Saturday, February 25: Judges 20- Is the punishment more than the crime deserves.

25,000 Benjamites, the towns of Gibeah plus all of the Israelites who died in the battle (22,000 day one and 18,000 day two, 65,000 people plus the destruction of all the towns (28). This was a massive cost for a heinous crime.

I sat and considered the staggering numbers. Yes, the crime was heinous and maybe the entire town needed to be punished for the act and complicity with the act… but this level of death and destruction is certainly unwarranted. I mean 40,000 non-Benjaminite Israelites died!

The wanton disregard for life staggers me.

This feels much more like retribution and retaliation rather than justice.

It looks and feels like gang wars in inner-cities and much of the ‘tit-for-tat’ violence witnessed in parts of the world from warring tribes or religions. You did ‘X’ to me so I will do ‘XX’ to you.

There is on law, no civility. Where is the spirit of the Lord? Where is justice?

This is an ugly time of history made worse because the perpetrators are supposed to be followers of the Lord!

I don’t really know how to process this, so I guess I should just pray.

Lord, keep me on the straight and narrow. Don’t allow me to stray. Override my sin-nature if need be and keep me close to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Friday, February 24: Judges 19- .

I am disgusted by the story of the traveler and his concubine. My stomach turns over, my heart moans and my eyes water. How vile and uncaring we –we humans –can be.

I think… wow, the traveler avoided pagan cities in favor of an Israelite city and this is what happens. He may have been better off in a pagan city! And this angers me. How can God’s people be so blatantly evil!

And if by some small chance the wicked men of the city (22) were not Israelites but foreigners, the fact that the townspeople allowed depraved behavior in their city is disgusting. God must weep when the people of God look the other way when vile behavior persists and they have an opportunity to do something but do not!

More likely the wicked men are Israelites which then is even worse…

Then heaped on top of all the vileness is the apparent tossing of his concubine (basically his wife) out to these disgusting men. I cannot fathom that kind of disregard for a woman… a woman you supposedly love? Then the coup de gras, his response to his dead concubine lying at the threshold in the morning comes across so cold and uncaring. Get up, let’s go (28),

My stomach is churning… how horrible we humans can be. The depth of our depravity is so great. Thoughts of German ‘science’ experiments on internees and Japanese POW camps during WW2 flash in my mind.

Oh, God, we humans are brutal people and without the general restraint of Your grace extended throughout the world things would be soooooo much worse. 

I find myself being angry and mad at Israel for slipping so far.

I find my thoughts flipping to modern day Christianity. We must beware of slipping, too. Any of us are capable of slipping far from the teaching and directions of the Lord.

Am I turning a blind eye, like the leaders of that town, toward injustices of my day?

·         racial and religious bigotry

·         babies being murdered in utero

·         36 million people being enslaved world wide

Forgive me, Lord, for every blind eye I have turned. And more so, show me what I am called to do. Let me not rest until I am doing the things You have for me to do.  Show me, Lord. Lead me, Lord. Correct me when I want to avoid Your direction and strengthen me to keep on till my dying breath in relentless pursuit of You and living Your will in my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, February 23: Judges 18-Alignment with God's word.

This chapter continues which for me is a most bizarre period in Judge’s history. Israel has strayed so far from their moorings.

One tribe takes something from another tribe. Then they elevate the personal sin of Micah to a tribal sin as this entire tribe offers this false priest a more lucrative position as a tribal priest. As bad as it is when an individual loses his way, now an entire tribe has lost its way. Was the Word lost totally among the Danites?

Was there not one person who knew the truth who was willing to speak the truth?

When we lose the anchor of the Word of God situations go from bad to worse… and that is what this slice of Israel is experiencing.

My heart circles up to today. It seems that there are entire segments of the church careening off course. The Word of God has become peripheral and left to their own judgments, people are falling off the cliff of self-indulgence and sexual pleasure.

Oh. God, send your prophets to call the church back to You and the grounding of Your Word. Oh, God, release Your Spirit in powerful ways to call the wayward home.

I cannot be content and smug to point fingers only at others… I must examine myself. I must keep the Word of God central in my life. I must allow the word to correct and instruct me. I am talking about the plain and originally intended meaning of the Word of God. I cannot take only  those portions of the Word that I ‘like.’ I must let the entirety of the Word speak to me, to correct me, to train me in God-honoring living…

If we want to stay close to the Lord this must be true for all of us!

