Archive for the ‘Judges-BibleTrekToday’ Category
Scripture Reading for March 14th: Judges 17-21
Religion is man’s attempt to do something that makes him feel good about himself and his own relationship with God. The problem is that there is nothing we can do to improve our relationship with God. We are sinners and God is holy. In the time of the judges, the nation of Israel had slipped away from the Word of God and each person was doing what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6; 21:25) The nation had forgotten God and gotten lost in a self-directed religion of idolatry.
Judges 17 records the story of a man, Micah, from the tribe of Ephraim who had stolen money from his own mother. When her son confessed, the mother forgave him and then took some of the silver he returned and had an idol made for her son! Micah built a shrine, made an ephod, and installed one of his sons as a priest. (Judges 17:1-6) This violated everything that God had established for His people in Israel. (Deuteronomy 12:1-9)
The next turn of events comes as a Levite stopped by Micah’s house and shrine. Micah hired him to be his “father and priest”. (Judges 17:10) Everything seemed good until some spies from the tribe of Dan stopped by Micah’s house. They inquired of the Lord through Micah’s personal Levite. He gave them what they wanted to hear. They soon returned and made this Levite a better deal. Why not be a priest for a whole tribe, rather than a household? The Levite accepted happily because the price was right! Climbing the corporate ladder is not new!
What do we get from this bizarre story that can help us in our walk with Jesus today? First, we must be aware that we can easily slip away from a true relationship with the Lord. Micah and his mother were descendants of Ephraim, one of the sons of Joseph. They had a rich heritage of faith and should have known the laws of God. Second, notice how big a part money played in this story: stolen money, money to buy an idol, money given to appease this rebellious son, money to hire the Levite, and more money to hire him away from Micah’s family! Priests were for sale and God’s blessing were bought with money! When you have no King, you may end up in contemporary religion! Watch out today!
Scripture reading for March 13th: Judges 13-16
The story of Samson shows how the supernatural power and anointing of God can be lost through giving in to the carnal nature. Samson was born by supernatural intervention to a couple who was childless. His parents carefully listened to the instructions of an angel and raised this boy as a Nazarite, one set apart by God. (Numbers 6:1-21) God revealed His plan to use him to deliver the Israelites after 40 years of bondage to the Philistines. (Judges 13:1)
As Samson grew, he was attracted to a Philistine woman in the town of Timnah. He asked his parents to get her for him. The Bible states that this was from the Lord, although his parents did not understand and sought to direct him to get a bride from his own people. (Judges 14:3-4) This is difficult to understand. God specifically warns us not to intermarry with those outside the faith. (2nd Corinthians 6:14) In this instance, God used Samson’s carnal tendencies to accomplish His purposes, but it is not meant to be a pattern at all!
Samson’s marriage to this woman never came about because she was given to one of his friends! This filled Samson with the desire for revenge. He was attracted to prostitutes and carnal women. These proved to be his downfall! How often men of God are distracted by their flesh! How the mighty have fallen!
At the end of his life, Samson was in captivity, both of his eyes gouged out. There, he was mocked at a gathering of Philistine officials. The first recorded prayer where Samson asks for God’s help is recorded here. (Judges 16:28) God faithfully answers the cry of this man and he was once again given supernatural strength. God used him to destroy more of the Philistines in his death than in his life!
God can use us in spite of our sinfulness and carnal nature but there are consequences. What we sow we will reap. (Galatians 6:7) We must guard against the carnal nature. It has the potential to blind us and take us to our death. May God bless you to humbly follow Him today today!
Samson’s only recorded prayer: “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28)
Scripture reading for March 12th: Judges 9-12
All authority comes from God and God places people in authority. (Psalm 75:6-7) Gideon was a man placed by God in a position of leadership. He certainly was not perfect but brought peace to the land for a period of time. He had 71 sons and a large family. When Gideon passed away, a leadership crisis arose. The Israelites went back to idol worship and one of Gideon’s sons sought to take over.
Abimelech, son of a slave girl, arose to take over his father’s place. He went to his slave mother’s relatives and proposed to take over leadership. They paid him some money from an idol temple and he hired mercenary soldiers. They then killed 69 of his seventy brothers. Jotham, the youngest, was the only one who escaped. Jotham pronounced a judgment on Abimelech’s leadership . (Judges 9:7-21)
The Scriptures state that God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem. God did this to avenge the shedding of innocent blood of the seventy brothers. Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem had conspired to commit that murder and now they would become enemies themselves! (Judges 9:22-24) This was God’s judgment on a self-appointed leader and those who joined with him in rebellion!
