WHAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE IS FAITH ENERGIZED BY LOVE

GALATIANS 5:6

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Against All Odds


How our God works in impossibilities

Many times in our lives we are faced with seemingly unbeatable odds. I know for myself, I often have to fight through feelings of doubt and uncertainty in these situations, because, let’s be honest, it’s difficult not to see all the ways you won’t get through something.


But, something that has always helped me is that the Bible is so full of people who have rose above their unbeatable odds. Just think about this scripture:

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

God can use all people (yes, even YOU) to do amazing things if we simply…



Surrender


The word Surrender actually means to “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” Submit to whose authority, you ask? Well, that would be God. As disciples of God, He should be our authority over everything in our lives.


An amazing example of surrender in the Bible is through Gideon.


I really encourage you to read the whole story, but I’ll give you a fairly terrible summary before we dive in. So basically, the Midianites would come through with a large army and steal all the crops of Gideon’s land. While Gideon, who was just doing his thing, had an angel appear and tell him he would have to save Israel. But Gideon didn’t believe he could because he didn’t believe he was worthy (“My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family”). But, he did it anyway and did some crazy things like tear down a Baal altar – which was a big no-no at that time- and then had the whole situation with God showing his power thorugh the fleece.


Like I said, not the greatest summary ever. But, basically Gideon was a prime example of literally being pitted against all odds. So, let’s look at what happens when he surrenders to God’s plan.


Judges 7:1-7

Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”


God just literally cut his army in half! They already didn’t have the numbers to fight Midian, and now they’re even more outnumbered- and by choice! Clearly, this is not an ideal fighting position.


Judges 7: 15-22

15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.

17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.


Okay- what! They didn’t even have to fight!


Because of Gideon’s surrender and trust in God, Midian was given into their hands without even having to raise a sword! He inspired all of his men to do go into a battle that they by all standards would have easily gotten destroyed and they won!


Gideon had to give up CONTROL to God! As humans, and as women specifically, we really don’t like giving up control. It’s uncomfortable, it feels unnatural- but that’s because absolute trust in an unseen God is foolishness to those who do not have God. But we do! So let go of control, my sisters!


Still not convinced? Maybe that’s because you need…



Courage


Courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one or strength in the face of pain or grief.” I’m sorry, but does anyone like doing things that scare them in the face of pain or grief? This is a high call, but never too high to be considered unattainable.


One of my all-time favorite books in the Bible is Joshua. It is a book completely centered on the unflinching courage required by God to do amazing things. Let’s pop right into it in the opening chapter of the book.


Joshua 1:1-9

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”


What is a more exciting story than Jericho? I’ll tell you what- everything that follows it in the book of Joshua. Jericho is only the beginning!


After bringing Jericho to the ground, Joshua went on to cross the Jordan river in a freak stop of it’s flow, conquer what was left of Jericho and destroy Ai. But, the most impressive story comes later.


After all the crazy stuff that Joshua did, word spread pretty quick. Being smart, Gibeon proactively creates a treaty with the Israelites because they were like “Oh no, if we don’t this guy will totally destroy us.” So, later on the Amorites step in and make a plan to kill Gibeon. Being really hype that they have a treaty with Joshua, they send word to him and Joshua immediately rushes their army to their aid.


Joshua 10:7-14

7 So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”

9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.

12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,

as it is written in the Book of Jashar.

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!


All right, the Gideon thing was cool and all but, WHAT? HE STOPPED THE SUN. I’m sorry; I just can’t write that without all-caps, it’s too insane.


When was the last time you were this faithful and courageous in your prayer life? Do you have the courage to believe that your impossible, against-all-odds prayer can be answered by God? Because “shy” or “timid” is definitely not in the bible. “We were not given a spirit of timidity,” right?


So you have Surrender and Courage, but there is one more thing you’ll need to really go against all odds and that is…



CONFIDENCE


Confidence is “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. The state of feeling certain about the truth of something.”


Sound familiar? (Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.)


Confidence is being completely certain in the truth of something, and that truth is God. God shows us his many truths of how much he loves us, bears with us, and wants to see us grow. We can be absolutely certain of these things and that should produce in us an unshakeable confidence in the face of our greatest odds.


For Elijah, this story was set in an miserable time for prophets. Baal had taken over the land and the Lord’s prophets were being killed by Queen Jezebel and were hiding in caves. They were literally in hiding from a crazy evil queen who wanted to destroy their religion. This doesn’t seem like the best time to share the power of God, right?


Well, Elijah, being the confident Godly man he was, goes to present himself to Ahab and all the prophets of Baal and makes a wager to see whose god will light an altar on fire. He is determined to win his land back for the one true God, because he knows without a shadow of a doubt that he will take it back.


You ready for one of the greatest biblical roasts in the old testament?


1 Kings 18:25-39

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs (24 pounds) of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”


What a boss!


I mean, this guy does everything to tear away anything that would logically help him in this situation and still manages to come out more than victorious. He was so insanely confident in God’s ability that he taunted his opponents.




So, this begs the question: if you surrender to God and have courage enough to ask for big things, do you have the confidence of Elijah that he will provide?


If you 100% trust in God, then confidence, courage and surrender will all become synonymous with who you are.


Still think you can’t beat those odds?

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