Oh, God, send Your Spirit to examine and speak to me. Correct my crooked thinking. Strengthen my right thinking and create in me a humble and teachable spirit so that I remain faithful to You and Your way revealed in Your Word. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, February 22: Judges 17- When we lose God's word.

The story of Judges just grows stranger and stranger. This account of Micah is breaking so many of God’s laws and to make matters worse, the people in this story think they are being faithful. Micah, the main character in this account, goes so far as to say, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest” (13). And this is in response to setting up an idol with a false priesthood!

I sit stunned. When we step away from God’s Word, when we stop allowing God’s Word to be our center and our base, there is no limit to the error and heresy we can engage BELIEVING we are being faithful.

I am not talking about matters of difference in interpretation. I am speaking to out and out heresy, wrong thinking and wrong teaching!

While I know not everyone believes the Bible is the inspired true word of God, people who profess to believe in Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit must –and I truly mean ‘must’ –anchor themselves to God’s Word, the Bible. There is no Christian faith without God’s Word as our guide. And we must allow the Word of God to define our right and wrong, our ‘dos and don’ts’, our practices and our avoidances.

Today’s reading reminds me how far people can stray from the truth if they assume they know it, but don’t actually know what it says.

Oh, God, my first prayer is that I stay connected to your Word as truth, that I sit with it, study it and allow it to guide my thinking and my doing.

My second prayer is that we, Your church, will return to Your Word, that we will sit with it, study it and allow it to guide us in our thinking and doing.

I pray this in Jesus’ name who said, But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:26-27).


Tuesday, February 21: Judges 16- A tool in God's hands.

On so many levels Sampson’s story is a strange one.

I think about what it means to ‘lead’ Israel. As near as I can surmise, it can mean as little as ‘be a strong guy who keeps the enemies at bay’. There is no sense of moral leadership. Israel wants a big guy who can keep them safe.

As I consider what I just journaled about Israel I realize, in many respects, we, as humans, haven’t changed much over the millennia. How many of our leaders are little more than the big strong guy today? Sadly, even in the church, moral leadership isn’t always at the top of the list.

I think about what it means to be filled/empowered/used by God. I mean Sampson was no jewel of a person. He was impulsive. He was a womanizer who couldn’t maintain a relationship, and was easily manipulated by women. He doesn’t seem to be too sharp. Come on Sampson, can’t you sniff what Delilah is up to?

Sampson certainly has a vindictive, get-even mentality. There is little wonder why he doesn’t seem to have many (any) friends. Where other leaders in Judges called people around themselves, Sampson is a one-man wrecking crew.

And yet, despite all these negatives, he is a tool in God’s hands to free Israel from the oppression of the Philistines.

Even as that last sentences were appearing on the screen in front of me, it hit me, I just got part of my answer. Sampson was a tool in God’s hands. As a woodworker if I have a tool I can do things. The tool may have nicks and no longer be in factory perfect condition but I can still use it. It is my skill that makes the tool work. Oh, I might have to hone it some to keep it functioning and each tool has a particular purpose. Sampson wasn’t God’s tool to write Psalms or teach the people to pray, he was a warrior.  God put him in positions to make war, win battles and slay enemies.

God has every right to use me (and you) as He sees fit as well...

Oh, Lord, may I be a tool in Your hands. Use me as You will to teach, protect, lead, encourage or whatever You want of me to do for Your people. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Monday, February 20: Judges 15- Are you listening?.

Sampson is a wild man, impulsive and vindictive. Although the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him, there has been no hint in the text that he calls upon the Lord for strength and it doesn’t look like he has a devotional life either. Sampson is not the kind of man I would choose for a friend.

His brother Israelites seem to have much the same attitude toward Sampson as I do. They turn him over to the enemy in order to save their own skin. Still Sampson was a tool in God’s hand. God not only punished the Philistines through Sampson, he led Israel for 20 years. I don’t know that Israel grew closer to the Lord during those 20 years, but they apparently were safe and lived in moderate peace.

I am not sure what to make of Sampson. While he is a great story for a fun Sunday School lesson, I don’t think there is much spiritual maturity to emulate in him. So I sit and ask the Lord for my faith nugget today from this story.

