Dear Visionary Leader:
In Hebrews 11:32-33, we read, “And what shall I more say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel, and the prophets: who through faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”
At this point, we are going to study the first one mentioned in this series, Gideon. Gideon was one of the judges that ruled over Israel in a certain period in time in the history of Israel when they were without a king. The Israelites had sinned and had gone after false gods; one particular god, a fertility god whose name was Bail.
They worshipped Bail with licentiousness, sexuality and sensuality. The judgment of God fell upon them. God sent a fearsome, warlike people named the Midianites. The Midianites were pressing Israel in on every side. It was a terrible time for Israel.
Yet, there was a man who had a heart for God. His name was Gideon. He was just a farmer. He was an ordinary man. While he was working to make a living, the angel of the Lord appeared to him. The Lord said to this ordinary man, “Hail, thou mighty man of valor.” When the Lord said that to Gideon, I imagine that Gideon looked over his shoulder to see to whom the Lord was speaking, for he was certain that it wasn’t him. But the Lord made it clear that Gideon was the man to whom he was speaking. The Lord said to Gideon, “Gideon! You’re the man that I’m going to use to deliver My people from the oppressive heel of the Midianites.” Gideon began then to argue with the Lord, and to tell the Lord that he was not worthy for this leadership role. God revealed to him that through His power, through His grace, and through His strength, that Gideon would be able to fight the good fight of faith.
I want to tell you there is a war that’s being fought now. It is a spiritual war; the unseen war between darkness and light, between good and evil, between Heaven and Hell. The stakes are high, and our enemy is Satan. Satan is letting loose with all of the artillery of the pit! I believe that Satan is fighting like a cornered animal because he can see the signs of the times. He knows that he has but a little while.
We are going to be drawn into this battle. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no way that we can escape. If you’re a child of God, you’re also to be a soldier of the cross; and if a soldier, then a warrior. So, you’d better learn to fight! Many of us have enemies. These enemies are marshaled against us, and we’re called not to a playground, but to a battlefield. And this thing called a church is not a showboat, it’s a battleship. I want you to learn, ladies and gentlemen, that there is a war that’s being fought. But we are to fight the good fight of faith!
What God told Gideon to do so long ago, is mentioned in the New Testament as an illustration to Christians. I want to give you the steps in the life of overcoming, the steps of conquest.
Message Continues In Visionary Coaching
The People Of Courage
In Judges 7, we read the story of Gideon. God had called and commissioned Gideon. And he says to Gideon, “I want you to call an army.” Thus, Gideon sent out the call and gathered all of the people. As a result, he pulled together a good size army! There were thirty-two thousand soldiers. With this as a background, we read:
“Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all of the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod so that the host of the Midianites were on north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. And the Lord said unto Gideon, ‘The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying Mine own hand hath saved me.” (God says, “Israel’s not going to get the glory for this battle, and they’re not going to say they did it because they had too many soldiers.”) “Now, therefore go, to proclaim in the ears of the people, saying,”(-now, underscore this) “‘Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead.’ And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.”
Now, here’s what happened: Gideon said, “We’re going into battle! And all of you men of war listen to me! If anybody is afraid, he should go home!” Therefore, a herd of thousands of people left him; twenty-two thousand packed up their bags and left.
Now, what was God showing? God was showing that the first principle of conquest, to fight the life of faith, is this: there must be the principle of courage. God can’t use cowards! Are you a coward? Well, being a coward and being afraid will make you fitted for failure, but it will not fit you for fighting. The Bible says we’re not to be afraid. God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, of power, and of a sound mind!
It is a terrible thing when people have a spirit of fear. One of the worst things about fear is that fear is infectious. There exists the ability to make others afraid when you’re afraid. In Deuteronomy 20:8: we read, “And the officers shall speak further saying unto the people, and they shall say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and faint-hearted, let him go and return to his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.”‘
God said again in the Book of Deuteronomy, “If you are afraid, Please go. If you do not go, you will make others afraid.” Do you remember when Joshua sent those twelve spies out? Ten of them came back with an evil report, and said, “Oh, it’s a beautiful land. It’s -it’s like milk and honey! And it’s everything that you’ve said!” But there are giants there! The sons of Anak were there! And we were in their eyes as grasshoppers! They had a grasshopper complex.
