Friday, February 28: Galatians 2- The gospel begins to unfold.

As Paul tells his story, elements of the Gospel message begin to be revealed. Verse 16 is a foundational start.  [We Jews] know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

The Gospel isn’t following rules, the Old Testament law or any other human made set of rules and regulations. We cannot work or earn our way to God. A rule based ‘gospel’ would be just that, a way to earn our way to God.

The Gospel is not about bloodline or lineage or being born a Jew or some other ‘preferred’ race.

The Gospel is God’s message that faith in Jesus Christ alone, not following some set of rules or being from some particular bloodline, justifies a person.

And so back to Paul’s narrative. Titus didn’t feel compelled to be circumcised (3). Why? Because following the OT Law is not the Gospel. And Paul opposed Peter openly (11-13) because following the dietary laws of the OT is not the Gospel.

The Gospel is God’s message that faith in Jesus Christ alone justifies a person.

Praise God for the Gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ, not any human set of works, justifies a person!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above you heavenly host. Praise Father, son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Praise God for theGospel… Lord teach Your Gospel to me. Amen.


Thursday, February 27: Galatians 1- Importance of the gospel.

How important is the Gospel and its defense to Paul? Immensely important!

I was struck by the veracity of Paul’s defense. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (7b-9).

We will have to allow the letter to unfold to hear the Gospel Paul preached. But for now, I was struck by Paul’s ‘no holds bared’ defense. Twice he says that those who pervert the Gospel should be eternally condemned! There is no fate worse than this. This is the strongest language possible.

Those who pervert the Gospel deserve a seat alongside the devil and his henchmen in hell for all eternity. This is what Paul writes. And if we overlay the understanding that all scripture is inspired by God, then this is what God has destined for people who pervert the Gospel!

Is the Gospel important? Absolutely!

The voice of the Spirit follows, “Since the Gospel is so important you should make sure you know what the Gospel is.”

Yes, I thought. I need to know the Gospel for my own salvation. I need to know the Gospel so that I can tell when someone is preaching a false gospel, which is really no gospel at all (7a). And I should know the Gospel so that when called upon, I can share it correctly myself.

As I read the remainder of Galatians, my eyes are set on descriptions of the Gospel.

Lord, thank You for the Gospel, it is the hope of salvation for all who believe. It is my hope, and it is my calling along with all in Your church to share that hope with the world until there are believers from every tribe and language and nation. To Your glory, I pray and labor. Amen.



Wednesday, February 26: Ruth 4- God's great design.

And so the story ends, Boaz marries Ruth and they have a son, Obed, who is the father of Jesse and the grandfather David, the great king of Israel.

Only now do we realize that there was much more going on than God simply coming to the aid of Naomi and Ruth. Yes, the Lord was helping and blessing Naomi and Ruth., But possibly, more importantly, God was orchestrating His salvation plan.

The Lord God will bring His Will and His Salvation to fruition. In fact God is working right now to complete His Will of taking His Name to the nations. As believers, we are somehow woven into God’s Will. We have a part in God’s Salvation and our faithfulness, day by day, is important.

As I sit here, I’m sensing that the Lord wants me to be more mindful of His workings to bring about His Will. Oh, I may not know specifically what the Lord is up to, but God is asking me to be open and be alert to His affairs and His Will. To listen, seek and pray for His glorious will to make disciples of people from every tribe and nation and tongue.

Lord, what do You want me to do to help bring Your Will about? Lord, what role do you desire me to play? I am Yours, Oh, Lord. Whatever You ask, I am Yours. Amen.


Tuesday, February 25: Ruth 3- Providential Care.


I don’t understand some of the customs, like sleeping at the man’s feet. But even not knowing some of the customs; it is clear that, again, God is at work. Ruth is certainly inviting Boaz to redeem her and Naomi offering herself in marriage. She does so discreetly, allowing Boaz an out should he not want to take it.

