Right In Their Own Eyes

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Today’s Passage – Judges 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 4 – 6;  Proverbs 27Psalms 131 – 135)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 89:1

Read the “0327 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – (Judges 21:25)

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15)

I hope that you are taking the time to carefully read these chapters in the Book of Judges. If you have, then you have noticed that there certainly is a lot of wierd stuff going on here in these passages; and you may be wondering if God is putting His stamp of approval on all that was happening. He certainly is not. The Bible here is merely recording honestly the condition of God’s people as they really were in this time period. They have certainly gone a long way away from the will of God. The concluding verse (above) to the Book of Judges seems to sum it all up: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. They could have sang the Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way”. There was no earthly king, but the real problem was that they stopped submitting to the kingship of God. Israel was in a mess morally, and they had forsaken the system of worship that God had instituted for them as they wandered in the wilderness.

We can see this same problem in our country today. Our nation used to instill Biblical principles into the lives of her citizens. A lost heathen of 100 years ago knew more about the Bible, and could quote more verses than the average Christian can today. We are a Bible illiterate society, and the dearth of the Word of God is manifesting itself in every area of our society. We are in a mess here in America. We call “right” wrong, and “wrong” right. We tolerate, condone, and even support the vilest immorality imaginable; and it is getting worse by the day. As a nation, we know precious little about the Person of God, let alone the Principles of His Word. We need to have an awakening like the children of Israel had in these chapters in the Book of Judges. Maybe God will have to shake our world a little bit more in judgment in order to get us to wake up.

I hate to say this, but the problem is also huge within our fundamental churches. It amazes me that people will come to church; listen to the Word of God as it is preached, and sometimes even nod their heads or say “Amen” in agreement; and then go out into their lives, and do the opposite of what God just instructed. And the crazy thing is, they don’t even realize that they are doing it. We need to wake up. We need God to shake us back into an awareness of our utter dependence upon Him. We need to follow the Word of God wholly, and allow the Spirit of God to guide us into all truth.

The nation of Israel entered into the land of Canaan with full intention to live according to the will of God for the rest of their existence. If you were to somehow show them how far away they would get, they would think it absurd; but slowly, and very gradually they moved further and further away from the truth. Christians, we are doing the same thing; and it is happening so gradually that we do not even notice it. Let’s get back to the basics of loving God, winning souls, and living in and by His Word.

 


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Speak Your Mind

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Today’s Passage – Judges 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 1 – 3;  Proverbs 26Psalms 126 – 130)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read the “0326 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.” – (Judges 19:30)

Judges 19 contains one of the strangest and saddest stories in all of the Bible. In this account we learn of a man from the tribe of Levi that was travelling through Israel with his concubine. In a polygamous society a concubine was a woman that was married to a man, but did not have the same status as the man’s wife or wives. At any rate this man and his wife were looking for a place to stay for the night while they were travelling through the city of Gibeah, which was occupied by the Israelite tribe of Benjamin. For a long time no one would offer them lodging for the night, until suddenly an old man who was also a sojourner in the city offered them food, and lodging at his house. During the night, the men of the city attempted force entry into this older man’s home so that they could “know”  the man that was visiting. In this case the word “know” meant that the men of the city wanted to have sexual relations with the man. What happened to this man in this story is very similar to what was attempted on the two angels who visited Lot in Sodom (see Genesis 19), which indicates the level of depravity that the men of this place had reached. They are finally content to take the man’s concubine and abuse her all night long until she ultimately dies from their cruelty. The travelling man then takes the body of his wife and cuts it up into pieces, and  sends a piece of her body to each of the tribes of Israel. I realize that this is a strange story, but that’s what happened, in a nutshell.

My attention is drawn to the statement made to the reader in verse 30. We are instructed to “consider of it, take advice, and speak [our] minds”. Why did God tell us to do this after reading this portion of Scripture. I believe the reason is because the wickedness committed by these people from the tribe of Benjamin in the city of Gibeah was so heinous, that God did not want it to be just wept under the rug or passed by. He wants us to think about it;  to get mad about it; and to do something about it. By the way, we will read tomorrow in chapter 20 what the rest of Israel does to punish this sin. I won’t spoil the story, but let me assure you that the people of Israel pay a great price for allowing this kind of wickedness to take place in the Land of Promise.

I believe that the advice given by God to the Israelites of that day is good for us today. He wants us to get mad about sin, and then do something about it. We are to speak our minds as well when it comes to condemning sin. This world ought to have no doubt in their minds about where we stand regarding the sin that is taking place in our land; and we ought to go beyond just condemning it with our mouths; we ought also to take action against it.

“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” – (1 Timothy 5:20)

“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;” – (Titus 1:13)

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” – (2 Timothy 4:2)

Let’s not turn our heads to sin, but rather let’s speak the truth in love, and stand against it.

 


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Teach Us

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Today’s Passage – Judges 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 John 1 – 5; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 120)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0324 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” – (Judges 13:8)

In Judges chapter 13, we see the story surrounding the birth of Samson. Samson’s birth came at a time when Israel was once again away from God, and was suffering at the hands of the Philistines. An angel appeared to Samson’s mother, and told her that she was going to have a son, and that this son was to be a Nazarite from the womb. You may recall that God gave instructions regarding the vow of the Nazarite in Numbers 6; but this child, Samson, is the first example of a Nazarite in the Bible. We do not know all everything about this vow, but we do know that it was a vow of separation; and we also know that the person who had taken the vow was not to drink wine, cut his hair, or touch a dead body. The interesting point about this particular case is that Samson was to be a Nazarite from birth. He never makes a vow. His separation was chosen for him by the Lord. Anyway, the angel did not appear to her husband, yet Manoah believed what the angel had told his wife. Manoah then “intreats” the Lord and asks Him to send the angel back, not to prove that it really happened, but to instruct them as to what they were supposed to do. Interestingly, the angel comes back, but only tells Manoah exactly what he had already told his wife.

