Consequences

Judges 11:34-40

July 31, 2014

 

“And it was so at the end of two months that she returned

to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which

he had vowed. She knew no man.”

- Judges 11:39

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

This is a confusing passage. Apparently, Jephthah did not understand that while vows must not be broken (Numbers 30:1, Psalm 56:12), God did provide for the redemption of thoughtless, careless vows (Leviticus 5:4-6). How exactly did Jephthah fulfill his vow? Some scholars contend that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering (11:30-31). Others argue that he confined his daughter to perpetual virginity. In either case, the point is clear. Choices have consequences.

 

Richard Paul Evans wrote, in Promise Me, “Broken vows are like broken mirrors. They leave those who held to them bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves.” First, you break your vows, then your vows break you. Jephthah was rash in his promises to God. The Lord would rather you make a small promise or vow, and keep it, than to promise something big, and not follow through. What can you promise him today?

 

How does this make me become like Him?

One of the lessons of Jephthah’s life was that our choices affect those around us. In his case, his daughter paid a price for what he did. Whose lives are you affecting today? Make promises to God to follow him daily. Then follow through, and you will become like Him.

Promises

Judges 11:29-33

July 30, 2014

 

“So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to

fight against them and the Lord delivered them into his hands.”

- Judges 11:32

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

God again delivered his people. I love the way the Bible says it. Two things happened. First, Jephthah stepped out in obedience and “advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them.” Second, “the Lord delivered them into his hands.” That is how life works. We must be willing to fight, to engage the enemy and stand for what we believe. But it is God who provides the victory. You may need to fight for your marriage, your beliefs, or your cause. But trust God to provide for you.

 

Jephthah made a vow before the Lord. He offered to sacrifice to the Lord if a victory was first provided. When the moment came when he was standing at the door, he got desperate. David Jeremiah says, “At the moment when flames are at the door, a vow comes easily to our lips. But when a cool rain drives calamity from our memory, it is too easy to double-cross God. The implications of doing that could be far worse than the original danger.”

 

How does this make me become like Him?

A vow is voluntary. A person never has to make one. But once it is uttered, the Lord considers it sacred and binding. If we are not really sure of what we want to do in a situation, we are better off to not make rash promises. A walk with God is to be a daily thing, not a series of reactions. When you enter into this kind of consistency, you will slowly become like Him.

Title

Judges 11:12-28

July 29, 2014

 

“May the Lord, the Judge, render judgment this day between

the children of Israel and the people of Ammon. However,

the king of the people of Ammon did not heed

the words which Jephthah sent him.”

- Judges 11:27-28

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

Jephthah reached out to the king that was threatening his people. Israel had taken some land, but he defended their action by saying three things. First, they did not take it from the Ammonites, as the king of Ammon claimed, but from the Amorites. Second, the land had been given to Israel by Israel’s God, and Ammon should possess the land given to them by Ammon’s god. Third, no one had contested Israel’s right to this land for 300 years. But Jephthah’s diplomatic argument failed, perhaps because he identified Chemosh as Ammon’s god when in fact, Chemosh was the god of the Moabites. Mikom was the god of the Ammonites.

 

The judge’s final argument was clear. “We’ll let God decide” was his position. And that should be ours. There are many times when we find ourselves in conflict with someone else. Our natural tendency is to win every argument. But some arguments cannot be won. An old proverb says, “A man convinced against his will remains unconvinced still.” That is when we turn things over to God and leave the results to him.

 

How does this make me become like Him?

Are you in a conflict with someone right now? I know the feeling! It is natural to argue facts and get the data right, expecting the other person to say, “Well, I guess you’re right!” But sometimes, we just have to leave things to the Lord to settle. That is how we grow in our faith. And that is how we become like Him.

A Type of Messiah

Judges 11:1-11

July 28, 2014

 

“The elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.

Then they said to Jephthah, ‘Come and be our commander,

that we may fight against the people of Ammon.’”

- Judges 11:5-6

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

God can use anyone, even a “son of a harlot” (11:1). God used our next judge, Jephthah, despite his difficult past. The rejection he experienced during times of peace prepared him to be a leader when war was threatening. Neither bad choices nor the injustices done to a person must ever keep a child of God from completing God’s calling. Ammon made war with Israel, and the leaders sought Jephthah to be their commander. The Israelites first rejected God as their leader and then acted on that rejection, asking Jephthah to serve as their commander. For this reason, he is never specifically identified as one whom God appointed to deliver his people.

