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Defining Failure
It can be difficult to recognize God’s constant presence in our lives, especially in difficult and trying circumstances. Through God’s interaction with Gideon, he roots Gideon in his provision and tells him that, not only is he a God who is present, but he is a God who provides. Everything Gideon needs to begin stepping forward out of his blind spot of fear, God will give. Gideon just needs to be dependent and willing to surrender. If there's going to be a victory against the Midianites, it will be through God in his power and strength, not from Gideon. Gideon's called to recognize his own weakness in this moment.  As we begin to recognize more and more God's presence in our lives, the most powerful thing we can do is actually acknowledge our weakness. God is the one that will empower us to step forward from our blind spot of fear. We just have to be willing to surrender. Many of us have a deep sense of a fear of failure, and it leads us to feel like we have to have everything together, and we have to take everything on and own it, because we can't show any weakness. It can be so easy to look back and remember the times when we've stepped forward and we've felt like we've been met with failure. But as followers of Jesus, what would be the definition of true failure when it comes to fear? Would it be us stepping forward to face our fear and the situation not playing out the way that we would have hoped, or is the greater sense of failure that we miss an opportunity to step into deeper union with God?  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: When is a time that you have stepped forward from fear, but felt like you were met with failure? Did you allow this opportunity to draw you closer to God?
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God's Presence
Paul writes this in Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Now some of us might read this verse and think the apostle Paul is either very naïve or is just lying to himself so he can feel better about his circumstances. But Paul has come to deeply understand the constant presence of God in his life, no matter his circumstances. One of the first things that we can do to begin stepping away from our blind spot of fear and into deeper union with God is to recognize his constant presence in our lives, regardless of our circumstances. This can be so hard, especially if you've been blinded by fear for a long time. So maybe it looks like having a daily rhythm of prayer or meditation and study of Scripture to simply recognize that God is there. Maybe it's closing your eyes for five to ten minutes and just simply breathing in and breathing out in the silence and recognizing that God is there. Perhaps it is looking at the ways he's been moving in the details of your day.  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: In what moments of life do you most recognize God’s presence? What moments do you find it most difficult to feel his presence?
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Point of Isolation
What is your personal equivalent of Gideon’s wine press? What are the places where you feel like the darkness and the weight of your fear is so much more present and where you're cut off from transparency, vulnerability, and community. In those places, you're just left with everything you're wrestling with in your mind. These places look different for almost everyone. Maybe it's when you're lying awake in bed in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling with all of the doubts and fears flooding your mind. Maybe it's cutting yourself off from community because you don't know how the people in your life would be able to even handle or process what you're going through. But it's in that very place that God meets Gideon. Verse 12, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” In this moment, Gideon is covered in dirt and sweat, and cowering away in this cave. He looks nothing like what God's calling him in this. But God, throughout the Scripture, constantly calls people, not by how they currently are, but what he plans to transform them into. Even through all the fear that has driven Gideon into this place of isolation and all decisions that he made from his fear, God is going to transform him through this conversation. God is beginning to strip away the things that have held Gideon back for so long so that he can begin to step forward from his blind spot of fear into freedom. The beauty is this, that in the midst of Gideon's fear, we see this invitation from God to see our fear as an opportunity to step into deeper union with him. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Where do you find yourself hiding from transparency and community? How have you seen your fear be an invitation from God to grow closer to him?
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Consume or Harness
As we dive into discussing the blind spot of fear, we are going to examine the well-known life of a man named Gideon. We're going to be looking at the book of Judges in a chapter six, and the book of Judges is really built around this constant cycle of God's people starting to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, or what is right in their own eyes, where essentially, they're choosing life apart from God. And it leads them down this path of separation from him. So, in Judges chapter six, we find Israel under the oppression of a foreign nation called Midian. Once a year, the Midianites would swarm onto the land like locus and they would devour and eat up all of the crops and food that Israel had produced and grown for that year. They would destroy whatever they didn't take, and leave Israel in this constant state of starving. In verse 11 of chapter six, the harvest season is here and Midian's going to be coming over the hill at any point. It’s now that we find God's unlikeliest of heroes in the unlikeliest of places. Verse 11, the angel of the Lord came to Gideon, who was threshing wheat in hiding within a wine press to keep it from the Midianites due to his fear. We see that Gideon’s fear of the Midianites has consumed him to where is no longer trusting God’s provision or promises. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Recall a time that fear has consumed you to the point of retreat. In opposition, recall a time that fear has caused you to draw closer to God & his presence.