Monthly Archives: March 2009

Ruth 1-4

Scripture:

Ruth 4:18-22, 18Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Observation:

An interesting conclusion to these four short chapters.  There’s so much that could have been written to conclude this book, but the author decided to show the reader that Ruth was the great grandmother of King David.  Perhaps it was a way of sharing with us the source of some of David’s character traits.  He may not have known his great grandmother personally, but he would have heard this story.  And what we know of Ruth in these four chapters I’m sure there were many more stories David knew that we are not privy to.  David from his earliest years knew he was a part of this godly legacy.  He would have been told his role in living out a legacy that stretched over generations.

Application:

Here I am again thinking about godly legacies again.  I am teaching a course on leadership at Kiev Theological Seminary in Kiev, Ukraine this week.  Several times I have reminded my students of their godly heritage.  Some of these students had grandparents and great grandparents that were taken in the middle of the night by the KGB because of their religious beliefs.  They are standing on the shoulders of millions who gave their lives for the sake of the Name.  It is a reoccurring theme in the Bible.  In today’s passage I realize that I am a link in the generations that are on either side of me.  I remember my grandmother Hungerford’s strong faith in God.  She was the only one of my grandparents who followed after Him.  What will my grandchildren remember about me?  Will they remember my faith in God and how it worked it’s way out in my life?  Will I live out enough stories that my children can tell to their grandchildren if I’m not around?  I am struck by the reality that I am not living this Christian life for me only, but for the generations that follow as well.

Prayer:

Father God help me to start living stories that my children can share with their grandchildren.  Don’t let me live this Christian life just for me, but for the generations to come.  Thank You for my children and grandchildren.  Thank You that they are following strong after You.  I pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen.

(dmbaldwin)

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Judges 20-21

Scripture

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25, NIV)

Observation

Israel sounds a bit like a grade school classroom when the teacher steps out in the hallway. Whispering leads to talking, talking leads to shouting, shouting becomes a game of tag or a pencil-throwing contest, and everyone does as they see fit. It reminds me of an earlier verse in Judges—Judges 2:10—in which “another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” A generation of parents failed to tell their children what God had done (like He’d instructed them to do, by the way). Their neglect resulted in no knowledge of Him, and the chaos and sin of everyone making their own way.

Application

I can relate (a little too well). How quickly I forget, and how easily I stray. When I quit honoring God as king—when I stop obeying Him as Lord and pursuing Him as Life itself—then soon I’m exactly like the Israelites. Forgetfulness leads to apathy, apathy leads to doubt, doubt leads to rebellion, and I do only as I see fit.

Prayer

God, let me not forget. Let me remember who You are, and what You’ve done, so that I’ll remain humbly obedient, following after You. Let me only do, not as I see fit, but as You instruct. And thank You for the forgiveness and mercy when I don’t. Amen.

amystorms

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Judges 18-19

Scripture

As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?”  He replied, “You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away.  What else do I have?  How can you ask, “What’s the matter with you?”    Judges 18:23-24 (NIV)

Observation

Micah hired his own personal priest in his home where he housed the idols that he created.  Prior to the Danites migrating north to find new territory, they sent five spies to scout out the area and on the way, they stopped at Micah’s home.  The men later stole Micah’s idols and carried them north and continued to use the idols even after the they settled in their conquered land.   

Throughout this entire incident, no one puts God first and gives him the worship that He deserves.   The men took Micah’s idols by force, perhaps because they felt the idols would give them some special powers to aid them in victory when they attacked Laish.  After Micah’s idols and his priest were stolen, Micah’s world was shattered.  He felt he had nothing left.  His idols meant everything to him.    He thought that his idols were pleasing to God.  The sad truth however, was that the idols took the place of God in his life and when they were gone, Micah was left empty. 

Application

My first thoughts after reading these passages of scripture were thoughts of disbelief.  How could Micah say to the men that stole his priest and his idols that they were only thing that he had left?  I thought that this was so sad that Micah was totally dependant on these things that he created and I thought it was absurd and preposterous to think that he could not be happy and joyful apart from them.  After careful thought however, I started to wonder about the things that I hold onto in this world and I started to wonder if these things were the source of my joy, too. 

God desires me to die to myself and to trust in Him totally and completely.  He wants me to love Him with every fiber of my being and to express this love in selfless service to others instead of selfish gain for myself.    How often do I make things about me instead of Him?  Do I go to church every week to worship Him and adore Him each week or do I sometimes show up simply because it makes me feel better after a hard week?   Do I hold onto material possessions too tightly and not give generously because I am fearful of losing my job and fearful of not being able to support my family?    How often do I make excuses and not give enough of my time to people when they need encouragement, prayer or help because my own time is so valuable to me?  What exactly is taking the place of God in my life?