I like the petition made by Manoah in Judges 13:8. He wants God to “teach” them regarding what to do with the child. Manoah acknowledged that he didn’t know what to do. He was demonstrating a dependence upon the Lord. I find myself often not knowing what to do. I often pray the prayer that Solomon prayed:

“And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” – (1 Kings 3:7-9)

And sometimes I pray the prayer that Hezekiah prayed:

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. – (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The funny thing about Manoah’s prayer is that God never did give him any more information than He already gave His wife; but He did talk to him, and somehow assured him that He was going to be with him as he raised this special child for the Lord. Manoah was just going to have to continue walking by faith. It it is often frustrationg for me to walk by faith. I want God to reveal every step of the plan to me ahead of time, but He never does. He tells me what I need to know for today, and expects me to just keep walking, and keep trusting Him. But I do not think that He is upset with me for asking Him. Those prayers are my declaration of dependence upon Him.


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When Good Men Do Nothing

When Good Men Do Nothing

Today’s Passage – Judges 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Peter 1 – 3Proverbs 23Psalms 111 – 115)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0323 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:15)

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

This is a very strange passage of Scripture, but I think it contains a very valuable lesson for us. In chapter 8, we have Gideon who was mightily used of the Lord to rid the land of Israel from the hand of the Mideonites. After the battle was over, the people of Israel ask Gideon to be their leader, but he refuses, saying that the Lord is their ruler. However, without a good man leading them, the people once again begin to stray away from the Lord, forcing God to bring about judgment. Now when we get to today’s passage, we see that one of the sons of Gideon does desire to reign over the people, and goes to all of his brothers asking them to support him, and they do. The problem is that this man, Abimelech, is a very wicked man. Once he gets his power, the first thing he does is have all of his brothers (70 of them) put to death. One of the brothers escapes, and stands upon a mountain and delivers this parable unto the people of the city of Shechem:

“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:8-15)

The olive tree refused to act, the fig tree refused to act, the vine refused to act, so there was nobody left but the bramble, a sticker bush.

What he was saying through this parable was that oftentime good men will refuse to take ther place of leadership, perhaps because they are already busy doing good things. However, when good men refuse to act, there will always be an evil person that will sieze the opportunity to gain power, and use it for his own purposes. This is what happens to the people of Shechem. Gideon refused to lead, and then his sons willingly turn over control of the city to this one brother. Eventually, as a result of all of this, just about everybody is put to death.

Bad things happen when good men do nothing. By refusing to get involved, we sometimes create a scenario where the wrong kind of people start calling the shots. Let’s apply this to the local church. Often times there are carnal people within the church that are hungry for power, and they are always looking for opportunities to advance themselves. And there are others within the body, who are good men, who just sit back and let it happen: perhaps because they have a lot of things going on in their lives, or maybe because they are just trusting men, who are willing to yield to others. By the way, it is never a good sign when an individual is seeking position. Truly spiritual people will often be reluctant to take positions because they either feel unworthy, or doubt their own ability. However, we need to not neglect the opportunities and responsibilities that God places in front of us, because when we refuse, it opens up the door to someone else who may not be God’s choice.

We can also see this in government. Good people often refuse to get involved, leaving the door wide open to men who may not have the best interests of the people at hand. The end result of all of this is that things begin to change for the worse for everybody. Good people need to stay in the process, so that we all can keep the good things that God has entrusted to us. How involved are you in the process? Do you get involved in the local church, and in your community and local government? Do you even vote? We need good people to do their part. The devil never stops trying to advance his agenda. We need to stay in the game in order to keep him from taking from us the wonderful blessings that God has given us.

 


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Little Is Much

Little Is Much

Today’s Passage – Judges 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Peter 1 – 5Proverbs 22Psalms 106 – 110

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 47:1

Read the “0322 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.” – (Judges 7:4)

This is one of my favorite passages in all of the Bible. The nation of Israel was at war with the Midianites, who numbered 135,000. The Bible says that even the number of their camels was too large to count. The camp of Israel, on the other hand, was much smaller, numbering only 32,000. The people of Israel were already outnumbered by more that 100,000 men, yet God said that Israel had too many men, and He wanted most of them weeded out. First, He eliminates all that are afraid. I have to admit right here that I know that I would have been eliminated in this first cut. Afraid!! I would have been scared to death. Israel was outnumbered  nearly 5 to 1. Amazingly, after the fearful left, there was still 10,000 left. Now they were outnumbered 13 to 1. This is not good military strategy folks. Yet, God said that they still had too many. At the next cut the troops of Israel were reduced down to 300. This was 440 Midianites to every 1 Israelite. You would agree, that this left Israel in a (humanly) hopeless situation. But you know what happens, don’t you. God gave the victory.

Consider some other verses:

“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” – (1 Samuel 14:6)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – (Luke 1:37)

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” – (Genesis 18:14)

Sometimes, I get a little discouraged that we don’t have more people in our town that are saved and living for the Lord, serving Him in one of the Bible preaching churches. It also bothers me when there seem to be so few within the local church that are really surrendered to the Lord. But when I read passages like this I am reminded that God can do an awful lot with a little. He took down a great big giant with a little teenager. On numerous occasions He destroyed powerful armies with a few sold out soldiers. God loves to be the “underdog”. He loves to show Himself powerful in impossible situations. We may only have a few soldiers in the army at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, but God is more than able to reach the multitudes with them. And God is also ready to show Himself powerful in your life. What impossible situation are you facing today? Remember, Little is much when God is in it.


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Gideon’s Fleece

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Today’s Passage – Judges 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – James 1 – 5; Proverbs 21Psalms 101 – 105

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 34:6

Read the “0321 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.” – (Judges 6:36-37)

Three times in Judges 6, Gideon asks the Lord for a sign of some sort in order to assure him that it was, in fact, God that was speaking to him. The first time occurs when the angel of the Lord first appears to him in verse 17. Here he wants to be sure that it is the Lord. Maybe he was afraid that he was hallucinating, or perhaps being tricked. The Lord proves Himself to Gideon by consuming the kid and the bread upon the rock with fire.

