.
Judges 8:8

We just leave Gideons encounter with the leaders of Succoth, and now find him facing the leadership of Peniel.  His troop already hungry at Succoth, has journeyed farther, finding themselves hungrier and even more worn out than they were before.

doubt-confidence

Gideon “…made the same request of them…”  There is so much to draw from this.  The initial discussion was about Gideon’s concern for his troop as they followed him towards the completion of the vision.   Now we want to highlight the persistence Gideon had through his faith in God.

 

It’s not just that Gideon has faith, but he has a persistent faith.

This is displayed in him making “the same request of them…”  Though he was fresh from a discouraging moment; failure fresh on his mind, Gideon builds up the courage to ask again.  This is not the courage to pray again, where He can seek God in private and just face not being chosen or being rejected private, but he ask publicly, and faces public rejection. 

There is a difference between public rejection and private rejection. 

selfconfidence

When one is rejected in public, their name and their authority are challenged.  The rejection serves as dishonor in front of all whom are presence, while private allows you to deal internally with the rejection.  Most of us would crater after this emotional transaction.  Gideon had to find the strength to continue on, but also had to build the confidence to ask again.

How many of you ask again?

How many of you will face no again?

Do you have the courage to ask again?

Can you face public rejection and failure?

shutterstock_89697898Gideon could!  Though rejected, he remained confidence that God would supply his need.  And though his anger towards Succoth seasoned this encounter, it does not discount the amount of faith he had in the fact that God has chosen him and would provide for him.

If Succoth wont, Peniel will!

We must have this type of faith when we press forward.  We must know that No’s will come, but Yes is inevitable.  We must believe that all things work for good.  God will instruct someone to help me!  And where a “No” is received, God will provide “strength to endure.”  Even though they were worn out in Succoth, they were able to make it to Peniel, and so will you.   You  have enough strength to get through the Peniels in your life, and to defeat Zumba and Zalmunna.

I ran into another issue while reading this text!  Gideon had enough faith to continue.  Gideon had enough faith to ask.  Gideon had enough faith to pursue!  And the scripture says, “but they answered as the men of  Succoth had.”    Even though he was operating in faith, He got the same answer as he did before.

Sometimes it not a lack of faith, but its not a part of Gods plan.

confidenceAgain Gideon heard a crushing response.  He was probably sure they would respond differently.  He probably believed that God has surely gone before him made provision for the troop, but they answered no.  Not only was their answer no, but it was the same as Succoth, which means they expressed doubt in the ability of Gideon to defeat the Midionites.

Once again, Gideon had to face another group
that had doubt in him, and no trust that
either in God, or that he was called by God.

You aren’t the only one who has been doubted.  You aren’t the only one that in unproven.  But you must press on.  You must know that the doubt will be removed when you complete the mission God has given you.  When God identifies your purpose, you walk in it, and the success that comes from your obedience and completion, removes doubt from those who watch.

God is the one that promotes.  While waiting for promotion, one must be obedient, because your obedience provides a track record not just for people to see the victory, but to see evidence that God guided you and gave it to you!    Your obedience will be the proof they need to shine light on the negatives, until the develop into frames that show forth God’s glory.

 

#PastorJDO3

You Can Retract a Statement, but… Judges 8:7

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Then Gideon replied, 
“Just for that, when the Lord
has given me Zebah and Zalmunna
into my hand,
I will tear your flesh 
with desert thorns and briers.”
Judges 8:7

 

Our friend Gideon was going through.  While walking in faith, he finds himself faced with not just a challenging task, but with a group that has decided not to support his efforts.  Though he continues on, Gideon makes a mistake that many of us make when we face rejection and disappointment.

The text says, “Then Gideon replied…”

Sometimes a reply isn’t needed!

downloadEver spoken words you wish you could take back?  Here Gideon is, obviously, full of the emotion!  He is saturated with the implications of the moment, and he speaks from a painful place.  Have you ever spoken from a painful place?  What did you create with your words?  How were the lives impacted that heard your words?  How has life been altered by the letters you brought together?   How many relationships have you destroyed from one encounter?

Many of us are trapped in the moment, and allow the exchange to birth not just pain, but suffering.  “Gideon replied…”!  He felt the need to respond to what had been spoken, as opposed to focusing on the words from God that had been spoken.  It didn’t matter what the people of Succoth had decided, the decision was in favor of Gideon because he was chosen to carry out God’s plan for Israel.