God does place people in leadership for our good, protection, and blessing. When a leader follows the Lord, the people and leader are blessed. When someone tries to place themselves in leadership by his own power, craftiness, or manipulation, then both the leader and those who scheme with him come under God’s judgment! We must be vigilant today in our country. Politics and media are always at work trying to manipulate people. In the workplace and church, people scheme and plot to get advantage. Beware– God’s judgment will come on those who appoint themselves!
Shechem’s punishment: “So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire over the people inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.” (Judges 9:49)
Abimelech’s punishment: “Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Abimelech had his armor-bearer kill him so he did not die at the hands of a woman.
Scripture reading for March 10th: Judges 6-8
Poor self-image and discouraging self-talk are common symptoms of a life out of touch with the Lord. We always seem to magnify our weaknesses, see only the flaws, and are quick to blame them on someone else. Sometimes, we simply rehearse them over and over to ourselves and stew in the negativity. Gideon was just such a man during the days of the Judges. The God we serve loves to use the weak and flawed and make them into mighty warriors, even in spite of themselves!
For seven years the Israelites had been under attack by the Midianites. They cried out to God for help and He sent them a prophet. The prophet reminded them of His warning not to worship the gods of the Amorites. They had not listened to the Lord!
An angel of the Lord finds Gideon is hiding in a wine press, threshing grain. His first words to Gideon: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” (Judges 6:12) Gideon’s first response is not one of faith. He was not sure why the Midianites were attacking them. He believed that the Lord had abandoned them. This messenger then sent Gideon on a mission to deliver Israel. (Judges 6:14) Gideon again protested that his clan is the weakest in Manasseh and that he was the weakest of all!
The angel had told him to use the strength he had–little or great! God would be with him and that would make all the difference in the world. God sees each person as special and has a job that they can do. He specializes in taking weak people and infusing them with His strength.
As Gideon prepared to deliver Israel, he gathered an army together. God reduced it from 32,000 to 300! He took away their weapons and gave them torches and pitchers! He told them to break the pitchers, wave the torches and shout! God sent him into the enemy camp to hear a prophetic dream about his victory. He obeyed and in the strength he had, delivered Israel from the Midianites! (Judges 7:13-20)
If you are struggling today with a poor self-image or have been engaging in negative self-talk, allow the Word of God touch your heart today! Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world! “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!”
Scripture Reading for March 9th: Judges 1-5
When I was younger, we heated our home on the farm with wood. When it was extremely cold, we had a small bin of coal to help with the heat through the long Iowa winter. One of the jobs right before bed was to go down and stoke the fire. More wood would be added and ashes removed so a good flow of air would cause the fire to heat up and blaze. A scoop of coal would be tossed in too. A short time later the damper was shut so all the coals and logs would glow with a steady fire all night. If no one stoked the fire, it would go out.
Godly leaders stoke the fires with the wood of prayer and pour on the coals of God’s Word to keep zeal burning through the long night. But when the leader is gone, complacency sets in. Joshua left some elders who stoked the fire for a time, but hey passed from the nation. The next generation arose without a personal experience of God’s mighty miracles and deliverance. This generation began to drift into idolatry and the bondage of sin.
The cycle is recorded in Judges. God got angry and sold them into slavery to an oppressing nation. The people cried out to the Lord and he heard them and raised up another leader who would deliver them. Then there would be a time of peace during the life of that leader (Judge). After the leader’s death, the cycle would begin again. (Judges 2:10-19) This is repeated seven times in the Book of Judges!
