Category Archives: Judges

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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Judges 1; Acts 5; Jeremiah 14; Matthew 28

So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:38-42 NLT

Is my walk so close with Jesus that I can truly rejoice in my sufferings? Usually not when I am in the midst of it. My own humanness wants to complain. But, looking back I can see that those were the times that have strengthened my faith. And where God has shown himself most clearly.

Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us. Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O Lord our God! Only you can do such things. So we will wait for you to help us.” Jeremiah 14:20-22 NLT

Sometimes it seems that he has left me in the waiting. And there is a drought in my soul. But, he reminds me that he is right there when I call out to him. He promises to be with me.

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NLT

I can still remember back to six  years ago when the Father spoke this verse into my clouded and fearful  mind. Never did I sense His presence more. If I hadn’t gone through that dark time, it wouldn’t have the meaning it has today. When worry strikes again, that day is a much needed reminder to my weary heart. He was with me than and is with me now.

Thank you Father for making a way to always be with me. Thank you for meeting me where I am. I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Judges 9-11; Psalm 17; Luke 23

The Book of Judges is about a wayward people who grieved God continually, yet there is one verse that struck home with me – Judges 10:16b “And His [God’s]soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.” Like a parent who can barely endure the suffering of her child, God’s compassionate heart breaks when He sees our helplessness – and we are all helpless to save ourselves from a life of sin and want.

King David was loved by God who testified concerning him, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.” David understood God’s marvelous love to be deeper than the familial love of parents who desire to provide for and give to their children. Because David knew He was loved, he knew hope for God’s favor when he prayed, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings . . .” (Psalm 17:8). Prophetically, though, David ended His prayer with a hope for eternal nearness to God, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness,” (Psalm 17:15). This is the prayer of a man who is looking beyond his need for comfort on earth to his spiritual life with God for all eternity.

I wonder about the broken heart of God that many years later heralded the birth of Jesus Christ. God’s compassion burst the heavens with song and joy for the coming Savior of mankind. Then our Father endured the sacrifice of His only Son to bring salvation to a helpless people, not because we merited or earned this Gracious Gift, but because He never changes – He loves.

Like the thief on the cross who recognized Jesus as the Son of God, we, in the midst of sinful death, can cry out, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And because Christ knew that we would sin in ignorance, He prayed for us then and prays for us now, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” Luke 23:34.

I am so grateful for the forgiveness of my Lord and Savior, and I long for even more from Him. I look forward to the day when in the twinkling of an eye I will be changed by the sweet words of Christ welcoming me home. Just as Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross that pivotal moment in time, He will speak to me, saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

What a glorious day that will be!!

 

Lord Jesus, whether You come for me in this life or when my spirit leaves my body, I am comforted knowing that You will come for me. That also means that those whom I have loved and who also loved You will be among the saints at Your side. To awake in Your likeness in the brightness of Your righteousness forever – how marvelous! Amen!

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Judges 7-8; Luke 22

There are battles in life that I can not win, yet I gather all my resources and plan to soldier on and do the best I can. Enter God. The Lord says to Gideon,

“You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength saved her, announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'” Judges 7:2-3.

By the end of the day, Gideon’s fighting force is reduced from 32,000 to 300 fighting men. Their weapons are replaced by trumpets, torches and clay jars and the battle is won. It is clear who delivers Israel from her enemies.

What is it that God is asking me to put aside so I can watch Him win the battle? Money? Time? Physical and emotional safety? Expectations? What false hope am I relying on that keeps me seeing the reality of God’s hand at work?

Jesus, had access to all worldly and heavenly powers, yet in obedience refused to spare himself the agony of the death on a Cross. Through His resurrection, God defeated the ultimate enemy, death. In the end, I take nothing and no one with me, save for the righteousness of Christ, so why do I hang on to old crutches which will fail to safely deliver into the presence of the living God?

Lord, you are patient, gracious and long to save. You want to free from all that keeps me from knowing and loving you. Expose any false hopes within so that may I rest in your care and enjoy the beauty of your Presence. You alone are my deliverer. Amen.

Klueh

 

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