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Amen, now we're turning to Judges chapter 7. Judges chapter 7, and we'll take time to read all of this chapter:

If we are looking in the 300, or the ones who left, for virtue or strength in either group, we are missing the whole point of what God was doing, and the reason why God chose them in the first place

"Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon", verse 1, "and all 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 the 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. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, 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. And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try 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 all 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. So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites. And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan".
Now, our first week's study in the life of Gideon was entitled 'Gideon, The Fearful', and we have found out what a fearful character Gideon was. Yet in the subsequent week we found out that Gideon was also a faithful man, and he took his fears to the Lord. Now, that was not without questions and doubts, yet nevertheless he took them to the right place and he argued them through in the presence of, we believe, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who was the Angel of Jehovah that we read of in this story. So up until now we've seen that Gideon, and particularly this story that we'll consider this morning, in particular shows us that weakness and faithlessness is not the same thing. Did you hear that? Gideon shows us, and particularly the story that we will consider this morning, that weakness and faithlessness is not the same thing.

This teaches us, if ever a character in the Bible did, that you cannot be a person of faith without first of all being weak and recognising your own weakness

Let me explain: you can be strong and also be faithless. You can be naturally strong, both physically and mentally, emotionally and even in a spiritual sense other than the true spirituality that you find in Christ - you could be a very strong religionist in a quasi-spiritual sense. But contrariwise you can also be weak and full of faith, and that's what we're going to see this morning, and indeed that's what we see, I believe, through all the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 and right throughout the whole of the word of God. This teaches us, if ever a character in the Bible did, that you cannot be, in fact, a person of faith without first of all being weak and recognising your own weakness.

The fact of the matter is, we tend to think of the faithful, particularly in a spiritual Christian sense, as being those who are the strong. The unfaithful are those who we think of as being the weak. I think, perhaps, that the value system of our own society has contributed to that view. For instance, some of you can remember your schooldays, some of you haven't got that long ago to remember them - you were taught, perhaps, evolution. Some of our young children, even in primary school, are taught this. They are indoctrinated by this idea of the survival of the fittest, that it was the strongest who crawled out of that primeval soup millions and millions of years ago, who survived; and they killed off their rivals and ate them, and then, as it were, grew upon their strength and became stronger. There's this philosophy right throughout evolution that it is the survival of the fittest - only the strongest in our world survive, and the weakest die. Now often that is translated into our world in ways that, perhaps, we're not so perceptive of - yet even in education we see this. You're only really important and counted if you go to university, some think, or if you're a highflyer and you get all 'A's in your GCSEs or your A-levels, if you have a good career and you keep climbing the ladder - that gives you worth in the worldview that people have in our day.

There is a lot of egoism about. There are a lot of self-image gurus who tell you that you need to love yourself, and whilst there is a measure of truth in the fact that you need to have self-acceptance, they go over the top and tell you that you almost need to worship yourself, and provide so much comfort and luxury and pampering for yourself that it becomes, in a biblical sense, sin. You can go into a bookshop today and find many self-help programs in book form and cassette form, you can even put some of them on in the middle of the night and listen to them, and supposedly when you're unconscious your subconscious takes it all in. All of it is an attempt to get us to search for the strength that is in all of us, they tell us - search, as the song says, for the hero that is inside yourself.

Now, there's an obvious assumption made that the fittest are the strongest, and therefore the strongest are the most successful. We as the Christian church, and as individual Christians, need to be very very careful that we don't imbibe that same value system to the extent that the world has. In a Christian church today, contemporarily speaking, that shows less difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, I think we have swallowed this great lie. Let me show you how we can succumb to it. Many Christians and churches believe that the bigger the church, the more successful it must be. That is false. Some believe that the size of the congregation reflects the success of the preacher. That may be true on the level of a human sense, but it certainly is not in a spiritual sense. Some think the size of the building reflects the success of church programs, that may be the case on a human level, but is it in the eyes of God a successful church? Some think that the size of our bank balance reflects how much God is blessing us, is that the case? Others believe that the number of young people that come to your church reflects how relevant your church is - is that so?

Now, those things that I have described in a Christian context, they all describe success to a certain extent and on a certain level, but they should never ever be construed as spiritual victory or as the triumph of faith. These things may be success in a human sphere, but in no sense are they success in God's eyes. We have to get rid of the 'strength breeds success' attitude, for it is in fact the antithesis of God's way. We will see this in Gideon this morning, for in this passage we shall see how to be triumphant for God, God's way. How to be a victorious Christian God's way; how to be a success, in other words, in God's eyes.