Tact and discretion are tremendous gifts to have and skills to hone. Some people just know how to raise an issue so that it gets a favorable hearing. Naomi and Ruth both appear to be endowed with tact.

Certainly, however, God is at work. The fact that Ruth happened into Boaz’s field and now is disposed to redeem Ruth, which would include continuing Naomi’s lineage, shows God is at work.

As I consider this chapter, I see the synergistic work of God and people. God was at work, but Ruth needed to fulfill her role faithfully as well, which she did with tact and grace.

I am reminded that my faithfulness is integral to God’s work in my life. God can always act sovereignly and by fiat as He wishes, but God generally chooses to work with us. And my part is to be faithful and to follow God’s lead.

This is why it is so important for us to remain open to the Lord, following His guidance and listening for His voice.

Lord, may I be open to You as I live my day today. Help me to listen and respond faithfully to You throughout the day and every day. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, February 24: Ruth 2- Faithful eyes see God at work.

A number of observations trickled through my thoughts. A good worker eventually gets noticed (7) was one thought. But what captivated my heart was God working in the shadows.

The Lord says He will never leave us or forsake us, but that doesn’t always mean we are aware of His presence in every moment.

Ruth set out to find food and to glean behind field workers. She could have ended up in any field. Instead, by the providence of God, she ends up working in the field of a close relative, who happens down to the field that day and notices her. He even takes a liking to her. When Ruth comes home with a full day’s amount of grain and tells Naomi about her day, Naomi sees God’s hand at work and exclaims, "The LORD bless him! He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead. That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers" (20).

Yesterday Naomi saw God’s hand in the harsh realities of life. Today she sees the Lord’s kindness in the affairs of Ruth’s day.

Two thoughts emerge. 1) God is alive and well and often working in the background of life orchestrating His will. 2) The faith-filled person will see God’s hand at work and honor Him for what He does.

I spent some time replaying the events of my recent days, thanking the Lord for His providential care and love. I particularly paused at a few incidents in which my ‘faith-eyes’ saw God at work for His Will and with His Mercy.

Praise danced in my heart…

Praise to the Lord the Almighty the king of creation. O my soul sings for his help and salvation! All you who hear, now to his temple draw near and join me in glad adoration.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above you heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.



Saturday, February 22: Ruth 1- Naomi's belief in God.

Naomi’s faith in God, despite her difficulties impressed me.

Naomi saw God’s hand at work in the calamities of her life. She believed that God was in control and that He orchestrated life events. Listen to her honesty and her pain.

[Life] is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD's hand has gone out against me!" …

"Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me." (13, 20-21).

Naomi felt God’s heavy hand in the death of her husband and then of her 2 sons. In her world, Naomi was destitute with no one to take care of her. Yet, she never cursed God or said anything unfaithful. Instead, she accepted the lot God dealt her.

Naomi’s faith impressed me. In our world when good things happen, people may thank God or they may take credit themselves. But when tragedy strikes people cry, “Why would God do that? How could a loving God do things like that?” People have been known to quit on God because of tragedies and difficult times.

Not Naomi, like Job, she accepted what God sent which, in her case, was heartache and pain.

I see, in this lady, faithfulness of a kind that I don’t often see in my world or in my life. She inspires me.

Lord, Thank You for Naomi, a woman of intense and wonderful faith.

Lord, I pray for the kind of faith Naomi had. The kind of faith that accepts whatever You see fit to send my way. Lord, in all life circumstances, may I trust what comes from Your hand and live faithfully. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.



Friday, February 21: Judges 21- We can be so bad.

I am glad that the book of Judges is over. It seems things go from bad to worse. The mess of the last few chapters is “cleaned up” through more pain and mess. More violence and families being destroyed, women being kidnapped. Oi vey!

The epitaph of the book is spot on. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit (25). Israel has fallen far from the ideals established in God’s law.

The lessons of the last few days are hammered home. Without the Word of God to stabilize and reign in the human heart, humankind can go berserk. Society implodes into all manner of selfishness. The rule of law, once honored, falls apart.