Slowly the reminder came… “I am in control and I can use anyone of my choosing.”

How and why God chooses is His business and prerogative. My responsibility is to be open and faithful… faithful to step out whenever God calls. This means I need to be listening,  listening for God’s whisper and nudge.

We all need to be listening.  Are you?

Lord, open my ears that I may hear, open my eyes that I may see, open my heart that I might feel Your nudges and calls. And, Lord, when they come I pray for strength and obedience to respond ‘Yes’ immediately. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, February 18: Judges 14- I am available just as I am.

The longest story in Judges is about Sampson. As I read this unfolding story I scratch my head. “Why would the Lord choose him to be a savior for Israel?” Sampson seems to be a bit unstable. He doesn’t seem to think things through either. He creates the issue by offering the riddle and he doesn’t anticipate that the town folk will try to find out the answer. I seems that Sampson isn’t the brightest or most stable blub in the pack.

And yet the Lord chose him!

It hit me… it is God’s call not our human makeup that is ultimately important. In Sampson’s case God will use Sampson’s makeup –as rough around the edges as it is –to bring about His intended goal of releasing Israel from the Philistines grip.

God can and does use me and us, with all of our issues, to bring about His intended purposes, too. This is so freeing. I don’t have to be PERFECT to be used by God!

Now this isn’t a license for me to be lax in my faith and my seeking after maturity, but I don’t have to be perfect to be used.  Halleluiah!

We are valuable to God’s kingdom. We are useful for God’s kingdom. We are important to God’s kingdom just as we are today.

How do you think God might use you today? What gifts, talents, abilities and personality traits will you offer to the Lord? Will you offer yourself, warts and all, to the Lord today, allowing Him to use you in any way He chooses?

Lord, that is my offering to you this morning. You may have all of me, my good traits and my bad ones, my maturity and my immaturity. Lord, God, I place my body, my life, myself, my all on the altar as an offering to You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, February 17: Judges 13- Oh the ways of God.

I was struck by the timeline… 40 years of unfaithfulness and then God sends a ‘Savior.’ However, the Savior in the works is just being born, so it would likely be 20+ years for Sampson to grow up before God’s salvation through Sampson can be brought into reality.

Considering all this, it hit me how grand God’s plan is and how it unfolds in His time. God sees the beginning and the end at the same ‘time.’ We, however, are limited by time and can only see the present moment and time that has past.

With all of this spinning in my head, my heart swelled with graciousness for the Lord who has the whole world and all time in His hand. I marveled at how God works and how He moves years in advance to bring His will into being in His appointed time.

I began to think about how God moves… and was awed by the Lord and the way He works…

God, you are never surprised. You are in total control. I bow to You, my Lord and my God. I thank You, Lord for all the ways you have worked in my life… praising You for Your grace and love and providential care. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Thursday, February 16: Judges 12-People problems.

The opening remembrance of this chapter is a dispute between Jephthah and Ephraim. Ephraim was slighted because they weren’t called to battle alongside Jephthah and Gilead. Now, of course, Jephthah remembers things differently, saying he called to them but Ephraim never came. The dispute escalated and 42,000 Ephraimites died in the battle that resulted.

There is an African proverb that goes, “When elephants fight the grass gets trampled.”

My hunch is that the 42,000 who died had little to no vested interest in the originating squabble. They are simply the causality of their leaders wounded pride.

Talking through issues, particularly when you have culpability, is never an enjoyable time. Being humble and facing your faults, while at the same time being gracious to the other person(s), is hard for me and yet, I believe that is Jesus call to His followers, especially when the situation is between Believers.

I was recently involved in a situation of miss communication. We are still working things through. It is hard work. However, in the end my hope and sense is that God gets as much or even more glory as the issue is worked through by sisters and brothers. Check out the letter to Philemon… the Gospel works!!!

Today God is pressing me to return to the situation I mentioned and make sure things have been worked through.  How about you? Is the Lord bringing to mind a broken relationship that is in need of repair? If so, listen to His voice and do what you need to do…

Oh, Lord, help me with my friend. Guide my words and bridle my tongue so that only truth-filled words, God-honoring words pass through my lips. Allow me to face my faults honestly and humbly and that You, Lord, receive all the honor and glory that will result from this repaired relationship.