I see this kind of cycle also present in our culture today. A godly leader teaches and preaches and lives out God’s Word and a revival springs up in a home or church or city. (That leader can be a father or mother, pastor or Sunday School teacher, or a janitor who loves the Lord.) The fires of the Spirit are stoked with prayer and faithful, anointed preaching of the whole counsel of God. The land enjoys peace until another generation arises who did not experience God moving. They fall into bondage as they drift away from the Lord. Will you stoke the fires of the Spirit today by praying and reading God’s holy Word? God will anoint you afresh with the Holy Spirit and Fire from on high! (Matthew 3:11)
Scripture reading for March 15th: Judges 17-21
True preachers called by God are sent by Him to care for and feed the Word of God to His people. God takes care of these preachers and meets their needs through the people they minister to. It is not wrong for a minister of the Gospel to receive financial help from those they serve. But for a minister to hire himself out to a family for pay is perverse. God is the only King and Lord we are to serve!
Our reading today tells the story of a man named Micah from the territory of Ephraim. This man stole some silver from his mother and then decided to return it to her. His mother consecrated it to the Lord! Sounds like a godly mother who was doing a good thing, right? Wrong! The mother was consecrating it to be used to make an idol for her son to place in a shrine in his home! (Judges 17:1-4) Micah then appointed one of his sons as a priest and thought everything was wonderful! They did all this because it was right in their own eyes and they didn’t recognized God as King!
The next thing to happen was the visit of a Levite from Bethlehem looking for a place to stay. When Micah talked with him, he offered him wages and a job of being his personal priest. The whole idea behind this job was that now that Micah had a Levite for his priest, surely God would be happy and bless him! (Judges 17: 9-13) Micah missed the whole point of a relationship with God and personal responsibility to obey God.
This ancient story hits close to home in today’s world. Many times people mistakenly think that if they know the right preacher and have him or her for a friend that God will be pleased and help them. Sometimes people feel that tithing to a certain ministry is a way to gain God’s favor. They reason that giving money is like paying dues to the country club. You pay for the services of the minister and church building whenever you need them! This is a lie of Satan and far from what God is pleased with. Righteous people live by their faith. Preachers are not for hire!
Dear Friends in Christ,
Greetings on this day of rest and reflection! I hope you are attending the church of your choice and fully giving yourself in worship and service to our God and Savior Jesus Christ! We come together to lift up His name and celebrate His love for us and sacrifice for our freedom.
Jesus loved us and demonstrated that love by giving Himself for us totally on the cross of Calvary. His act of obedience to the Father stands out as supreme love. We can only worship at such a display of selfless giving for those whose acts of rebellion put Him on the cross. We respond to His love as we worship and gather together to listen to His word.
The Israelites of Judges show us our selfish and carnal nature. We are so like them as we selfishly go our own way and mix with the cultures around us. We easily worship other gods, mainly ourselves! We can be filled with the Holy Spirit on Sunday and and filled with lust and revenge like Sampson on Monday! We can see miraculous deliverance one day and forget God the next! We end up doubting God’s love for us and looking for love in all the wrong places!
God really just wants our hearts! He desires that we respond to His love and live a life of love each day. Faith works through love! It is not the law or a set of rules that we must follow to earn God’s love or keep to prove our love for Him. We love Him because He first loved us! We love Him and others and that is the fulfillment of His law! Love does no wrong to a neighbor! Love never fails! It is so simple and yet so profound!
Allow your day to bring to mind ways to love God. Practice His presence in all your activities this day. Rest in His love for you! Be refreshed in your souls by His amazing love! Loving You as Christ, Pastor John
Scripture reading for March 13th: Judges 13-16
Sampson is an interesting figure in the history of God’s people. He was born with such potential to be great! An angel visited a sterile and childless elderly married woman and told her she would conceive a son. He was to be raised a Nazarite from the womb because he would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. (Judges 13:2-5) Manoah, the husband, prayed for this angel to return and his prayers were answered. They were given further instructions as to how to raise this son and named him Sampson.
This son was born and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir Sampson at an early age. He was, however, attracted to Philistine women and asked for one for his wife. This was against the desires of the godly parents who knew God’s word. God, however, used this to further His purposes. (Judges 14:1-4) Sampson had a temper as well, and this came out during a family gathering with his new wife’s family. They coerced his wife to get an answer to Sampson’s riddle. When she gave them the answer, in anger he killed thirty men and took their clothes to pay his vow! (Judges 14:19-20) Leaving his wife, he returned to his parents’ house.