How can people possibly say that humans are basically ‘good.’ I see no evidence of this in the Book of Judges or the newspapers. Oh, for sure not every human being is as bad as bad can be… but left to ourselves we certainly don’t love our neighbor as self or love our enemies.

I find myself thanking God for Jesus and the gift of a new heart through faith in Jesus. And I find myself thanking God for the general grace He shows us, tempering our sin so that we don’t become as abased as we could.

Lord, God, I thank You and bless You for You… for Your grace and general revelation… for Jesus and salvation, redemption and mercy… for Your Holy Spirit, Who leads and guides those who believe closer to You. Amen.


Thursday, February 20: Judges 20- A stark realization.

Horror overshadowed me as I read this chapter. Adding up the numbers….40,000 Israelite men and 25,000 Benjamite men were cut down in 3 days of battle. 65,000 men in three days… the cries, the pain, the families. Oh my!  This does not include the destruction of the town of Gibeah.

I found myself thinking: God judges sin. Eventually God judges sin.

Reading this and other passages, some people respond, “How could God sanction all of this killing?” My thoughts go in a completely different direction. I think about how God judges sin. Evil behavior garnishes God’s wrath.

Evil behavior is not limited to the despicable behavior of the men of Gibeah and how they mistreated the man’s concubine. Evil behavior from God’s point of view –which is the only point of view that truly matters- is any behavior that breaks God’s law.

As I think about this, I find my life in jeopardy. I have broken God’s law. I deserve God’s wrath. And, yet, thanks be to Jesus, I have been saved from God’s wrath through faith in the atoning death of Jesus on the cross. And so I sit this morning thanking and blessing the Lord for His gift of salvation…

Lord, my fate could be like that of Gibeah… death and destruction. And not merely physical death but also eternal death and destruction. But thanks be to You I do not fear the grave, because my Savior, Jesus lives! And He will bring me with Him into glory when I breathe my final breath here on earth.

Lord, to You I offer my life today and daily. I pledge to live in such a way that people near and far hear about You and when I fall short of Your will, I will turn to You and confess my sin, receiving Your gift of forgiveness as promised in 1John 1:9.

Praise be to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Wednesday, February 19: Judges 19- No Word + No God-honoring Leadership = Disaster and Rebellion

For me this is one

of the most troubling accounts in the Old Testament. Many aspects of this story sicken me.

I thought back of the lessons of the last two days. Sin has a way of burrowing into our lives and when it does it, often grows more and more depraved.

Israel has sunk to despicable lows. The sins of these men are as bad, if not worse, than the pagan peoples Israel was supposed to replace.

I found myself thinking about what happened. I noticed two important factors.

One, Israel was leaderless. They had no king and no judge, the heads of the tribes who should have been the patriarchs and protectors of their clan are absent, too. There is no one to direct the people in the ways of God and goodness.

Two, Israel is Wordless.  The word of God is absent from Israel’s conscience existence. We haven’t heard of the Word since Joshua’s days. The scrolls of God’s Word are collecting dust within the Tabernacle somewhere. The priests, the feasts, the worship, nothing connected to the Word of God is mentioned.

We should not be surprised that Israel has degraded to this…

No Word + No God-honoring Leadership = Disaster and Rebellion!

I flipped to 2014. God’s people still need these two pillars.  Ask yourself two sets of questions.

1)      Personal questions: Are you attending to God’s Word in your own life? Do you guard yourself by reading, studying, meditating upon God’s Word? We are a fortunate people who can all read and write. Are we using these gifts to strengthen our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord?
    If NOT, what will you do about this?
    If YES, where are you growing and where might the Lord want you to grow in the next few months?