And, Lord, if by chance we cannot repair, allow me to do everything in my power to be an agent of peace and reconciliation. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, February 15: Judges 11- Jephthah.

The closing scene of this chapter dominates the narrative and I will return to it in a moment but first I wanted to ponder the rest of the chapter.

Jephthah is an outcast, sent away by his family because he is a half-brother.

How mean we can be, protective of self and judgmental of others. It is so easy for me to fall into behaviors like that. Rather than getting to know a person I make judgments based on outward appearances… how sin can and does ravage me from the inside out!

But then when trouble strikes, the family reaches out to Jephthah, who obviously has some leadership and military gifts. He has gathered rabble around himself. Rather than being altruistic Jephthah negotiates his best deal. I win I become your head (9). Profit and gain for personal benefit is nothing new. It is as old as the hills. I should never be surprised when my favorite athlete leaves “my team” for another simply chasing the money or CEOs making gobs of money while their companies make huge ethical lapses… and so on.

Empowered by God’s Spirit (29), Jephthah wins…

Before the battle Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord (30) that whatever comes out of his house when he returns home victorious, he will sacrifice to the Lord.  The devastating part of the account is that his only daughter comes out of the house when he comes home. The thought of this makes me shudder…

Thoughts that I ponder:

·         Rash words can often come back to bit us!

·         Vows to the Lord are sacred words and should NEVER be taken lightly.

I hate this story. So many thoughts war inside of me. Why was he so foolish to make this kind of vow? How could God let him go through with it in the name of faithfulness?

And yet Jephthah’s story is a constant reminder to me that vows are sacred and God expects us to fulfill our vows to Him.

Mixed emotions still raging, I turn to pray…

Lord, help me understand.

Lord, positively help me to be more altruistic than a human left to his own devices.  Lord, help me to be wise in my vows and absolute in my honoring and fulfill my vows spoken to You. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, February 14: Judges 10- what's your relationship with the Lord?.

Who are these people who lead or save Israel?  Aside from Deborah, they have all been military leaders, typically men who will fight. Spiritual leadership, calling Israel back to the Lord, has not played an obvious part in the job description.

Where is the spiritual discernment? Where are the priests? There hasn’t been a word about celebrating the Passover or any of the religious feasts mentioned in Deuteronomy and this chapter alone references almost 70 years!

In trouble again, the chapter ends with these words, The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, “Whoever will take the lead in attacking the Ammonites will be head over all who live in Gilead” (18). Is this any way to pick the leader of the Israelite people? It sounds like a school yard where the biggest and strongest lead. Israel’s lone attribute for leadership... the person who is the strongest or bravest?

Israel’s relationship with the Lord has been reduced to “God, I am drowning. Save me!”

As crass as this may be, it is easy to fall into a similar trap. Life is going fairly well and thoughts of the Lord drift further and further into the recesses of our life. Worship becomes less regular. Involvement beyond the occasional worship attendance is nil. Giving is a token or an afterthought. Service… what service? Then the bottom falls out. A family member becomes sick, your job is threatened or something of the sort. We wonder, “Where is God when we need Him?  Why did this happen to ME?” Eventually we cry out, “God, I need a new job or healing…”

Is that any different than Israel?

NO, not really.

So reading the sad tale of Israel causes me to consider my connection and relationship with the Lord. Am I staying close by His side, in good and bad times or am I drifting??? Do I turn to the Lord when I need something but rarely turn to God simply to stay connected with the Lord?

I have gone through seasons with my budding adult-children when the only time they called was when they need something. Oh, they maybe chatty at first but then the ask comes… As a parent I longed for a deeper connection. I helped out because I wanted to stay connected but the relationship could have been much deeper. Is that the way I am with the Lord?

I hope not…

How about you???

Lord, I sit with You today, just to be with You. NO ask right now, just presence… in Jesus’ name I enter Your presence and sit. Amen and amen.



Monday, February 13: Judges 9- An ugly day.


All I kept thinking as I read this chapter was how ruthless and ugly we humans can be. This is a horrible account from beginning to end. Abimelek is a scoundrel of the highest order.  The people of Shechem have no honor and no shame. Where is any semblance of living by God’s Word? Where are priests or heads of clans who can instruct people in the way of God?