First John 5:4 reads: 'This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith'. Faith is the key, but note what we said at the very beginning: faith and weakness are not necessarily cancelling each other out. We tend to think of people with faith as being strong, but what we're going to see this morning is that it is the opposite: that people of faith are the weakest people in the world. Now let me show you this from this account of Gideon as a fighter. First of all, what I want to share with you is found in verses 1 to 3, and then in verses 4 to 8, and it's simply this: if you're going to have victorious faith and be a success in God's eyes, you have to be broken down. You must be broken down.

Now in verses 1 to 3 we find the first sifting of Gideon's army. If you look at it and glance at it you'll find that Gideon had 32,000 volunteer soldiers. God said to him: 'Gideon, I want you to whittle this down', and eventually it came to 10,000 - 22,000 were subtracted from his ranks. Now, how was that done? Well, upon the authority of Deuteronomy 20:8, which reads like this: 'The officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart'. He told the fearful, the fainthearted to go home - and 22,000 of them left, and left Gideon with 10,000!

God was going to teach Gideon and the army this lesson: that there had to be a breaking of false faith and false security and of false reliance, before true faith and true victory could take the field

Now you might say: 'Well, that just doesn't make sense!' - and it doesn't make sense. If God wanted Gideon to be a victor, and He wanted the Israelites to overcome the Midianites, it does not make sense to break down the army, to subtract 22,000 from them. But I ask you the question: in whose mind does it not make sense? In your mind, in my mind, but God's ways are not our ways, and God's thoughts are not our thoughts. In verse 2 this was the thinking behind what God did: 'I want you to make them this small', He says in effect, 'because if you don't they will vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me'. You see, God wanted Gideon's faith not to be in his strength or in the strength of the numbers of his army, God was going to teach Gideon and the army this lesson: that there had to be a breaking of false faith and false security and of false reliance, before true faith and true victory could take the field.

Then we have the second sifting in verses 4-8, and this simply goes like this - the second test: the surviving 10,000 soldiers were asked to drink at the river. Basically those who got on their knees to drink from the water, probably lapping up the water with their hands, they were eliminated - God didn't want those. Those who got down on their belly and lapped up the water like a dog with their tongue were kept, and there were only 300 of those. So it goes from 32,000 to 10,000, and now from 10,000 to 300.

Now, the question is: what was the significance of this second sifting and this second test? Well expositors, and I've read quite a few preparing for this morning's message, there's different interpretations of this, and you may have heard certain interpretations at Sunday School, you've maybe even taught it, you've maybe even preached on it. There are those who say: 'Well, you see those who took the time to kneel down, and to cup their hands, and to lap up the water with their hands, they had taken their eyes off the enemy. These people were showing the flesh, whereas the ones who quickly fell on their belly, and lapped up the water quick and ready like a dog, and then got quickly on their feet again - they kept their eye upon the foe, they were disciplined and self-sacrificing'.

Now, what is the problem with that interpretation? Well, the problem with it is there are those who take the opposite interpretation and see those who got on their knees as the spiritual ones, and those who got on their bellies as the fleshly ones. But the main problem with any interpretation like that is that the text, the Bible doesn't tell us that - and it's dangerous reading between the lines, what the Holy Spirit has not revealed to us. The other thing is that, whether they kept their eyes on the enemy or took their eyes off the enemy, as far as I'm concerned, is a red herring - because the enemy was miles away, and they would have had to have binoculars to keep their eyes on the enemy!

The sad thing about it is this: if we are looking in the 300, or the ones who left, for virtue or strength in either group - even the first group that we've talked about who were sent home, the 22,000 - we are missing the whole point of what God was doing, and the reason why God chose them in the first place. What am I talking about? Well, I believe that all the Lord was doing in this first sifting in verses 1 to 3, and the second sifting in verses 4 to 8, was He was indiscriminately whittling down the army to show that if they were going to be victorious it was going to be His doing. Sure, if these 300 were mighty men they could have walked away like peacocks, and said: 'Well, it was because we lapped up like a dog, and didn't kneel down and do it with our hands'. We're missing the point, the whole point was that God didn't care, in one sense, how He whittled the numbers down - that was the purpose: to show that no matter how He did it, and how few were left, if there was going to be victory it was because He was with His people. Do you see it? Often we miss the real point of Scripture and make some clever point that isn't even there, and the sad fact is that we end up contradicting the very point that God is trying to make. What is it? Verse 7, He said: 'By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand' - even by these!

