Without a King

Judges 19-21 and John 13

If you’ve not yet read today’s scriptures, especially Judges 19-21 you should read them now.  Right now!  Go ahead, I’ll wait patiently while you read this very disturbing story. (Be sure to read it in an easy to read version like the NIV or ESV and not KJV so you don’t get lost).  Did you read it?  How did you feel while reading it?  Disgusted?  Angry? Sick to your stomach?  To be honest I felt all of those things and I feel all of those things whenever I read it.  It is like watching a Netflix docuseries about horrible rapes and murders, only it gets much worse because it goes from rape and murder to all out warfare…a virtual bloodbath.  Made worse by the fact that these are cousins fighting each other.

How sick is it to see a bunch of thugs demanding to gang rape a houseguest?  How sick is it that a young woman is given to the sex-crazed angry mob who end up raping her and murdering her and leaving her body on the front door? How truly bizarre that the husband then cuts up her dead body and sends it all over the country?  How crazy is it that this results in war with thousands of cousins killing each other?  And how truly bizarre that the war is resolved by encouraging a bunch of warriors to kidnap virgins and drag them home and force them to be their wives?  You couldn’t make up this kind of sick, twisted, debauched behavior… and yet here it is in the Bible?  What on earth is going on?

Two verses stand out- the first verse and the last verse.  It begins with Judges 19:1: “In those days Israel had no king.”   The last verse is Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”   Those two verses essentially explain all of the chaos, vile and disgusting behavior that goes on throughout the story.  Human beings do not survive very well in situations of complete anarchy.  In school you may have read the book The Lord of the Flies.  It’s about a group of young boys during WWII in England who are taken away from the country for their own safety to protect them from the war.  Their plane crashes on an Island and the boys  survive with no adult supervision.  What happens when you have a bunch of schoolboys together with no adult supervision?  Absolute chaos.  What happens when you have a country where there is no leadership, no law and order?  Absolute chaos.  That is what was going on in Israel at the time of our story in Judges.  “Everyone did as they saw fit.”  That’s a recipe for lawlessness.

Those of you living in the United States have gotten a little taste of this during the past year.  In places where demonstrations and protests turned into riots, in places where all law and order broke down, and for a few minutes at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 we saw examples of what happens when “everyone did as they saw fit.”

After God brought His people out of slavery in Egypt, one of the first things that he did to help form them as a community was give them 10 commandments for how they were to live.  He also gave them instructions for how to worship, what foods to eat and not eat, and instructions for how to respond to infectious diseases and how to properly dispose of human excrement and dead bodies.  He gave them rules about who you could and could not have sex with: you can have sex with your husband or wife of the opposite sex.  You cannot have sex with your sister, your mother, your aunt, your neighbor’s wife, people of your own gender or your animals.  God did His best as Israel’s king to create order and stability within their communities so that they could be healthy, have strong families and communities and live long and prosperous lives as His chosen people. 

Some people followed God’s instructions for their lives and prospered.  Others rejected God as King and His instructions.  By the time we get to Judges 19-21 we arrive at a place of near anarchy where “everyone did as they saw fit.”  And that is how we get the story of the tribe of Benjamin trying to gang rape a cousin, murdering his wife, the man cutting her to pieces and it leading to a civil war that ends only after a bunch of virgins are sex-trafficked (abducted and taken by force to be wives).  That’s how lawlessness worked then, and that’s how it still works today and if you don’t believe me just watch a Netflix documentary (or the news every day on tv.)

Jesus shows us a better way in John 13.  Jesus is God’s choice to be Israel’s king.  He is worthy to be king because he is both humble and loving and also obedient to His father and His God.  Jesus shows his humble love by kneeling down and washing the feet of the people over whom he will serve as King.  Jesus the king loves his servants enough to wash their dirty feet, and to die for them.  That is a king we can follow.  That is a king we can love.  That is a king who will one day restore order and bring a final end to lawlessness and chaos and make all things right.  This is a King whose words and example and life we can follow.

-Jeff Fletcher

Today’s Bible passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here Judges 19-21 and John 13

Everything or Nothing: A tale of two women

John 12

In Judges 17 we meet Micah’s mother. She promises a certain amount of money to God but holds back most (17:3). She built an altar and disgraces herself by not giving everything to God. Fast forward to the New Testament where we meet a woman who meets Jesus and takes her most treasured possession, her perfume, and pours it on Jesus’ feet. The comparison is stark. On one hand, you have Micah’s mother who holds back and on the other hand, you have a woman who lavishly gives everything at Jesus’s feet.