Angry upset boy, little manWhen I read “Gideon replied”, I thought about the many times “Johnny replied”.   I reviewed the words and analyzed the pain they caused.  I then asked myself if these where words from Johnny or Words from God?  I have concluded that some received a word that didn’t deserve one syllable, let alone a letter.  My response wasn’t going to change them, nor my circumstances, but I replied!  Everyone and everything doesn’t require a response, and even when a response is requested, it should not always be given.  

We must understand that our reply often sets in to course future battles to fight!  While watching the DC and Marvel series on Netflix, one can always identify the future adversary by the interaction that has occurred, not by what will occur.  Most are avenging the death or the treatment of someone, while others are looking to even the score from the disciplinary act or cherished item taken from their possession.

Why is it that we want others to suffer and feel our pain?  We are so caught up in what is going on with us, and the pain of rejection, that many of us choose to focus attention on the one rejecting, rather than the providing.

angrycartoonGideon didn’t just reply, Gideon said, “Just for that…”  Now, I don’t know about you, but not many positive things come from a heated discussion that begin with “Just for that…”  

Focus on the Task and don’t become Consumed with Vengeance.

Gideon decides that he will focus some of his time and energy on vengeance.  It’s not just that he is focusing his time on vengeance, which we know belongs to the Lord, he is operating with in vengeance while on assignment from God.

This is where a lesson from Jesus about shaking the dust off would have helped our friend, but he had no one to warn him.  He only had his feelings and experience to draw from, and at that moment, he chose to act on the one that was angry and filled with wrath.  And now, he will bring about a potential battle after he finished the current assignment, and set a precedent and example for all those following him.

This is something that we rarely consider.  Our life is an example for all those God draws to us.  And though we can not change our past mistakes, we can control our current actions.  We can teach people from our past and model from our presence.   This is a teachable moment, much like the fleece.  Often we are fully of moments like the fleece to build ones faith and in helping other follow and buy into the vision that God has given us, but we must manage our Succoth moments well too.  People are learning from the way you bless people and the way you curse people.  Long after Gideon’s death, we are reading and studying his actions, and while some see them for what they are, others will use this as a precedence and justification for their incorrect actions.

Every moment is a teachable moment!

confidentWhat I love about Gideon is the display of faith we see wrapped in his emotional response.  He says, “Just for that, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zulmunna into my hand…”  Even while angry and seeking vengeance, he speaks with boldness because he knows with God all things are possible, and that God is with him.  God has shown Gideon that He is with him, and despite the refusal of the leaders of Succoth, hungry troop and being outnumbered by two Kings who have already shown their power, Gideon knows that they will be delivered into his hands!

Gideon knows that victory is inevitable, because it has been ordered from heaven.  Man will always have an opinion and perspective towards God’s revelation, and we must understand that man operates with limited wisdom.  We have a portion of God’s wisdom, based on what we have asked for and what we have received.

Gideon says, “…when the Lord has given Zebah and Zulmunna into my hand…”   I was captured by his words!  Gideon says “into my hand” which shows his perspective of these two kings through the eyes of God’s revelation to him.  He sees them, protected by an army of 15, 000 soldiers as so small that they will fit into the palm of his hand.  If only we could develop this perspective.  emptyhandOur enemies, challenges, walls and barriers are so small and insignificant that they are palm size compared to God.

For the people of God, we have God’s Word, which can be trusted, and because it can be trusted it can be counted even before its in our hand(s).    

We need to speak about God’s Word as though it has a tracking number!

While others speak about the revelation with doubt, we must speak about it with faith!  We must pursue the vision as though it is past, and not future.  Gideon speaks to those who doubt him and doubt his God as though he knows the truck that has his package is 15 minutes away.   He can see the street that its on and who the driver is.  He knows that this journey is not in vain.  He has full confidence that God is going to manifest His promise, and so should we.

thorns-614x430Gideon continues his rant, “I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers.”  

It’s amazing the trouble and effort we will go through to punish others!  Gideon has decided that He will gather up from the desert, thorns and briers.  Gideon decided that they should be punished based upon their decision, and wants them to suffer much pain.  The thorns and briers aren’t to end their life, but to affect their quality of life.

Gideon is so angry that he wants to invest his time and strength into tearing the skin of the leader of succoth with random thorns and briers from the dessert land.  In our anger, we search for whatever we can get into our hands to punish those that have hurt us, and God is not pleased.  God doesn’t desire this and hasn’t ordained it.