Israel has devolved into a godless people no better than any of the Canaanite peoples…

How easy it is to leave the Lord’s path and become lost in the ‘wilderness of the world.’

Judges is an example for us of what NOT to do and of potential consequences if we do stray. Unfortunately history is littered with stories of God’s people straying. Fortunately God doesn’t abandon us… sending voices to call us home back to the safe harbor of true and living faith in Him.

Time spent in God’s Word. Time spent in self-examination with God’s Word as the standard. Time spent in confession. Time spent in the presence of the Lord and with others who are seeking to stay close to the Lord as well. Time spent living in ways we know honors the Lord… these are our prime defenses against the pull of the human heart to anarchy and sins of self.

So I come today, Lord, seeking You, seeking the correction and strength You can give to live rightly in Your eyes. And so I admit that unbridled sin in me could be as ugly as Abimelek.  I cry out to You to forgive me and call me home. Correct me so that I do not stray. I am Yours. I am Yours. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Saturday, February 11: Judges 8- .

Half a right answer is still a wrong answer.

Israel so wanted a great warrior for a king. They would turn from the Lord and then follow a military leader who would lead them to victory. While this leader was alive they would keep up appearances. And then as soon as the leader dies they would turn to some other ‘strong’ leader and foreigner and the cycle of sin, oppression and rescue, would begin again.

It was a pretty sad existence for the people of God.

Gideon was one of the ‘saviors’. And after saving Israel he wisely said ‘no’ to kingship. The people wanted him to rule over them (23). He deferred to the Lord’s rule over the people. BUT  here is the problem, he accepted tribute, lots of tribute, and the gold became a snare. 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 (27).

We all have a weakness, I thought, a chink in our human makeup that is an easy entrance for sin and selfishness.

Gideon’s weakness was money and wealth. What is mine? What is yours?

Think about it.

Lord, allow me a glimpse of my true self and my personal weaknesses.  Allow this, Lord, not so I can gloat in my strengths but so I can be on guard with my weaknesses. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, February 10: Judges 7- Stop, look and listen.

One of the themes running through this chapter is the tendency for humans to take the credit due the Lord. When we do this we begin to believe we are in control and we can do things in our own strength without the Lord. The sin of Adam and Eve rises up again and again.

In verse 2 the issue blazes with all its heat, The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ This issue continues to burn through the end of the chapter.

So the chapter begs me to probe and ask the question, Am I relying on myself, my ingenuity, my smarts, my training, etc. or am I relying on the Lord?

As I ponder this I have to think situation by situation. I am a mixed bag, sometimes faithful, sometimes not. So sometimes I rely on the Lord and sometimes I plow ahead in my own strength.

One significant indicator is whether I pause to check in with the Lord… When I do I am much more likely to listen and then follow His lead.  However when I jump in without checking in, more often than not, those are the times I go it my own way…

When I was growing up there were safety ads on TV: Stop, Look & Listen. There was even a jingle about stopping and waiting until the light turned green before crossing the street. This is good advice for walking faithfully with the Lord.

Lord, help me to STOP, LOOK & LISTEN … to pause and look to You and listen for Your guidance rather than forge forward in my strength. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, February 9: Judges 6-Unlikely hero.

The book of Judges continues its parade of unlikely heroes. This time it is Gideon, a timid man with some but not much faith.  Gideon was a pretty average person.

From the previous sentence I begin to draw strength from the Word. I don’t think I could be a David or Moses… greats of the Scriptures. But maybe I could be a Gideon… open to the Lord and moderately available –not really eager or necessarily seeking to do great things for God –but open when God calls.

Gideon seems a little surprised when the angel of the Lord appears to him. I would be, too! And Gideon is a bit reluctant to do what God directs. He tears down the Baal altar at night, but because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime (27b).

As I sit this morning and consider Gideon, what rises to the top is that he did what the Lord asked of him. Doing God’s will is, after all, what God desires from us.

Lord, spurred on by Gideon, I say, “Here I am. I am Yours.” I place myself at Your disposal. Lord, I might need some convincing.  I might, at times, be slow to respond. Please forgive small faith. Like the father in the NT, I pray, “I believe, help me with my unbelief.”