We all have things that we value and take great care to keep. At the beginning of John 12, we see the thing Mary considered precious — a bottle of expensive perfume. This perfume was not just a fragrance to Mary. It was worth nearly a year’s wages. Mary wasn’t just saving this perfume for a special day. This bottle was her financial security.

“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).

In an act of love, Mary poured her perfume onto Jesus’ feet. She knelt to the ground and washed His feet, ignoring the opinions of others. Mary gave radically. She gave not knowing if she would be able to live through the day but trusting Jesus anyway. She gave with such extravagance that the disciples told her she had given too much.

To put Mary’s situation in today’s terms, it would be like going to church next Sunday, feeling called to give, and tithing your entire year’s salary! Yet, this is the same way God gave to us. He gave His best when He gave us Jesus. God not only calls us to radical faith, but He also calls us to radical giving.

What woman are you like? Are you giving everything to the Lord? Ask yourself how you can be more extravagant in your giving. What’s holding you back from pouring your security out at Jesus’ feet? How do these verses show us that we can trust Him with what’s most precious to us?

Is there anything in your life you have not given to God?

-Andy Cisneros

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Judges 17-18 and John 12

How, Who, What?

John 10

How can we live a full life? We all want our lives to be fulfilled. We all want to know that answer, don’t we? Well, we can’t answer how until we focus on the more important question: What or who is the source of abundant life?

Jesus compares Himself to a good shepherd who feeds and cares for His sheep. Tired of Jesus’ metaphors, religious leaders corner Jesus at the temple and ask Him directly: Are you the Christ?

Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” What is Jesus saying here? Chasing anything other than Jesus will steal what God has blessed you with, kill your dreams, and destroy your purpose in life. Only Jesus can restore the blessings that have been stolen, bring life to dreams that have died, and give our lives purpose. Possessions come and go, as does the enjoyment they bring. The only way to experience joy that never leaves is to have something that cannot fail. An abundant life comes from Jesus, who never fails.

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

When a reporter asked John D. Rockefeller how much money was enough to make him happy, the millionaire replied, “Just one dollar more.” Nothing on Earth is ever going to satisfy us. But if you ask anyone who has made Jesus the Lord of their life, they will tell you that they are blessed beyond anything they could have ever asked or imagined. A life apart from Jesus will always leave you lacking, but a life centered on Jesus is full of abundance.

• What do you strive for in life? Is what you strive for different from what Jesus strived for?

• What are some common traps that keep us from living the life Jesus wants for us?

-Andy Cisneros

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Judges 13-14 and John 10

Compare and Contrast

Judges 9-10 and John 8

The people wanted Gideon as king. He declined but Gideon named his son Abimelech (Judges 8:31), literally “my father is king.” So while Gideon had refused the crown (8:23), he had also subtlely claimed it by having a son whose name was “my father is king.” This Abimelech, no doubt exalted by the experience, further exalts himself and betrays his father’s legacy at the insistence of the people of Shechem (9:1-6), killing seventy brothers on one stone (9:5). One brother, Jotham, is not killed, and Jotham curses Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem for their betrayal (9:7-21). 

Abimelech only reigns three years (9:22), and God causes “bad blood” to grow up between him and the leaders of Shechem (9:23-25). They find another leader to betray Abimelech now, Gaal son of Ebed (9:26). Zebul, the ruler of the city, hears of the plot, warns Abimelech, and Abimelech sets an ambush (9:30-45) and ends up burning to death 1,000 men and women of Shechem shut in a tower (9:46-49). 

He tries the same thing again at Thebez (9:50-52), but now aware of his tactic, a woman drops a millstone on his head, mortally wounding him (9:53), so he calls his armor bearer to kill him so that people would not say he was killed by a woman (9:54).

Fast forward to the beginning of John 8 and you have a woman caught in adultery. The scribes and Pharisees bring this woman to Jesus and ask him what they should do. He says anyone who is without sins let him cast the first stone. All of them dropped their stone and walk away. Leaves only Jesus left with the woman. He says go and sin no more.