Prayer

Lord, I desire to worship you full time!  I know that any time or energy I spend on anything apart from you, would just result in emptiness and despair.  You alone are worthy of my praise.  You alone give the joy that the world cannot explain.  Trying to find peace or joy apart from you is not possible and I know this to be truth. 

I praise you for who you are.  You are the only one that could take this empty shell and use it for your glory.  I pray Lord that you give me the wisdom to weed out the empty things that I cling to and foolishly believe that these things bring joy.  You are the only one that could fill the tons of emptiness that resides in those areas of my life that I have filled with the things of this world.  I want to love you with all of my heart, all of my mind, all of my soul, and all of my strength and I want to love you completely and unselfishly.  Take this existence and use me! 

I love you so much, Lord.  Thank you for your spoken Word on my heart.  Thank you for your unfailing love for me.  Thank you for making my dreams pleasant.  Form me into your image and use me however it pleases you most.  I do not want to waste this time that you have blessed me with. 

In your beautiful Name I pray,

John (johnd7264)

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Judges 15 – 17

Scripture

 

“The she said to him, ‘“How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.”’ With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death. So he told her everything.” Judges 16:15 – 17a (NIV)

 

“Then she called, ‘“Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”’ He awoke from his sleep and thought, ‘“I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.”’ But he did not know that the LORD had left him. Judges 16:20 (NIV)

 

Observation

 

Delilah’s persistent pleading had finally broken down Samson and he told her the secret of his great strength. She in turn, called the Philistines in to capture Samson, because of a promised eleven hundred shekels of silver from the rulers.

 

Every time I’ve ever heard or read this story, I have always thought, “How stupid could he be?  Didn’t he learn from past experience that Delilah couldn’t keep a secret?” Even his first wife was able to get the answer to the riddle out of him in Judges 14. 

 

 

Application

 

But, as I’ve been contemplating this story again the past week, I saw a tendency in myself that mimicked Samson. A very humbling realization.

 

How often have I thought: “I can handle today on my own. I don’t have time to start my day with God and see what He wants to share with me this morning.” And by not doing that, in effect what I’m really saying is: “I can handle any scheme the devil throws my way. I don’t need God’s guidance.”

 

Have I not learned from past experience that when I make it a priority to spend time with God, that I am better prepared for my day and whatever obstacles I may confront, and sadly the opposite when I do not.

 

As Samson thought: “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.”’ But he did not know that the LORD had left him” (Judges 16:20b), so I sometimes do. This is where relying on my own human strength and wisdom gets me into trouble. By doing so, I tell a very respectful God, “No thanks, don’t need your help today. Thanks anyway.” In the process I limit myself, and what I could really accomplish, if only I was using His power instead of my own.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father,

I am so sorry for the times that I neglect You and turn down the strength and wisdom You so graciously give through Your Word. I know that I can’t do this journey through life on my own. The devil’s schemes are so sly and enticing and I need You to help me. Please help me learn from past experience that when I try to do it on my own, I fail more often than not. I want to make it such a priority to start each and every day with You, that I feel utterly incomplete without doing so.  I love You and am so thankful for Your abounding love and mercy towards me.

Amen.

 

Beckie (look2thehills)

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Judges 12-14

Scripture

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord …” Judges 13:1 NIV

Observation

A recurring theme.

Application

Some days I get it right. Some days I want to get it right, and I don’t. And then there are days I want to just start over. I can wake up with every intention to be good, and every desire to be good, and sometimes all it takes to throw me off course is too much chocolate–or not enough, an ill-timed phone call, a child’s bad attitude, a snarky email or not enough sleep. And there I am: just like Israel, doing evil by means of frustration or bad attitude or angry thoughts.

Prayer

Father, I want so badly to not disappoint you. And yet before I know it, I slip up. Thank you that my salvation isn’t dependent on me! Help me to understand your great grace and to generously show kindness and mercy to others in my life. Thank you for Jesus and all he did for me on the cross.  Amen.

Courtney

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Judges 10-11

Scripture

15The sons of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.”

16So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.

~Judges 10:15,16 (NASB)

Observation

More judges, same cycles, same God. Again, Israel realizes its sinfulness and humbles itself before God. They could not just cry out with empty words, they had to take action, and move away from the sin they had accepted as part of their lifestyle. They put away the gods and they humbly opened themselves to taking whatever God’s punishment brought to them. They accepted the responsibility for their guilt.

God responded as any parent would. I appreciate this glimpse into the agony that we put God through as we walk apart from Him. Our sin hurts Him. Not just because it cost Jesus Christ His life, but because He loves us and He knows the consequences we will walk through until we decide to put away that way of living and humble ourselves to Him.

