Scriptures: Judges 6-8, Daniel 6, Daniel 3, Matt 14:22-32
Have you ever watched the extreme sports on TV? Fast speeds. Hanging by your fingertips on a rocky wall only to jump to another spot where there doesn’t seem to be anything to grip on the sheer rock face. And, you wonder how they can do all those things.
Pastor Lorne said a neighbor was putting up a large shed and the guys were walking on the metal roof without safety harness. He said you look at something like that and you think you could never do that.
Pastor Lorne said this message is probably more for himself than anyone. He likes to be comfortable with nothing changing. Surrounded by the familiar and good. But, he thought of a few yrs ago when Noelle came home from school and told them about an exchange student who was having problems and needed to move to a new home for a couple months. They had a family discussion and Pastor Lorne’s family took her in. He said it was a real learning experience. Their life changed and hasn’t been the same since. The student was so eager to learn and do everything and followed him everywhere. Pastor Lorne’s chair and remote weren’t even his any longer. But, he said they were so blessed by the experience, they did it five more times afterward. He said it was a real stretching experience with turmoil at the time, yet the blessings they received outshone the discomfort of stretching out. Still does, in fact. They never know when they’ll get an email or phone call from one of ‘their girls’. God used the experience to bless them. And because of it, our kids (COTH Youth) now have a chance to go down there and witness to them.
Pastor Lorne said it’s good to take normal things in life and stretch them. He doesn’t advocate hanging onto rocks by your fingertips and swinging over an edge, but there will be times you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone. When he first started out, the ministry was the last thing he wanted to do because of his shyness. He struggled with public appearances, although he dealt with them. But, he believes God blesses us and is with us during our life struggles.
With the new church/school year starting in Sept, Pastor Lorne was wondering what to do to stretch the church. He knows he has to live up to his messages and so that includes stretching himself. And, as he thought about all those people in scriptures who were stretched and needed to do things out of the ordinary, he thought he could never do that.
In Judges 6, we find the story of Gideon. The Midianites had taken over Israel and were a total nuisance. They took their grain and livestock and ruined what they didn’t take. They were always bothering them and the people were slaves to them. Out of desperation, the Israelites cried out to God for help. So, the angel of the Lord came to Gideon while he was threshing grain in a wine press and hiding it from the Midianites. In verse 12, the angel said to Gideon, “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” Gideon didn’t really believe it. He was the lowest person in his small family. They didn’t have much and everyone, including himself, thought he didn’t count for much. (V15) And God’s angel had even found him hiding in a wine press. Yet God came to Gideon. Gideon said, “How can I save Israel?”
How would you react if your country was being overrun by miscreants and the Lord said He was going to use you to get rid of them. Gideon was the least of his father’s clan and he was supposed to fight this big army with only 300 men. He didn’t understand it, but when he realized it really was God directing him, he gathered his faith and surrounded the Midianites’ camp with pitchers and torches and trumpets. On Gideon’s command, his men blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers and holding their torches high, yelled, “A sword for the Lord and Gideon!” (Judges 7:19,20) They made such a ruckus, the confused Midianites drew swords on each other before turning and running away.
In Judges 8:28-32, we read that the Israelites enjoyed 40 yrs of peace after Gideon’s victory. With many wives and concubines, Gideon went on to father 70 sons. Pastor Lorne said, talk about getting stretched… 70 sons? Can you imagine 70 teenage boys in one house? And all those wives? (laughter) But Gideon was a young man who didn’t think much of himself but the spirit of God was on him and he did great things. His name is on all those Bibles found in every hotel room and given out to school kids all over the world.
Pastor Lorne said if you feel God is reaching out and asking you to stretch yourself and do something out of your comfort zone, seek His face. Find out what it is He wants you to do. He thinks God may be calling some of us in the congregation. Because of his age, Pastor Lorne thinks he’s been stretched enough but he knows that’s not true.
Every time Pastor Lorne reads the story of Gideon – a guy hiding in a wine press – he feels encouraged. So, are you going to hide in a wine press? Or, will you go out and step out of your comfort zone for God? God has given all of us special talents, and if we use those talents, we can be a special blessing in the kingdom of God.
Another story of a man being stretched is found in the book of Daniel. Talk about being stretched. Pastor Lorne said he’s afraid of a vicious cat never mind a lion. But Daniel was cast into a lions’ den (Daniel 6:16). Now, the king liked Daniel but because of a decree, he needed to put Daniel into the lions’ den. But when the king went to his room that night, he didn’t drink or eat or sleep. He just rolled about, worrying about Daniel. V19-22 says, ‘At the first light of the dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue from the lions?” Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”’ The king called for Daniel to be lifted out of the pit. Daniel was unharmed even after spending a night with the lions. Pastor Lorne understands these lions would have been kept very hungry, but they never touched him. However, the men who had instigated the event were thrown in the same lions’ den and were devoured before they even reached the den’s floor. Because of Daniel’s faith, the king placed him in a position of authority and respect and Daniel prospered.
Also in Daniel, is the story of 3 men who had to stretch out of their comfort zone. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego wouldn’t bow down to the required false idol when the music played. V19-23 says, ‘Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.’ Then, the amazed king asked how many bound men had been tossed into the furnace because he saw 4 of them in there and the fourth one looked like the Son of God. The king called from them to come out and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego emerged unharmed. No scorching on their skin. No smell of fire on their clothes. Not even a hair on their hair was singed. A real miracle. In v17 and 18, they had said God would deliver them but even if He didn’t for some reason, they wouldn’t bow down to the king’s golden images. God did save them and brought them out in the same condition they went in to face the flames.
Then in Matt 14 is the story of the disciples on a ship without Jesus and a storm comes up. The disciples become frightened when they see a figure out walking on the water. V27 says, ‘But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid”.’ So, Peter climbed out of the boat and started walking toward Him. Now, that was a walk of faith. Pastor Lorne said if the water was smooth as glass, he thinks maybe he would have tried it, but with the waves rising up and crashing against them and the boat, Pastor Lorne doesn’t think he could have done it. He would’ve attempted it if God really called him, but he would still have had his doubts. Peter, however, was willing to stretch out a little bit to walk out on the water. Forget the part where he started to sink because the important thing is, he had enough faith to get out of the boat and try it.
So, if you have doubts that God is calling you to do something, talk to Him and see what He wants. He’ll open up doors if it’s what He has planned for you. Step out of your comfort zone and try to do it. It won’t be as drastic as the people above, but as God speaks to your heart, allow him to work thorough you.
Remember Gideon in Judges... the Spirit of God was in him and he was able to win this great battle. If you feel God speaking to you, ask Him to show you the way. To open and close doors so that as you stretch yourself, you’ll know it’s His will.
God said, and I will be with you. That’s the whole answer right there. If we want to do something for God and feel him pulling us, remember, He will be will us. He will give us the courage, strength and energy to do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old. You’re not alone, God will walk with you.
So, will you hide in the wine press? Or, walk out in faith? Reach out to God and win a victory for the cross.
If you would like to talk to someone about this post, or about having a personal relationship with God, please contact us.
Extreme Rock Climbing www.deshow.net
Gideon attacking the Midian camp water color © NHP [link]
Daniel in Lions' and 3 Men of Faith [link]