2)      Community questions: Are you part of a faith community where the Word of God is honored above all else as the VERY Word of God? Is every page revered by your church leaders? Do your leaders strive to lead and direct your portion of God’s family to deep and more faithful following of God’s Word?
    If NOT, start praying for your leadership that God would get a hold of their hearts.  And as you pray ask the Lord if there is more you can/should do about this.
    If YES, praise and thank God for your faith-community leaders. Pray for them, support them and follow them as they lead you closer to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, thank You for Your Word and for the ability to read and study it. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who You have sent to lead us into all truth and who will teach and guide us! What a gift!!!

And Lord, thank You for the men and women You have sent to be our faith community leaders. Endow them with Your Holy Spirit that they might lead us well and closer to You. Give me ears to hear Your directives through them. This I pray in Jesus’ name and for the sake of Your church and Your mission to reach the world with the name of Jesus. Amen


Tuesday, February 18: Judges 18-.

Yesterday we saw how sin can beget sin particularly when the Word of God is absent.

In today’s chapter, yesterday’s sins grows into sin that will beset an entire tribe.

Notice the concluding words of the chapter, verses 28-31: The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. They named it Dan after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel--though the city used to be called Laish. There the Danites set up for themselves the idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.

Notice the words I bolded. These sins plagued Dan until ‘the captivity,’ that is throughout the entire time of the kings of Israel. Dan never shook this sin. In fact they embraced this sin, which because of its nature, is paramount to rebellion from the Lord!

Dan, apparently, never engaged in a time of introspection and measuring oneself against the Word of God. For hundreds of years, Dan persisted in this sin.

I hear a warning. Do not repeat the sin of Dan. Don’t remain in known sin.

Cure… planned and regular times of self-measuring against the Word of God. Times of self-examination leading to times of confession and repentance.

It seems this is good for individuals as well as groups.

Hummmmm… I have some pondering and planning to do.

Lord, show me how I can take the learnings of this lesson and incorporate them into my life. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen



Monday, February 17: Judges 17- Without the Word.

It is amazing how messed up, confused and off base we can become. It appears that the people in this story think that they are living faithfully to the Lord and yet, from the start, they are dishonoring God and His Word.

It opens with thievery. Then the one redeeming moment occurs when the son admits he is the thief. From this moment forward sin begets sin begets sin…

The mother begins the sin-downfall when she dedicates the returned money to the Lord to make an idol (3). Yes, that summary is correct. Israel was forbidden to make graven images and to have other gods, but somehow mom does it anyway. Micah compounds the sin by adding the ephod to a shrine he has and then installs a son as priest. Only Aaron’s descendants were priests and they were to minister only before the Lord’s tabernacle.

Then a Levite, who should have known better, happens by and becomes a priest for hire by this man.

Verse 6 sums of this chapter and the state of Israel at the time,  In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

No one followed the Word. No one obeyed God’s Word. Everyone did as he or she saw fit. This is what happens when people forget about God’s Word. And it can happen today just as easily as back then.

My only guard is to keep my nose in God’s Word regularly. Like food I eat or air I breathe, God’s Word must be a constant source of inspiration and information for me.

The same is true for every believer individually and as importantly for the church (Capital ‘C’ and lower case ‘c’ church) as well.

Today I rededicate myself to reading and studying God’s Word… will you?

Lord, teach me Your Word, that I might not sin against You as these Israelites did. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, February 15: Judges 16- Stupidity & Grace.

Two words came to mind as I entered the final chapter about Sampson…stupidity and grace.

Stupidity, this seems to typify Sampson. He may have had great strength but he didn’t possess great strength of mind, especially when it came to the ladies. Mentally and emotionally he was pretty much a buffoon.

Note to self: We don’t need to be perfect, wise and wonderful to be used of God, but wisdom and integrity remains preferred by God (which is why books like Proverbs are included in the Scriptures).

God is never beyond showing grace. In what turns out to be Sampson’s final hour, God graces him with strength one last time. On a human level Sampson uses his strength to gain a measure of revenge for his eyes. On a national level, the leadership of Israel’s enemy is wiped out. In this last act of strength the people of Israel are freed from the Philistines. Thus, in this final act, grace is showed to both Sampson and Israel.