There is a lot of similarities in these stories. The principle that I took out of both is that stones wound! Silly I know but true. Arrogance hurts too. There is a lot of arrogance in both of these stories. Arrogance tends to start when we think we have more power than someone else. Do you feel you have more power than someone today? How do you use that power? That influence. We all struggle with that desire to be above someone. To want to control someone. But the one person that could control us, overpower us, bring us low – chose to die for us instead. What does that tell us? How can you give up some of your power this week? How can you be a servant to someone else? It takes losing some power, control and it takes time. But Jesus calls us to that. Are you up to the challenge?

-Andy Cisneros

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Judges 9-10 and John 8

Questions for Me

From His Stories

Joshua 5-6 and John 6

When you read the Bible, what do you read it for? Is it merely a collection of stories? Great history? Interesting information? Or are these stories more than that? Do they give us something that will open us up to the Creator of the universe? Will it speak to our thought and memories and give us understanding? We can and should live our lives and order our memories not only historically but theologically, not simply recollecting what happened or what we did but searching out what God was doing. This keeps us from over honoring ourselves in success or despairing in our struggles. Part of the key to enjoying peace is to be continually praising the Lord for what he has done and is doing for us because the stories we read and tell of our lives are not so much about us but about Him. Are you reading to find the principles in the story? Or reading it like a homework assignment?

Today’s devotion is taken from John 6 and Judges 5-6. Some of the greatest stories and life lessons ever written about are in these chapters. Did you read the story of the feeding of the 5000 and see Jesus bring his disciples into responsibility when he asks them, “Where shall we find bread for these people to eat?”. What does that say to you? Or how about when Jesus walks across the lake! Can you imagine the disciples’ fear, amazement and awe? Who is this Jesus? Matthew even records that Peter walks out to see him. What faith! What courage! And then to sink and have Jesus say, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Or how about in the Old Testament when Gideon lays out a fleece and gets an answer and asks again? Did he not like the first answer? Did he doubt? Was he afraid?

So many questions arise from these stories. So many principles to glean from them. Are you wrestling with them? Do you search for God in them? Do you see what God wants you to know? Don’t rush reading these stories but find God in them and use that to understand him more. Happy reading and may you draw closer to God as you work through all that God has to say to you.

-Andy Cisneros

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Joshua 5-6 and John 6

How Did They Forget?

Judges 3-4 and John 5

As I was reading through Judges chapters 3 and 4 I had visions of Chuck Norris. If he was armed with just one wooden pole with a metal tip (an oxgoad) could he take down 600 men like Shamgar did to save Israel? (Judges 3:31)

And, have you ever seen Forged in Fire, a competition between craftsmen who make handcrafted weapons and then put them through various tests to see which will be judged the best? I bet the judges would be impressed with the 18 inch double edged sword left-handed Ehud made that sliced through King Eglon’s belly until even the handle sank in surrounded by fat and the blade came out the back. A pity to have to leave such an impressive sword behind as Ehud cleverly escapes with his life and then leads an impressive rebellion against Eglon’s Moabites. 10,000 Moabites were killed that day and Israel victoriously rules over them for the next 80 years. (Judges 3:15-30)

And it’s hard to decide who should get the Wonder Woman award of the Bible. Both Deborah and Jael are incredibly strong and worthy candidates. Deborah, the wise judge of Israel who is bolder than Barak. She agrees to ride into battle alongside the captain of the army who wouldn’t go without her. And when the exhausted commander of the enemy army thinks he’s found safe haven in the tent of Jael, he sleeps, and she drives a tent stake through his temple and into the ground. Those, are some strong, brave ladies! (Judges 4:8-22)

God did indeed provide some very tough, courageous, wise, strong and capable men and women to fight for Israel when they were in need, surrounded and afflicted by their enemies, if they called out to Him. But, what got the Israelites into these messes over and over again? Hadn’t Joshua helped them clear the land and give them rest? The problem is – they didn’t stay faithful to the Lord. “They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.” (Judges 3:7b NIV).

How could they forget God? After all that God had done for them, over and over again through the generations. What caused their falling away, over and over again? The verse immediately preceding explains what happened. Judges 3:6 says (with my added pronoun descriptions), “They (the Israelites) took their (the unbelievers they lived amongst) daughters in marriage and gave their own (Israelite) daughters to their (the unbelievers they lived amongst) sons, and served their (the unbelievers they lived amongst) gods.” They forgot God because of who they chose to marry. Their spouses brought false and foreign gods into their marriage, into their homes, and before long into their hearts and minds and children and future generations, too. You can’t become one with an unbeliever, or a false god worshiper, and have it not negatively impact the way you love and serve the One True God. And when they served false gods it wasn’t long before God’s anger brought devastation, invaders and great trials upon them.

