Month: March 2017

Judges 11-12, Luke 6

Judges 11:1
1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot; and Gilead begot Jephthah.

There are a lot of people today who let their upbringing define them. They live their lives believing that God can never use them because of the upbringing they had, that they will never understand the love of God because of the relationship they had with their father, and the list goes on. The reality is, that God is bigger than our upbringing. Jephthah was a mighty man of valor, even though he was the son of a prostitute. We must seek to let God define us, always!

Judges 11:30-31
And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

This is a difficult bit of scripture to fully understand. However, what is easy to glean from the text is the importance of keeping our vows. Promises are made so cavalierly, people just don’t take them seriously. As Christians, we must make sure that we do what we say we are going to do.

Judges 11:39
And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man. And it became a custom in Israel

I do not believe that this sacrifice was a literal sacrifice as in death, but rather it was a sacrifice of remaining a virgin all of her life. Having children in that culture was extremely important, this would have been an ultimate sacrificial offering to the Lord. Jephthah kept his vow.

Judges 12:6
then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” And he would say, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time forty- two thousand Ephraimites.

This is one of those accounts in Scripture which I find to be very interesting. As I have said before, I love these little insights into the things that happened.

Luke 6:7
So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him.

People are always watching Christians in the hopes that they will find things to be critical of them. We need to make sure that we aren’t making their job easy. It will be easy for them to make something up, to justify themselves, but when we are living above reproach, the truth sets us free and the stage is set for th Holy Spirit to bring them under greater conviction.

Luke 6:20
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.

This is the beginning of Luke’s account of Jesus’s sermon on the Mount of Beatitudes.

Luke 6:32
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

This is always a convicting verse for me. It is easy to love people who I like and people who like me back. But, to love someone who doesn’t like me, now that is quite a different story. Only in the strength of Jesus is such a thing even possible.

Luke 6:46
46 “ But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

The convicting truth of this verse is, we cannot call him Lord unless we do the things He says. Now, here is the important truth about this verse. We don’t do the things he says so He can be our Lord, He becomes our Lord by grace, and then because of that great love towards us, we do the things He says. This is a very important distinction, the things we do for him, are a reflection of our love for Him.

Judges 9-10

Judges 9:1
1 Then Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s brothers, and spoke with them and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,

Abimelech was the son of Gideon and, as you will see, obviously not God’s plan to be his father’s successor.

Judges 9:6
And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.

With all of the crazy things that go on in the world today, people ar always looking for a leader who will rescue them. The democrats are looking to Obama and the republicans to Romney or Santorum or Gingrich or Paul, but we must never look to man to rescue us, but rather look to Jesus. He is our King, and we are to have no other king than Jesus.

Judges 9:15
And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you, Then come and take shelter in my shade; But if not, let fire come out of the bramble And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’

In the summers, my brother and I used to go and visit my father in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was not unusual for the temperatures to stay in the 100’s for days on end. Whenever we would run around barefoot, we would always be looking for shade to protect our feet from the extreme heat. Jesus must be the shade that shelters us. Psalms 17:8 says, “Hide me under the shadow (shade) of Your wings,”

Judges 9:54
Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him. ’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died.

Abimelech was prideful to the very end, not wanting anyone to think he died the way he actually did. When we are walking in disobedience to the Lord, we will do anything to keep up our own image. The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall,” Proverbs 16:18.

Judges 10:3-5
3 After him arose Jair, a Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty- two years. 4 Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they also had thirty towns, which are called “Havoth Jair” to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. 5 And Jair died and was buried in Camon.

Some of these judges are rather obscure and the Bible gives us some interesting insights into their lives. Some of which we may never know the significance.

Judges 10:6
6 Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him.

Here we go again! “Lord, help us to get it right the first time!”

Judges 10:13
Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more.

I cannot imagine hearing more disconcerting words form the Lord than, “I will deliver you no more.” May the Holy Spirit keep us in such a place of obedience that we never have to worry about such a thing.

Judges 7-8, Luke 5

Judges 7:2
And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’

This is just such an amazing story of how God chooses to show himself strong in our weakness. Jeremiah tells us that there is nothing too hard for God, and we see in this account of Gideon’s life that this is absolutely the case. Imagine preparing to go into battle and the commanding officer says, “We have too many guys!” and yet, this is precisely what the Lord is saying. Why? So that He alone gets the credit.

Judges 7:7
Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.”

Quite an unusual way of determining who is going to go into battle. From 22,000 to 10,000 to 300 men, leaving no doubt as to where the victory came from.

Judges 8:22-23
22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” 23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”

We must ever be aware of our natural tendency to want to either take the credit or give the credit to others, rather than to God. To God be the glory in every area if our lives. There is nothing that we do or accomplish that He doesn’t want and deserve the credit.