Note to self; Don’t presume on God’s Grace, but believe in it and live blessing and thanking God for it when it lavishly comes.

Lord, Sampson is an odd character. On the one side he is a judge of Israel, who led Israel for many years. For this he is remembered with enduring fondness. His great strength –a gift from you- reminds all Christ-followers that by Your Holy Spirit we can accomplish great and miraculous things when directed and empowered by Your Spirit.

And yet, at the same time, Sampson is honestly a jerk. A person I would never want a daughter to date. He disregards Your law and acts impulsively and foolishly. He is not someone to emulate. Lord, in spite of these huge flaws, You used him! Sampson is a perplexing character.

Lord, I pray for the spirit empowerment of Sampson, the heart of David (a heart after Your own heart) and the wisdom and faithfulness of Daniel. I pray for these Lord, that I might serve You well all the days of my life. Amen.


Friday, February 14: Judges 15- Sampson and the power of God's Spirit.

Sampson seems like quite a wild man, impulsive and vengeful. Despite these traits God uses him to free Israel from the yoke of the Philistines.

In many artist renditions, Sampson is a hulking Adonis of a man. For example this etching is from an 1882 German Bible.

Yet I wonder…

When Sampson is about to do something of extraordinary strength the text precedes the incident with something like, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and…”  Case in point is verses 14-15: As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

The repeated use of the phrase indicates that Sampson’s great strength comes from God not from himself. If he looked like an Adonis then the power and strength might be attributed to Sampson himself. But if he was more normal looking who when the Spirit came upon him was empowered to do extraordinary feats, then God gains the credit.

Obviously, we have no pictures of Sampson, so we don’t know. But what is clear is that his great strength was a gift from God, not because he was some Adonis of a man.

Sampson shows us that when empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, humans can accomplish great things that are in line with God’s Will. Such is the gift of God, the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christ followers.

Lord, Jesus, show me who I can open my life more fully to the work of Your Holy Spirit. Lord, I pray for Holy Spirit empowerment. Lord, I seek the Spirit so that I can be effective in my service of You and Your kingdom. I do not seek the Spirit for personal gain or notoriety, but to serve You as the early disciples did in the Book of Acts. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, February 13: Judges 14- Understanding the Word.

Reading today’s chapter, I scratch my head. I don’t understand the mentality behind treating women the way the text reports women were treated in Sampson’s day. First he sees a woman and says to his parents "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife" (2). Then after the debacle of a riddle and the poor ending to the marriage week, Sampson goes and gets the 30 sets of clothing and storms back home. What happens to the woman? Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding (20). The woman is referred to as Sampson’s wife yet she is given to some other man.

Women really were treated like property. Not once was her thoughts or desires considered.

I confess I do not understand this. I am a western person of the 21st  century and this kind of behavior does not fit my cultural paradigm.

Is the Scripture teaching the way we are to live? If so, obedience would call me to follow it. Or is Scripture merely reporting the way things were, without comment on design and right or wrongness of the culture presented in the account?

I land with the second answer. The whole of Scripture does not present this manner of living as representing God’s command for living. Ephesians, in particular, presents very different views marked by love and respect.

In my time in the Word this morning, God reminded me of a few things.

1)      The whole Word of God must be taken into play when working to understand God’s views and teachings on a particular subject. Choosing a verse out of its context and without consulting the whole teaching on the subject throughout Scripture can lead to problems.

2)      I need to be honest with who I am and how much my own culture colors my thinking and views on life and scriptures. My culture doesn’t have a monopoly on understanding God’s Word and my culture can be wrong in areas of faithful living.

3)      God worked and works through human culture orchestrating His desires, without necessarily sanctioning all elements of that culture.

4)      I am humbled as I sit before God’s Word. His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts higher than mine (cf. Isaiah 55).