Sadly, we will see that Gideon’s wrath doesn’t end here, but I am praying that those of you on a war path will consider your ways, and bring into subjection your actions.  Remember that you are representing God.  Remember people are following you.  Bridle your tongue!  Keep a Kingdom focus!  Live at peace with your neighbors.

We must understand that our words are life and death.  And though you can issue a response to retract a statement; it still exist, and the impact of what you have spoken will last beyond you!

#PastorJDO3

Fight Unbelief with Belief! Judges 8:6

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And the leader of Succoth said,
“Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna
already in your hands, that we should
give bread to your army?”
Judges 8:6

The pain Gideon must have felt when he heard the response of the leaders of Succoth.  His team, fighting to maintain good moral, is in position to receive sustenance but is being questioned as to the value of their life.   Though they can see the need of the troop, Succoth makes a decision for Succoth and not for Israel.   And who can blame them.  They made and assessment and made the decision they felt was best for them.confused person

As a leader, Gideon had to stay focused and not become discouraged.  When following God’s plan, we will encounter people and resources that seemingly fit well into the plan of God.  I’m sure he felt as though he had stumbled into a blessing.  Have you been there?  Walking!  Praying!  Believing!  Trusting! And Finding!  Only to discover a closed door, and walk away with empty hands and an empty stomach.

The leaders of Succoth were probably thinking:

Talk to me when you win!

Victory-Lap-Retirement-750x486No one has a problem backing a winner!  Everyone want to align themselves with the most dominant.  And while you might have the potential to win, most will say to you, “Talk to me when you win!”  When your numbers match your speech.  When our product matches your plans.  When your blueprints match product.  Talk to me!  This is a hard thing to swallow when you are carrying out Gods Vision, but it is often the perspective people have towards the journey.  It’s not their battle, their responsibility or interest, thus their connection to it, and are support of it will be lacking unless they see how it can personally benefit them.  But you can’t let this stop you!

You can’t focus on it because:

Their help will help; but help doesn’t guarantee a win!

 

checkwrite

 

Just because someone rolls up their sleeves, writes the check, helps with the fight, or gives resources to your cause does not mean you will win.  We must remember this as we walk into our destiny.

 

This allows you to
1.  Not take the lack of faith and support from people personally
2. Properly place your hopes in the one that can bring your into victory.

The one who had called Gideon had not abandoned him.  He was walking with him, guiding him, and though hungry; providing for him.  God would give him everything he needed, thus anything or anyone that chose not to be obedient to God, or had not been instructed by God to share resources with Gideon or his people were supposed to.  This should allow you to keep moving forward, as most tend to park their lives and reminisce or morn over what was lost or never obtained.   We often say what God has for me is for me, but our actions say otherwise.  Knowing this allows us to keep focusing on the journey ahead.  There are still two Kings to fight, and no time to mull over what could be done with what was denied!

Fight-Night-2
Furthermore, we must take heart because:

Their lack of aide doesn’t mean you loose!

We often hang on for dear life while God attempts to remove harmful and distracting things from our path.  Much like a dogs tussling with a rope toy, we tend to bite down with such force, that God Himself finds Himself in a dogropetoybattle trying to break our grip.  While it is true that ones lack of aid could lead to you loosing, one must continue the journey!  While we need the help of others, we must remember that our help comes from the hills.  God has called us, and is the greatest provider ever.  He is fighting the battle for us, with us, and through us.  We have enough power to win because He is how we are sustained and is our sustenance!   

 

We can release others from the responsibility,  and move forward knowing that they have not sealed our fate.  We can walk forward to the end, fully confident that their refusal will add a paragraph to the story in a chapter about victory that brings glory and honor to the Lord!

We have to also acknowledge:

Sometimes people lack faith in your ability!

Though this too is hard to accept, it is a reality.  People only know that they have seen, and sometimes what they have seen cant be comprehended.  This is especially true when you enter any scene.  Ones ability often must be proven by the “win” before one is determined a winner or a worth while investment.

bibleblurrWho can blame those who watch for not being eager investors in something that is unproven?  Truly, frustration and anger can not be directed towards those who are rational, simply realistic, or desire more information or proof of what one can do or what has been done.