We all know what to look for in the perfect mate – we’ve watched the Hallmark Channel, too! She/he makes me feel special and happy, has a great sense of humor, would make a fantastic mom/dad, loves all the things I love, makes me want to be a better person, has a lot of social media friends, is super polite and friendly, has a great shoulder to cry on, shares my political and moral persuasions, even my parents like this one, has a great work ethic, we agree on the correct number and kinds of kids and pets, is so much fun to be around, is talented and smart, is quite romantic, will be a great provider, is kind to the earth, speaks my love language, is a fabulous cook and likes to clean toilets, is even good-looking, doesn’t mind my (fill-in-the-blank), and we are madly in love soul-mates.

Nope. Not a good match. Don’t tie the knot. Try again.

This time, first and foremost look for and insist upon one who loves and serves the One True God, just like you.

Period. That’s the most important. It is not a negotiable. It is not a character trait you just hope develops with more time. It is not worth the risk when the wrong spouse so easily leads to forgetting and falling away from God. It’s not worth the risk of falling into God’s wrath. “Don’t be unequally yoked with believers”, Paul said (2 Corinthians 6:14). Moses said, “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughter for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). If she/he isn’t serving the One True God they are serving false gods, even if you don’t know what those gods are named, just yet. It will leak unto you and your children and the generations that follow. Save yourself the heartache. Don’t even look at, date or consider as a mate one who doesn’t make the grade in God’s number one trait for your soul-mate spouse – he/she most love the Lord your God first and most.

I want to end today with a quick look back at what we started with today…God sending some very tough, courageous, wise, strong and capable men and women to lead and save His people. I suggest that the toughest, most courageous, wisest, strongest and most capable of them all is Jesus. These are not the adjectives most often associated with Jesus. We first think of him as a gentle, loving, humble, innocent, accepting, nice, merciful, meek, forgiving, helpful servant, a king who rides on a donkey and is crucified. And while those are not wrong, they don’t reveal his full character. Jesus was tough. We have only read the first few chapters of John and we have already seen him make a whip (impressive skill to have), overturn the moneychangers’ tables and forcefully clear the temple courtyard of the dirty animals and greedy, irreverent men. He wasn’t a wimp! He has questioned Israel’s teachers (and will use some pretty rough descriptions for them). He was wise and discerning and told it like it was. He has called out the Samaritan woman by pointing out how many husbands she has had. He wasn’t blind to sin and sinful lifestyles. And in today’s reading of John 5, after he heals the invalid of 38 years, he says, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14). He didn’t accept sin. He called people to repent and leave behind their sinful ways. And, when they did, he was full of forgiveness. Jesus is tough on sin and chosen by God to offer salvation to God’s children. But not all will receive it. Jesus is no gentle push-over. Are you ready to meet the real Jesus?

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Judges 3-4 and John 5 .

All Connected

Judges 1-2 and John 4

This year our Bible reading plan has included one Old Testament reading and one New Testament, Psalms or Proverbs reading every day. I’ve enjoyed the daily variety and I think rather than feeling disjointed, like I had feared, it actually helps me see the Bible more as a whole. There have been several times when one reading would refer to something in the other, if not from that same day then something recently read.

On Sunday our devotion was on Psalm 69, one of the most quoted and referenced Psalms in the New Testament. It portrays a zealous suffering servant of God who is surrounded by the enemy. And just 2 days later we read John 2 which included Jesus entering the temple and being shocked to see the disrespect and greed of the moneychangers and those wanting to make a quick buck selling animals for sacrifice rather than revering the house of the Lord and the holy God they should have been focused on. Jesus forcefully clears the temple, and John records, “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ ” (John 2:17 NIV – quoting Psalm 69:9). Those disciples knew and loved the same book we just read! They saw connections and how Jesus fulfilled and carried out the Scriptures they were devoted to and knew well. That’s just one example of the many times it’s been exciting to see overlap and referencing reminding me of how precious this book is and how it all works together to show us God: His character, story, plan, majesty, and His Son and ultimately, what will our response be? As Joshua said (just yesterday), “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV)

As we see it all work together, woven together as one, it’s sometimes hard to decide which passage to write about. It’s exciting that God gave us SO much in His Word, we couldn’t possibly discuss it all thoroughly in one year of devotions. But every day we can increase our knowledge and understanding just a little, find a new thought or reference we hadn’t seen before, learning to love it and the God it reveals and putting His word to use to become more and more what He wants us to be and do.

