David wrote these psalms, and the recurring theme is God is God and there is no other. “O Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth.” [Ps 8:9] The ungodly deny Him and His presence which brings to mind Rom 1:20 “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.” Read that last line carefully and meditate on it. God is just, and He is love, but we will have no excuses to offer at the judgment seat if we deny Him. He will say, “I never knew you…” [Matt 7:23].
Because of that truth, David extols the virtues of God as he also explains the mindset of the wicked (they are wicked because they deny God.) John wrote one of his books by explaining this mindset: “If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth” and “If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” [1John 1:5 -8]
Where are you this day, in the camp of those who believe God or the camp of the deniers? Choose wisely.
David lies to save his skin, and an evil man takes that lie and compounds the sin to a greater extent. No lie is acceptable in God’s eyes. David even said, “I knew that day when Doeg the Edomite was there that he would certainly tell Saul! I am guilty of all the deaths in your father’s (speaking to Abiathar) house.” That was the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Why did David not seek the provision of the Lord in a time of need? Why do we not seek the provision of the Lord when we, too, are in a time of need? What a tangled web we weave when we first seek to deceive is a true adage. Later, David would write: “Remove from me the way of lying and grant me Your law graciously.” (Ps 119:29) As the priest questions David, fear became the guiding factor. Like David we too are guilty before God when we fear for our very life, but God’s grace is greater than our sin.
Why is that we do not trust God in every situation? Why are we so careless? How many lives are lost because of a little white lie or a bald-faced lie as in David’s case? Oh Lord, convict us this day; hold us accountable for the words we echo forth. Father, keep our tongue from lying; may only truth come forth from our lips—no matter what lay ahead. That is why we need to pray this often!
1Sam 4 to 7 What do you trust in for salvation? Works? Prayers? Something else? The author of Cripplegate writes:
“Most world religions are a form of what Christians call works righteousness. That expression—works righteousness—is used to describe the world view that believes God is real, heaven is real, and you have to be good to get there. Good is then defined as something along the lines of “trying hard to lead a good life.”
That is how the Israelites and the Philistines lived life. They confused the Ark of the Covenant to save them in a precarious battle only to be defeated. The Philistines captured the Ark and knew the proof of the Egyptian plagues but felt their idol god Dagon was greater. God turned that idea on his head when he defaced Dagon not once but twice.
Satan is a master deceiver. He “blinds the minds…so [we] would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ.”[2Cor 4:4] Salvation only comes when we accept the provision He has provided: Jesus Christ the righteous! Remember there is none righteous no, not one. [Rom 3:10] Trust in Jesus not works: For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; [Eph 2:8]
For more from Cripplegate: https://thecripplegate.com/
Judges 13-15 This chapter reveals a God who cares for His people even if they don’t seem to care for Him. God loves all His people, especially barren women. God, in particular, loves to bless these women. For four chapters, we read about Samson, the son of Manoah and “Mrs. Manoah.” It is the “Mrs.” that has the initial contact with the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like the priest Zechariah, Manoah needed more confirmation.
Mr. Manoah, as well as Zechariah, may not have understood all the details about the birth to come, but they are commended for their obedience and faith as they entreated the Lord.
Mr. Manoah, like Jacob, wanted to know the name of the “man of God.” He needed confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then had a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.” But Mrs. Manoah was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, and he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear something like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.
When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?
Judges 6-7 As our story opens, we find fearful Gideon hiding in a winepress, threshing his family’s wheat crop. At that moment, an angel of God appeared, telling him he was a brave warrior. Does God ever come to you when like Gideon? Gideon will soon be the brave warrior of fleeces and lapping water fame. But for now, he is hiding in a winepress to thresh his family’s wheat harvest because of fear. Does that fit the description of a warrior? Warriors are supposed to stand tall, face the enemy, and be victorious, yet Gideon lives by fear. Gideon and the Israelites were living examples of the first part of this verse: “The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.” [Prov 29:25] Gideon questioned the angelic presence; if God is for us, why are we facing this? If God is near to us, why don’t I see or experience him?
Yet, Gideon is just the kind of person God is looking for so that the “one who boasts, boasts in the Lord.” [1Cor 1:31] The angel of the Lord told Gideon what lay ahead, but he needed more confirmation—not once but twice. God graciously answered because he wanted Gideon to cast off his former view of himself and rise to the occasion.
Perhaps God is calling you to a ministry or a challenge. Are you hiding in a winepress or stepping out so you can hear God saying: “I will be with you.”