Despite these lacks, I believe my deepest desire is to do Your will and to be Your man however You want me to be. Here I am, Lord. Use me…

Through Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, February 8: Judges 5- How am I recording God's marvelous deeds?.

In a world where people don’t read and books are not yet known, how do people remember? How do people mark special moments? How do people pass on history? They do it through song and story.

Traveling minstrels, singers and storytellers were the memory cash of ancient days. Some writings and carvings exist, but day-to-day it was songs and stories passed on person-to-person, generation-to-generation that kept history alive. This is one reason why the Passover and the other feasts of Israel were so important; they carried the truths and history of Israel through the ages.

This morning as the sun rises I read Deborah’s song, her way to memorialize Israel’s great victory over Sisera. As the people learned the song it deposited history into them. The Lord was on the move in history protecting and watching over his people.

When you, LORD, went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water. The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai, before the LORD, the God of Israel (4-5).

And through His people, particularly Deborah and Jael, God won a great victory for His people.

Remembering what the Lord has done and the people He has empowered to accomplish His will is good and wise.

How do I do this in my own life and among my own family? This question brands me as I sit. Am I singing of or recording in modern means the good things the Lord is doing for His people and for me?

Hmmm… a spark of inspiration to ponder…

Lord, inspire me to tell Your story in effective ways so that my circle of influence knows the great works of the Lord I have seen. I pray in Jesus’ name and for the sake of advancing His Gospel. Amen.


Tuesday, February 7: Judges 4- Wrestlings.

I was fascinated as I read the story of the Deborah. As the story begins Deborah is a prophet who is leading (some translations, ‘judging’ Israel). She is the strength of the people. She is the one who hears from the Lord and she is the one Israel comes to when disputes need to be decided (5). Deborah is an important person.

Deborah’s story raises so many questions for me regarding the role of women. It seems to me that if God raised her up to be a prophet, then it was okay in God’s eyes for a woman to be in leadership. It is not simply that Deborah was leading Israel; she was God’s prophet among the people.

She was even willing that the military honor go to a man, Barak, but his lack of faith caused the military honor to go to a woman, Jael. This part of the story enhances the possibility of women’s roles in ancient Israelite history.

I don’t have a strong sense of the Lord’s voice this morning. It is as if God is allowing me to wrestle with things right now... Wrestle with culture and Scripture and how I maintain God’s Word as the authority in my life…

Lord, I cry to You modeling my words on the psalmist… May the words of my mouth, the thoughts and meditations of heart and mind be pleasing to You and guided by You, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.


Monday, February 6: Judges 3- Tests from God.

Speaking of various Canaanite tribes we read, They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses (4).

The word “test” drew my attention. God was testing Israel to see if they would be faithful. Israel did not pass the test, and still God sent them a judge as deliverer. And so the cycle, failure-oppression-salvation, repeats in this chapter and throughout the book of Judges. For that matter it repeats throughout the whole of the Old Testament.

Immediately as thoughts came to me I began to wonder what ‘tests’ the Lord was leaving to see if I will remain faithful? What tests does He use to see if we, His people, His church, will be faithful?

Is my affluence a test???  Do I use my income and resources to advance the cause of Jesus Christ and make disciples throughout the world?

Is my education a test??? Do I trust in myself and my ‘smarts’ rather than the Spirit of the Lord within me?

Are my hobbies a test??? Is God checking to see if I will be distracted by things and enjoyments I like rather than dedicated to serving Him?

And so on my questions went…

Oh, God, give me strength when I cam weak to pass Your tests so that the kingdom of God is advanced and Your name broadcast across the globe. I am Yours, use me to spread Your name and fame to all the world. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, February 4: Judges 2- .

The Bible has many wonderful verses and some devastatingly sad verses. Today’s chapter has one of the devastatingly sad verses. After recording Joshua’s death, the author notes, After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel (10).

I find this verse terribly sad. After all Israel has seen and experienced –the deliverance from Egypt and conquest of the Promised Land –this next generation neither knew the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. As bad as it is to not know the Lord, this generation apparently had not even been told and taught the stories of the Lord! This means that Israel wasn’t truly celebrating the various feasts of the Lord, since the feasts, particularly Passover, tell the story of God’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt. And the Passover tells the story in the first person, not as a past event but as a present ongoing event, so every Israelite ‘experiences’ God’s deliverance!