Judges 8:27
Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.

Even mighty men of valor can fall. It behooves us to understand this truth. We must guard our hearts from ever getting too proud.

Luke 5:8
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

It can be so easy to doubt the Lord. This is why it is good to read of the many accounts in the Bible where God came through in powerful ways. It serves to strengthen our faith so that we might constantly be growing in believing the Lord for greater things.

Luke 5:11
So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

I don’t believe we will ever experience all that the Lord has for us, until we are in a place of being willing to forsake all and wholeheartedly follow Him.

Luke 5:20
When He saw their faith, He said to him, “ Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

Sometimes it is the faith of others that brings healing in our lives. I don’t fully understand it, but I have found this to be very true. Don’t ever underestimate the role your faith plays in other people’s lives.

Judges 4-6

Judges 4:4
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

Deborah is the only female judge in Israel. She was also a prophetess, which was not unusual in Bible times we see evidence throughout the scriptures that there were female prophetesses. The New Testament makes it clear that God grants the gift of prophecy unto women also, and that’s they were to practice it appropriately (1 Corinthians 11:5). The underlying issue, it seems, is not that women can’t or shouldn’t hold roles in leadership, but rather that there is to be no authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:12).

Judges 5:2
“When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord!

When leaders lead according to the directives of God’s word and the people willingly offer themselves to the Lord and His word, amazing things begin to take place. I often refer to 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” Oh that people would seek to be loyal to all of God’s truths and that leaders would lead in the same manner.

Judges 5:21-22
The torrent of Kishon swept them away, That ancient torrent, the torrent of Kishon. O my soul, march on in strength! 22 Then the horses’ hooves pounded, The galloping, galloping of his steeds.

So much of Scripture is so beautifully written. It paints such clear pictures of what was going on and all that the people were experiencing. Often times is it beautiful poetry. Truly the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) honey on our lips, a light unto our paths and water to our thirsty souls.

Judges 6:11-12
11 Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

Gideon is without a doubt one of the most incredible characters in the Scriptures. I love how it is he was called. Imagine an angel of the Lord appearing to you and calling you, ‘mighty man of valor’. In Christ, we can all be men and women of valor, for He is our victory and conqueror. In fact, Romans 8:37 tells us that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. As we learn to live our lives in this understanding we will experience victorious Christian living.

Judges 6:15-16
So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

We must never allow our weaknesses to interfere with God’s call in our lives. Paul made it clear that it was in his weaknesses that God was able to show himself the strongest (2 Corinthians 12:10). And so it is with us!

Judges 6:36-37
36 So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.”

You may have heard people talk about ‘laying a fleece before the Lord’. This is what they are referring to. It refers to laying something before the Lord, asking for a confirmation of something He may want you to do. We need to be careful with fleeces, we can grow dependent upon them and quit seeking for confirmation by the Word and the Holy Spirit. We mustn’t rely too heavily on circumstances to direct us. I like to look for three things in discerning the will of the Lord; 1) the directing of the Holy Spirit, 2) confirmation in His word, 3) circumstance. This approach has yet to fail me in discerning the Lord’s will for my life.

Judges 1-3, Luke 4

Judges 1:1-2
1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” 2 And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.”

We are entering into a very dark time in Israel’s history. A time which lasted approximately 400 years. It was a time of a series of entering into God’s blessing, falling into apostasy (turning away from the faith), crying out for a deliverer, to which God would provide a judge, a time of revival, falling once again into apostasy and then the cycle repeating itself over and over again. It was a time when the Israelites rejected God’s leadership, there was no king, and everyone did what as right in ‘their own eyes’ (Judges 17:6).

Judges 1:6
Then Adoni- Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

This would make it virtually impossible for him fight!

Judges 1:19
So the Lord was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron.

Just as God had promised. We must never forget His faithfulness! He is always with us.

Judges 2:4
So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.

We must never be afraid of a word of correction from the Lord. Proverbs 12:1 tells us, Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. Pretty straightforward and right to the point.

Judges 2:7
7 So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

The importance of a good, godly leader cannot be overemphasized. Such a leader must serve the people with the understanding of Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” When a leader leads in this manner, it insures the greatest opportunity for success.

Judges 2:11
11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals;

You will hear the term ‘Baal’ in one form or another throughout the bible. In its literal sense, the word means, ‘husband, owner, possessor’ and is the title of a Canaanite deity (god). Serving other gods than the one true God, brings nothing but grief and heartache, no matter what form those gods may come.

Judges 2:15
Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed.

This is ultimately what we can expect when we walk in deliberate disobedience to the Lord. He is not opposed to bringing correction to us in any way which He deems necessary. It is all avoidable through simply doing what he tells us to do.

Judges 3:1
1 Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan.

The Bible tells is that the Lord will never tempt us, but He will test us, for the purpose of drawing us to a greater love and dependency upon Him.

Judges 3:9
When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

Othniel was the first of the judges. As you read about these judges, you will find some fascinating things the Lord did in and through them. You will also read of some pretty unusual circumstances and situations they went through. Some of them, didn’t have the most stellar of characters, but God used them none the less. How grateful I am that God uses us in spite of ourselves.

Luke 4:3
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

This is one of the most amazing accounts in the Bible. Here we get a front row seat to this incredible interaction between Jesus and Satan. The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way. Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” It was during this 40 days of being tempted in the wilderness that Jesus was subjected to every conceivable temptation. As a result, we cannot say that there is any temptation that will come our way that He doesn’t understand. we can always call out to him in our time of need.

Luke 4:20-21
Then He (Jesus) closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “ Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Man! I absolutely love this account in Scripture. Imagine what it must have been like to have been sitting there as Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2), the very words spoken about Himself. They were witnessing the very fulfillment of a prophecy that had been spoken several hundred years earlier. I get Jesus bumps every single time I read this!

Luke 4:41
And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.

The demons are subject to the authority of Jesus. They clearly know who He is. He would never allow a Christian to be demon possessed!

Joshua 22-24, Luke 3

Joshua 22:5
But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

What a power packed verse this is. Consider all of the things Joshua is exhorting the people to do; heed to do the commandments, love the Lord your God, walk in His ways, keep His commandments, hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Just imagine how wonderful life would be if we were to focus all of our attention on these things. We would do well to spend some time meditating on these great verses.

Joshua 22:10
10 And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan—a great, impressive altar.

The only altars that were to be built were plain altars with nothing ornate about them. There was to be no engravings or anything special about them. God knew, that building any other altar, would be a tribute to man, and false gods rather than to the One true God.

Joshua 23:8-9
but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day.

It is hard for me to understand why anyone would ever want to stray from the Lord. I know that people do, but I still cannot understand it. Especially in light of the many blessings He pours out upon us. I suppose that one of the reasons is, they fail to consider all the Lord has done for them on a regular basis. When I reflect on HIs goodness towards me, I desire to cling to Him all the more!

Joshua 24:2
And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.

I love chapters like this, chapters that review all of the things the Lord had done for them. Again, another reminder of how good and faithful our God is towards His beloved, even in spite of our disobedience.

Joshua 24:14
“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!

It is possible to serve the Lord from ill motives, rather than in ‘sincerity and truth’. We must guard our hearts from attitudes in our service that would suggest that our service is anything less than sincere and true.

Joshua 24:19
But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Joshua is not saying that forgiveness is unavailable, but rather that forgiveness is unavailable in our own strength, with any other attitude other than a fully surrendered heart.

Luke 3:7
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

This has always been an interesting interaction here. I imagine these religious rulers, all prim and proper in their religiosity strolling down to the river to see what the ‘new kid on the block’ was doing, when all of a sudden they hear John’s greeting, “Brood of vipers!” John the Baptist established early on, that anyone trying to come to God with anything less than a repetitive heart, is nothing more than a viper.

Luke 3:12
Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

In contrast to the Pharisees, here is an example of a repentant heart. The tax collectors were people most despised, because they cheated the people. When they came to John, they came with a clear understanding that they were sinners, which prompted the question, “Teacher, what shall we do?” This is the heart the Lord looks for in those who come to Him.

Luke 3:21
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.

I love that Jesus never asks us to do anything that He did not do himself, except die for the sins of the world. That is something that only He could do.

Joshua 19-21

Joshua 19:51
These were the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided as an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So they made an end of dividing the country.

Geographically, the Lord laid out the land very clearly and concisely. This is how we know what the boundaries are, even to this day. There is no doubt that Israel belongs to God and that the Jewish people have a very special place in God’s heart. This is why it is important that as a nation we stand with and for Israel. I believe that we should take to heart that which the Lord spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you.”

Joshua 20:6
And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled. ’”

I am grieved by what I see in our justice system today. Our nation would be wise to return to the roots of the Bible and build our justice system around its truths. It was the very first president of this once great country, George Washington, who well said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Joshua 21:43
43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.

It is remarkable to read these chapters and watch a nation come into existence, all according to the promises and word of God.

Joshua 21:45
Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

What a comfort this verse is to us, knowing that not one single word of God will fail to come about, just as he said. We should be greatly encouraged by this. it reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:18, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Praise be to God for such assurance.