Blogging the Bible- June 16

•June 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Judges 16-18; Proverbs 19:1-14

Samson is a complicated figure. He is chosen and empowered by God. God has given him great physical strength, but he appears to have some flaws in his character. We see him go to spend the night with a prostitute, hardly a thing encouraged by Scripture, yet we see God use him to beat back Israel’s enemies.

Sometimes we see complicated people and we write them off because we can’t understand how God might use them. In reality, we are all complicated. Sin breaks us, mars us and holds us back from accomplishing all that God would do in us. For those of us who believe in Jesus, sin does not have the final say. Sin doesn’t get the last laugh.

Samson, though complicated and fallen, has the last word. Samson tells Delilah about the source of his strength. She uses that against him and Samson is captured. Hidden at the end of that part of the story is a little detail. It tells of how Samson had his eyes gouged out and was made to grind grain in prison, but also that his hair began to grow back.

The Philistines bring Samson out to taunt him and celebrate their victory, but Samson brings the party to a crashing halt when God gives him the strength to push the central pillars and bring the roof down on everyone at the party. All of those inside and below died.

While Samson might not be the model character we want to pattern our life around, it is proof that God uses complicated people to accomplish His will.

Blogging the Bible- June 14

•June 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Judges 13-15; Proverbs 18

Proverbs is like a different book every time you read it. Depending on where you are in life one verse may hit you but next time rush right by. Each verse is a point unto itself. So as you read the Proverbs you are able to stop at the ones that cause you to think, that might sting a bit, but if not you can walk right on by to check out the next.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.

We have our hope and our faith placed firmly in Jesus. It cannot be defeated; He will not be overcome. The righteous, the saved ones, those who belong to God can go to Him and know that nothing can rise against them.

We don’t build to many towers these days, but a tower, a wall was a sign of strength and might. The sign of a sure defense. Solomon says that this tower is the one you want to trust in.

Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.

How often have we seen this play out from politicians? To athletes? To Christian leaders? Someone makes an absolute statement about what they have or haven’t done and then it comes out as just the opposite.In due time our true character is revealed.

The man who finds a wife finds a treasure and receives favor from the Lord.

So with Solomon’s many wives, did he find the Mother lode? Some of Solomon’s treasure was fools gold, for his many wives led him away from the Lord. Choose your spouse wisely.

Blogging the Bible- June 6

•June 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Judges 10-12; Psalm 71

I wish I had the complete trust of the Psalmist. He writes from such an earnest place, a place of complete surrender. He recounts how God has always been faithful to him and how once more he is in need of rescue.

There doesn’t appear to be a need of rescue due to sin, but due to the aggression of others. He tells of how his life is so good because of what God has given him. He is an example to many because of God’s blessing. He can never stop praising God.

How often when the going starts getting too good, we think we have accomplished something ourselves, or when God doesn’t show up on our timing do we blame God for failing us.

In the Psalmist’s plea, you sense need, but not desperation. You sense trust in the moment, not one shaking their fist to the sky. You hear one who knows that God is going to come through, it’s just a matter of time.

Do we trust that God is going to come through for us? Do we acknowledge that all of our blessings come from Him? Do we full trust Him?

Blogging the Bible- May 26

•May 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Judges 7-9; Psalm 70

Simple trust.

David prays that God would remember him. As his enemies encircle him, as they prepare to defeat him, David prays that God would come quickly and save him.

How often do we proclaim with simple trust, God I am relying on you to deliver me. Usually once we’ve dug our own hole; made our own mess. David was on the run, not because of his own wrong doing but due to the pride and folly of others.

David declares you are my helper and savior, do not delay. Do we declare God come to my rescue for I want to be where you are? We may want to be out of our mess. Out of this situation. Sitting on a beach relaxing. Up on the mountain away from the fray. We want the celebration without the discipline of pursuing God’s presence.

Gideon delivers God’s people from the hands of Midian, in such a way that Midian never recovers. Gideon asks for a earring from the plunder of all the guys. Seems odd to me, but maybe a cultural thing. What does Gideon do with those earrings? Makes an ephod that becomes an idol, something they worship instead of God. What was Gideon thinking?