Lord, I submit to You. I promise to hold Your Word –the whole of it- sacred and allow it to inform me and teach me Your ways. I ask for Your Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth. Allow me to apply my mind diligently to the study and knowing of Your Word as a tool to know You and to grow in obedience. In Jesus’ name, the ‘Word of God made flesh’, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, February 12: Judges 13- God is at work.

Sampson is probably the most famous and well known of all Israelite Judges. Today’s chapter only sets up the story of Sampson.  No heroics happen yet.

As I sat before the text, the Spirit drew me to God’s incredible planning and orchestrating of His eventual deliverance.

Israel is again faithless, a common thread throughout Judges. But this time, instead of God immediately raising up a judge to save them, we read about the Lord blessing a barren couple and how their child will bring deliverance.

The amount of time struck me. Deliverance was maybe 20 years away, when the not-yet-born child becomes a man. All the while God is at work. If we didn’t have this story we might think God was distant and aloof from Israel’s pain. But God isn’t. God is at work orchestrating His next deliverance.

I remained with this aspect of the account and meditated here.

The more I pondered this, the more I realized this is a common theme in the scriptures. It started with Adam and Eve. After their sin God judges them but says that He will raise up their seed to strike the serpent. Then there is Abraham who is childless when God promises to make him the Father of many nations.

Over and over we see that God is at work, sometimes for years, orchestrating His deliverance.

The ultimate example is Jesus, the “seed” of Adam, who in God’s time was incarnated and lived among us for a while bring the Father’s redemption to all human kind. Jesus has come, yet we wait for Jesus’ second coming. And as we wait, God is at work redeeming men and women from every tribe and language and nation and tongue.

God’s plan is unfolding and we have an opportunity to be part of it….

Pray for the fulfillment of the Great commission.

Work for the fulfillment of the Great commission.

Give toward the fulfillment of the Great commission…

Disciples from every nation and tongue singing the praises of our God!

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Your plan is unfolding. Here I am. Use me to make it reality. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Tuesday, February 11: Judges 12- O the Love of God.

What a wild world!

As I read through the account of Judges this year I am seeing more and more what a crazy time it was. Brother Israelites fighting against each other because one didn’t call the other to go to war (one version). Or one clan didn’t show up when asked to go to war (the other version).

When the author later describes these times as a time when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”, the author wasn’t kidding.

The rule of law seems to be completely disregarded!

And yet over and over again God shows up to save His people.  Such is the love God the Father lavished on them and lavishes on all His children.

I find myself marveling at God’s love… practical real love. Love that saves. Love that cares. Love that ultimately sent Jesus to live, teach and then die for a lost humanity so that the entire world –not just Israel- could know the love and redemption of God.

Three weeks from tomorrow the Church celebrates Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. On Ash Wednesday we usher in a time of preparation before Easter. During the last week of Lent we will remember Palm Sunday, the meal before Jesus’ Passion and Jesus’ Passion itself.

Jesus is God’s love personified.

I spent the rest of my time with the Lord being thankful and praising God for Jesus… Savior of the world and Savior of my life!

God you pursued me. You found me. You saved me. You redeemed me. You are in the process of cleaning (sanctifying me) and You will glorify me and bring me home to be with You for eternity. Thanks be to You!

Lord, God, as I sit enveloped in Your love, I offer to You my life, as imperfect as it is. May my life be a tool in Your hand. Use me in any way You choose to bring glory to Your name.

Through Jesus, my Lord, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.


Monday, February 10: Judges 11- Knowing the word.

My thoughts this morning center on verses 14-23. Jephthah answers the Ammorite king, citing Israel’s history from the time of the wilderness wanderings before entering the Promised Land. What struck me was the accuracy of Jephthah’s reply. Jephthah knew God’s Word and the history of God’s people. Jephthah knew the story of his God and what the Lord had done to save Israel.

In a time when few people read and few copies of the Law existed, Jephthah knew the Word. During a time of wanton recklessness and unfaithfulness to the Lord, Jephthah knew the Word and knew the Lord.

I thought, even during the worst of times, God preserves a remnant.