The second and third time was regarding the fleece. He puts out the fleece twice: two nights in a row. The first night, he asked that the fleece would be wet with dew, and the ground dry. The second night, just to be sure, he asked that the ground be wet and the fleece be dry. God graciously proved Himself to Gideon on all of these occasions.

I have often heard people say that Gideon was not acting in faith because he kept asking for some sort of a sign. However, we must remember that God had not recorded in His word at this point anything about Gideon’s situation. Had God written through Moses or a prophet that there would be a man named Gideon that would deliver the children of Israel from the hand of the Mideonites, there might be a reason to accuse Gideon of lacking faith; but this was totally unpredicted, and unprecedented. I don’t blame Gideon for wanting to be sure that He was doing the will of God.

Today, we certainly are to walk by faith and not by sight. Most of what God calls us to do is clearly revealed in His Bible; but every once in a while, He reveals His will to us personally through extraordinary means. This does not happen very often, but it does happen. I have been saved for twenty-five years, and I can only point to a few times where I put forth a “fleece” in order to determine God’s will. I will share one of these incidents with you. When I was in my senior year of Bible college, I was very burdened about what I was going to do after I graduated. There were a few opportunities offered to me in various places and capacities; but I wanted to be sure that I was completely following the will of God. In my heart, I wanted to come back home to New Jersey, but I was not sure that my heart was lining up with God’s will. I began to pray. I decided one day to call up Pastor Charlie Clark who pastored in south Jersey, in order to get some advice from him. I told him that I was praying about coming back to New Jersey to start a church, or work for a church. He recommended that I head back to New Jersey upon graduation, and we would begin to pray and work toward the planting of a church. I was very excited about that prospect, but God had a slightly different plan. You see, as God was working in my heart about coming to New Jersey – unknown to me – He was also working in another pastor’s heart about moving away from New Jersey. Just a few minutes after I got off the phone with Pastor Clark, He received another phone call from Pastor Dan Owens. Brother Owens was the man who started Jersey Shore Baptist Church. The Lord was leading him to go back into the military as a chaplain, but he wanted to make sure that he left his church in good hands. So Brother Owens called Pastor Clark in order to see if He knew of any pastor that was praying about coming to New Jersey. “Coincidentally”, Pastor Clark did know of someone. Pastor Clark has since shared with me that he has had very few phone calls through the years regarding people either looking for a church, or looking to leave a church; and to get two such calls within minutes of each other was definitely a “sign” that this was of God.

I am not saying that we should be tempting God, or asking God to prove Himself to us. If we are His children, we have already placed our faith in Him, and in His revealed will through the Word of God. I am saying, though, that it is OK to ask God to clearly reveal His perfect will for your life. If your like me, you want to be sure that you are doing exactly what God wants you to do. There are a lot of big decisions to make in life, and they are not all completely covered in the Bible. For instance: Who are you going to marry? Where you are going to live? What will be your life’s vocation? Where will you go to college?  These are all important questions, and you want to be sure you are in the perfect will of God. I don’t think you are wrong to ask God to miraculously reveal His will to you personally, as He did to Gideon in our reading today.


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Hold the Line

Hold the Line

Today’s Passage – Judges 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 10 – 13;  Proverbs 20Psalms 96 – 100

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 34

Read the “0320 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “God Sent Them A Deliverer”

“And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.” – (Judges 2:7)

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” – (Judges 2:10)

“And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.” – (Judges 2:12)

Years ago, my wife and I took a trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to see the place where that great Civil War battle took place back in 1863. On the second day of the battle there were a group of men from Maine, lead by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, who were entrusted with holding the southern end of the Union line at a place called Little Round Top. If the Confederate army could breach that line, or somehow get around it, they would have been able to defeat the Union army that day, and may have been able to win the war. Colonel Chamberlain, and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment held the line, and held back the Confederate Army. Toward the end of the battle, the Union army had run out of amunition, and were forced to repel their attackers with a charge down the hill with only their bayonets as weapons.

Our Scripture passage today in the Book of Judges tells us that when Joshua and the leaders from his generation were alive, they held the line against idolatry and immorality in the land of Israel. On their watch, they kept evil from creeping into the land. However, when Joshua’s generation died off, the next generation allowed all kinds of wickedness to enter into the lives of the people of Israel. They didn’t hold the line. It seems that, though Joshua and his contemporaries were good at leading the people in righteousness, they failed at training the next generation to do the same.

I made a similar observation this morning about our generation today. In America today there are many churches that are attracting large crowds, but unfortunately they are drawing people in by making their worship services as comfortable as possible to a lost world. Now, don’t misunderstand, I am not against people being comfortable in church, and I want people to enjoy their time at our services. However, I don’t want to compromise what I know to be right, in order to make lost people, or carnal Christians, feel more comfortable at our church. I am more concerned with the Saviour’s pleasure, than with the Seeker’s. Today, our churches have become so like the world, that there is little difference between Christians and the lost people around them. My point in all this is that I believe that by watering down everything that we stand for, and by opening the church doors wide to worldliness, we are going to lose the next generation. If we have only “a form a godliness”, what will our kid’s have? If we have to tickle the ears of people now to get them to come in, or keep them from going out, what will the next generation have to do?

We need to hold the line, and we need to work to raise a new generation of godly Christians that will be more sold-our, more separated, and better soul-winners than we are. If we don’t, America will be totally lost. Somebody’s got to hold the line.


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Permissive Parents

Permissive Parents

Today’s Passage – Judges 14 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 2 John, 3 John, JudeProverbs 25Psalms 121 – 125

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 55:17

Read the “0325 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.” – (Judges 14:1-3)

Years ago, my wife and I were at the boardwalk with Phil and Melissa who were, I think, around 6 and 5 at the time. As they were getting out of the “moon bounce”, there was another small child there that did not want to get out when the time was up. His grandfather pleaded with him to no avail, until finally he had to go in after the little boy. He grabbed the child and began to drag him out, and the kid started kicking and screaming, and finally spit right in his grandfather’s face. The grandfather just kept sweet-talking and pleading with the child, promising him other rides and ice-cream, cotton candy, etc. just to get the kid to want to come out. I remember thinking at that moment that I would have liked to be that kid’s dad for just 5 minutes. I would have let him have his little temper tantrum, and then I would have had my big one. We would have had a “pow-wow” – I would have done the powing, and he would have done the wowing.

