Tag Archives: Judges

It Ain’t Over ’til God says It’s Over

gideonLife is an uphill battle and somedays the hill’s a little easier to overtake than others. And then there are those days when from dawn til dusk it seems like my battle is on the brink of being lost. Satan is too quick to whisper “you’re goin’ down this time… there’s no way you can win.” And in my weakened state I’m likely to concede. But then there are days like today as I read a little further into Judges.. not very much further than yesterday… when I come across a scripture that sends Satan packing and me unpacking God’s word.

The story of Gideon is a great story to read when you’re having an ‘underdog’ kinda day. Gideon, a mighty man of valour he’s called, and yet we first find him hidng in the wine press from the Midianites. Well the story goes that through the power of God, a couple of signs from God, the dwindling of Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to 300, Gideon wins his battle.

But in Chapter 8 today, I find a post war story of Gideon that first had me gigling but then encouraged my soul with great hope from the Lord. Perhaps you need it too.

Gideon’s battle continued even after the victory… can I stop here and say that none of us are ever completely free of the battle are we? There’s always somone or something waiting in the balance to cause us more grief and heartache. True story for us, and for Gideon as his path crossed the people of Succoth on his way to capture Zebah and Zalmunna. He and the 300 men were tired and hungry and ask for a little kindness from the people of Succoth, who responded unkind:

Judges 8:4-7

And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them. And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?And Gideon said, Therefore when the Lord hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.

Does that sound like the guy who was hiding in the winepress? Oh no. It’s a new day for Gideon! He has witnessed for himself what the Lord can do when you give the battle over to him. And it didn’t matter if it was 10 or 10,000 Gideon knew he could whip a bear with flyswatter as long as God was on his side. His whole demeanor had changed. When these arrogant men of Succoth ask him “who he thought he was?” Gideon let’s them know that they’re about to find out, right after he whips the tar out of the Z-men. In the words of Arnold Swartzeneger “I’ll be back.” Perhaps Arnold got that attitude from Gideon.

So what was my encouragment? When I hear Satan say that “I’m done for.” I can hear my Lord say, “I’ll be back.” There is no doubt for me that Gideon drew strength from his victory even though at the present time he was feeling pretty low. In his weakened state he didn’t take those guys on. He let them go until he finished the matter at hand. But when he came through, it was new day.

In verse 16 it says of Gideon And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.”

Gideon taught those guys a lesson from God, “Don’t ever count God’s people out!”

Are you in the battle? Me too. Let’s tell the enemy it ain’t over until God says it over! Amen?

Not Without Jesus

sheepfoldThe story of Deborah in the book of Judges has always had a fascination for me. To see a woman in leadership at that time in history was amazing. It ought not to have been so by tradition. But there she was traipsing off to war with Barak who had been instructed to take the men and go and yet refused. So brave hearted Deborah calls his hand on it and he says, “I’ll go if you will.” (Shari quoted, not scripture). So Deborah went and the battle was won. In Chapter 5 is the song of Deborah and Barak, at which point she again calls out the men when she sings to the tribe of Rueben in verse 16 “Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks?”

The tribe of Reuben knew Israel was in battle, yet they opted just to sit with the sheep rather than go to war. And for me that was a grim view of the churches in America. There they sit with their sheep while Christians are on the battlefield and they’re content to listen to the “bleating of their sheep,” who’d rather stay safe in the fold than come against the liberal crowd on the battle field. All the while the gospel is being watered down beyond recognition and the word of God is being challenged as lawless because it offends those who live in sin. Somebody needs to sing this song… today it’s me.

I see a new hope on the horizon in America. I must confess… I’m a little excited. But last night as I watched the news and the hope spread through economic forces and American leaders my first thought was… “Not without Jesus.” The churches of America better be ready to reclaim some ground along with the government reclaiming control of our borders, military and economy or this plan won’t work either.