Now Gideon's faith was being tested, that's for sure. Was his faith in the strength of his armies, or in the strength of his God? That's a good question. I know you have faith, but the big issue is: where is it? Can you say with the Psalmist in Psalm 118, I was reading it this week, verse 6: 'The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes'. If God tested you, or tested me the way He tested Gideon, how would we fare? To prove whether Gideon was trusting in his armies or in the Lord, He took away his crutch, the only strength he had. Through Gideon's actions he had raised up an army, a faithful army of faithful men - and now God was coming and decimating it, and turning it to 1% of its original number! What was God doing? He was taking away his crutch.

Have you got a crutch? Is it necessary for God to take it away before you'll really trust in Him and Him alone?

Have you got a crutch? Is it necessary for God to take it away before you'll really trust in Him and Him alone? Trevor was telling the children this morning about how Satan challenged God concerning Job. The accusation of the devil was that Job didn't really have faith in God, but Job's faith was resting in the material blessings that God had given him. 'Take the crutches away', Satan said, 'and Job will fall and so will his faith, and he'll turn and curse You'. Do you remember what Satan said to God in chapter 2 of Job? 'Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face'.

We are going to see this morning in the time that is left that the victory that is wrought by faith has only glory in it for God. It is impossible to understand in any other way than the fact that God has taken the field, and God has wrought the victory. You see, people who live by faith - and I'm not talking about faith missions or anything like that, I'm talking about everyday people who live trusting the Lord - they know their own weakness more and more as they more and more depend upon the Lord. Is that a revelation to us today? People of faith are willing to be known for what they are: weak, helpless. You see, when you see yourself as God knows you are, the outcome is that you are broken, you're broken before God and it is then that brokenness that brings in the blessing.

Let me put it in Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:10: 'For when I am weak, then I am strong', or as F. F. Bruce paraphrased it, 'My power is most fully displayed when my people are weak'. My power is most fully displayed when my people are weak! The Lord is saying: 'I am the Lord, it is my name, and my glory will I not share with another'.

If you look at verse 8 you see the weapons this army carried, not only were they few in number, verse 16 outlines it as well, but what strange weapons they had: a torch, a trumpet and a jar. Paul said: 'The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual' - they would have to be, for this army wasn't going to do anything with a torch, a trumpet, and a jar without God! I don't know whether you read much of Christian history, I try to read as much as I can and particularly biography - but it's an astounding fact that the men that God used, particularly in awakenings and revival, were men who the rest of society would have considered to be the weakest of the weak, the runt of the litter.

I was reading this week about William McCulloch, who was used in revival. He was the parish minister in Cambuslang in Scotland about 1740, and he was a scholarly pastor. He excelled in the Biblical languages, especially Hebrew, but he had very little gift in the pulpit - he could hardly preach. In fact, his own son described him as, I quote: 'Not a very ready speaker, not eloquent. His manner was slow and cautious'. In fact the people of his day called him an 'ale minister', because when he started to preach everybody went out and quenched their thirst at the local inn with ale! He wasn't anything to listen to, yet the fact of the matter is that William McCulloch was chosen of God to prepare the way for a revival in Cambuslang, and later, after he was used of God, George Whitefield - a mighty gifted man, filled with the Spirit - came and preached and many were converted. But arguably it was not the human dynamism of Whitefield, or the eloquence of that great evangelist, but it was this man William McCulloch in his weakness and his brokenness that God used to prepare the way. Do you see this? This is where spiritual victory and success is: you must be broken, God has to sift you, once, twice, however many times it's necessary.

Gideon is quite an unheroic hero, he certainly is no John Wayne filled with true grit

Then secondly, what I want you to see is you must be broken, but you must be built up. Now Gideon is quite an unheroic hero, he certainly is no John Wayne filled with true grit. But perhaps you're saying: 'Well, surely these great heroes of faith are not all weaklings?', no, don't make that assumption, I'm not making that equation at all. If we look at Hebrews 11, you don't need to turn to it necessarily, we find that men of faith were far from weaklings: 'What shall I say more of Gideon, of Barak, of Samson, of Jephthae; David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens', and so on and so forth. But there is the key: out of their own weakness God made them strong, they became strong but their strength was not their own strength, it was the strength of the Lord. Incidentally, it was not a false weakness, it was not a weakness induced by mere modesty. Weakness was their real condition, and they knew all about it too well - but once they were broken down, once they had been sifted of their own false illusions of themselves and their strength, they had to then be built up again by God in the strength of the Lord. As Jude says, they had to be built up in their most holy faith. The Lord was coming to Gideon, after breaking him down, decimating his army, giving him these pathetic weapons, and now He wants to encourage his faith and weaken his fear.

