Chapel Service

Phoenix International Raceway

November 10, 2012

“A Calling Upon Your Life…

and Stepping Into It ”

  Bob Butcher

Did you know that God has placed a “calling” upon your life?  That’s right, one designed and planned just for you!

 Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 Romans 11:29 “As far as God’s purpose in choosing is concerned, they are irrevocable and can never be withdrawn. For once they are made; God does not withdraw His gifts or His calling.”

 1 Corinthians 1: 26 “For look at your own calling as Christians, my brothers. You don’t see among you many of the wise (according to this world’s judgment) nor many of the ruling class, or many from the noblest families. But God has chosen what the world calls foolish to shame the wise; he has chosen what the world calls weak to shame the strong. He has chosen things of little strength and small repute, yes and even things which have no real existence to explode the pretensions of the things that are—that no man may boast in the presence of God.”

 That is correct …YOU …are loved, planned for, dreamed of ahead of time, and extremely important to Him.

 With that said, I also tell you that the choice is up to you whether you choose to use the gifts He placed within you and up to you to choose to walk in His calling.  That’s correct …WE GET TO CHOOSE!

Allow me to present you with a very interesting example out of history.

 His name is Gideon.  He lived in the time of the Judges.  Judges were people that God choose to lead the nation or tribe of Israel for 450 years following Moses and Joshua, especially when they were mistreated, or attacked by nations around them.  Many Judges were very interesting people, both men and women. Gideon’s story is unique.

 Judges 6: 1-6: “The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.”

 It was a dark time in Israel and times were tough everywhere.  No sections of society rich or poor were immune. People were desperately trying to just survive, even to the point of living in caves!

 This is still typical of people even today.  When times get rough we all have our “caves” that we run into whether that is our defensive habit, our comfort food, our drugs, our hidden temptations or perversions.  Our answer should instead be to run to God’s refuge.

It is at this point that God sends a Prophet to the people offering direction out of this crisis.  Sometimes God does that today whether we recognize it any more than they did back then.  It is during times like this that the answer is the Word of the Lord, …as it was then.  Note verses 7 – 10: When they cried out to the Lord because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. 10 I told you, ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

As we look at verse 11 and 12 take note of six things. 11 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “Mighty warrior and hero, the Lord is with you!”

  1. God started with one person.  It was Gideon in this case.  Could it be you or me today?
  2. Gideon was doing what was necessary at the time.  I assume you and I would do the same today.
  3. Gideon thought that was all he could do.  What about you or me in the same situation?
  4. God cares about Gideon and his work or ministry as well as He does ours today.
  5. Note Gideon was concerned about saving wheat while God’s plan was to save a nation.
  6. Then note that God called Gideon a valiant warrior before Gideon did anything.  Isn’t that interesting? 

 Look at verse 13 – 17: 13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”

15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the weakest and least in my entire family!”

16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”

17 Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, then show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me.

Gideon asks for a sign that this is really a Prophet from God.  In Gideon’s mind this message does not compute.  I would probably have to wonder today also.  However, if Gideon had thought about Moses or had New Testament scripture like we have today, maybe he would see and understand that truly this was God’s plan.  One big reason I say this today is this totally to the point scripture among others:

1 Corinthians 1:27-29:  27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world; things counted as ridiculous and nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast to God.”

You see from this scripture that the greatest sign Gideon have asked for was already right before his eyes the whole time: …his weakness!  Today, the same as Gideon back then, we must recognize that we can never be too small for God; however …we CAN BE TOO BIG!

 When we get our identity in and from the Lord God and embrace our weakness; we begin to step out and accomplish remarkable things.  Then others will follow too.  Look what happened to Gideon in verses 25-32:  25 That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. 26 Then build an altar to the Lord your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.

28 Early the next morning, as the people of the town began to stir, someone discovered that the altar of Baal had been broken down and that the Asherah pole beside it had been cut down. In their place a new altar had been built, and on it were the remains of the bull that had been sacrificed. 29 The people said to each other, “Who did this?” And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash.

30 “Bring out your son,” the men of the town demanded of Joash. “He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole.”

31 But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let Baal defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” 32 From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar.

 So Gideon stepped out and inherited a reputation quickly as a man of action and inspired others as we will see.  Even Gideon’s dad obviously fell into line and defended him.  Don’t forget that his dad had to have looked upon Gideon as the weakest link in the family.  Those things don’t go un- noticed.  Verse 33-35:  33 Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. 35 He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded.”

You can see that Gideon’s faith in tearing down that alter in the face of complete conflict against the majority despite knowing what the result obviously would be, brought about an even higher reward form God …but in the form of an even bigger challenge requiring far more faith.  I am almost amazed that Gideon hesitated once again and went back to requiring God to prove the “calling and plan” God had for him. Watch this all play out in the next verses, Judges 6:36 – Judges 7: 1-7.    Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, 37 prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” 38 And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” 40 So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.

 So Jerub-baal (that is, Gideon) and his army got up early and went as far as the spring of Harod. The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain[a] and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.

But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.

The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”

You can imagine the numbers that Gideon and Israel faced when two powerful, brutal and horrible nations were out there preparing to attack.  In the face of this consider the following:

  1. First God comes once again with weird ways that would seem total madness in the face of the situation.
  2. While Gideon questions whether this is really God asking him to do this and comes up with his own way of testing God, Gideon is answered by God’s own weird way of directing him and glorifying His Name.
    1. 32,000 men cut to 10,000 by fear.  Note: 22, 000 bailed!
    2. 10,000 men cut to 300 by the way they drank water from a stream. So 9,700 were cut!
  3. Why were they cut? 
    1. Simple …those kneeled and drank with their tongue were both unwise in their battle stance and that they were really not committed to war paid no attention to the circumstances around them.

It should be just as clear to us today that God can accomplish more with 300 committed people than 31,700 uncommitted people!

When Gideon committed to follow the call on his life he opened the door to the greater plan of God’s deliverance for Israel benefitted.  Instead of saving wheat, Gideon saved a nation!

If Gideon had not committed to the “call” that God laid at his feet, the chances are most likely that he would have been killed at the winepress saving wheat.

I also want to remind you one step further at this point.  Committed people grow weary, however they keep pursuing despite it. Let’s face it …we see that at every race.  Race teams and NASCAR Officials get exhausted doing their best but keep on going don’t they?

There are a few things this piece of history reminds me of today.

  1. First, we ALL are endowed with precious gifts within ourselves that we can choose to develop for the good of our nation, community, friends, family, and ourselves.
  2. When we get committed to the “calling” of God in a specific opportunity it will always open more doors and accomplish far beyond what we see possible.
  3. We rarely look at ourselves as capable.  It takes God to add the power it will take beyond ourselves.
  4. We will get weary, but He will grant us the power to carry on to the finish
  5. In the end, God gets the credit from those of us who realize the truth of the situation because they know how weak we are, however everyone else around looks and is amazed at how radical we became!
  6. Stories will be told in eternity.  We will be amazed at ourselves. God will reward us.

What will we choose when God “calls” us to some assignment He has designed us for and prepared every detail of the final outcome long before we show up on the scene…

We have a wide open door to affect every aspect of life …and that certainly includes our racing community!

Are you game?

When we see you next year what stories will each of us have?



Thanks to Tim Walter of YWAM Salem for a large portion of help with this message.