The Tribe of Reuben were on the wrong side of Jordan to fight in the battle. And the churches in
America (collectively) have been on the wrong side of the battle in our land. Pastors have cowered down to the liberals and refused to dole out the word of God that convicts and cleanses the heart of the hearer. What God has called out to be sin: homosexuality, abortion, etc. – the churches of America have deemed it either forgivable or a misnomer of scripture.

Why is the American church cowered down among the sheep? If there is a hope to be found in America it will be found on the right side of Jesus, or it won’t be found. Old Testament or New, God says “come out from among them.” It’s a good word for America right now.

P.S. ~ He doesn’t call pew sitters

a-pew-sitterI can’t seem to make it too far in the book of Judges before I’m under conviction and or in a state of frustration. At the end of Chapter two we read the words of God frustration with Israel:

20 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;

21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:

22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.

23 Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

Israel had again and again turned back to following the false gods of the people dwelling in their land. So in frustration God decided that He would “prove” their loyalty to Him by allowing the troubling parties to stay in their country, thus giving Israel the choice to choose the God of all creation or the created gods. God would send leaders in like, Joshua, Caleb,  and Othniel and judges to govern and guide, and yet each time they either ignored or waited until the leader was gone and then went back to following the ways of the world. History would repeat itself again when Israel would cry out, God would deliver, and they’d follow for a while and then fall away. Such has been the case with Israel, America and the church.

I watch in sadness as the American church goes two directions. Those who stand on the ground they’ve been given refusing to look at any other method of worship as even a possibility, and those who take their worship far, far into a worldly perspective and turn godly worship into a worldly celebration without the holiness of God anywhere in the equation. And then there are those of us in the middle, watching and wondering when Jesus will come and take us out of this mess. But all the while there is a need for the gospel to go forth, but those willing to take it are fewer and fewer.

It hit too close home when I read that as soon as Johua, Caleb and and Othniel passed away, Israel went into disarray.  Why wasn’t there a strong enough leader in their stead? I can say the same about the church, collectively and personally5sq. I’ve watched as strong leaders pass away or move onto other ministries and those in the balance are not ready and have no desire to be ready.

Was it the previous administrations fault?

Did Joshua, Caleb and Othniel drop the ball in training others to be in their place?

Possibly but I doubt it, and that excuse only flies so far. At some point people see the need and choose to either step up or step back. If everyone steps back, succeeding that is usually the ruination of a body of believers. They begin getting lethargic in their service to the Lord, their personal walk with God goes by the way side and slowly but surely a community is in captivity of Satan because the saints of God failed to step up in the position of leader.

I wish I had the answer. Following last week’s election there should have been people lining the altar on Sunday and proclaiming that they were to ready to step into the places God had opened. I didn’t see it at my church, did you see it at yours?

What’s it going to take for people to realize that God may call us home soon and there’s a world in need of Jesus that we were supposed to tell. Or… He may not call us home for a while and He’ll tire of us as He did Israel and say… you wanted the world… there ya go. Welcome to captivity.

My prayer is that one by one we’ll declare our loyalty to God and our churches and our country will turn back to God. But it has to start with us singly looking at God’s desire for our life.

P.S. ~ He doesn’t call pew sitters. Get busy!

Is there a fire in this generation?

brother-and-sisterI’ve been involved in the lives of six generations of people, and although that makes me feel a little more than aged it also brings me great joy when I reminisce on the days of Great Grandma Florence, Mommaw Vada, Aunts, Uncles and my own Mother and Father; and now watch as beneath my generation are two more. I am blessed. The generations have not been without heartache and woe but praise God each have been filled with strong Christian witnesses that I can look to for strength when I struggle in the these days of wickedness and woe. So when I read the following passage in Judges 2 it breaks my heart more than a little.

Judges 2:8-11

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.  And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim:

The new generation that God brought into the Promised Land, whom He had told “I will never break my covenant with you,” (Judges 2:1b), that generation waited one generation to break away from Him.