So sad… the adults who witnessed the great works of God didn’t tell their children and grandchildren!

This is a warning to me and believers everywhere. We are always only one generation away from extinction. Those of us who know the Lord and have seen His works are obligated to tell the next generations.  Whether they believe and come to know the Lord is on them, but we must tell them… in the most compelling ways we can.

Am I, are we… telling the young ones about what God has done?!

Oh, God, forgive me if I have neglected the younger generations…. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, February 3: Judges 1- The need to pump up my faith and a few helps.

I found myself wondering about a number of issues as I read this chapter.

How did they inquire of the Lord in verses 1 & 2? Was it through the priests or the clan leaders? I suspect it was through the clan leaders because each tribe seemed to act independently of the others. There was no unified response to the Canaanites remaining in the Land.

I wondered why so many tribes did not oust the Canaanites, instead opting to allow them to stay.

I wondered about the significance of the statements that certain tribes didn't attack the Canaanites but when they became strong they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor (see 27-28).  Does this mean that those tribes were fighting in their own strength rather than relying on the Lord and His might?

I have many questions and few answers…

We humans are a mixed bag, faithful one moment and not the next.  It seems that the drag toward unfaithfulness is stronger so that if we don’t pump in faithfulness along the way we drift away from the Lord.

The tires on my car and bicycle need to be checked regularly and air needs to be added from time to time to maintain correct pressure. My faith walk is like that; I need to regularly pump up my faith if I want to remain faithful. Reading and meditating on Scripture, weekly worship, intentional faith conversations, prayer, acts of service and putting my faith into practice, each of these pump up my faith allowing me to maintain my walk with Jesus day by day, month by month, year by year.

This morning the Lord has reminded me how important regular faith practices are…

Lord, as I sit in the stillness this morning, I feel Your presence. I feel the life You are breathing into me as I allow Your Word to settle upon and within me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, lead and direct me. I am Yours, gratefully and humbly, I am Yours… Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, February 2: Joshua 24-Clean up your life.

Where yesterday Joshua directed the leaders who would come after him regarding the essence of their ‘job’, today we read Joshua’s final challenge to the people of Israel…

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (14-15).

A little later Joshua reiterates, “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and obey him” (23-24).

A summation of the message can be simply stated, “serve the Lord and only Him.”

An interesting element of Joshua’s charge caught my attention, one I don't recall pondering before. That element was removal of foreign gods. Joshua has been leading Israel in their conquest for 20-25 years. And before that Israel lived for 40 years in the dessert after leaving Egypt and yet they still have kept foreign gods!?! This surprised me…

How tenaciously we hold onto to the past, the sins and the gods that entangled us before we began following the Lord. Was Joshua (and Moses before him) patient with the people or permissive???

Joshua had called the people to consecrate themselves to the Lord prior to entering the Land. See Joshua 3:5. Yet Joshua needed to address foreign gods that still needed to be removed…

The pull away from the Lord is great… life, society around us, worship of other gods, the sinful nature within all, seek to derail our following of the Lord wholeheartedly.

I must be vigilant, we must be vigilant, in keeping our way pure and wholly dedicated to the Lord.

Here is God’s Word to me today… throw away any foreign gods or behaviors unbecoming a Christ follower.

Help me, Lord. Bring a Joshua into my life to speak to me and show me where I cling to false gods… In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, February 1: Joshua 23- Help people obey the Lord.

The basic charge the Lord gave Joshua back in chapter 1 as he began to lead the people was:

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go (1:7-9).

Joshua now gives a very similar charge to the leaders of Israel, as he prepares to step down as leader:

Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now (6-8).

As leader there is one basic charge from the Lord, help the people to obey the Lord’s Word. Keep God’s Word near; learn and grow from it. And do not mix God’s Word with anything else. Keep it pure.

What was good for Joshua and for the leaders after him is good for me and all Christ-followers still today. Keep God’s Word near, lean on it, learn from it, trust it and obey it. And don’t let yourselves become polluted by any worldly human philosophy. Trust in the Lord and He will be with you always…

A good word to ingest and meditate upon…

Gracious God, thank You for giving Your Word. Help me to treasure it, study it, live by and obey it. I pray through Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord. Amen.