We can see from our passage today that Samson’s parents were far too permissive. They appeased Samson by giving him whatever he wanted. Samson was a spoiled brat. Notice in vv. 1 – 3 of Judges 14 that Samson twice orders his parents to “get” this woman from Timnath for him “to wife”. Now this woman was not an Israelite, and did not share the same beliefs that Samson’s family did. The Old Testament Law was clear that an Israelite could only marry a woman that worshipped Jehovah God. Yet, the parents reluctantly gave Samson what he wanted. What a shame. Parents are supposed to be the ones who know what is best for their children.

The Bible has a lot to say about discipline and child-rearing. I will list a few of the verses here:

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – (Proverbs 22:6)

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” – (Proverbs 19:18)

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” – (Proverbs 22:15)

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” – (Proverbs 23:13-14)

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” – (Proverbs 29:15)

When we read these verses, we might think that God wants us to be mean and abusive to our children, which is absolutely not the case. I have only had to spank my children a couple of times each in their lives. That is all that was necessary in order for them to understand that Mom and Dad are in charge, and that the children are to submit their wills to the will of their parents. We love our children, and they love us. We have a lot of fun together, and spend a lot of time with each of them individually as well as corporately as a family, but we are their parents, not their buddies. Three of our children are now grown, and our relationships with them have changes somewhat. We are now more like counselors to them, but there is still a great deal of love and respect showed to us by our grown children.

Parents, don’t buy into this modern philosophy regarding the rearing of children. Go to the Word of God. Biblical love and discipline your child before you produce a grown spoiled brat like Samson.


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Deborah and Jael – Women of God

 

Today’s Passage – Judges 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – James 1 – 5Proverbs 21Psalm 101 – 105

Scripture Memorization for March – Verses About the Bible

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 34:6

Read the “0321 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage in Judges – “Gideon’s Fleece”

“And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.” (Judges 4:4 )

“Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.” (Judges 4:21)

In Judges 4, we read about, not one, but two remarkable women who were greatly used of God. The first is Deborah who was a prophetess in Israel during the time of the judges. All of Israel came to her to receive judgment, and it was she whom the Lord directed to lead the children of Israel into battle against the oppressive army of Hazor and Sisera.

We next meet Jael, a woman who lived with her family in a plain outside of the city of Kedesh. Sisera, the general of the Canaanite army was on the run, and sought refuge in the tent of Jael, but when he fell asleep she took a tent peg and drove it into Sisera’s head, thus ending Israel’s campaign against the Canaanites.

These two women were both bold and decisive women who were mightily used by God during a time when the children of Israel were doing evil in the sight of the Lord . The men who should have been leading the people of God spiritually were failing in their responsibility, but God raised up a couple of women who stood in the gap and did what they could in service to God.

Today, we are also living in a culture where the men are not fulfilling their God-given roles of leadership. Too many men are neglecting their responsibilities in the home, the community, and the church. Thank God, however, that there are many women who are willing to do the work of God that their male counterparts are reluctant to do. In our church, we have some great and godly men, but if the truth is to be told, I would have to admit that we have more women involved in the ministry here. I thank God for their willingness to step in and do some of the things that perhaps the men should be doing. I have been praying for God to give us some more men who will step up and be the godly husbands, fathers, and church and community leaders that they should be, but at the same time, I want to keep these godly and diligent women right where they are where they can continue to be used mightily by the Lord.


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God Sent Them a Deliverer

Today’s Passage – Judges 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 10 – 13;  Proverbs 20; Psalms 96 – 100)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 34

Read the “0320 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.” (Judges 3:15)

In these first three chapters of the Book of Judges, we read that the children of Israel had already gotten away from what the Lord had commanded them, and had begun to worship and serve the gods of the Canaanites and the other previous inhabitants of the Land. God had expressly warned them that if they were to do so His hand of provision and protection would be removed. It seems like throughout Israel’s history a familiar pattern could be clearly observed. The people of God would be in the place of blessing, which depended upon their devotion to God. However, their prosperity would often cause them to forget about God, and go in their own direction, which always eventually led to immorality and idolatry. God’s blessing would ultimately cease, which would open the gate for the enemies of God’s people to get in and be allowed to oppress them, oftentimes placing them in bondage. But, then the people would wake up and realize the error of their ways, and cry out to God in repentance. And then God would send them a deliverer.

In our story this morning, Judges 3, we see: “the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.” (Judges 3:12) For eighteen long years the people of God lived in bondage being subject unto the Eglon, the king of Moab. But, all of a sudden, the people came to themselves, and turned to God for help. (v. 15) And God did what He always does when His people cry out to them: He helped them. This time through a man named Ehud. Ehud dramatically kills the king of Moab, and leads the people of God in victory, ridding them of the Moabites and all other enemies for eighty years.

This reminds me of another story. 2000 years ago, sin and the devil were kicking around and oppressing the people of God, but God sent His Son to deliver them:

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (Colossians 1:13)

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

I like what it says in 1 Corinthians 1:9 – 10: God has delivered us, does deliver us, and will keep delivering us.

“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10)

Someday, praise God, Christ is going to come and deliver us completely from this old, sinful flesh, and this world full of iniquity!

“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” (Galatians 1:4)

“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18)

Thank God for our Deliverer!


