- Sermon Notes
Your Very Present Help
Intro – Need a hand?
This morning we pick up in Judges chapter 6. The people of Israel have been oppressed by a people from the land of Midian (the Midianites) for 7 years. This oppression caused overwhelming fear. In their despair, they would move to the mountains and hide themselves in whatever caves, or protected areas they could find.
Prior to the 7 years of oppression, there was a period of 40 years of peace. The nation had been undisturbed for 40 years after being delivered from the Canaanites, yet, they turned away from the Lord and found themselves overtaken and dominated. The Lord had delivered them time and time again, yet, the people would continually lose sight of all He had done, turning away, and toward the gods of the world. The pattern would be repeated for more than 250 years, yet, whenever they cried out to God, He was faithful to deliver.
Though they had failed to listen to the Lord, pursue His ways or keep Him at the center and foundation of their nation and lives; the Lord never failed to listen when they cried out to Him. They had turned away from Him, but still, He was their very present help in their time of trouble and responded to their cry for help.
Read Judges 6:1-16
Perhaps this morning you are in a situation like the Israelites. Perhaps you find yourself without. Perhaps it has been an extended season. Stuck in a cycle, hiding out because you have no other answer. Perhaps you have felt like there is nothing you can do about your situation…I want to encourage you.
Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
No matter what you face this morning, like the Israelites, you have a very present help. No matter the cycle, no matter the situation, He is near and will hear the moment you call. The Israelites took refuge in the caves and clefts, but it all changed when they cried out to the Lord and sought refuge and strength in Him.
He was near to them and heard them when they called and He is near to you, your very present help in time of trouble, in your hour of need. G. Campbell Morgan once wrote, “the secret of confidence is the consciousness of the nearness of God.”
I. Cry Out to the Lord
Judges 6:6, Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the Lord.
- Humiliated, and reduced to poverty. For seven years, their harvested crops, as well as all of their animals, were taken.
- Due to their great fear, their answer for 7 years was to run and hide, to find their own way around those who were coming against them.
- What would happen is the Midianites and Amalekites would let the men from Israel do all of the farming and all of the harvesting and then come and take the harvest.
Illus – How grain was winnowed.
- A similar equivalent today would be if on payday, someone took your check…For 7 years…and there was nothing you could do about it.
- It took 7 long years of overwhelming, fierce and devastating oppression before the Israelites cried out to the Lord.
- For the Israelites, prayer was their last resort instead of their first resource.
Illus. Allergy season.
- It is so often that we want to work things out in our own way, and in our own strength.
- “I got this..” and after days, weeks, sometimes years we finally find ourselves crying out to God.
Psalm 34:6, This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
Psalm 3:4, I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.
- When we cry out to the Lord, He hears.
Illus. A cry for help, a cry for thanksgiving…Keeping Him at the center.
- You have not been forgotten
- The Israelites called to God and He provided a prophet to speak to them.
- Not only did he provide a prophet, he sent an angel of the Lord to Gideon.
- This angel of the Lord was a Christophany, which was an Old Testament appearance of Christ.
- He came to Gideon who happened to be threshing wheat in a winepress in order to save it from the Midianites.
- He winnowed his grain cleverly, but less effectively and full of fear.
- The angel of the Lord called out to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
- Gideon’s response was “pardon me, my lord” …”If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happen to us? And where are all his miracles?”
- Gideon had concluded that the Lord had abandoned Israel.
Illus. Falling off the radar.
- We don’t fall off of God’s radar when our performance is lacking or our persistence is waning.
Psalm 139:8, If I got up to the heavens, you are there; if I make by bed in the depths, you are there.
- Gideon thought that all of God’s miracles were behind them, but the Lord knew the situation, he came to Gideon and would make a way.
Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
- Gideon said, “if the Lord is with us, why is all of this happening?”
- Interestingly, the Lord answered Gideon’s questions with a commission…He didn’t answer, He simply pointed Gideon to the plans He had in store.
- We often want answers to the why’s, the why nots, the if’s, or the if only’s…Hiding away in a winepress until we get all of the answers.
- Trust Him with tomorrow
- Many things you don’t grow to, you grow through.
- And when you are going through it, passing through the waters, He will be with you (Is. 43:2)…He is your very present help!
- The Lord had called out to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
- Gideon was anything but a valiant warrior at the time.
- “My family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”
- God’s answer is indicative of His plans for Gideon, “Surely I will be with you, and you will defeat Midian as one man.”
- The Lord wasn’t concerned about who He had been, He knew the plans He had in store and addressed Gideon accordingly.
Illus. My dad used to wake me up to his hopes of who I might become.
Illus – God gave Simon the name Peter, which means “rock,” while he was still a fisherman. He would continue to tell Peter that He would build His church upon that rock.
- God knows who you will be, and he addresses you according to who you will become.
- He is looking for those who will rise up to their calling. Inadequate but willing to trust Him with their tomorrow.
2 Chronicles 16:9, The eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the whole earth in order to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (NKJV)
- Gideon declared that he was a nobody, how could he save Israel? His family was the least and he was the least in his family.
- God wanted to turn Gideon’s eyes to who he would be, despite his autobiography.
- It is not about who we are, but who He is.
- Gideon tells the Lord about his resume, that he is a nobody, the least of the least and the Lord reminds him, it’s not who you are, its who I am, I will be with you, that’s all you need!
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
- We should be encouraged when we see so many examples in the scriptures that God delights to use those who are weak to demonstrate the greatness of His glory.
- Let us not allow our insignificance (real or perceived) to keep us from what God has called us to do.
- The Lord addressed Gideon as a valiant warrior before he was one, and against the odds, God would ensure that Gideon would be exactly that!
- Like Gideon, it’s not who you are, its whose you are.
- Proceed according to faith, not fear
Illus. The path to battle.
- The Midianite army was 135,000 strong.
- 32,000 men responded to Gideon’s call, this turned into 10,000 and then 300.
- If I am Gideon, I am seeing the odds go from 4:1, to 13.5:1, and finally 450:1.
- If I am Gideon, that winepress seems awfully comfortable…But what would keep in the winepress was fear, the Lord was calling him to faith.
- The facts were that Gideon and his people had been oppressed by this people for 7 years. Now, after responding to the call of the Lord to defeat the Midianites, the odds are stacked up against him.
2 Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Judges 6:16, Surely, I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian…
Illus. “Facts” about lefties.
- These “facts” are not a real promising vote of confidence for those who are left-handed. But they aren’t the “facts” that I base my next steps on.
- I prefer God’s narrative for my life.
Ephesians 1:1-8, Blessed with every spiritual blessing; chosen, holy, and blameless before God; redeemed and forgiven.
- We may be prone to all sorts of things, but are overcomers through his grace and mercy.
Psalm 46:1-2, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…Therefore we will not fear.
A very present (Abundantly available) help…
In trouble (tight places)…
- The Israelites were stuck, by their own doing, or undoing I should say…The Lord was faithful to deliver…and just like He reminded the Israelites of what he had done…That he had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, from the hands of their oppressors and not to fear…
- I believe He would have that same reminder to you this morning…
“It was He who brought out the Israelites, with odds at 450:1, I am the Lord, do not fear the things, people, or problems of this world…and Lo, I am with you always, even to the end”…Matthew 28:20
Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the Lord. Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord on account of Midian, that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”’”Then the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”