I thought, even during the worst of times, some people remain faithful to the Lord…

I thought, am I a Jephthah? Do I know the Word and the Lord…

Lord, good times or hard times, I pray for strength to remain faithful to You. I pray for the industry to know Your Word, to make it part of my life. I pray to be a light bearer, someone living faithfully and so shining Your light to the world and people around me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, February 8: Judges 10- Leadership matters.

Faithful leadership begets faithfulness. Unfaithful leadership begets unfaithfulness.

Leadership matters!

In the book of Judges this truth is highlighted, but it is true throughout the entire history of God’s people.

Are your church leaders faithful to Jesus? It matters for your church.

Are you faithful to the Lord? It matters for your life.

Spend some time before you close your Bible asking yourself if you are faithful to the Lord.If those you follow and/or emulate are faithful to God –Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Do they (you) up hold God’s Word? Do they (you) practice what they (you) preach? Are they (you) growing in their (your) likeness of Jesus?

Leadership matters. Faithfulness matters.  Think about it.

Lord, help me to be more and more faithful to You. In Jesus’ name and for the sake of His Kingdom, I pray. Amen.


Friday, February 7: Judges 9- Everyone for himself.

The account of chapter 9 is a wild-west story with people doing what they please. There is no mention of God. No oppression from the outside and yet the chapter is filled with murder and intrigue and killing of innocent people…all manner of human aggression.

Throughout my reading I kept saying to myself, this is life without restraint. This is life without the Lord. And sadly this is a story of God’s own people.

The atrocities and deceit of this chapter gave me a good look into the inner life of brother human beings whose lives have not been tempered and redeemed by God.

This chapter shows me where human life goes without the Lord. It is an ugly picture, one I see played out on the news screens and articles every day.

Some wonder why we need a Savior. Today’s reading is one answer to that question…

Jesus, thank You for saving me. Reading about how wicked we can be, beckons me to pray. Cleanse me, Lord. Root out the selfish wickedness that resides in me, due to the fall, so that I do not spiral down into living like this. Forgive me for my wrongs and also empower me to tell people about You so that You can save and redeem them, too. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.





Thursday, February 6: Judges 8- The lure of money and other stuff.

Gideon wins a great victory, but his legacy is tarnished by his post victory actions. He rejects power and prestige of lifetime and generational leadership, but the lure of riches get him. As the chapter winds down we read, The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels…. Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family (26-27).

Gideon’s snare was to make an ephod and, apparently, worship it, which all Israel joined him in doing. How sad.

God had made Gideon’s victories perfectly obvious.  It was not Gideon but God who won the day. And yet, Gideon and Israel had the audacity to turn the truth on its head and create an idol.

We humans seem to be able to do that, to make idols (things we trust and revere for future safety) out of anything. Riches, fame and power are easy examples. But we can make idols out of family, particular locations, relationships, heirlooms… the list goes on.

Gideon’s story showed me that victory and faithfulness can be fleeting, if I am not diligent to keep close to the Lord. It also showed me that I best not take the glory for myself that is due only to the Lord.

Today’s reading is a warning to me… to us.

Lord, I don’t want this story to create undo insecurity within me, regarding my faith. And yet, it is a warning. A warning to be careful to keep You central and the object of my worship and praise. Oh, God, when I allow other things to gain my allegiance I can and likely will be in spiritual trouble.

I am reminded of Your command to love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. May that be my heart’s desire. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, February 5: Judges 7- For HIS Glory.

The story of Gideon’s victory makes it clear from the onset that God, receiving the glory, was a prime, if not the prime, theme of the victory.

The theme emerges in verse 2: The LORD said 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 has saved her…

It continues as Gideon overhears some Midianites talking about a dream. Who is the giver of dreams? God. Verses 13-14 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." 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."

And crescendos as the Israelites attack. Verse 20: “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!"

The glory is God’s and Gideon knows it.