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Civil War

Today’s Passage – Judges 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 4 – 6;  Proverbs 27Psalms 131 – 135

Scripture Memorization for March – 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 20

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 89:1

Read a great article by Pastor Paul Chappell  – I Am Not Ashamed, Pictorial Steps to the Resurrection, Part 3

Read the “0327 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up first. And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah. And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah. And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.” – (Judges 20:18-21)

This is a particularly sad story in the history of the tribes of Israel. Yesterday’s reading revealed a crime that was committed by the people of Gibeah, which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, against a man of Israel and his concubine. (Read blogpost from yesterday’s reading) The men of Israel all rallied around this man, and demanded punishment for the people of Gibeah for the heinous crime that they committed. The tribe of Benjamin, however, defended the people of Gibeah, and stood up to fight against the rest of the tribes of Israel. Civil war had broken out for the first time in the history of God’s people.

What happens next is even more sad. Though the people of Israel were right in their cause against Gibeah and the rest of the tribe of Benjamin, God allowed Israel to suffer two devastating defeats, which resulted in the deaths of 40,000 men. The people of Israel had even asked the Lord prior to both of these catastrophic losses, and the Lord had given them the green light to attack. Finally, God gave them total victory on the third day of battle; but why did God allow the eleven innocent tribes suffer to such a degree, when their cause was just?

I believe the answer to this question lies in the fact that God is very displeased when brethren don’t dwell together in unity. Battles against foreign enemies are hard enough, but battles within a family, or even within a nation, are especially difficult. I believe God wanted the Israelites, including Benjamin, to pay a very high price for their dissolving of the union that God had established. Our Civil War was a similar situation. Though the North was right in their cause to free the slaves, the price they had to pay in order to settle the conflict was extremely high. In fact, I am no expert, but I believe the losses sustained by the North were probably greater in many respects as those of the South. The price of war between brothers is brutal.


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Today’s Passage – Judges 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 John 1 – 5Proverbs 24Psalms 116 – 120

Scripture Memorization for March – 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 20

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 51

Read a great article by Pastor Paul Chappell  – Just the Facts

Read the “0324 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” – (Judges 13:8)

In Judges chapter 13, we see the story surrounding the birth of Samson. Samson’s birth came at a time when Israel was once again away from God, and was suffering at the hands of the Philistines. An angel appeared to Samson’s mother, and told her that she was going to have a son, and that this son was to be a Nazarite from the womb. You may recall that God gave instructions regarding the vow of the Nazarite in Numbers 6; but this child, Samson, is the first example of a Nazarite in the Bible. We do not know all everything about this vow, but we do know that it was a vow of separation; and we also know that the person who had taken the vow was not to drink wine, cut his hair, or touch a dead body. The interesting point about this particular case is that Samson was to be a Nazarite from birth. He never makes a vow. His separation was chosen for him by the Lord. Anyway, the angel did not appear to her husband, yet Manoah believed what the angel had told his wife. Manoah then “intreats” the Lord and asks Him to send the angel back, not to prove that it really happened, but to instruct them as to what they were supposed to do. Interestingly, the angel comes back, but only tells Manoah exactly what he had already told his wife.

I like the petition made by Manoah in Judges 13:8. He wants God to “teach” them regarding what to do with the child. Manoah acknowledged that he didn’t know what to do. He was demonstrating a dependence upon the Lord. I find myself often not knowing what to do. I often pray the prayer that Solomon prayed:

“And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” – (1 Kings 3:7-9)

And sometimes I pray the prayer that Hezekiah prayed:

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” – (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The funny thing about Manoah’s prayer is that God never did give him any more information than He already gave His wife; but He did talk to him, and somehow assured him that He was going to be with him as he raised this special child for the Lord. Manoah was just going to have to continue walking by faith. It it is often frustrationg for me to walk by faith. I want God to reveal every step of the plan to me ahead of time, but He never does. He tells me what I need to know for today, and expects me to just keep walking, and keep trusting Him. But I do not think that He is upset with me for asking Him. Those prayers are my declaration of dependence upon Him.


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When Good Men Do Nothing

Today’s Passage – Judges 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Peter 1 – 3Proverbs 23Psalms 111 – 115

Scripture Memorization for March – 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 20

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read a great article by Pastor Paul Chappell  – Romans 13 in Action

Read the “0323 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:15)

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

This is a very strange passage of Scripture, but I think it contains a very valuable lesson for us. In chapter 8, we have Gideon who was mightily used of the Lord to rid the land of Israel from the hand of the Mideonites. After the battle was over, the people of Israel ask Gideon to be their leader, but he refuses, saying that the Lord is their ruler. However, without a good man leading them, the people once again begin to stray away from the Lord, forcing God to bring about judgment. Now when we get to todays passage, we see that one of the sons of Gideon does desire to reign over the people, and goes to all of his brothers asking them to support him, and they do. The problem is that this man, Abimelech, is a very wicked man. Once he gets his power, the first thing he does is have all of his brothers (70 of them) put to death. One of the brothers escapes, and stands upon a mountain and delivers this parable unto the people of the city of Shechem:

“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:8-15)

The olive tree refused to act; the fig tree refused to act; the vine refused to act; so there was nobody left but the bramble, a sticker bush.

What he was saying through this parable was that oftentime good men will refuse to take ther place of leadership, perhaps because they are already busy doing good things. However, when good men refuse to act, there will always be an evil person that will sieze the opportunity to gain power, and use it for his own purposes. This is what happens to the people of Shechem. Gideon refused to lead, and then his sons willingly turn over control of the city to this one brother. Eventually, as a result of all of this, just about everybody is put to death.

Bad things happen when good men do nothing. By refusing to get involved, we sometimes create a scenario where the wrong kind of people start calling the shots. Let’s apply this to the local church. Often times there are carnal people within the church that are hungry for power, and they are always looking for opportunities to advance themselves. And there are others within the body, who are good men, who just sit back and let it happen: perhaps because they have a lot of things going on in their lives, or maybe because they are just trusting men, who are willing to yield to others. By the way, it is never a good sign when an individual is seeking position. Truly spiritual people will often be reluctant to take positions because they either feel unworthy, or doubt their own ability. However, we need to not neglect the opportunities and responsibilities that God places in front of us, because when we refuse, it opens up the door to someone else who may not be God’s choice.