And then what does He have in store for us? Not necessarily an easy life, there will still be battles ahead. But now, He walks with us and we walk in communion with Him. Just as Israel did. They still had a great battle ahead, needed to find a strong human leader to direct them, but now they walked in God’s blessing.

God heard their cry for forgiveness and redemption. Jephthah came onto the scene, somewhat unwillingly. I couldn’t help but think of the Adventures in Odyssey OT Action News story that summarizes this story well, and in a way even a child could understand. I also thought about Hebrews 11 . . . as it recounts the lives of faith, it includes the name “Jephthah” on the list. Hm, really? I think I could have that much faith. God worked through his weakness, and annihilated 20 cities! Reminding me once again, that it is not about my strength, but about His.

Of course, there is the controversy about his reference to the burnt offering. While we cannot know for sure what ended up happening, there are two possible outcomes. He might have actually offered his daughter as a burnt offering. Some reference his apparent Canaanite ways as evidence for this scenario. The second possibility, which I find more plausible, involves him dedicating her to service for the Lord. So, she would not marry (hence the request for time to mourn her inability to marry, which wouldn’t make as much sense if she would be dying soon anyway). Another of those quandaries we probably won’t have a definite answer to in this lifetime, and in eternity I don’t think we will give it much more than a second thought.

Application

I must, absolutely must, pass on my faith to my children. I must talk about it and live it out daily. It does not guarantee their salvation or a close walk with God, but if I keep silent they will most certainly walk as the Israelites did, ignorant of God’s working, His law, and love for them.

God loves me unashamedly. He wants me to come to Him. He wants to clothe me in His righteousness and watch me walk in His protection. I need to rest in that love more often.

I need to accept the consequences of my actions and put away sinful habits, not look to Him for an undeserved back door out of problems of my own making.

Pride has no place in any victories I see in my life. God works through my weakness. Sometimes when things go well I have a temptation to pat myself on the back and think, “I did it!” Nothing could be further from the truth. He did it, as I finally gave Him the rightful place in my life.

Prayer

Dear Lord, Thank you for your compassionate love that does not give up on me even when my own sinfulness pulls me away from sweet fellowship with You. Please keep drawing me closer. I need to daily rely on Your strength and not claim Your victories as my own. Thank you for knowing me and loving me anyway. I could never repay You, but want to pour myself out each day trying. Thank you for accepting my humble offering. ~Amen

Erin (5intow)

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Judges 8-9

Scripture: Judges 8:22-24, 27 NIV

The Israelites said to Gideon,  “Rule over us – you, your son and your grandson – because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.” (8:22)

But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.” (8:23)

“I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (8:24)

Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he place in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” (8:27)

Observation

Chapter 8 was intriguing to me on so many levels. The leadership skills Gideon demonstrated as he met multiple roadblocks were such an example of determination, vision, persistence and passion. Nothing would deter him from fullfilling his mission. I plan to study and blog about these leadership lessons elsewhere.

By the end of the chapter, Israel acknowledged his leadership and attempted to democratically vote him into kingship. Gideon answers with a selfless, godly response… “The LORD will rule over you.” Like his predecessors (Moses, Joshua, various Judges) he understood that Israel was God’s nation and their success was based on their obedience to God’s rule not man’s.

But within what appears to be minutes, Gideon makes a questionable decision…the creation of the ephod which ended up becoming an idol. In the NIV it wasn’t clear to me whether this was actually Gideon’s intent or simply a leader’s mis-judgment that ended up becoming a stumbling block. So I checked out some commentaries which only led me to varying interpretations: Gideon wanted the title of priesthood so he made himself an ephod; he simply wanted a memorial to himself but because it was manmade it actually was an idol; he knew he shouldn’t become king but he did want to be remembered so he honored himself; he purely wanted a memorial to God; and so on.

I’ve concluded that I don’t really know Gideon’s intent for creating the ephod (and would welcome other’s  input). But I do know that there are some valuable leadership lessons here.

Application

It’s one thing to say God is in control it’s another to live it. I can easily verbalize the God-talk that is expected of me as a leader in ministry, “God is in charge. He’s sovereign. I’m just His instrument. He’s really the One in control.” But when it comes down to the daily moment by moment decisions and choices I make, do I let His sovereignty be sovereign? Or do I feed my pride by making sure I have mini-memorials of me so that I can reserve some of the credit for myself? Only to discover that those memorials have become snares to others.

Prayer

“God, You are God and I am not. My ways are not Your ways but I desire for them to become more like Yours. And the only way that can happen is if I fall more and more in love with You. Today I want to think of You every hour so I can recognize Your voice and obey it out of my love for You. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit so I can be an instrument for You and not for myself. Amen.”

simplyspoken

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