And, today we read of the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well in the land given to Joseph. This well is not specifically mentioned elsewhere in Scripture – but we did just read a lot about the land of Jacob’s sons’ families and we read of the tribes of Joseph’s sons (Ephraim and Manassah) receiving their inheritance and burying the bones of Joseph in his land. The Samaritan woman knew these stories and these families – and now she was going to meet the Messiah, the Christ, she has been waiting for!

That was a much longer introduction than I expected. No wonder we don’t have time to look closely at every passage every day. But, today I want to try something different. Instead of having you read any more of me than you already have, I want to give you some questions to consider for both the Old Testament and New Testament scripture – two excellent passages God wants us to consider. You could pick some of your favorite questions to think about today and even discuss with your family and circle of influence. Enjoy digging into God’s Word and considering what God wants you to see!

JUDGES 1-2

Judges 2 tells of the cycle of obedience and disobedience that Israel will fall into after the death of Joshua. Can you see in your own life, family, church, community, nation any similar cycles?

Have there been times when you have slipped away further from God? Any ideas what prompted that? What turned things around again?

How would you describe the difference between a life of obedience to God and one of disobedience? The results? (Use personal experience anytime you can)

Have there been times you have benefitted from having a strong Godly leader (like Joshua or one of the judges)? How so? What did they provide? What dangers do we need to avoid in regards to having (or losing) a strong leader?

How/when can you help others who are in a time of disobedience and trouble?

JOHN 4

What do we learn about Jesus in this passage? (especially verse 6, 9, 10, 13, 18, 26, 29, 34, 42, 53).

What did the Samaritan woman already know before meeting Jesus? What did she learn that day?

How would you describe Jesus as the Living Water? Would you say you have experienced him as living water, or will experience it, or have just heard about it? What does Jesus want to offer to the Samaritan Woman? To You?

What was the result of the Samaritan woman’s talk with Jesus?

Jesus said his “food” was “to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (vs 34) and then he asked the disciples to see the harvest work around them. What fills you up or have you been feeling a little starved lately? What can you do today to help you feel full and satisfied? What harvest work around you does Jesus want you to see and act on?

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Judges 1-2 and John 4

Do You Have a King?

Judges 19-21

Judges 21 25 NIV

If Judges 19-21 were made into a movie, I would not go and see it. It’s too gruesome. It’s too graphic.

And yet, it’s recorded within the Word of God.
Why did all these terrible and awful things happen? We’re told at the beginning of Judges 19 and it’s stated again at the end of Judges 21, as well as recorded multiple times throughout the book of Judges: “In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”
When societies and individuals do nothing to invest in a relationship with God, our moral compasses become messed up, our values and priorities get out of alignment, our behavior goes out of control.
Let’s not sugar coat this – this passage of Scripture certainly doesn’t – our actions have consequences. What may seem like something small and innocent can end up wrecking havoc on not just your life, but the lives of others.
Twenty years ago I was rear-ended by a drunk driver. I was stopped at a red light and I heard screeching tires behind me and suddenly my car lurched forward hitting the car in front of me. I had a cassette tape (Google it) sitting half-way in the tape deck. Thanks to Newton’s First Law of Inertia, it ended up in my back seat. And I ended up with whiplash. My neck and back have never quite been the same.
I’m sure that the driver had no intention of getting into a car wreck as he consumed his alcohol and then decided to get behind the wheel, but it happened. I certainly had no realization that when I got in my car to head home from a friend’s house, that my life would change due to someone else’s reckless choices, but it happened.
Whether it’s drinking and driving, or telling a “small lie”, or cheating on a test, or being unfaithful in a relationship these behaviors have consequences. When we start to do our own thing rather than submit to God, life gets messed up and people get hurt.
Thankfully, God sees fit to forgive and redeem. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” How awesome is it that God longs to still want to have a relationship with messed up people?!?! This includes you and me.
We have a King – will you acknowledge Him? Instead of letting your passions and desires rule your heart, will you humble yourself and submit to Him? Let the love of God cover you today.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=judges+19-21&version=NIV
Tomorrow we will be reading the book of Ruth as we continue (or begin) our Bible reading plan.  Print your own copy here 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan and mark off each day’s reading.  What is God wanting to tell you in your waiting – open His book and find out!  

