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Posted in: Growth, Know God, Go All In

09.28.23 ( Jeff Vines )

Solely Depend on God

(An excerpt from the Sermon)

Sermon Series: UnPossible

Resolution four: God will usually strip us of everything we depend upon other than Himself. 

This is closely related to resolution number three, but not the same because in resolution three, we're talking about the glory of God. He's jealous for you. He has everything you need for living an extraordinary life. He fills every void, meets every need, and grants every victory. He wants you to glory in Him, to hold Him in the highest regard, and come to Him for wisdom, power, and strength. All that carries into resolution four.

Resolution four asks this simple question, in the heat of battle, what is your go-to? What is the first thing you go to when your life starts to fall apart?

When we hit difficult times, we start kicking and screaming. Most of us want out and we're going to do whatever it takes to get out right now. In fact, we refuse to stay in the valley long enough for God to complete what He's trying to do in us. Your trials have a designed purpose. What’s your go-to in the battles that God brings or allows into your life? You don't know if God caused it or allowed it. You just will never know, but when the trial comes, most of us do not want to wait on God to accomplish what He's trying to accomplish. As a result, we take hold of something that we've given to God. 

Think about all the things we go to. Here's how the world deals with it: If we have any addiction in our life, that addiction is heightened. When the battle comes, we pour ourselves into that, trying to numb the effects and the fear. When God's trying to do something amazing, anything that has taken God's place to bring relief, we go to that thing. We preoccupy ourselves with sport with some kind of recreation. We enter into an unhealthy relationship of codependency, thinking some person is going to solve our problems rather than going to God. Sometimes we turn to money. Some people stress shop, some people stress eat. The point is that we try to engage in something that will either help us numb the effects of what we're going through or get us out of it as soon as possible. I've seen people that I really respect, in the midst of trials, become horrific people. Gossiping and slandering, somehow thinking that if they can slander all the enemies that are causing this battle to happen, that their life will be better, but what ends up happening is they themselves end up being destroyed with bitterness. Some people go into pity parties. They just start feeling sorry for themselves and they go from one person to the next wanting pity and sorrow when that's not going to help them.

What is your go-to? What are the weapons of your warfare? 

God is trying to make sure with Gideon that his go-tos are completely eradicated and he's going to go to God. What on earth are you possibly going to do against 135,000 Midianites with trumpets, clay jars, torches, and your voice? God began this journey of stripping Gideon of everything he depended on other than Himself all the way back in Judges 6. Judges 6:28-32 says, 

“In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!”

So God had told Gideon, before I give the Midianites into your hand, you got to tear down those false idols. You got to go and you got to tear down Baal and you got to tear down the Asherah pole. So then the people got up and noticed what happened. In verse 29 it goes on to say, 

“They asked each other, ‘Who did this?’ When they carefully investigated, they were told, ‘Gideon son of Joash did it.’ The people of the town demanded of Joash, ‘Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.’ But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, ‘Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by the morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.' So because Gideon broke down Baal's altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, ‘Let Baal contend with him.’” 

This is the first thing God tells Gideon to do on this journey to one of Israel's greatest victories in their history. You got to go first of all and tear down that altar of Baal and you got to destroy the Asherah pole. Now, let's go back to a series we did earlier in the year called Under the Influence. Who is Baal and what is the Asherah pole? Baal is a false god that is still in the western culture to this day. Baal is the king of the gods, the leader of the spirits. He's the god of economic wealth and prosperity. You worship and pray to him when you want your crops to grow. He's called the lord of rain. He's often portrayed with a lightning bolt in his hand. He's also referred to as the chief god, the lord and master of the gods. 

In short, Baal is the god of prosperity. The Israelites were praying to him, worshiping him. Ashtoreth is referred to as the seductress, the enchantress, Ishtar, and in the Bible she's called Ashtoreth. In short, she's the goddess of all sexual immorality and fertility. So if you want fertility, you pray to her. You worship her, you engage in sexual immorality as a demonstration of your trust and faith in her. Now, because Israel had not kept their covenant with God and had allowed the gods of the Canaanites to infiltrate or enter their land, the Hebrews now had blended their religion with the religions of the Canaanites. So their go-to now for prosperity was both Baal and Yahweh to see which one would deliver. Their go-to when they wanted fertility and reproduction was the Ashtoreth and Yahweh. 

We want Yahweh, but we want power, money, and sex as well. So much so that we think we can use Yahweh to get our false gods and idols. These are the gods of our time. These have become our go-to. Think about this, what happens when we lose our peace, happiness, joy, and significance? We think the more money we have in our bank account, the happier we'll be. But it never works. There's a vast number of young people in our culture today who are being sold a bill of goods that can never be delivered. The bill of goods is this: sex is the ultimate. That's where you get everything, identity, meaning, significance. In fact, a local social commentator says this: “Sex has become a metric of one's self-exploration or measure of how liberated they are. It's become an identity marker.”

So what we've done is we've combined the gods. The modern church is so weak in its theology that we are confused and as a result are disintegrating. We don't know the Bible and, as a result, we don't know God because the purpose of the Bible is to reveal the heart and nature and doings and workings of God. So what we've done is we've combined God and secular humanism. Humanism tells us that life is all about us. The Bible tells us life is all about God. So obviously we're confused and we're disintegrating inside the soul every day. We're told even by churches that God is the genie in the bottle. Rub the lamp three times, He'll give you whatever you want, that God is about you, that life is egocentric, that God would never allow you to suffer or experience any pain, that God wants you to be rich and be wealthy, and God will help you.

His purpose is to help you get the desires of your heart. We define those desires of our heart as the other gods: wealth, power, sex, whatever it is. But those are all false, false, false, and false again. 

Now, here's what's interesting about this text. The Lord tells Gideon to destroy the false gods. We can't stand side by side. You got to get rid of them so that your go-to becomes God – Yahweh and Yahweh alone. You can't call on Baal and Ashtoreth at the same time. You need to cleanse yourself and you need to cleanse the nation. You need to repent. 

Not only does God want to lead Israel to do everything that brings Him the most glory, He also wants to strip away their go-tos when the odds are stacked against them. Whatever they think will save them, whatever they think will provide safety and security and salvation, whatever they're banking on for the victory, that thing has to be stripped away. You cannot serve God and the other idols. You can't. God refuses to compete with your other go-tos. So He's going to strip everything away that you go to till the only thing left is Him and He's the only thing you can go to.

If you keep going to those other things, you'll never get to God and God's not going to compete with your idols. You can't go to those things and go to Him as well. It doesn't work like that. One has got to go, one or the other. So God will often strip you of everything you depend upon other than Himself so that you will go to Him first.

What you don't realize, when you kick and scream and try to get out of the battle by manipulating the events and people around you to your own purpose and causes, what you're actually doing is fighting against God. 

Gideon is facing a fierce battle. He knows the odds are heavily stacked against him. His men have been sifted down to 300. He's probably banking on a great military arsenal. And now God has to take that away too. Isaiah 31:1 says, 

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or seek help from the Lord.” 

I know the last two messages have been difficult because the implication is that there are times when you're going to kick and scream and God's not going to get you out of this. That He's the grand weaver and He's weaving this beautiful design, this tapestry. But you've got to stay in it. 

Everything is something that was allowed into your life, but there's a bigger plan and a bigger purpose, and sometimes you will never see it. But there's always an outcome and God is trying to get you to the point where you believe and trust and have faith in Him to complete His work, not only in you, but to do extraordinary things all around you because of your faith. 

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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