The same held true in America. Leaving their country for a land that would promise religious freedom, it took only a few generations for the decline of American spirituality. A great revival in 1857 in New York brought a new hope to the children of God and spread near and far, but not until a crash of the economy. It’s been about that long again, maybe a little more since America has felt the hand of God heavy in leadership and family. As I read the history of the great New York revival my heart longed for that leadership to be in place again today.

It started with one man hired as a missionary to the inner cities of New York. Jeremiah Lanphier, a 48 year old businessman, who was moved by the spiritual plight of the masses, began to visit homes, passing out literature, praying and encouraging others to do the same. A noon time prayer meeting of a few men turned into thousands and thousands across America. Not for preaching, but for praising and praying for the souls of friends and family.

Oh for that fire to ignite in America now…

It has to start somewhere. A recent happening in our county is a countywide Christian fellowship which stirs my heart with great joy. Because I can see the fringe of a mighty fire if we keep seeking Jesus as a unified body of Christ. Letting our churches be “our” churches but incorporating a time of fellowship between all churches to come together to praise God and pray for our friends and family. November 28th is the next event at the Brooksville Church.

If we lead believing… I believe there will be followers. And the body of Christ, the brothers and sisters in His name will grow. It gives me great hope, I hope it encourages you too!

A Man and His Concubine (An American tale?)

chick tale

So this morning I sat out to spend some time in the Word of God and settle for myself a scripture that I had heard over the weekend being used out of context. Funny thing about God… my ways are not His ways. In the process of searching out that scripture I found three references, the first of which was not the one for which I sought to understand. That of course was the one God opened my eyes to. The scripture reading for me today was in the book of Judges, Chapters 19-20. I was drawn into a dark, gruesome and horrific story of a man and his concubine.

Judges 19:1-2

And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah. And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.

That’s quite the story opener is it not? Here’s what caught my eye: Israel has no leadership… wow, doesn’t that sound familiar. You’ll note I’m not asking a question. We all know that we have no leadership. Well… technically poor leadership. By the biblical responsibilities of the tribe for which he belonged this unnamed Levite man of the story should have been a minister of God. But to Shari quote what I’m reading, he’s shacked up with an unscrupulous chick and has to go chasing after her back down to her daddy’s house in Bethlehemjudah where life is just one big party. His father in law convinces him again and again to spend the night in party central until finally after five days he says, ‘I gotta go.’ So he, the dame, and his servant saddle up their donkey’s and hit the highway. The first towns they come to are heathen towns for which the servant suggests they stay. But the Levite informs him that they’re not staying in a town belonging to people who are not Israelites. It must have been their version of Las Vegas. So they passed through those towns and come to their own people in Gibeah, who won’t give them the time of day or a place to stay! So now they’re homeless in the street; when along comes an out of town farmer who has a place to stay there in that city and brings them in for the night.

The story only gets worse.

Sodom and Gommorah rises from the ashes as some men in the city (of their own people) come to the farmer’s house “wanting the men” to join them. The farmer decides to appease them by offering up his own daughter (which they deny) and the Levite’s concubine (whom they accept) and take her and rape her all night, returning her dead in the morning on the farmer’s doorstep. Horror movie in the making. So the Levite returns to his hometown, cuts his dead concubine in pieces and sends the pieces out to his own people in the form of a shock-o-gram intending incite war on the Benjamites who killed her.

Following the Lord’s approval the war ensues, killing twenty-two thousand of their own Israelites the first day, and eighteen thousand the second day; which caused them to question God if this battle was such a good idea.

God said go, so they went and victory was theirs the third time.

When I read this terrible tragedy my first thought  was, “sounds like America.” This could possibly be a State of the Union address illustration if we’d get a President who was saved. Totally judgmental I know… But I’m not taking it back. I’m tired! I’m tired of America whoring after whoever or whatever it is that’s out there in all of their political correctness with total disregard for what we’re marrying into (literally and figuratively). The Iran deal that’s on the table is like climbing in bed with the terrorist and when they slit your throat proclaiming…. “I didn’t see that coming.” Really? Our Washington representatives allowing the President to visit and call the  homes of criminals while making no attempt to comfort the hearts of grieving police families is every bit as appalling as the farmer and the Levite’s willingness to sacrifice their women so that the men would leave them alone. And every bit as stupid as their shock when the woman was returned raped and murdered. So by comforting people who kill cops… cop killers will stop, is that the theory? American powers that be have given our children to be killed in abortions, but we’re shocked that they would cut the babies apart and sell them.