One danger we always face is taking glory for ourselves when it belongs to the Lord. And this story is reminding me that I need to be careful to give the Lord top billing for He is the lifter of our heads. He is the one who gives victory to the chariots. He is in control, orchestrating things for His glory.

Thank You, Lord, for the lesson of Gideon. You give the victory. You give the success. You deserve the honor and glory, Oh, Lord. To You I pray, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.



Tuesday, February 4: Judges 6- Are we talking ourselves out of doing the things of God?.

Fearful, afraid, timid, unsure of himself and possibly even of God (or at least hearing God), these are all characteristics we see in Gideon. Gideon, the man God has called to save Israel.

It is so easy for us to make excuses. God can’t possibly be calling me. Gideon is doing it. Barak (chapter 4) did it. Moses did it. The list of undeserving and afraid servants of the most high is long.

The whisper of the Spirit came, “Am I doing it?” I chewed on this question and others like tumbled out.

“Am I avoiding things God would have me do because of __________ (I filled in the blank with all kinds of thoughts… because of fear, supposed lack of skills, people won’t understand. The list multiplied).

“Am I avoiding things God would have me do because, honestly, I don’t want to be bothered or it will interfere with life as I know it?” Jonah came to mind.

The questions I have been asking myself might be worth readers of this blog asking themselves. Are you, for any reason, avoiding doing the things God is calling you to do? Think about it. Pray about it. Search yourselves.

Lord, I give you permission to look inside and search me, see if there is any avoidance in me. Expose it, Lord, that I may come to grips with it and so grow in faithfulness to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen. 


Monday, February 3: Judges 5- Songs of faith.

All the while I was reading this song, I kept thinking. Deborah is memorializing God’s great victory in song. Detail after detail rang out in meter, the Lord has won a great victory.

Songs are wonderful memory tools. Songs stick to memory much stronger than prose. Deborah is composing a song so Israel will remember what the Lord God has done.

Not long ago we were singing Christmas songs. Oh, how I love them. In another couple of months we will be singing the songs of Easter and Good Friday. These songs are rich and faith building, especially the Good Friday and Easter songs. And what do they do, they recall in song the great events of the faith, Jesus’ birth, passion, death and resurrection.

As I sit this morning I long for more songs of substance, more songs that extol what God has done in the scriptures and in history, songs that will build my heart and mind; songs that will teach the next generations. Songs like Deborah’s song that memorializes, in meter, God’s great saving acts.

Lord, writing songs is not my forte… so I pray for Christian song writers. I pray that they would be inspirited to write songs of substance, songs that take the great truths and events of the faith.  To take those songs and put them to meter in contemporary ways, helping the Church to sing and therefore learn the great movements of our faith. I pray for a new hymnody, singable, fresh and substantive. This is my prayer, Lord. This is my prayer. Amen



Saturday, February 1: Judges 4- The Challenge of Deborah.

Deborah’s account breaks many of the stereotypes of the OT. Deborah was a prophetess and was leading (judging) Israel. A woman leading in Israel, and she apparently held significant sway. From Ephraim, she calls for Barak of Naphtali to take an army from Naphtali and Zebulun and attack Jabin and his army at Mt Tabor. Barak never questions Deborah, he only asks for her to come with him.

Deborah must have been a very strong woman who heard clearly from the Lord. She also didn’t allow stereotypes from keeping her from doing what the Lord wanted her to do.

My mind whirled, “Do I ever allow stereotypes or cultural conventions to keep me from doing what the Lord wants me to do?”

Questions began to flow:

Do I not do things I believe the Lord wants me to do, because people would think I am foolish?

Do I second guess what I believe God wants me to do because others might not understand?

Deborah’s life and ministry is challenging me in ways I never expected as I opened God’s Word today. Such is the wonder of God. His Word is always fresh and challenging.

Lord, thank You for the whisper of Your Spirit, reminding me that I must be true to You no matter what people might think about me. Lord, this is what it means to be a Christ-follower.

Help me to do a better job of being obedient to You and Your ways. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.