God’s bigness scares us. We want Him in times of trouble, but in times of peace, we’d rather have Moses go up on the mountain to talk to God for us. We want God to deliver us, but then after to go away until we need Him again.

God wants to walk close to us. He want relationship with His people. To know us and be known by us. To give Himself fully to us that we might know Him and His true heart for us.

Blogging the Bible- May 25

•May 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Judges 4-6; Psalm 69:19-36

How many times does it take to learn a lesson? How often do you have to get in trouble doing the same thing before realizing that what you’ve been doing isn’t good for you?

Time and again Israel’s judge dies and then Israel goes right back to worshiping other gods. Now the part we don’t fully get to see is the geography of the situation. Was it the nation as a whole or were there just pockets of people who started following other gods? This clan or that clan. When they run off their enemies, it isn’t the whole army, but seemingly local militia that rise up under a judge to run off the oppressor.

At one point they were faced with an enemy who had 900 iron chariots. I don’t know much about ancient warfare, but that seems like a formidable force.They gather 10,000 men to go against such army and defeat them all, in fact their leader dies at the hand of a woman who puts a tent peg through his temple.

If these things don’t point to God being with you, I don’t know what would, and if God is for you why would you ever leave Him.

But they do, and Gideon finds himself threshing wheat in a winepress. Not an ideal location for threshing, but certainly ideal for keeping your crop from being taken by the enemy. God makes house call to tell Gideon that he has been chosen to deliver His people from the Midianites.

Maybe if Gideon had the words of David he would have felt better.

Rescue me by your saving power. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help live in joy. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah.

God always works for the good of His people. We may not see it in the day to day, but as we look back we can see how God has been preparing us for right where we are.

Blogging the Bible- May 24

•May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Judges 1-3; Psalm 69:1-18

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. – Psalm 69:1

Have you ever felt like you were about to drown? Nothing you did worked. It seemed that everything was working against you.

The Israelites were given a simple command, destroy the people and idols of the land. They were told that if they didn’t they would become a snare and stumbling block to them and they did.

The book of Judges is both a sad and powerful book. It’s sad because we see the people of Israel walk away from God time and time again. Unfortunately it is nothing that we ourselves haven’t done. Time and time again they are disciplined by God and shortly after return to following God. It’s powerful because we get to see God’s deliverance of His people every time.

The God who delivered the people long ago, longs to deliver us as well. Deliverance came when they devoted themselves wholly to following God.

Where does our devotion lie? In our strength or in the strength of God? The more Israel trusted God, the greater their support they had in overcoming their enemies.

May we set our hearts and minds anew in following God, that He may make us more like Him and that we may overcome the obstacles that stand in our way.

Blogging the Bible- May 23

•May 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Matthew 26-28; Psalm 68

David declares, Our God is a good who saves.

Have you ever felt out on a limb by yourself? Have you ever been stuck and in need of deliverance? Help from the outside to come through on your behalf?

It is in these situations we find where our strength comes from, where our dependence lies. Too often we depend on our own strength, our own ability. David trusts in God, knowing He will come through on His behalf because He is the Father to the fatherless and the defender of widows.

David uses graphic terms for how God will win? He writes that God will smash the heads of the enemies and crush the skulls of the guilty. What? That is not our typical picture of God. We see Him as kind and loving. We see Him as gentle and not the kind of God who bashes heads in. But God delivers His people and runs off the enemy.

He sealed this by raising Jesus from the dead. Death would no longer be victorious. It would no longer have the last say. In the end, we have hope for beyond this life, hope for a better tomorrow because we have a God who saves.

Blogging the Bible- May 20

•May 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Matthew 23-25; Psalm 67

Are you ready? Jesus knows that His time can be counted in days and hours and not months and years. He is trying to pack as much as He can into these final hours with His disciples and those following Him. Being Passover week, He is a “star” attraction. Everyone wants to see and hear Jesus. The Temple debates have been “must see” and Jesus’ follow up teaching has not disappointed.