I’ve tried to lead people for a long time now, and I’ve found out that it’s a wonderful thing when you propose a vision to God’s people and they say, “By faith we can do it.” But it’s a terrible thing when there are some people who are not walking close enough to the Lord to hear the voice of God, and they take counsel with their fears, and they say, “It can’t be done.” And those kinds of people are infectious. They infect other people, and they cause God’s people many times from entering into the blessings that they ought to have.
There is a principle that I call the scarecrow principle. And it is this: whenever you see a scarecrow, you know there’s some good grain around or there’s some good strawberries around or there’s some good tomatoes around. A farmer puts a scarecrow in the middle of his field to scare the crows off. Now, he doesn’t put the scarecrow in the pasture. He doesn’t put the scarecrow in the highway. He doesn’t put the scarecrow in a vacant lot. But he puts it there wherever there’s something good around. The devil puts up his scarecrows to scare you off because God has some blessings for you. Some people are just not afraid of the devil’s scarecrows. You know, the devil can scare you, but if you’re walking in the Spirit, he can’t harm you. Therefore, we don’t need to let the devil scare us away from a blessing.
There are three kinds of fears that keep some of us from serving the Lord as our God. First, there are Believers who are afraid of God, the Father. I’m not talking about the reverential fear of God. The reverential fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” There are certain people because their lives are not right and because they’re not walking in faith, they’re afraid of God!
Do you remember when Adam hid in the Garden? And God said to Adam, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard Thy voice, and I was afraid.” The first words that man uttered after his sin were these: “I was afraid.” And the deeper man goes into sin, the more he is in enwrapped in his fears.
Do you remember in the parable where the man of the Lord gave to certain of his servants certain talents, He gave one man five talents, one man two talents, one man one talent? And the man that had five talents took it and invested the five and got five others. The one that had two talents invested those talents and got two others. But one man took his talent, buried it in the ground, and when his master came and asked for an accounting of that talent, he said, “Well, I was afraid, for I knew that you are a hard man, reaping where you haven’t sowed; and so I hid my talent in the ground.”
Do you know what the Lord said to him? “Oh, wicked and slothful servant.” There are some of you who are hiding your talents in the ground. Do you know why? Because you’re afraid of God. Now, it’s a strange thing that people would be afraid of God, but they are!
They don’t think that God loves them enough. Did you know there are people who are afraid to come down an aisle in the church and give their heart to the Lord Jesus Christ? They are afraid of what God would do to them. They think they are safer out there in the devil’s camp than they are under God’s provision! They think if they confessed their sin to the Lord that somehow, He would scold them for it. It is the unconfessed sin that’s going to get them in trouble.
God doesn’t love us because we are lovely. God just loves us. The Bible says, “God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ loved us.” God loved us. I used to read that verse in the Bible that says, “Perfect love casted out fear.” And that sounds so beautiful. It sounds so poetic, doesn’t it? “Perfect love casted out fear.” (I John 4:18)
If I just had perfect love, I wouldn’t be afraid of anything! Yet, over time, it didn’t become much of an encouragement to me because I’ve never done anything perfectly except sin. I’ve never loved perfectly. Have you? You never have. Thus, I began thinking, “Well, how could I have perfect love?” Then, I read it in a good translation these words: “We have no need to fear someone who loves us perfectly.” Isn’t that beautiful? “We have no need to fear someone who loves us perfectly.” It’s not my perfect love for God that cast out my fear. It’s His perfect love for me. Isn’t that wonderful that God loves you perfectly? In spite of our sin, in spite of our failures, God loves us! Hallelujah! He does! God loves you. Don’t be afraid of God.
