Broken People, Faithful God
Spirit of Fear
Day 1: Read Judges 6:14-17 and 2 Timothy 1:7. As part of the repeated cycle of rescue, God calls forth and then sends out Gideon to rescue Israel from the Midianites. A theme evident in Gideon’s responses is fear. The spirit of fear was a legitimate reality for Gideon and can prove to be the same for us. When faced with abnormal events or circumstances, a typical response or reaction is often fear. This was the case for Gideon and the Israelites. The spirit of fear caused Gideon to question God and to seek further signs from God when the directive was already clear. Rather than stepping out and moving forward in obedience, Gideon chose to test God by asking for further proof of His leading. This is what fear does. Fear often makes us look for further confirmation. What is the most significant fear in your life? Can you find the source? How are you dealing with this fear? Are you stuck, paralyzed, or ignoring it? Has it affected your attitude towards relationships or other areas of your life? Consider journaling your responses this week.
Day 2: Read Judges 6:33-40 and Philippians 4:6. Based on God’s response to Gideon’s test, it seems as if his motive was good. Gideon’s request for proof was not him saying, ‘God I don’t think so. There is no way! It’s impossible!’ But rather, ‘God, I think I have heard your voice and have received your direction. I want to be willing to follow and be faithful. BUT the directive you have given seems so beyond me and the odds don’t seem to be in my favor. So before moving forward, I would like to confirm that it is really you that I heard from.’ When faced with a significant challenge, it is wise to seek clarity. When unsure if you have heard the voice of God, do you have people in your life to give you godly council? Who? What practices do you have in place to hear from God?
Day 3: Read Judges 7:1-11 and Isaiah 41:10. After God’s confirmation, Gideon got up early and marched forward as far as the spring of Harod. Interestingly, the word Harod means to tremble or to fear. It’s here at the spring of Harod that Gideon and his army chose to halt their progression and stop for the night. Fear can cause us to halt and can prevent us from progressing onward. Have you ever not gone out for a sport or tried out for the band because you were afraid? Have you ever avoided talking to the new person in the class, at work, in the neighborhood, or maybe even here in the church because you were afraid? Have you ever decided that because of the circumstances (size of the army) in front of you that it would be best for you to stop (at the spring of Harod)? How can we face fear? Acknowledge it. Use it to lead you to bigger faith. Denying our fear will enslave us. During the next day or two, notice what causes fear in you. Consider writing them down as you identify them or at the end of the day. Then, ask God to help you to understand it and for the Holy Spirit to help you rise above it.
Day 4: Read Judges 7: 2-3 and Psalm 23:4. Fear not only can cause us to slow down but can also be the reason for turning around. 22,000 men went home because they were timid and afraid. The reality is fear is contagious. One person’s fear and trepidation can easily spread to another. God did not want the fear of some to demoralize the rest of the army and put the entire effort in jeopardy. Fear can cause us to turn around. Has this ever happened to you? You were heading one way but then because of fear you decided to reverse your direction? Is someone else’s fear driving you? Or are you the person who influences others? How do you guard your heart against this type of thinking, behaviors and beliefs? Now, take a few minutes and meditate on Judges 6:12. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Day 5: Read Judges 6:5, 7:12 and Deuteronomy 31:6. Fear can also cause us to lose focus. There were at least 135,000 Midianites and their number of camels were too many to count. In an era when most armies traveled by foot, if an army had horses or camels it was considered a luxury and a great military advantage. So as Gideon and his man came upon the Midianites, it was only natural for their eyes to become fixed upon the size of the enemy army and upon their camels (like sand on the seashore). Fear can cause us to focus on what we don’t have rather than upon that which we do have in Christ. It can cause us to place our focus upon all of the reasons why we can’t, rather than upon the strength of our God who most certainly can. Notice when you start listing excuses. Is God telling you to continue forward even though the obstacles seem many? As we read, Gideon still played his part. He still prepared and led his army. What would it look like today to refocus and take a step of faith in who God is instead of letting the fear boss you around. Write down Deuteronomy 31:6 on a 3x5 card and memorize it. This will help you to believe something that is already true.