We can also see this in government. Good people often refuse to get involved, leaving the door wide open to men who may not have the best interests of the people at hand. The end result of all of this is that things begin to change for the worse for everybody. Good people need to stay in the process, so that we all can keep the good things that God has entrusted to us. How involved are you in the process? Do you get involved in the local church, and in your community and local government? Do you even vote? We need good people to do their part. The devil never stops trying to advance his agenda. We need to stay in the game in order to keep him from taking from us the wonderful blessings that God has given us.


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Right In Their Own Eyes

Today’s Passage – Judges 20 – 21

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 4 – 6; Proverbs 27; Psalm 126 – 130)

Scripture Memory for March – Psalm 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – (Judges 21:25)

I hope that you are taking the time to carefully read these chapters in the Book of Judges. If you have, then you have noticed that there certainly is a lot of wierd stuff going on here in these passages; and you may be wondering if God is putting His stamp of approval on all that was happening. He certainly is not. The Bible here is merely recording honestly the condition of God’s people as they really were in this time period. They have certainly gone a long way away from the will of God. The concluding verse (above) to the Book of Judges seems to sum it all up: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. They could have sang the Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way”. There was no earthly king, but the real problem was that they stopped submitting to the kingship of God. Israel was in a mess morally, and they had forsaken the system of worship that God had instituted for them as they wandered in the wilderness.

We can see this same problem in our country today. Our nation used to instill Biblical principles into the lives of her citizens. A lost heathen of 100 years ago knew more about the Bible, and could quote more verses than the average Christian can today. We are a Bible illiterate society, and the dearth of the Word of God is manifesting itself in every area of our society. We are in a mess here in America. We call “right” wrong, and “wrong” right. We tolerate, condone, and even support the vilest immorality imaginable; and it is getting worse by the day. As a nation, we know precious little about the Person of God, let alone the Principles of His Word. We need to have an awakening like the children of Israel had in these chapters in the Book of Judges. Maybe God will have to shake our world a little bit more in judgment in order to get us to wake up.

I hate to say this, but the problem is also huge within our fundamental churches. It amazes me that people will come to church; listen to the Word of God as it is preached, and sometimes even nod their heads or say “Amen” in agreement; and then go out into their lives, and do the opposite of what God just instructed. And the crazy thing is, they don’t even realize that they are doing it. We need to wake up. We need God to shake us back into an awareness of our utter dependence upon Him. We need to follow the Word of God wholly, and allow the Spirit of God to guide us into all truth.

The nation of Israel entered into the land of Canaan with full intention to live according to the will of God for the rest of their existence. If you were to somehow show them how far away they would get, they would think it absurd; but slowly, and very gradually they moved further and further away from the truth. Christians, we are doing the same thing; and it is happening so gradually that we do not even notice it. Let’s get back to the basics of loving God, winning souls, and living in and by His Word.


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Speak Your Minds

Today’s Passage – Judges 18 – 19

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 1 – 3; Proverbs 26; Psalms 120 – 125)

Scripture Memorization for March – Psalm 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11

“And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.” – (Judges 19:30)

Judges 19 contains one of the strangest and saddest stories in all of the Bible. In this account we learn of a man from the tribe of Levi that was travelling through Israel with his concubine. In polygamous society a concubine was a woman that was married to a man, but did not have the same status as the man’s wife or wives. At any rate this man and his wife were looking for a place to stay for the night while they were travelling through the city of Gibeah, which was occupied by the Israelite tribe of Benjamin. For a long time no one would offer them lodging for the night, until suddenly an old man who was also a sojourner in the city offered them food, and lodging at his house. During the night, the men of the city attempted force entry into this older man’s home so that they could “know”  the man that was visiting. In this case the word “know” meant that the men of the city wanted to have sexual relations with the man. What happened to this man in this story is very similar to what was attempted on the two angels who visited Lot in Sodom (see Genesis 19). The men of the city are finally content to take the man’s concubine. They abuse her all night long until she ultimately dies from the abuse. The travelling man then takes the body of his wife and cuts it up into pieces, and  sends a piece of her body to each of the tribes of Israel. I realize that this is a strange story, but that’s what happened in a nutshell.

My attention is drawn to the statement made to the reader in verse 30. We are instructed to “consider of it, take advice, and speak [our] minds”. Why did God tell us to do this after reading this portion of Scripture. I believe the reason is because the wickedness committed by these people from the tribe of Benjamin in the city of Gibeah was so heinous, that God did not want it to be justwept under the rug or  spassed by. He wants us to think about it;  to get mad about it; and to do something about it. By the way, we will read tomorrow in chapter 20 what the rest of Israel does to punish this sin. I won’t spoil the story, but let me assure you that the people of Israel pay a great price for allowing this kind of wickedness to take place in the Land of Promise.

I believe that the advice given by God to the israelites of that day is good for us today. He wants us to get mad about sin, and then do something about it. We are to speak our minds as well when it comes to condemning sin. This world ought to have no doubt in their minds about where we stand regarding the sin that is taking place in our land; and we ought to go beyond just condemning it with our mouths; we ought also to take action against it.

“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” – (1 Timothy 5:20)

“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;” – (Titus 1:13)

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” – (2 Timothy 4:2)

Let’s not turn our heads to sin, but rather let’s speak the truth in love, and stand against it.


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Permissive Parents

Today’s Passage – Judges 14 – 17

(Second Milers also read –2 John, 3 John, Jude; Proverbs 25; Psalm 119)

Scripture Memorization for March – Psalm 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

“And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.” – (Judges 14:1-3)

Years ago, my wife and I were at the boardwalk with Phil and Melissa who were, I think, around 6 and 5 at the time. As they were getting out of the “moon bounce”, there was another small child there that did not want to get out when the time was up. His grandfather pleaded with him to no avail, until finally he ad to go in after the little boy. He grabbed the child and began to drag him out, and the kid started kicking and screaming, and finally spit right in his grandfather’s face. The grandfather just kept sweet-talking and pleading with the child, promising him other rides and ice-cream, cotton candy, etc. just to get the kid to want to come out. I remember thinking at that moment that I would have liked to be that kid’s dad for just 5 minutes. I would have let him have his little temper tantrum, and then I would have had my big one.

