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?
What are the marks of a humble person? They are willing to wait on God’s plan and timing. Joshua is such a man; a picture of true humility. He had waited over 47+/- years to achieve a place of rest since leaving Egypt’s slavery. He had seen the wonders of God at work in Egypt; he had been a faithful spy at Kadesh Barnea and had been a faithful servant of the Lord under Moses. He then led the children of Israel over seven years as they conquered the land and until every one of the Lord’s faithful promises to the family of Israel was completed. He waited patiently for his inheritance. He didn’t ask for land but only a city. Humble people are satisfied with the least and are willing to wait until others have their share. Humble people are those who do not seek glory or honor but only that which pleases the Lord. Joshua only wanted what the Lord wanted. God has placed this man for us to study and to learn exactly what God requires and desires.God “has told you…to carry out justice, to love faithfulness, and to live obediently before your God.” [Mic 6:8]
Today may we take our lesson from this man and learn from him how to please God.
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.
Lev 24 Today in our secular world, we find that men “yawn” at the Ten Commandments, but this chapter proves that God takes any violation seriously. When a young man loses his temper in a fight he utters a curse taking the Lord’s name in vain. Others hear of it, resulting in him being isolated and in custody. In today’s world, we hear God’s name taken in vain but more often than not men sigh or yawn and go on their way. Our ears have become less inclined to understand the gravity of this sin but God sees this as a travesty against His character for He is a jealous God and will not share his glory with another.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” [Exodus 20:7]
Moses seeks God and His counsel and He gave Moses this instruction. The people who heard this are to place their hands on his head, and then he is to be stoned. We see this as harsh, but God sees it as a lesson to remember what He said: “I AM the Lord.”
Where are we disobeying this commandment? Where are we careless by our word choices? Where are we failing to correct those who disobey it out of ignorance or choice? The commandment is clear; revere God and His Name.
Exodus 39-40 Over and over, we read the words: As the Lord commanded. Moses’s obedience to the words of the Lord is significant. In the NT, we read, “if you love me, you will obey my commandments.” [Jn 14:15] Do we realize that just as the Israelites were in bondage to Egypt; we were in bondage to Satan’s ways before He chose us and called us out to be His people? No longer in bondage, now we are to obey what Jesus has commanded, for this is the way “everyone will know … that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” [Jn13:35]
How relevant these words are: “Moses did all that the Lord commanded.” We are to do the same for our Lord Jesus Christ. These three titles of Jesus are used by Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians eleven times.
Lord – Jesus is God in the flesh. When the word “Lord” is added to Jesus Christ it means, you are declaring that He is Lord; He is God.
Jesus – Jehovah is Salvation, the Son of God;
Christ– the Anointed One.
Will you hear these words: Well done thou good and faithful servant when you leave this earth and meet He who is Lord; the author and finisher of your faith because you have done all that He commanded?
Exodus 22 to 24 God has set down the laws for a perfect society, and He starts with laws that men are to keep and the consequences for breaking those laws. The people had just said they would obey all that God has said, but that will be short-lived, and so this is why God wrote these. His attention to detail is so that they people have a benchmark to follow. Next, God institutes the three feasts that are to be held with directions for all males to be in attendance.
Two chapters entailed these directions that men may know how God will determine their integrity. Now God moves from the social justice theme to the promise of the angelic messenger to go before them in their travels. “Take heed and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my Names is in him.” [Exodus 23:20] Why is this important? It is because they had lived ‘under’ slave masters who determined all their rules and regulations. Now God will show them the difference between what is holy and unholy, what is sanctified, and what is impure. The purpose is to set them apart from the nations around them and be the guiding light of the gospel to the pagans they will encounter.
God has given us His “rule” book that ensures we will be blessed if we obey. How do you feel about God’s Rules and will you obey them?