 

Jephthah’s service was conditional. He wanted assurances that he would not be thrown overboard after he was victorious at war (11:9-10). Jephthah was a “type” of Messiah. He was asked to provide salvation from the enemy. But before he came in and saved the people he wanted to know if they would be willing to live under him as their commander. Similarly, Jesus is looking for people who want him to be their Lord, and not just their Savior.

 

How does this make me become like Him?

You need a Savior, someone who can provide a rescue from sin. But you also need a Lord, a God big enough to lead you every day. God is not your genie in a bottle. Jesus did not come to be your resident, but your President. Bow to him as your Master, and you will be fully blessed. Better yet, you will become like Him.

Disciplined Prayer

Romans 8:26-27

July 25, 2014

 

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not

know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes

for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who

searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because

the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance

with God’s will.”

- Romans 8:26-27

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

Jascha Heifitz, arguably the greatest violinist of his time, began playing the violin at the age of three and began to practice four hours a day early on. Until his death at age 75, he maintained this regimen. He estimated that he practiced the violin for 102,000 hours. No wonder he was good at it! That kind of discipline will make anyone a success in the area to which he is called. For the Christ follower, nothing is more important in the area of discipline than prayer.

 

John Bunyan said, “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God.” Prayer was so important to Jesus that he encouraged his disciples to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). Let me offer two suggestions to make prayer a true discipline in your daily life. First, try a prayer list. Write down that for which you pray. Then return to this list every day. Second, establish a “quiet time.” This is a time each day (usually in the morning) when you shut out everything but God and focus on him. Spend time with the Lord, talking, listening, and being still.

 

How does this make me become like Him?

If you are serious about becoming more like Jesus, start doing the things Jesus did. Jesus prayed. He prayed a lot. When you establish the discipline of prayer, you will start to become like Him.

A Disciplined Mind

1 Corinthians 2:16

July 24, 2014

 

“But we have the mind of Christ.”

- 1 Corinthians 2:16

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

Former Vice President Dan Quayle was speaking at the Negro College Fund annual meeting when he famously said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste . . . or to never have.” Here’s the thing about the mind. When you sow a thought, you reap an act. Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a lifestyle. Sow a lifestyle and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny. But it all starts with the mind.

 

Thomas Edison had one of the most disciplined minds ever. Edison invented the incandescent light bulb, not because he was smart, but because he was disciplined. He failed a thousand times before he got it right. Harry Blamires, in The Christian Mind, has said that while Christians may worship and pray as Christians, they do not think as Christians. Solomon said, “Above all else, guard your hearts” (Proverbs 4:23). We need to help our children discipline their minds from early age. The average child spends 16,000 hours in front of a TV by the age of 18, compared to just 13,000 hours in school. According to A.C. Nielsen, the average household has a TV on for seven hours a day. Indeed, the mind is receiving signals all day. The question is what kind of signals we are letting through. That is where discipline comes in.

 

How does this make me become like Him?

Paul said to only think about pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8). Don’t let your mind wander. I’m guessing that most times you do something you later regret, it started in your mind. Learn to discipline your mind and you will find victory. Learn to discipline your mind and you will become like Him.

Relationships

Hebrews 10:25

July 23, 2014

 

“Do not give up meeting together, as some

are in the habit of doing.”

- Hebrews 10:25

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

Winston Churchill understood discipline. While he was recognized as the preeminent speaker of his time, it did not come naturally to him. He had a distracting lisp, which made him the butt of jokes. He only spoke publicly after practicing his remarks for hours in front of a mirror. F.E. Smith commented, “Winston has spent the best years of his life writing impromptu speeches.” Churchill was a great speaker because he mastered discipline. We need discipline in our personal relationships. Alan Loy McGinnis, author of the best-selling The Friendship Factor, says that America’s leading psychologists and therapists estimate that only ten percent of all men ever have any real friends.

 

It starts with Christian fellowship. The writer of Hebrews warned against slacking off in our church meetings (Hebrews 10:25). C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all others.” Chuck Swindoll says two things will determine where we are a year from now: the books we read and the friends we make. How are you doing in the relationship world? It’s not easy to foster a godly friendship. It takes time and vulnerability. Another way of saying it is that it takes discipline. There’s that word again!

 

How does this make me become like Him?

A famous leadership author says, “If you need people, you can’t lead people.” There’s just one problem with that. We all need people. Jesus did. Paul did. Moses did. We all do. Who has God put in your life that you can learn from and share with? Start today. But remember, in the area of successful relationships, it takes the kind of discipline that will help you to become like Him.

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