We can see from our passage today that Samson’s parents were far too permissive. They appeased Samson by giving him whatever he wanted. Samson was a spoiled brat. Notice in vv. 1 – 3 of Judges 14 that Samson twice orders his parents to “get” this woman from Timnath for him “to wife”. Now this woman was not an Israelite, and did not share the same beliefs that Samson’s family did. The Old Testament Law was clear that an Israelite could only marry a woman that worshipped Jehovah God. Yet, the parents reluctantly gave Samson what he wanted. What a shame. Parents are supposed to be the ones who know what is best for their children.

The Bible has a lot to say about discipline and child-rearing. I will list a few of the verses here:

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – (Proverbs 22:6)

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” – (Proverbs 19:18)

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” – (Proverbs 22:15)

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” – (Proverbs 23:13-14)

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” – (Proverbs 29:15)

When we read these verses, we might think that God wants us to be mean and abusive to our children, which is absolutely not the case. I have only had to spank my children a couple of times each in their lives. That is all that was necessary in order for them to understand that Mom and Dad are in charge, and that the children are to submit their wills to parents. We love our children, and they love us. We have a lot of fun together, and spend a lot of time with each of them individually as well as corporately as a family, but we are their parents, not their buddies. Three of our children are now grown, and our relationships with them have changes somewhat. We are now more like counselors to them, but there is still a great deal of love and respect showed to us by our grown children.

Parents, don’t buy into this modern philosophy regarding the rearing of children. Go to the Word of God. Biblical love and discipline your child before you produce a grown spoiled brat like Samson.


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When Good Men Do Nothing

Today’s Passage – Judges 9 – 10

(Second Milers also read – 2 Peter 1 – 3; Proverbs 23; Psalms 111 – 115)

Scripture Memorization for March – Psalm 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read “Friendly Cockroaches” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:15)

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

This is a very strange passage of Scripture, but I think it contains a very valuable lesson for us. In chapter 8, we have Gideon who was mightily used of the Lord to rid the land of Israel from the hand of the Mideonites. After the battle was over, the people of Israel ask Gideon to be their leader, but he refuses, saying that the Lord is their ruler. However, without a good man leading them, the people once again begin to stray away from the Lord, forcing God to bring about judgment. Now when we get to todays passage, we see that one of the sons of Gideon does desire to reign over the people, and goes to all of his brothers asking them to support him, and they do. The problem is that this man, Abimelech, is a very wicked man. Once he gets his power, the first thing he does is have all of his brothers (70 of them) put to death. One of the brothers escapes, and stands upon a mountain and delivers this parable unto the people of the city of Shechem:

“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:8-15)

The olive tree refused to act; the fig tree refused to act; the vine refused to act; so there was nobody left but the bramble, a sticker bush.

What he was saying through this parable was that oftentime good men will refuse to take ther place of leadership, perhaps because they are already busy doing good things. However, when good men refuse to act, there will always be an evil person that will sieze the opportunity to gain power, and use it for his own purposes. This is what happens to the people of Shechem. Gideon refused to lead, and then his sons willingly turn over control of the city to this one brother. Eventually, as a result of all of this, just about everybody is put to death.

Bad things happen when good men do nothing. By refusing to get involved, we sometimes create a scenario where the wrong kind of people start calling the shots. Let’s apply this to the local church. Often times there are carnal people within the church that are hungry for power, and they are always looking for opportunities to advance themselves. And there are others within the body, who are good men, who just sit back and let it happen: perhaps because they have a lot of things going on in their lives, or maybe because they are just trusting men, who are willing to yield to others. By the way, it is never a good sign when an individual is seeking position. Truly spiritual people will often be reluctant to take positions because they either feel unworthy, or doubt their own ability. However, we need to not neglect the opportunities and responsibilities that God places in front of us, because when we refuse, it opens up the door to someone else who may not be God’s choice.

We can also see this in government. Good people often refuse to get involved, leaving the door wide open to men who may not have the best interests of the people at hand. The end result of all of this is that things begin to change for the worse for everybody. Good people need to stay in the process, so that we all can keep the good things that God has entrusted to us. How involved are you in the process? Do you get involved in the local church, and in your community and local government? Do you even vote? We need good people to do their part. The devil never stops trying to advance his agenda. We need to stay in the game in order to keep him from taking from us the wonderful blessings that God has given us.


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Little Is Much

Today’s Passage – Judges 7 – 8

(Second Milers also read – 1 Peter 1 – 5; Proverbs 22; Psalms 106 – 110)

Scripture Memory for March – Psalm 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read “A Legacy of Faithfulness” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.” – (Judges 7:4)

This is one of my favorite passages in all of the Bible. The nation of Israel was at war with the Midianites, who numbered 135,000. The Bible says that even the number of their camels was too large to count. The camp of Israel, on the other hand, was much smaller, numbering only 32,000. The people of Israel were already outnumbered by more that 100,000 men, yet God said that Israel had too many men, and He wanted most of them weeded out. First, He eliminates all that are afraid. I have to admit right here that I know that I would have been eliminated in this first cut. Afraid!! I would have been scared to death. Israel was outnumbered  nearly 5 to 1. Amazingly, after the fearful left, there was still 10,000 left. Now they were outnumbered 13 to 1. This is not good military strategy folks. Yet, God said that they still had too many. At the next cut the troops of Israel were reduced down to 300. This was 440 Midianites to every 1 Israelite. You would agree, that this left Israel in a (humanly) hopeless situation. But you know what happens, don’t you. God gave the victory.

Consider some other verses:

“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” – (1 Samuel 14:6)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – (Luke 1:37)

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” – (Genesis 18:14)

Sometimes, I get a little discouraged that we don’t have more people in our town that are saved and living for the Lord, serving Him in one of the Bible preaching churches. It also bothers me when there seem to be so few within the local church that are really surrendered to the Lord. But when I read passages like this I am reminded that God can do an awful lot with a little. He took down a great big giant with a little teenager. On numerous occasions He destroyed powerful armies with a few sold out soldiers. God loves to be the “underdog”. He loves to show Himself powerful in impossible situations. We may only have a few soldiers in the army at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, but God is more than able to reach the multitudes with them. And God is also ready to show Himself powerful in your life. What impossible situation are you facing today? Remember, Little is much when God is in it.