He did this in two ways, first of all by fellowship, and I think this is beautiful. In verse 10, God is so merciful, isn't He? He says: 'If you fear to go down, Gideon, take with you Phurah, your servant, with you to the host'. God has been so merciful to Gideon, and He's so merciful to us. Gideon needed someone beside him, he needed fellowship. Ecclesiastes 4 outlines this for us: 'Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up'. Isn't it amazing how God provides for us? If we would only open our eyes to see it! Fellowship for when we are in weakness. If we are only willing to confess ourselves as weak, so often God will bring along a companion who will share in our danger and stand by us, like Phurah stood by Gideon.

God supplied Gideon with a Phurah, David with his Jonathan, Paul with his faithful Barnabas - we could go on and on and on, and He'll do the same for us if we look for it. You see, some of us shut ourselves up in our grief, or in our pain and don't let anybody in. Some of us can remember situations in which we felt dreadfully alone and fearful, and how often the Lord in His mercy sent someone to our side, and God helped you through a friend. That's what God's doing for Gideon - I just love the way the Lord is portrayed in this story. The Lord doesn't say: 'Would you go yourself, you cissy, how many promises do you need? How many signs do you need?'. God says: 'Look, if you need somebody to go down with you, there's Phurah, take him with you'.

Phurah was Gideon's friend in need, do you have a friend in need? Don't worry, I'm not going to sing any Disney songs! But it's true, the fact of the matter is: a friend in need is a friend indeed. But maybe the question should be asked, not 'Do you have one?', but are you one? Are you a friend in need? Do you know something: the church is the fellowship for the Christian, and fellowship is essential to our victory and our success when we're fearful, when we're fretting, when we're weak. Who of us isn't weak? It's not all those people that are bereaved, and all those people who are ill that we apply this to, it's all of us! We're all weak and we all need each other!

He had to be built up by fellowship, but then secondly he had to be built up by another supernatural sign that we find in 13 and 14. The sign simply was, they were eavesdropping - not to sanction that in anyway! - but they were listening in to a conversation of the Midianites, and this man had had a dream about a barley loaf that had rolled down the hill and hit a Midianite tent and destroyed it. His mate said to him: 'There can be no other interpretation than that this is speaking of Gideon and the armies of the Lord'. Now, that gave great faith to Gideon. How could we ever criticise him with the fleece when we see that the Lord gave him a sign here to help build up his faith, to help banish his fears - 'As the father pitieth his child, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him'. He remembers that we are dust, He knows our frame - thank God that He is the way He is!

This enemy assured Gideon that the battle would be his. Suddenly Gideon grasped it from the mouth of the enemy - what was it that he grasped? Listen: the foe that he feared had already been defeated, and he was hearing it from his own mouth, and victory was assured. Maybe you're saying: 'I'd love a sign like that' - you have a sign like that. Do you know what our sign is? Our sign is the sign of the cross. Not the literal sign of a cross, but what happened on the cross, where Jesus died for our sins and when He rose again the third day in glorious life that is endless - what does that portray? It portrays that our foe is defeated, there's nothing to fear. This is the sign that God has given us: he is a defeated foe!

Are you a friend in need? Do you know something: the church is the fellowship for the Christian, and fellowship is essential to our victory and our success when we're fearful, when we're fretting, when we're weak. Who of us isn't weak?

Oh to God that we would know what John says in 1 John 3 and verse 8: 'For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil'. The devil has been mastered by the Lord Jesus, and since Calvary Satan's way has ever been downward. Now you would think it was his heyday, wouldn't you? He's having his innings at the moment, but the fact of the matter is: his outcome is not in question. He is plodding towards his execution, and he knows it, and we need not cower before him. He does possess great power, and we cannot face him on our own strength, but our Lord is greater than he is - and greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!

Surely that deserves a hallelujah? That drove Gideon to his knees, and we find in verse 15 that he worshipped, he grasped it and he fell and he worshipped. He had to be a sincere worshipper before he could be a successful warrior. That's the secret, if there is any, to spiritual success and the triumph of faith - what? We need to be broken worshippers at the foot of the cross, where Jesus bought the victory for us. If you ever get up from that cross you're in trouble. If your head or your heart ever gets filled with pride, and you think: 'I can do this myself, you know I was weak when I was first saved and all the rest' - maybe you were relying more on the Lord when you were first saved, when you were weaker!