What’s Jesus’ focus? Be ready. He warns about following the Pharisees and Teachers of the law because their readiness is inadequate. They are after personal gain and not the things of God. He tells them that they go everyone looking for people to convert, but then point them in the wrong direction. They taught that it was all about effort, but Jesus said it is all about God. It is about God and what He wants to do in and through them. It is about worshiping God and not about making ourselves great.

Jesus does what He does best, tell stories. A story of 10 virgins serving as bridesmaids for a wedding. While the procedure for a wedding seems different than ours, 5 of them were unprepared and were not ready when the wedding party arrived. Once the bride and groom were there, the door was locked and they were left outside. Be Ready.

He tells a story about three servants who are given different amounts of money to steward while their master was away on business. When he returns, he takes account of their actions. The first two double their investment and are rewarded by the master. The last one played it safe. He buried the money and gained no return on his investment. He was summarily punished and kicked out, his investment went to the one who had the most. What’s the point? Be Ready.

We are given but one life. Each of us given a different set of circumstances. You can’t live my life, and I can’t live yours. We are called to be faithful with what we have been given. And by being faithful, we in turn should produce fruit. When our Master returns, will He find that we have been faithful? Will He see the fruit we’ve born with what He has given us to steward? Will He find us READY for His arrival?

Blogging the Bible- May 19

•May 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Matthew 20-22; Psalm 66

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be along the road as the Triumphal Entry passed by? I’ve been on the other side of the highway when a Presidential motorcade passed. It is eerily empty and then a convoy of Black Suburbans drive by quickly. All the overpasses are closed and manned with State Troopers or Military with guns on the ready. Jesus didn’t have any Black Suburbans in His entourage, He rode a donkey. A what? Yes, a donkey. Sounds crazy to us but it was a fulfillment of prophecy.

There were no armed gunman, unless you consider people armed with Palm Branches that they were waving in praise and laying before the donkey being an armed escort. As I read Scripture it sounds more like a championship parade after one of our professional sports teams wins that season’s championship game/series. Even before the resurrection, Jesus is declaring that He is the King and Victor.

So how has Jesus overcome for you?

I love the invitation of the Psalmist.

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. -Psalm 66:16-19

In the verses before, he writes of how God has long delivered His people. How He brought them to a promised land. How He purified for Himself a people.

Though the crucible is painful, it is there that God begins His work of delivering us from sin. In His arms, He delivers us from the temptations of the enemy. When our faith is weak, then He is strong and mighty.

Let us not grow weary and lose heart. God pays attention to our prayer, and He will deliver those who follow after Him.

Blogging the Bible- May 18

•May 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Matthew 17-19; Psalm 65

What happens when we have something against someone?

We fume.

We talk about (usually with other people).

We lose sleep, appetite or even our patience with others (who may have little or nothing to do with the situation.

We usually don’t handle these things very well.

In fact if we actually go to the person directly, we usually do so via text or email. Now text and email are nice forms of communication. You can send a bunch of information quickly and efficiently to your intended target. The problem, and it’s a very big problem, is that you can’t read tone. You can’t hear HOW the message was said.

So how can we handle conflict better? Here’s what Jesus says:

Go directly to the person. Cut out the middle man. Discuss the issue WITH the one you have the issue. Maybe it was a misunderstanding. Maybe you or the other person didn’t have the full picture. Too often we assume things of others that, if we knew, would help us to give them grace. Likewise, others assume things of us that, if they knew, would help them to be more gracious to us as well.

Maybe the first conversation didn’t go well. (Most do go well, especially if we approach the situation right.) If that is the case Jesus says to take a couple of people with you. Hopefully they can listen as neutral third parties. Hopefully they can help bring about a constructive conversation that allows everyone to be heard and resolution achieved.

Even then, there are some situations that can’t be resolved. Jesus tells us that, if these people are a part of the same fellowship of believers, we are to bring them before the church or church leadership for assistance in resolution. If this doesn’t work, Jesus said to treat them as an outsider.

Hopefully along the way, the situation is resolved and there can be harmony again.But the truth is that there are contentious people in the world who just like going around and picking fights. We need to provide proper distance from people like this so that we are not dragged into their game. At the same time we ought to work for peace and reconciliation, as long as it is possible with us.

 
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