Suddenly the story in Judges isn’t so unfamiliar is it?

And so they incite war within America. They turn it into a racial, gender, rich vs. poor, educated vs. non-educated, etc. etc. until everyone has something against someone. The 40,000 people lost in the battle for justice in Israel were killed by their own people. The average American sees it but sits helpless. What’s the answer?

Here’s a few ideas:

  • Israel didn’t need a King, they had God. So do we!
  • Stop sleeping with the enemy ourselves. As servants of God, why are we marrying the world’s ideas? It doesn’t matter what the world says is right. If God says it’s wrong it is.
  • The enemy that’s doing the most damage is in our own camp. It’s not the people who “aren’t like us,” that we have issues with. They, like us, need God.
  • Stop allowing access to our children (those born and those unborn)
  • We’ve literally had the body parts of an innocent child sent to us.

Today’s blog isn’t meant to incite war, it’s meant to cause you to first examine yourself, and then the world around you.

What state are you in?

  • Spiritually? Do you have a right heart with God?
  • Literally? I’m in West Virginia… where are you?

It’s time to examine both and start cleaning house. Don’t wait until they’ve taken your family and then start the battle. Start protecting what’s yours.

Is Your Light Still Shining?

CHICK LIGHT

On my heart again this morning was the scripture from yesterday’s blog in Judges, Chapter 9; so off I went in pursuit of more information on that matter… which lead me to other places…people… things. All of which brought me back to Judges 9 and the pursuit of God’s will for our lives and leadership.

The character of Abimelech (which evoked Jotham to share the parable of the trees) is one of seventy sons belonging to Gideon. Yes… the same Gideon who we love to tell the story of from Judges 6-8 and his victory over the Midianites. But the story of what happens in Gideon’s life after the great victory is not one for the wall of fame… at the end of Gideon’s life the people tried to make him King (which he refused, because God alone is King) Thumbs up for Gideon. But he did allow the people to put up an idol for himself, which the Israelites worshiped. Committed fornication with the bible says, meaning they had an affair on God with Gideon’s image… Thumbs down!

How do we get so far?

Judges 8:23-27

And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you. And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.  And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks.  And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

Gideon didn’t have those 70 children with one gal… which means he likely had many wives and concubines and his sites were not centered on God. So much so that by Judges 9, we find his son Abimelech conspiring with the people of Shechem to capture and kill his brothers so that Abimelech could become King. The failure of one generation in leadership can create deterioration of the next generation’s morals to the point of destruction. I believe we’re living in those days.

Gone are the days when children have the numerous godly role models that we were blessed to be brought up with; people who knew and took serious their station in life. And it’s a proven fact that if one generation accepts something as “the norm”, the next generation embraces it and also promotes it. But this can also be said of good role models as well; although it’s harder to overcome the negative effects of the world.

So this is where I see myself captivated by the tree parable. I have a station in life, given by God, to be a role model and an encouragement to women and children. If I leave that role… going after the world… those that I was intended to influence for good will now have the power of evil to influence them in my stead. Because where light is absent, darkness takes hold.

Where did God call you to be? Is your light still shining?

But Now… are you willing?

chick content

Judges 6:13

And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

Far be it from me to be disobedient to God and then wonder why I feel forsaken. (…yeah right) And I have on more than one occasion claimed the latter part of Hebrews 13:5: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” ignoring the prefix of that statement where it says  “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have” and then it says “I will never thee, nor forsake thee.” I for certain want God not to forsake me, but I don’t want to have to do without stuff! That was a side bar on the Gideon story, but the truth of the matter is, God had allowed Israel to get into bondage again with the Midianites because they had traded Him for the gods of the world. Tell me that doesn’t ring familiarity to the church today and in our individual lives.

