Category Archives: Judges

Judges 12-16; Psalm 146; Luke 24

Whenever I start feeling that God no longer sees me and from time to time, hears me, I love the stories of the Old Testament that show God has a long-term plan in place.  Samson is such a story.

“A prophet who looked like an angel of God came and talked to me. I was so frightened, that I didn’t even ask where he was from. He didn’t tell me his name,  but he did say that I’m going to have a baby boy. I’m not supposed to drink any wine or beer or eat any food forbidden by God’s laws. Our son will belong to God for as long as he lives.” – Judges 13:6-7  CEV

I know that God has an agenda – He wants to love people and bring them to Him – I know that because He loved me right into His Kingdom.

The Lord sets prisoners free
    and heals blind eyes.
    He gives a helping hand
    to everyone who falls.
The Lord loves good people
    and looks after strangers.
He defends the rights
of orphans and widows,
    but destroys the wicked. – Psalm 146:7-9  CEV

Why else would He send Jesus, His Son, to die for me?  And so when those doubts cross my mind, like they find a way to do and I feel that I am not seen or heard, I remember Jesus and what He did for me. More importantly, I remember that He rose from the dead and that His Spirit is in me and I am never left alone.

But Jesus said, “Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt?  Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones as you see I have.” – Luke 24:38-39

Lord, I know You see me and hear me – always.  I have no idea why such doubt crosses my mind from time to time but I am thankful they do not take complete control over me.  Thank you for Your Word – it always changes me and brings me to a place of healing and holds me safe.  I love You for loving me so much. 

evanlaar

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Judges, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Judges 9-11; Psalms 17; Luke 23

“The Israelites were in great distress. Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help, saying, “We have sinned against you because we have abandoned you as our God and have served the images of Baal.” The Lord replied, “Did I not rescue you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? When they oppressed you, you cried out to me for help, and I rescued you. Yet you have abandoned me and served other gods. So I will not rescue you anymore. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen! Let them rescue you in your hour of distress!” But the Israelites pleaded with the Lord and said,”We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.” Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And he was grieved by their misery.” Judges 10:9-16 NLT

What other gods am I following? Sometimes good things can turn into idols if I am not careful.  Before I know it my focus is on them and off of the one who graciously gives them to me.

“As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women.” Luke 23:26-27 NLT

I reflect on the things in my life that have over-shadowed the cross.

“But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.” Luke 23:49 NLT

The women followed Jesus all the way to the cross.  “The more we follow Jesus, the more we fall in love with Him, want to obey Him, experience life with Him, and become a beacon of light to others through Him.  Will following Him be inconvenient? Maybe.  Will it cost us in ways that stretch us? Sometimes.  Does it force us to live life with a less self-centered outlook? Yes.  Does living to follow Jesus at every turn bring joy that we can’t get any other way? Absolutely.  Following Him is the very thing our souls were created to do.  And it is the most daily way to discover our purpose in life.” (Embraced Devotional, Lysa TerKeurst)

“As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed.” Luke 23:55 NLT

They wanted to be near him.

“I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalms 17:4-8 NLT

Dear Father, please forgive me for putting other things before you. Thank you for your grace and mercy. For your presence.  To you be the glory. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Judges 7-8; Luke 22

We find the story of Gideon in our passage in Judges this morning. Many if not all of us have read this many times. There is one small bit of the story I have overlooked before:

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”
14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” (Judges 7:8b-14 [NIV])

So the whole story as we know is a one of a test of faith for Gideon. God sees Gideon as a might warrior even though he was hiding in a grain bin. God whittles his men down past the bare minimum. No way would I have gone into battle with only 300 men. Then God gives Gideon something to hang on to. After he has obeyed God — probably thinking he’s going to die — he is given a reassurance that he will be victorious. It’s obvious he’s afraid — thus Purah going with him and then he hears good news. A prediction of victory from the enemy’s lips. What more could he ask for.

That happened to Moses too. It wasn’t till he started back to Egypt from the wilderness did God tell him the people that would have killed him for going back were gone.

How often does God do that for us? But it takes our obedience first before he reassures. Are you reading to do the next thing God wants you to do? If so don’t wait for the assurances, they will come after your first steps in His direction. 

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Judges 16; Acts 20; Jeremiah 29; Mark 15

Looking at examples in the Bible, I think God is trying to say that it’s okay to go through pain – only He wants to walk through it with us.

Samson is a fine example.  Even though he had failed, God did not leave him.

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. – Judges 16:30 NRSV

For Paul pain was a way of life and he prophesied the same to us. Only way through it and its the staple of my walk with Jesus is to place my hope in God, counting on His grace as my foundation and my fountain of joy.

 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[d]that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.[e]  I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. – Acts 20:28-30

That is why I struggle with this promise that I still quote from time to time —

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,  I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes – Jeremiah 29:11-14

I struggle with it not because it is not true, but because if it is taken out of context it misses the fact that there was 70 years of pain before this promise was realized.