Second, some people have fear of failure. There are some people who could sing, but they won’t try. There are some who could preach but won’t try. There are others who could teach, but they won’t try. They are afraid of failure. Some churches fail because they’re afraid they’re going to fail. Some people look like an accident going somewhere to happen. Have you ever gotten behind someone driving a car and they approach every light like it’s going to turn red? And sure, enough it does! There are people like that. There are churches like that. They’re just so afraid they’re going to make a mistake that their entire life becomes one beautiful mistake!
Third, there are people who have fear of the future. They’re just afraid of tomorrow -what’s going to happen. They’re afraid to build a house because they’re afraid it might not turn out great. They’re afraid to buy something, afraid to sell something, afraid to do that -what might happen. The Bible says, “He that considereth the wind will not sow.” A farmer never would have a crop if he says, “Well, we might have a drought, or we might have a rain or we might have this or we might have that.”
The future has two handles: one called fear and one called faith. We can take hold by either handle. I challenge you to take hold by the handle of faith! Don’t let the fear of the Father or the fear of failure or the fear of the future or any other kind of fear be the devil’s scarecrow that’s going to keep you from fighting the good fight of faith!
In Judges 6:7, we read: “And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites, that the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage: and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; and said unto you, I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed My voice.'” “I am the Lord your God! Fear not!”
Did you know at least three hundred and sixty-five times in the Bible, one time for every day in the year, God has said, “Fear not.” There are three classes of people in the world: those who are afraid; those who don’t know enough to be afraid; and those who know their Bibles. The Word of God challenges us not to be afraid.
The Priority of Commitment
In Joshua 7:4 we read: “And the Lord said unto Gideon, ‘The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will test them for thee there. And it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, ‘This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee;’ and of whomsoever I say unto thee, ‘This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.’ So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, ‘Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.’ And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, ‘By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.’
The Word of God reveals the second test. What God is doing, is separating the men from the boys. He said, “Now it’s refreshment time, Gideon. He brings ten thousand people, down to a little stream to get a drink of water.
9,700 men put their hands in the mud, their nose down in the water, just as an animal would, and began to suck up the water. There were three hundred, very valiant men, who kneeled down perhaps on one knee with their shoulders and head erect, looking around, watching for the enemy.
They would just lap the water with their hand, get a little water in their palm and drink it. These people I call “the committed.” These men mean business. The others were so careless that God couldn’t use them. They put their head down in the water and the enemy could attack at that moment. All of them would be slaughtered. Thus, the Lord said, “You tell that nine thousand seven hundred that they can go home, too.”
They were interested more in their own pleasure. They were interested not in the battle. They were more interested in satiating their thirst. They were interested in getting a drink of water.
God knows we need a drink of water. He was the One Who said, “Come and drink.” God knows that we have needs in our lives. We need clothes! We need food! We need shelter! We need rest! We need recreation! We need fellowship! We need all these things, and God knows that we have a need of them!
However, these things can’t come first! These men who got down on their hands and knees were putting their sensual, selfish desires first. There’s nothing wrong with getting a drink. Both groups got a drink. But here was some who were saying, “Yes! I know that I have needs, but also the Lord has called me to be a soldier!” And when a man is called to be a soldier, he must endure hardness, as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ! If we are not committed enough to put Jesus Christ and the battle of faith first, we will be defeated.
The opposite of faith is not carelessness. Some people talk getting their lives in order. They say, “Well, I don’t have to worry about this because I’m trusting God.” Well, if you’re trusting God, you’re going to keep your life in order. In 1 Peter 5: 8, Peter states, “Be sober. Be vigilant. For your adversary, the devil, goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”
Faith, on the one hand, is not being afraid; but faith, on the other hand is not being foolish. You see, God can’t use the fearful and He can’t use the foolish. God can’t use the cowards and the careless. On the one hand were those who were afraid, and they went sent home. On the other hand, there were those who didn’t have enough sense to be afraid, and they were sent home, too! Thus, there were three hundred people who were committed, and God said, “I can use them.”
If you think there’s not a devil out there who wants to harm your home, your family and harm to your children, you’re wrong. We must learn to be sober. We need to be so committed in Christ that we serve Him in His cause first!
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking