Judges 13 This chapter reveals a God who cares for His people even if they don’t seem to care for Him. God loves all His people, especially barren women and wants to bless these them. For four chapters, we read about Samson, the son of Manoah and “Mrs. Manoah.” It is the “Mrs.” that has the initial contact with the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.
Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord. And like Jacob, he wanted to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.” Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.
When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?
There is a pattern that becomes very evident in this book and it is what we read in Judges 10:1 “The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord: “We have sinned against you. We abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.” How many times does a nation have to walk around the wilderness to get the message that God is God and He will not share His glory with another? The patience of God is mind-boggling! And here we are in the 21st century viewing this same pattern and God is still patient with us today.
Judges 9-12 reveals that once again the nation started out correctly but soon diminished into chaos and idolatry. It is then that they come back to God in tears and repentance only to remain that way until the judge died and the people are left without a godly leader. Yet the patience of God is remarkable. He allows us to wallow in the mire but is ready to forgive and reinstate us to a higher state. How often are we like Thomas Jefferson when we come to chapters like these? When Jefferson found a passage he didn’t like he took scissors to it. But, we are not to be like that because God has placed these chapters in here for a reason that we might learn and apply biblical principles to our lives.
What lessons is God teaching you as you read this book?
Joshua 16 The wonder girls of Zelophehad find their way into the council again to remind Joshua that Moses made them a promise of land, and to that day it had not been kept. These are wise women whose outward appearance is sheer beauty, and they have the brains to go with it. Notice their plan of action; go before the Eleazar, the priest, Joshua, and the leaders. These girls have insight and wit, and three times is a winner. Joshua assigned them land among their uncles, just as Moses had commanded.
What can we learn from these five gals? First, if you want something bad enough, you have to be willing to place your stake in the ground, and they were. Secondly, unlike some today, these gals were bold and yet humble, and the leaders listened. There is a principle here for us to glean about seeking God the Father’s gifts, which come down from heaven. His gifts do not change; just the timing. James reminds us that if we are deficient in wisdom, go and be bold before the Father just as they did. The author of Hebrews tells us that we can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
So what are you waiting for? God is in the business of granting wisdom, gifts, and a spirit of tenacity. Remember, a promise made is only as good as a promise kept.
Joshua 9 – 10 Have you ever been duped? To be duped means another has taken advantage of you in some clever way. Take a lesson from Joshua who was deceived or duped by the Gibeonites.
One of the lessons Moses sought to impress upon his servant was to always check with God before stepping out. Joshua is learning this lesson fast and furiously. First, he failed to check with God about Ai, and now he fails to check with God about the Gibeonites. In both circumstances, Joshua failed, but God still used him in His service, and that is something we need to remember. Just because you failed once doesn’t mean God can’t and won’t use you. God uses imperfect people to complete His perfect plan.
God allows tests into our life to check our understanding of His Word. He also allows them to test our faith and obedience to Him. The city of Ai and the tribe of the Gibeonites was Joshua’s test. What is yours?
The Gibeonites were cunning and deceitful, and we will meet those people as we traverse the world. Joshua assumed they had a good motive from all appearances, but they were lying. We can only see through the lies and facades with God’s eyes. Joshua is an example of allowing his own eyes and the pity he felt for the Gibeonites to lead him rather than God’s eyes.
We must be discerning, and the only way we can be is through prayer and scripture and yes, sometimes seeking wise counsel. Joshua failed on all points; how about you?
Joshua 1-3 “Be Strong and Courageous”
As Moses concluded his address to the nation and in particular to Joshua, he noted the same words that God would speak to Joshua in the first chapter: “Be strong and courageous.” Joshua had seen the Red Sea opening and now would see the Jordan open as well. God wanted Joshua to know that He can be trusted but also that Joshua needed, in turn, to trust Him.
God knows us inside and out, and He knew that Joshua faced an intimidating job. Up until this time, he had been a servant’s servant to Moses. But, like any man or woman facing what seems an impossible task, there lurks the fear of the unknown. Joshua recalled the land he had seen 40+ years before, but would it look the same now? Would there be those same giants he had seen before? Would the people follow his leadership?
God encouraged Joshua to know that no matter where his foot would fall, God would be with him and never forsake him. God told him to remain steadfast immovable, just as Paul wrote. To a day, Joshua remained faithful. He reminded the Israelites; “be strong!” He never took credit for all of the blessings but reminded the people that it was the Lord who drove out the great and mighty nations.
Joshua is God’s hero. I hope he is yours too. Remember Isaiah’s words “when you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you. For I am the Lord your God; your deliverer…” [Is 43]
Deut 32 Knowing God means Choosing Him and Choosing Life!
As Moses begins his last address to his people, he starts where we all should begin; with God. He praises God as the Rock. When we think of a rock, we think of something that is impenetrable, unyielding to pressure, and trustworthy. God’s work is perfect, for all his ways are just. He is a reliable God who is never unjust; he is fair or righteous and upright. Do you know Him? The NET study note explains:
“The Hebrew term depicts God as a rocky summit where one may find safety and protection. Within a covenantal context, it serves as a reminder to the people that their God has committed himself to their protection in return for their allegiance.”
In sharp contrast, Moses notes this about God’s people: They have been unfaithful to him; they have not acted like his children—this is their sin. They are a perverse and deceitful generation. Moses reminded them of all that God has done for them from the time He chose them. As he closes his address to them, he said: choose life which is really choosing God, and He will bless you as He blessed Israel.
Moses proclaimed to them: Choose life so that you and your descendants may live! (Deu 30:19)Follow God, choose Him, and honor Him so that this description is not about you. Peter reminded his readers to be holy as God is holy. Do you know Him? Have you chosen life?
Deut 10 to 12 Five Things God Requires
I am reading the book, Hearts Afire about women who sacrificed all to serve God. They willingly chose to surrender their lives to God — no matter the cost!
That challenges me to ask: am I?
Being set apart for God and His work took on a whole new meaning when they realized the cost. Jesus reminded the disciples to count the cost before you embark on a project, such as building a tower. He used that metaphor to help them realize that before you say you are willing to serve God full time, you must do as the builder does before he orders materials and hires workers. Moses told the Israelites that before they could follow God, they must count the cost, and it included five things.
10:12 Moses said God requires that you reverently fear Him. Secondly, you must choose to walk in all His ways. Thirdly, you must love Him totally and completely reminding us that He is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another. Fourthly, you must endeavor to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. And lastly, you must keep His commandments which the Apostle John said are not burdensome.
10:20 reiterates those same details with one added point; you must swear by His Name. Why would God add that? In vs. 21, the answer is that He is our praise, and He is our God. He alone has done these great and awesome things for you!
Are you willing to be set apart for His service?
Deut 4-6 God is…
The world shouts out: who is God? The world questions: who is God? They might say God is love and He is, but Moses said God is the Lord. He revealed Himself to the pagan Egyptians and to the Israelites as one who is not a man that he should change his mind. He revealed Himself in signs and wonders such as at Baal-Peor where He eradicated from their midst everyone who followed that false god. Moses asked them this question: “what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him?” And God is asking us the very same question and to that he asks: Do you know me?
Peter reminded the sojourners just as Moses was reminding the people: “You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.” Even though they did not “see” him they heard his voice saying: “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left. [Is 30]And again, if we seek Him, we will find Him; if we seek Him with all our heart and soul.
Who is God? He is the Lord God and there is no other besides him. Our obligation: Love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being and all your strength. In this way we affirm we serve Him and only Him.”
Numbers 22 Many preachers and SS teachers use the story of Balaam and the speaking donkey to enthrall audiences, but there is more to this story than just the donkey. God used Balaam in an unlikely manner to reveal his heart and the way Satan uses unbelievers in our lives.
God questioned Balaam about his visitors. “Who are these men? Balaam kept up a dialog with God about them, and on the surface, it seems that he was obeying. However, step by step, Balaam fell headlong into the temptation of earthly riches, which was stronger than obeying God. Like many today, Balaam tried to appear righteous by his answer that he could not curse Israel, but his actions prove the opposite. Balaam sought ways to obey God and yet get the riches the King offered. The last test came when God explicitly tested Balaam when he said: “if” these men have come to call you, get up and go with them. But, Balaam didn’t wait for the “if” clause and instead got up and went.
There are several lessons for us to glean. One is that if you say you must ask God for his wise counsel, you must take a stand and stand firm. A second lesson is God gives us tests to discern if we will obey His voice or our own.
Lev 5 God wants us to handle sin when it is revealed to us and more so: “even if we didn’t realize we sinned…” This is not talking about intentional rebellion, but those sins that we unintentionally commit and then realize. Sin brings guilt. You can ignore it OR confess it to God seeking His forgiveness and cleansing.
These Leviticus chapters were written to the Israelites to demonstrate the love and mercy of God upon these unintentional sins and how men can seek God’s forgiveness. In the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all. But, just as they did, so we also must seek God’s mercy the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all and his compassion. The lesson is that we all must fall upon our knees, seeking cleansing. God wanted them to realize that their sin was not just against a fellow citizen, but God Himself. God is right to condemn our sin because He is holy, and He calls us to be holy. We stand guilty before God.
We now have the indwelling Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. We no longer need to take an animal’s blood to cover our sin for Jesus paid the price. What is required now is the same as it was then; confess our sin and seek forgiveness, trusting that He is faithful and righteous and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Do you need this today? Do not delay but listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.