Later Sampson went back to get his wife, and found that they had given her to his best man at the wedding. This infuriated him and he took 300 foxes, tied their tails together, tied torches to their tails and let them loose in the grain fields. This caused more anger to flare and Sampson took revenge again with a jawbone of a donkey, killing more than a thousand Philistines. (Judges 15:15)
It seems that Sampson’s life was filled with anger, revenge, and lust for foreign women. Sampson was anointed by God with great strength, but his lack of self-control caused him to become ineffective. He went to Gaza to see a prostitute and they nearly caught him. (Judges 16:1-3) He fell in love with another Philistine woman named Delilah. Delilah ended up betraying Sampson for money. Sampson was taken captive and his eyes gouged out. (Judges 16:20-21) Sampson’s final act was one of faith, when he prayed for strength to get revenge. God answered his prayer!
We must be careful with our lives. Carnal Christians can be taken captive by the enemy too. Check out your life and heart today!
Scripture reading for March 12th: Judges 9-12
“Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess.” ( Judges 11:24)
A spirit of faith is a wonderful gift. It comes from choosing to believe and obey God. Jephthah, one of Israel’s judges spoke these words. Jephthah was an interesting man who was born from the union of his father and a prostitute before his father married and settled down. Jephthah was later rejected by his stepmother and fled his family when threatened by his stepbrothers. He was ridiculed and made fun of because of his shady background. Jephthah learned to fight and became a mighty warrior.
The Ammonites rose up and began to make war against Israel and the elders of Gilead approached Jephthah to come back home and help them fight. They promised him headship over the Gilead tribe if he would help them. They swore before the Lord that they would do just that. (Judges 11:10-11) Jephthah began negotiations with the Ammonites, seeking to persuade them to back off. They refused to listen. (Judges 11:28) Jephthah knew that God had given the land to Israel and he would not let it go. (Judges 11:21-23) What God had given them to possess, they would possess!
The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and he moved to attack these brash Ammonites. As he advanced, he made a vow to the Lord to give to Him whatever came out of the door of his house when he returned from the battle. (Judges 11:31) God gave him an overwhelming victory and they possessed the land that was theirs and defeated their enemies.
The bad news was that as Jephthah arrived at home, his beautiful virgin daughter danced out of the door of his house to meet him! She was an only child and was deeply loved by her father and mother. Jephthah remembered his vow and evidently kept it although it hurt him deeply. (Judges 11:35-39)
There are several lessons that we can get from this interesting story. First, our background should not keep us from walking in faith. We are not victims, but victors through faith in God! Second, be careful what vows you make. Sometimes our words can be careless and vows are serious issues. We must let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no”. (James 5:12) When God has called us to fight, He will give us the victory. We don’t have to bargain with Him to get Him to act on our behalf! God is for us!
Scripture reading for March 11th: Judges 6-8
God loves to use underdogs to accomplish great victories. He likes to win when the odds are stacked up totally against His people. One of the reasons for that is stated in the Book of Judges. God told Gideon that he had too many men to go out and fight the Midianites. If he won the victory, the army would begin to take credit for it themselves and swell with pride. (Judges 7:2) This pride would become their downfall.
Gideon, himself, was also a weak man. In his own estimation, he was the least of the least of his tribe. (Judges 6:15) He was cowering in fear of the Midianites as he threshed out some wheat to feed his family when approached by the Angel of the Lord. This angelic visitor greeted him with “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” God is a God of encouragement and He is able to see our true potential when we walk by faith!
After a series of reductions of Gideon’s forces, Gideon ended up with three hundred men who had lapped water like a dog. ( Judges 7:6-7) God promised that with these three hundred men he would deliver Midian into Gideon’s hands. Gideon divided these three hundred men into three companies and gave them trumpets, jars, and torches to place in the clay jars. He led them himself, and told them to do exactly as he was going to do. They were to encircle the Midianite camp and at the signal from Gideon they were to break the jars, wave the torches and shout: “For the Lord and for Gideon!” This shout was an act of faith that would bring victory to this small company! (Judges 7:18)
We know the story and the happy ending. As they shouted, the Midianites became confused and began killing each other. The power of God brought victory to Gideon and his small band of shouting warriors with fire in their pots! This story helps us to learn some simple lessons. God can use very weak and simple people. Numbers are not the most important thing in life, victory comes through God and obedience to His directions. Our weapons that are most powerful are our tongues when employed in obedient faith and the light of God’s presence shining forth from us. Take time today to ask God to use you!