So Jesus’s life has to be the accumulation of all my thoughts.  The cross and Skull Hill represented death, mockery and pain but for me I found there a place of redemption, forgiveness and hope because of Jesus.  What begins in horror and inhumanity, ends in victory and grace.

 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.  And they crucified him – Mark 15:22-24

Lord, thank you for your promises, they are true, every last one of them.  While I  journey with You and we might be joined by hurt, may I take comfort that You and others that You have called have already gone before me.  

evanlaar

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Judges 15; Acts 19; Jeremiah 28; Mark 14

But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes in his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve piled them in heaps! With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” When he finished his boasting, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was named Jawbone Hill. Samson was now very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?” So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground of Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named the place “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.” Judges 15:14-19 NLT

Samson was relying on his own strength. But once he cried out, the Lord gave him more than enough water to fulfill his thirst. God doesn’t withhold his Spirit from me. All I have to do is ask. Just like the woman pouring the jar of perfume. He pours out his spirit on me.  There can never be too much.

While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard. She broke open the jar and pursed the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked …But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.” Mark 14:3-7 NLT

Than, why do I sometimes wait till I am depleted, to ask for something he so readily gives?

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles…So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.” Acts 19:2-20 NLT

The Lord’s spirit gives me freedom. He frees me from a yoke of bondage.

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will remove the yoke of the king of Babylon from your necks…Then Hannaniah the prophet took the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in pieces.” Jeremiah 28:2&10 NLT

Thank you Father for giving me the power of your Holy Spirit. That you generously lavish your spirit on me when I ask. Forgive me for when I try to do things on my own. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Judges 6; Acts 10; Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

Sometimes I forget. Like Gideon, I keep my faith hidden and thresh my wheat in the wine press. Like Gideon, I tend to keep expectations low,  dreams limited and focus on getting by. Immediate disappointment is deferred that way, but in His Grace, God’s vision for life is higher than mine. My stale faith and prayers do not limit what God can do. To the contrary, time and time again, He delights in interrupting the normal.

Those interruptions are a gift to the person with the smallest of hopes. Consider the synagogue leader whose daughter is healed, the woman who dares to reach out in the crowd to discretely touch Jesus’s clothing, and the demoniac delivered from the Legion. But for those unable to cope with the fact that they are not in control and life as they know it has been irrevocably altered, the interruptions of God are unwelcome, if not terrifying. I am thinking of the  Gideon’s Midianite and Amalekite neighbors and later the  Gerasene swineherds.

God doesn’t allow me to stay stuck in the past. His ways break through conventions and rules to call me to the unexpected. I prayer that when He calls me to take the next risk, I will be quick to listen and obey as in the case of Cornelius and Peter. His grace enables me to let go of prejudices and old habits that may have served in the past, but will not work today.

Lord, do not allow me to cling to my ability to get it right. Let me hold tightly to the grace to which you have called me by name. Thank you for being my anchor and my hope. Your relentless pursuit of my soul never fails. It’s by the glorious, beautiful name of Jesus that I offer this prayer. Your sufficiency continues to amaze in ways never expected. Amen.

“We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf has entered…” Hebrews 6:19-20.

Kathy

 

 

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Judges 2; Acts 6; Jeremiah 15; Mark 1

I read a book recently called, The Disciple of Joy.  A man obviously called by God to lead in ministry with almost 20,000 coming to Christ, being discipled and following the call of God through baptism.  Unfortunately he did not plan his leadership transition well and when he died, his family argued over the ministry and it fell completely apart.  Reminds me of what happened when Joshua died.

Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and worshiped the Baals;  and they abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they followed other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were all around them, and bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.  They abandoned the Lord, and worshiped Baal and the Astartes. – Judges 2:11-13 NRSV

God seemed to have something in mind between the leadership of Peter and Paul.  He introduced Stephen for a very short time.  

What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit – Acts 6:5 NRSV

Stephen reminds me that leadership in the hands of God, even if it is brief, can catapult the gospel to the whole world – giving hope to those that hear – from a leader who is selfless and fearless.    

So why do bad things happen to good leaders – how could others follow God when Stephen was killed?  Amazing for me to see how many people in the Middle East have become Christians when they watch them die for their faith. That did not happen with Jeremiah and if there is one prophet I would not want to be – it would be Jeremiah.  At one point Jeremiah even doubted, just for a moment that God might be a liar because the pain of leadership would not go away.

Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?  Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail. – Jeremiah 15:18  NRSV

So my leadership marks a particular question for me – how does God respond to me?  So I look to God to perform something in my life everyday.  I come like the leper…

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”  Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. – Mark 1:40-42 NRSV

Lord, may my life always be marked by repentance and a turning to You.  May I find my strength in Your joy, my hope in Your faithful promises and my forgiveness in Your grace.  You are the one that leads me and I pray that as I follow You, as close as I can, that others may see Your eyes in mine.

evanlaar

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