Gideon’s hero story starts with him in a place of hiding, and yet the Lord calls him a mighty warrior. God calls him who He sees in him. Similar to Gideon, that’s where our journey begins, too. You must start with how God sees you and trust His purpose for your life. Gideon gets his first assignment from the Lord, which may seem minor, but is actually intense.
Judges 6:25-26 (NLT)
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. Then build an altar to the Lord your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully.”
It’s time to clean house. God wants to do something extraordinary in your life as he did with Gideon. Before God can do anything through you, you have to start by cleaning out your own house and looking at what’s going on in your life. You might be asking God to trust you, but maybe the question should be, “have I done the things in my life, in my house, that have prepared me for significant changes so that He can trust me?” There have been seven years of Midianites punking God’s people, and Gideon’s tribe has been getting pummeled repeatedly. They have turned to other gods to worship instead of turning to the real God. Baal and Ashra are ancient Canaanite gods that required sacrifices and self-mutilation. Baal’s god wife Ashra was worshipped near particular trees that they would erect called Asherah poles. Tribes would place these poles in an area of prominence where there would be regular and reoccurring rituals to worship these gods, not the God of the Bible. They trusted these demon gods to provide for them and give them rain and children. With all of these actions, God was hurt and became jealous. Yet, Exodus 34:6 tells us he’s “The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”
For seven years, God has watched His people and decided to take action and raise Gideon. But He’s like, “Dude; you need to tear down these idols and things in your life that crowd out my worship. You can’t worship Baal, Asha, and the God of the Bible at the same time. You’re going to have to choose.” Is the Lord already speaking to your heart? You might want something from God, and He wants something from you. You’ve got to decide how you’re going to make room. It’s time to clean house.
Do you like a clean house? As much as I love a clean house, my wife really loves a clean house. The other day we were leaving for vacation, Maria said it was time to clean after we got everyone packed up. I’m like, “why do we need to clean the house when we’re going to be gone?” She’s like, “because when I return, I want the house to be clean when I walk in.” The thing is that we have a holy God who wants to be close to us. And sometimes we need to clean house so we can have room for his holiness in our life. Ultimately, we worship Jesus, who came and cleaned us up because we could not do it ourselves.
1 John 1:9 (NLT)
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
You cannot make yourself clean, but you can make room for more of God. The best way to figure out what is taking too much space in your life is to address the idols you have. You might think, “that’s old stuff; we don’t have idols anymore.” And the truth is, these gods in the Old Testament led people astray and are still alive and active today. The enemy is still at work today. He may have a different shape or look, but the truth is, there are still things competing for your heart. There are still things competing for your heart. Those things that compete for your heart are called idols.
Idols can be anything sitting on the throne of your heart other than God.
What’s competing for your attention or your sacrifice? Whatever’s vying for your heart sits on your heart’s throne and is your master. Ideally, Jesus is seated on the throne of your heart because that’s a great place to be as a servant of the Lord. He’s a God who loves you, but there are things you’ve got to remove to clean house. Once you clean house then, you can take your next step.
1. Identify your idols
How do you identify idols in your life? Ask yourself what offers you security in your life. Because I’m telling you, this is one of those things that can quickly become an idol. I’ve seen stable people crushing several areas in their life, but one day, they lose their job, and after a while, everything falls apart. It turns out that their job security was an idol in their life. Now they have to rebuild everything so they can have security again. God wants to be your rock and security.
Relationships can be an idol in your life. I have heard so many people say that a particular person is their rock. They feel so confident and stable when that person is around. I can tell you right now that that person will let you down. Nobody’s perfect. The only person who’s always faithful is Jesus.
Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
What is it in your life that you’d feel lost if it were gone? That’s a great question to ask yourself because that’s where you can begin identifying idols in your life. And I promise you; there are a couple of things fighting for the throne of your heart. Identifying those things is essential because that idol could win in your moment of greatest temptation or exhaustion.
2. Clean house
Judges 6:26-29 (NLT)
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.”
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.
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. 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.
If you’re ever going to do anything significant for the Lord, get the right people around you. Did you notice that Gideon grabbed some guys to come to help him accomplish what God has asked him to do? Scripture tells us that God commanded him not just to tear down the pole but the grove that was growing the wood for the poles. So he’s chopping wood down all night, then takes the remains of everything destroyed and builds a new structure of worship to God. When God takes the broken pieces of our lives and creates something new for him is called redemption.
When we choose to follow Jesus, it is not easy; it first requires us to start with cleaning our house. Gideon and his family are now on the hook for everything he did during the night. That’s how it worked in ancient cultures. I know that some people follow Jesus despite what their parents think. Some people are hesitant to get baptized as an adult because they grew up Catholic and know their family won’t approve. Searching for family approval can be another sneaky little idol. But there will come a day when you must decide whose approval you need the most.
The approval of your family keeps many people from obeying God fully. That’s a hard decision for someone to make. But the very first step when following God is an act of obedience.
Sometimes even the good things in our lives can become idols when they take the place of God. Good things can become god things if we aren’t careful. The moment you become a parent, you’re entering an assignment from God. Your role is to serve that little one and train them up in the ways of the Lord. It’s a super high honor. But you know the child can become an idol when I see parents worshiping their kids and making decisions based on what their kids want. They’re making decisions based everything on what’s best for the kids, maybe not what’s best for their marriage. Don’t make sacrifices for your kids to the point of costing you the things of God in your life. You can worship your kids, or you can worship God with your kids. Let’s stand before the Lord and hear him say, “Man, how you trained those kids really worshiped me.”
3. Build an altar to the Lord in its place.
He took the pieces, and he built something for the Lord. Financial security can become an idol in your life if you’re not trusting God as your ultimate provider. You can break the spirit of poverty in your life by trusting in God, who loves you and provides for you.
Philippians, 4:19 (NIV)
My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Fear is the number one reason I see people not giving. People don’t give because they’re afraid they won’t have enough for themselves. God wants you to break that spirit of fear by putting your faith in its place. When you see that paycheck, you look at the sacrifices you made. You’re looking at the bull that Gideon killed and the sacrifice, time, and effort that went into it. And now you’re holding that paycheck, and you go, what do I do with it? Many of us give it back to the Lord. The principle of tithing 10% is a lot for people starting to give. I want to encourage you to start by giving something but putting it first. If you look at my bank account, I get paid twice a month; the first withdrawal is to Freedom Church. Maria and I give more than the 10% because I see where the money’s going and the lives being changed. I also see that God is generous with me so that I can be generous with others. I love the opportunity to have God provide for me and the psychological freedom of not having to stress out over money because I know God is taking care of my family and me.
God’s more eager to do a miracle in your life than often we are to test him with our faith. Suppose you’re struggling with dating, with your sexuality, or hooking up all the time; it’s time to tear the altars down and delete those apps on your phone. You’ve got to replace that app or subscription with something else. Don’t just tear down, but erect something in its place that declares a renewed worship to God. Is it going to be hard? Yeah. Was it hard for Gideon? Yeah, they wanted to kill him.
Judges 6:29-32 (NLT)
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.
“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.”
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 him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar.
There was such an identity change in Gideon after tearing down these idols that they immediately called him a new name. God has a version of you that he sees; he is not settling for the old version of you. He looks at you, and he calls you a mighty warrior. You are at war against the idols in your life, trying to compete for the throne of Jesus Christ. You are a mighty warrior against those idols. Decide how you’ll clean house and what you will build in their place.