We want God in a crisis, “but now” that’s it’s over we’ll see what we can do about penciling Him in. We don’t have to ask ourselves why the circumstances of America are playing out as they are; it’s because the nation as a whole has turned their back on God. Gideon hadn’t turned his back on God, because God called him a “mighty man of valour.” So why then was Gideon the mighty man of valour hiding in the wine press to thresh wheat? The logical answer for me is, because he was human. Even those of us who desire to stand up and fight against the wickedness of the world find ourselves cowering down somewhere because the enemy seems too much and we seem so insignificant by comparison.

Through God’s counsel Gideon and Israel had victory but there were a few steps in between.

He questioned God’s judgment on using him.

Vs 15 – behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.

To country quote it, “I ain’t got any money, and I don’t have the strength to fight that battle Lord.” God doesn’t’ need our money or our muscle! He wants a man willing to use what He’s equipped with. That’s why in Hebrew 13:5 Jesus tells us to be content with what we have, because that’s what God needs. What we have.

Gideon didn’t have much, but what he had he was willing to give to the Lord. In verse 18-19 of Judges 6 Gideon said. “Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.”

 In reading chapter 6 we discover that he sacrificed what he had, sought God’s counsel, and followed His instruction. The very same thing that we too have to offer God.

  • What we’ve been given… a little, or a lot doesn’t matter.
  • Time in His presence (costs nothing)
  • And obedience to His instruction (and He’ll equip us with the rest)

But now… America is here. But with a few Mighty folks of Valour, willing to be content with what we have, and listen to God, we could be a far better nation. Are you willing?

I Want God Wednesday!

I want God Wednesday

Craziest thing about wanting more God, we are without excuse for receiving Him. It’s officially Hump Day, that midweek celebration of the weekend being on the horizon. But for the Christian it should be a midweek refresher course on life until Sunday. We say we want more God, but Wednesday night services generally don’t reflect it by comparison to Sunday morning worship. You’ll note I didn’t say Sunday School… don’t get me started there. But back to Wednesday. I self-declared this “I Want God Wednesday!”  Just because it focuses my mind on Him and I really need to get my mind off me; that’s what happens by Wednesday if I’m not careful. I get to worrying about the circumstances of life… laundry, bills, jobs, kids, grandkids and dogs and before long I’m not focusing on godly edification but rather worldly agitations. All the while God is there for the asking even on Manic Mondays and Tiring Tuesdays we just won’t receive the grace and goodness He desires to give.

Steven Furtick preached a sermon a few weeks ago at Elevation church with another grand revelation for me regarding the two spies giving the good report that spied out Canaan land, and the eight that gave the bad report. In that sermon he said that that ratio often reflected the congregation of the Lord in that eight out of ten people have a negative attitude and only two are encouragers. Truth? I don’t know, but it sounds right!

But in the book of Judges, Chapter 18, Verse 7-9, we find another set of five spies who were given the order to spy out the land promised to the Danites but they returned with a good report!

Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man. And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye? And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land.

So what’s the lesson for “I Want God Wednesday!”? Be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land. You want more of the goodness of God. Don’t be careless and over confident, else you’ll find yourself under attack and at risk of losing the peace God has afforded. God has given you the opportunity to live in a land that is “very good!” But you can’t afford to miss any opportunity to fellowship.

If life is hard… get to church.

If life is easy… get to church.

If life is bad… get to church.

If life is good… get to church.

I had “go to church” in those lines but changed it to “get. It’s a privilege to get to go to church. We need that fellowship with other believers and an opportunity to be encouraged by the Word of God. Church is our own little piece of the Promised Land until we get the full inheritance. Too many people are living after the manner of the Zidonians, so sure that all is well and they know not that the good times are about to end.

Do a little declaring yourself today. Make this your “I Want God Wednesday!” Get to church!