Acts 28 John Jacob Astor believed that the Titanic was unsinkable, yet he and his wealth are at the bottom of the ocean because of his stubborn pride and lack of foresight—the Titanic only carried enough lifeboats for half of the passengers—Astor was not saved. We hear the words of Paul “men, you should have listened to me.” [Acts 27:21]
On the Adriatic Sea God sent another storm tossing the ship Paul was on. Just like the Titanic, the ship’s captain did not heed the words of Paul to stay on the island of Crete. Yet, God can overrule men’s decisions so that they may come face to face with the God of the storms. In this case, He chose to preserve Roman soldiers, centurions, rowers, the captain and prisoners so they might hear Paul teach and preach the resurrection of Christ. Did they respond because of the storm? Only in eternity will we know. Yet this is true: “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.” [Rom 10:17]
God does the same for us today; He uses ordinary people like you and me to carry out His divine appointed plans. We never know when we may experience a storm so men may hear the story of the resurrected Christ.
What storm are you facing?
Will you let God use you to share the resurrected Christ to others?
You may be experiencing the pandemic in spades. You are stuck at home with little ones or your job is only using the technology of zoom, Google meet, or Whatsapp. No matter what, we can follow Paul’s example of using every available opportunity to present Christ.
Therefore, the question is, how are we using this down time?
God gave Paul multiple opportunities to present Christ and the resurrection. He courageously presented Christ before the Jews, Romans, Governors Felix and Festus, King Agrippa, Bernice, Drusilla, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the soldiers, the Roman Commander Lysias, the Jewish High Priest, and the crowd. Is this amazing, or what?
Paul knows that he is God’s chosen instrument to carry His name before Gentiles. [Acts 9:15] In chapter 23, the Lord came to Paul in the night and promised him that he would testify in Rome. No matter where we find ourselves, we have His Word and a reminder to “go and make disciples.” [Matt 28]
Today as you go about your day, keep an eye out for divine opportunities to present Christ and the gospel message. It might be just a quick word of encouragement or a conversation. Wherever it may be, be alert and watchful lest these who will one day stand before a holy God have to hear “depart from Me, I never knew you” because we failed to present Him.
Acts 20 We are to be in a race of winning people to Christ and until He returns. We are the “people of the cross” with the message of truth: Jesus alone is The Way, The Truth, and The Life! [Jn 14:6] Paul left the Ephesian elders for the last time: “testifying …about repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus.” [Acts 20:21] Paul’s testimony was: “I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.” [Acts 20:24]. Later he would write: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!” [2Ti 4:7]
We are to be busy testifying about the gospel message even when the wolves rear up. Remember this promise: “Indeed, the Lord who commands armies has a plan,” and it will be fulfilled. [Isa 14:27] “Obedience is better than crumbling to the fears of speaking out.” [O. Harris] Be faithful to pray that God releases his angelic army, miraculous signs and wonders so that the enemy’s mission of destruction is hindered. Pray that unbelievers may have dreams that will convict and turn them from unbelief to the true Messiah.
Pray that we remain steadfast as the “people of the cross.”
Luke 1 to 3 The people of Israel waited four hundred years to hear from God and his prophets, but He had been silent. Now in a flash of a moment, God chooses a Gentile author to reveal that He is still at work.
First, God sends an angel to tell Zachariah that he will be a father soon to one who will be like Elijah the Prophet to turn the children’s hearts. Then God sends the angel Gabriel to a peasant girl named Mary with the news that she was to be the mother of His earthly son, the Son of the Most High God, and God will give him the throne of His father, David.
Hearing the angel’s pronouncement, Zacharias responded with, “How can I be sure of this?” Mary asked, “How will this be since I have not been intimate with a man.” Because Zechariah doubted he would be silent until the birth of John. Mary would submit but walk the road before her village as an unwed woman. Her courage came from the angel’s words: “nothing will be impossible with God.”
How often do we stand amazed and wonder how I can be sure? Could it be that we need to assess if we are more like Zachariah or Mary? Remember this truth: “The steps of a person are ordained by the Lord” [Pro 20:24]