Samson – Hero of Faith

Saturday – Judges 16-18

Judges Devotions-6

Weird people are my kind of people, and Samson definitely brings weird to a whole new level. We’ve seen Samson rip a lion apart with his bare hands, tie 300 burning foxes in pairs by their tails, and kill a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey.

God wanted Samson to follow through on his Nazirite vow, which involved abstaining from cutting his hair, drinking wine, and going near dead bodies (Numbers 6:1-8). In this way, Samson would be set apart from the rest of the world—sanctified and pure. However, he eats honey from a lion’s carcass, is tricked by Delilah into cutting his hair, and disappoints God in a dozen other ways. He’s hot-headed, prideful, and is obsessed with revenge; yet, in his weirdness and messiness, Samson is commended for his faith. He is mentioned in Hebrews 11, as a hero of great faith.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Hebrews 11:32-34).

Samson’s life ended with one act of great faith. After losing his hair, the source of his God-given strength, Samson was captured by the Philistines. They gouged out his eyes and threw him in prison. Since Samson was the Philistine’s public enemy number one, they ridiculed him in the temple for their own entertainment. On that day, Samson made one final request to God:

“Then Samson prayed to the Lord, ‘Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes’” (Judges 16:28).

God used Samson’s physical weakness and his obsession for revenge, turning it into strength. With a surge of God’s power, Samson pushed on the pillars of the temple, crushing the temple and all the Philistines in it. Samson was messy, but God used him to bring the Israelites closer to liberation from the Philistines. We, like Samson, are never too messy to be used by God.

In fact, when we believe we are too messy to be used by God, it’s God’s power we underestimate, not our own. He wants to transform your messiness for his glory. Will you be transparent in giving God the glory as he transforms your mess? What weaknesses of yours can you surrender to God to be redeemed as strengths? What messy people in your life, the same people God sees value in, are you avoiding?

Mackenzie McClain

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=judges+16-18&version=NIV

Thank you, Mackenzie for your writing this week!  Tomorrow, as we start a new week, Bethany Ligon will discuss the final chapters of Judges for us, and then take us into Ruth and 1 Samuel during the rest of the week.  Keep Reading – Seeking – Growing & Loving!  We have a great God!

2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

In Your Waiting God is Working

Friday – Judges 13-15

Judges Devotions-5

Waiting is hard, like really hard. Most boxes of frozen foods give two sets of directions, one for the microwave and one for the oven. I’m the kind of person who always picks the microwave.  I’m also the kind of person who abandons a movie if it hasn’t struck my interest in the first five minutes, and you bet I’ve read the last page of every book I start because I can’t wait to see how it ends. On every road trip, I ask “Are we there yet?” dozens of times.

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years” (Judges 13:1). The Israelites have fallen back into sin and in desperation, they call out to God… and wait.

Suffering for forty years, I imagine many Israelites were wondering what God was doing in their waiting. Did He hear their prayers? Did He still care for them?

Another woman, Manoah’s wife, was also waiting, but for a child. “A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth” (Judges 13:2).

Even when they could not see it, in their waiting God was working. You see, the answer to Manoah’s wife’s prayer was also the answer to the Israelites’ prayers.

“The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, ‘You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines’” (Judges: 13:3-5).

This baby boy, Samson, grew up to liberate his people from the Philistines. In those forty years of waiting, God was preparing for them a leader who would bring deliverance.

Are you in a season of waiting? Whether you’re waiting for a promotion, a spouse, a child, a house, a cure, or a plan, God hears your prayers. Child of God, your heart’s deepest desires are in the hands of the Almighty; in the meantime, trust that God is working. Maybe He isn’t working in the way you’re expecting, but He is still working.

We’ll jump more into Samson’s (spoiler alert: crazy) life tomorrow, but for today I want to leave you with scripture that has encouraged me in my times of waiting:

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7).

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13 & 14).

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope (Psalm 130:5).

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).

In your waiting, He hears you. He fights for you. He is working.

Mackenzie McClain

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=judges+13-15&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Judges 16-18 as we finish another week on our  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan. And, it’s always a great place to start up, too!