When “new” comes, with its unfamiliar presentation, its considered unstable, undependable and unreliable in comparison with that which has already won battles.  Though Zebah and Zalmunna were on the run from Gideon they has previously won battles, and thus the leaders of Succoth had to consider this, the size of the army, and the potential and past of Gideon as a leader when choosing who to back in the fight, and so will it often be with you.

I have learned to embrace those that lack faith in my abilities.  It is made easier in that I have the same doubts at time (laughing out loud)!  But when those doubts come, I am always brought back to the fleece (Judges 6:36-40) We have to go back to the moment when God called and when He confirmed His intentions through us.  We have to revisit the moment when God gave us the vision, and celebrate the moment when God sent the resources.

And we also have to realize:

People lack faith in the God you serve!

followJust because you have faith, doesn’t mean everyone you encounter will have faith!  Some are simply operating in flesh, which means they are only taking in data from their natural eyes.  They make sense out of what it tangible, not understanding that the spiritual  concerns both the tangible and intangible, making all things possible for those that believe.

For these people, the fleece means nothing, and the call is just a belief and or perspective, not a sign, authorization or guarantee.   And who could blame those who have don’t believe for thinking God’s Word and His call to be foolish?

Nothing-is-InsurmountableThey don’t walk with Him, and He has not proven Himself to them, and the revelation they have seen, has been ignored for that which they feel is solid or concrete.  They opt for what they trust as proven, not understanding that proven is the end result of the process of testing and trying.  Thus our God says to test Him and to trust Him and allow Him to prove Himself to those who have yet to believe in Him.  They dismiss everything as a coincidence and chance, and believe themselves to be in control of it all, not acknowledging God at all.

Why should this person share bread with you?  They are not operating in the Spirit, and in the natural they haven’t seen enough proof to trust what they know to be possible.  Yet, we must press on!  We must fight on!  We must overcome by the power that is within us, and speak with the authority given us.  Gideon did!

What will you do!

#PastorJDO3

Unbelievable!!! Judges 8:6

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But the officials of Succoth said,
“Do you already have the hands
of Zebah and Zalmunna in your
possession?  Why should we give
bread to your troops?”
Judges 8:6

 

followGideon following the path of the enemy, walking in the power of God, leading the troops with His authority, request bread for his troop, and has to brace himself for the response.  The leaders of Succoth reply, “Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna…”  As insulted and upset as he must have been, once must understand the position of Succoth in addition to the position of Gideon’s army.  It could be that they wanted to help, but feared lending their support to the eventual looser of the battle, leaving them aligned with an defeated army.

1. You don’t want to Fill the Bellies of a Dead Troop!

By giving food to Gideon’s troops, it could be interpreted by the 2 Kings that Succoth and Israel were aligned.  This is important because the battle between the two had not happened, leaving Succoth in a vulnerable position.  If they feed the troops, the Midianites could return and destroy their city or simply align themselves as enemies.  Furthermore they would be out of the supplies that they gave to Israel, which could be useful for consumption or for trade with others to make a solid alliance.

If Succoth chooses not to support you, don’t be surprised.  Try not to take it personal!

2.  It’s Not You, It’s the odds!

Succoth knew that Gideon’s army was only 300 people, and the Midionites had dice15,000 people.  As those who didn’t receive the revelation of God, they were not acting in faith, but in what seems logical.    The odds didn’t look to be in Gideon’s favor, so they were very hesitant to form an allegiance with Israel.  The leaders of Succoth were not foolish, the understood that without God or some special strategy, Gideon’s would be fighting with a disadvantage. 

It’s right for outsiders to doubt.  They are not walking in faith, nor have they received the revelation that is driving you.  Gideon and his army bore witness to miracle of fleece, and the powerful move of God’s promise to deliver Israel with 300 men.

Succoth possibly realized another truth:

3.  Food doesn’t Change the Numbers;
Can Improve Odds but not Guarantee Success

Nothing-is-InsurmountableSuccoth could have fed the Israelites, only to have them fall short to the 15,000 Midianites.  The food would have energized the army.  It would have given them the energy needed to fight the overwhelming odds.    The food would have also served to improve the morale of the army.  Their weariness was more than just physical, but emotional.  Having their physical need met, would have encouraged the army and improved their chances of defeating Midian.