You must be broken down and built up, and then do you know what will happen? You'll beam out! If you're broken down and the Lord builds you up, you'll beam out! Gideon returned with this assurance in his breast to the Israelite camp with built-up faith. He divided the 300 into three companies of a hundred soldiers, with a trumpet and earthenware pitcher, and a lamp inside it - and they all marched to the fringe of the Midianite camp. As, when appointed, the signal was given, they blew the trumpet, they broke the pitchers, and the light was let out - and they all cried 'The sword of the Lord and Gideon!'.

Gideon was the example for them to follow, look at the change in this man's life. In verse 17, one translation puts it like this: 'Watch me', Gideon says, 'Follow my lead', Gideon says, 'Do exactly what I say' - he had come a long way, hadn't he, from the winepress? He was no longer asking, as he had in chapter 6 verse 13: 'If? Why? Where? Lord show me'. This story of Gideon began with a man hiding in a winepress, and in verse 25, if you look at it, it ends up with the enemies of God, the princes of Midian and those nations being slain at a winepress. Where Gideon had his fearfulness, he was now having divine victory!

Now God gives His own interpretation, I believe, to this incident in 2 Corinthians 4 and verse 7, if you care to turn to it. Verse 4 we'll read: 'If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world', that is Satan, 'hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us'. Paul is saying Christ dwells within the Christian, and our body is like an earthenware vessel, and it's only as we are broken, constantly broken - verse 9: 'Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed', and so on - as we are broken and delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the light of the knowledge of Christ, the knowledge of God and the face of Jesus, can shine forth to others.

Do you see yourself as insignificant this morning? Can I tell you something: you can't be too small for God to use, but some of you need to realise you can be too big for Him to use

Oh, do you see it? It's so simple, yet it's so profound: 'Lord, bend that proud stiff-necked I, help me to bow the head and die, beholding Him on Calvary who bowed His head for me'. He must increase and I must decrease. You've got to be broken down, friends, you've got to be built up - and only then will you beam out. Do you see yourself as insignificant this morning? Can I tell you something: you can't be too small for God to use, but some of you need to realise you can be too big for Him to use. If you want the credit for what God's doing, He'll not use you. That's why, when you look around, you see God moving in miraculous ways through some of the very weakest people, the people who are careful to give God all the glory. Does it bother you that you're not very significant? Does it discourage you that you've no prominent gifts? Praise God! You're just the kind of person that He uses! Do you see it? Some of us are walking around: 'God's lucky He has me, isn't He? I'm a natural leader, I'm a natural preacher, I'm a natural organiser. I can do this, I can do that' - if you're like that, you're in for a bitter disappointment, if not now then at the Judgment Seat. We need to alter our current stereotypes of what a servant of God in Christ is. We dupe ourselves into thinking that it's someone dynamic, it's someone assured, confident, brash, fearless, witty, adventurous, glamorous with one or two appearances on Christian television or radio - nothing of the sort! It's someone who is broken.

Some of the oddest souls in creation have been mightily used of God, because God brought strength out of their weakness and shone the very face of Jesus Christ out of their brokenness. Gideon the fighter: may we all know what it is to be broken down, to be built up, and to beam out.

I wonder is there someone here and you're not even a Christian. Well, you know, the formula is no different for you: you have to be broken down of your own self-sufficiency, the thought that you're good enough, that you're not one of these sinners that needs born-again. You have to become weak, Jesus said, like a little child, and repent of your sins and confess it. Just say what you are in God's eyes, know it and say it, and you are to be built up at the foot of the cross too, by the precious blood that was shed to make you right before God. By faith, embrace that gift of salvation there, and say: 'Lord, I'm a sinner, and Jesus died to save me. I want You to save me now', and you'll beam out from this day forth, that's for sure. Is there a backslider here, and the cracks have been plugged up by your own pride, and you've stopped beaming? It's time to get broken again. I'll tell you this: there's not one of us here today that doesn't need a fresh breaking, not one - and if you think you're that one, God help you for you're in need of it more than any of us.

Lord, all we can say is as we sang at the beginning: 'Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us. Break us, melt us, mould us, fill us. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us'.

Don't miss part 10 of 'Men For The Hour': 'Gideon, The Fallen'

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
November 2005

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the ninth recording in his 'Men For The Hour' series, entitled "Gideon, The Fighter" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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