Judges 3:7 to 5 If given the opportunity, who would you like to meet from the pages of history? Would it be Abraham Lincoln, Adoniram Judson, or Deborah and Jael from today’s reading? As we browse the pages of this book, we come face-to-face with Joshua’s challenge of Israel’s men to lead. To a man, they said they would, but Joshua warned them that they would not and so it came to pass. As we wander these chapters, we want to put it aside, for it is the book with the most violence, and we meet the most unlikely characters.
First is the woman Deborah who sat under the Date Palm Tree, solving disputes. What happened to the men’s leadership? We aren’t told. In this chapter, we learn about the man Barak whose name means lightning, but he does not live up to his name. He is, in fact, fearful of many things and will only go if Deborah accompanies him. She reminds him that he may be victorious if she goes, but the glory will go to a woman. And who is this woman but Jael, who is a Kenite, not even an Israelite.
What is the lesson we are to glean? When men do not lead, God will allow another to get the glory. Pray today for the men of our families and our nation. Pray that they are strong and courageous, just as God told Joshua.
Joshua 12 to 15: Waiting is the most challenging test God has given to us in so many ways. We want the answer now, but the psalmist reminds us to “trust in the Lord and do what is right.” [Ps 37:3] And Isaiah tells us that God’s ways are higher than ours. [Is 55:9-10] God’s answers are so precious that we can claim the principle that Jeremiah told the exiles in Babylon; “God has a plan; to prosper you, to give you a future filled with hope.” [Jer 29:11]
Joshua and Caleb had waited patiently for 40+ years to see the Promised Land again. The sin of others’ unbelief had caused them to wait, which was another test they passed. Do we pass these kinds of tests as they did? Sometimes, God has us do laps around the wilderness until we are just the perfect spot for His plan, not ours, to come to fruition. It might be hard, uncomfortable—think camping night after night, eating manna day after day.
Take a lesson from Joshua and Caleb. God’s timing is perfect; His plan is higher and grander than you could ever think to imagine.
Joshua 1-3 What weakness do you face? What fears do you experience? What promises do you claim from God’s Word to challenge those weaknesses? Joshua had seen the miracles that only a living God could perform for over 40 years. Yet, God knew that Joshua would face the same weaknesses that we do. Thus God reminded Joshua over and over: “Be strong and courageous; do not swerve to the right or the left.”[Josh 1:7] God wanted Joshua to know that He could be trusted but also that Joshua needed, in turn, to trust Him.
We wonder what memories surfaced as Joshua recalled the land he had seen 40+ years before. Perhaps it was because of those memories that God knew he needed fresh eyes, ears, and a heart to understand. Therefore, God encouraged Joshua with these words: “I will be with you and never forsake you.” [Josh 1:5] He had to remain “steadfast immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord.” [1Cor 15:58] Just as God reminded him, so he reminded the Israelites, “Be strong!” It would be the Lord who would drive out the great and mighty enemies they would face.
When you recall your weaknesses and your fears, remember the words of Joshua: “Be strong and courageous; the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”[Josh 1]
Deut 31 Moses presents to us an example of what to do when the hour draws near and you prepare to take your last breath. Draw those you love near to you and whisper words that will be words of confidence and challenge. Moses told the Israelites and Joshua in particular: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them (meaning those they find as they cross the Jordan). The Lord, your God, is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” [Deut 31:6]
Again, Moses called Joshua and repeated that last sentence to him privately. His last set of instructions was to “assemble the people so they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.” [Deut 31:12] It was time. God commissioned Joshua to take Moses’ place, and again he said, “Be strong and courageous…I will be with you.” [Deut 31:23].
God will repeat these words as we close Deuteronomy and open Joshua. They are words of hope and deliverance from the enemies. God charged Joshua, and He charges us to do the same. There is no enemy too strong for God. He will do just as He said to Isaiah “your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it.” [Is 30:21]
God’s plan is pretty simple: obedience leads to blessing and disobediences leads to curses. His love is deep and wide. It extends not to just the Jew, but to each Gentile believer as well. Not only is that true, but His love and His principle for life is as clear as day: “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” [Jer 29:11] Yet, even though this is written for our admonition we are much like the Israelites, a stubborn people. We want to come to God on our terms, not His, and then we wonder why we are faced with such grievous lives. He reminds us that “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law” [Deut 29:29].
Today may we choose to honor Him from whom all blessings flow and watch and see what He will do!