So who can blame Succoth?  They did what was best for them.  It’s ashamed that it didn’t help the disposition of Israel.  Though this rejection might have seemed at the time to be a choice against Israel, and ultimately against the Lord, it was simply a choice for self preservation.  They chose to look after themselves, and to side with Odds and not Faith.

overcoming08Ultimately, we know they chose wrong, and end up paying a steep price for it.  In this, we learn a powerful lesson about going against the man of God, and what type of Odds God needs for success.  As believers, we can find joy in the reward of following God’s instructions.  God often allows us to face insurmountable Odd so we can be sure that we attribute the victory to Him.

 

#PastorJDO3

Don’t forget those who Follow! Judges 8:5

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And he said to the men of Succoth,
“Please give loaves of bread to
the people who are following me,
for they are exhausted, and I am
pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna,
the kings of Midian.”
Judges 8:5

Gideon, finds himself still in pursuit of the Midianites, whom defeated and destroyed some of God’s people in Tabor.  Gideon’s army is outnumbered 300 to 15,000, and though pursuing with passion, they are now hungry with the major part of the vision yet to accomplish!Feeding-The-Hungry

There are many things I love about this text starting with Gideons’ thoughts.  He encounters the leaders of Succoth, and though Zebah and Zalmunna are on the run, he still remembers he is being followed.  Gideon says, “please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me…” 

Though he is focused on the vision, he is in touch with the people following him.

Though this would seem simple, it is more challenging that it seems. There are times when the vision and the people seem to be pulling in different directions, and other times when the people are in pursuit with the man of God, but have needs that complete with or slow down the time frame for accomplishing the vision.  When these things occur, it is easy for the man or woman of God to focus their full attention on the completion of the task at hand, putting those following on the back shelf.  Neglect is in these cases is the outcome, but exist because there is confusion as to what is most valuable.

We found Jesus in this same situation.  Busy teaching and preaching, in the midst of traveling to another location, and being confronted with the issues and lack in the life of those following Him.  Though spreading the good news was his purpose, ultimately dying for the sins of the world, He was still compassionate and concerned about those following Him.   We too have to continue valuing the members of the kingdom, while we carry out the cause of the kingdom.

heartUnlike Gideon, for many, the voice of God and the desire to complete His vision is so deafening, that those following and assisting in the completion of the vision or simply hungry.  Honestly, I believe this is much of the story of the #churchhurt story line.  We hear over and over about those who have felt the sting of ministries and leadership whom have become so “kingdom focused” that they forget about the “kingdom citizens.”  The Kingdom is made up of citizens, not buildings, and while buildings are needed to house the citizens for worship, the order of importance should not be forgotten.  There are those who view and treat people like pawns on a board to protect the King and Queen for the sake of defeating the adversary.  To God, the sheep are just as valuable as the shepherd.  He values the sheep so much, that He will leave the 99 to gather the one.  Much like He left heaven to restore the relationship between the lost sheep and He, the good shepherd.  In the kingdom, each has the same purpose;  to build the kingdom through evangelism, and then to disciple all who are willing to follow Him.

I also love that Gideon asks on their behalf.  He is beyond personal or corporate pride and immersed in concern.  Though they were not Gideon’s people, Gideon saw them as his responsibility.  He says “please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me”.  Yes, they chose to follow, but they are now experiencing a hardship because they are helping Gideon accomplish his vision.  For this, Gideon feels responsible.

follow

Gideon not only knew that they needed their strength for the journey, but understood that they needed food for survival.  I believe this is important because many will feed and nourish to accomplish the vision and task, but wont supply nourishment to live or even for the journey home. 

We must fight to make sure a proper perspective is kept towards God’s people.  As those imitating God, God keeps a relationship with those who choose to follow Him, and even supplies food for those who haven’t acknowledged Him as Lord.  He rained on the just and the unjust.  He healed those who believed, and healed those filled with doubt.  God cared about people, not just about the task.

I love Gideon’s last statement, “and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of  Midian.”  I know that the two thoughts are connected, letting us know that Gideon is not foolish.  He knows that defeating the 15,000 might require each life, but if they perish or choose not to continue, He restates his focus, “I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna”.  He is not distracted or discouraged.  He knows what God would have him to do, and he is determined to see it through.  He knows that God is with Him. and knows that God will honor His Word, but remains aware that in the life, others are often needed to accomplish your goals.  I gather that he is both grateful and appreciative for those who remained past the original 30,000 men, whom were reduced to 300.  So must we continue to care for and shepherd the 300, despite the choice of the 29 thousand at home watching you struggle to accomplish the vision in exchange for the cares of this world.

 

 

#PastorJDO3