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He Wanted To Be Sure

Today’s Passage – Judges 4 – 6

(Second Milers also read – James 1 – 5; Proverbs 21; Psalms 101 – 105)

Scripture Reading for March – Psalm 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

“And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.” – (Judges 6:36-37)

Three times in Judges 6, Gideon asks the Lord for a sign of some sort in order to assure him that it was, in fact, God that was speaking to him. The first time occurs when the angel of the Lord first appears to him in verse 17. Here he wants to be sure that it is the Lord. Maybe he was afraid that he was hallucinating, or perhaps being tricked. The Lord proves Himself to Gideon by consuming the kid and the bread upon the rock with fire.

The second and third time was regarding the fleece. He puts out the fleece twice: two nights in a row. The first night, he asked that the fleece would be wet with dew, and the ground dry. The second night, just to be sure, he asked that the ground be wet and the fleece be dry. God graciously proved Himself to Gideon on all of these occasions.

I have often heard people say that Gideon was not acting in faith because he kept asking for some sort of a sign. However, we must remember that God had not recorded in His word at this point anything about Gideon’s situation. Had God written through Moses or a prophet that there would be a man named Gideon that would deliver the children of Israel from the hand of the Mideonites, there might be a reason to accuse Gideon of lacking faith; but this was totally unpredicted, and unprecedented. I don’t blame Gideon for wanting to be sure that He was doing the will of God.

Today, we certainly are to walk by faith and not by sight. Most of what God calls us to do is clearly revealed in His Bible; but every once in a while, He reveals His will to us personally through extraordinary means. This does not happen very often, but it does happen. I have been saved for twenty-two years, and I can only point to a few times where I put forth a “fleece” in order to determine God’s will. I will share one of these incidents with you. When I was in my senior year of Bible college, I was very burdened about what I was going to do after I graduated. There were a few opportunities offered to me in various places and capacities; but I wanted to be sure that I was completely following the will of God. In my heart, I wanted to come back home to New Jersey, but I was not sure that my heart was lining up with God’s will. I began to pray. I decided one day to call up Pastor Charlie Clark who pastored in south Jersey, in order to get some advice from him. I told him that I was praying about coming back to New Jersey to start a church, or work for a church. He recommended that I head back to New Jersey upon graduation, and we would begin to pray and work toward the planting of a church. I was very excited about that prospect, but God had a slightly different plan. You see, as God was working in my heart about coming to New Jersey – unknown to me – He was also working in another pastor’s heart about moving away from New Jersey. Just a few minutes after I got off the phone with Pastor Clark, He received another phone call from Pastor Dan Owens. Brother Owens was the man who started Jersey Shore Baptist Church. The Lord was leading him to go back into the military as a chaplain, but he wanted to make sure that he left his church in good hands. So Brother Owens called Pastor Clark in order to see if He knew of any pastor that was praying about coming to New Jersey. “Coincidentally”, Pastor Clark did know of someone. Pastor Clark has since shared with me that he has had very few phone calls through the years regarding people either looking for a church, or looking to leave a church; and to get two such calls within minutes of each other was definitely a “sign” that this was of God.

I am not saying that we should be tempting God, or asking God to prove Himself to us. If we are His children we have already placed our faith in Him, and in His revealed will through the Word of God. I am saying, though, that it is OK to ask God to clearly reveal His perfect will for your life. If your like me, you want to be sure that you are doing exactly what God wants you to do. There are a lot of big decisions to make in life, and they are not all completely covered in the Bible. For instance: Who are you going to marry? Where you are going to live? What will be your life’s vocation? Where will you go to college?  These are all important questions, and you want to be sure you are in the perfect will of God. I don’t think you are wrong to ask God to miraculously reveal His will to you personally, as He did to Gideon in our reading today.


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Somebody Has To Hold The Line

Today’s Passage – Judges 1 – 3

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 9 – 13 (Hebrews 9 – 11; Hebrews 12 – 13); Proverbs 20; Psalms 96 – 100)

Scripture Memory for March – Psalm 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

“And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.” – (Judges 2:7)

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” – (Judges 2:10)

“And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.” – (Judges 2:12)

Years ago, my wife and I took a trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to see the place where the great Civil War battle took place back in 1863. On the second day of the battle there were a group of men from Maine, lead by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, who were entrusted with holding the southern end of the Union line at a place called Little Round Top. If the Confederate army could breach that line, or somehow get around it, they would have been able to defeat the Union army that day, and may have been able to win the war. Colonel Chamberlain, and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment held the line, and held back the Confederate Army. Toward the end of the battle, the Union army had run out of amunition, and were forced to repel their attackers with a charge down the hill with only their bayonets as weapons.

Our Scripture passage today in the Book of Judges tells us that when Joshua and the leaders from his generation were alive, they held the line against idolatry and immorality in the land of Israel. On their watch, they kept evil from creeping into the land. However, when Joshua’s generation died off, the next generation allowed all kinds of wickedness to enter into the lives of the people of Israel. They didn’t hold the line. It seems that, though Joshua and his contemporaries were good at leading the people in righteousness, they failed at training the next generation to do the same.

I made a similar observation this morning about our generation today. In America today there are many churches that are attracting large crowds, but unfortunately they are drawing people in by making their worship services as comfortable as possible to a lost world. Now, don’t misunderstand, I am not against people being comfortable in church, and I want people to enjoy their time at our services. However, I don’t want to compromise what I know to be right, in order to make lost people, or carnal Christians, feel more comfortable at our church. I am more concerned with the Saviour’s pleasure, than with the Seeker’s. Today, our churches have become so like the world, that there is little difference between Christians and the lost people around them. My point in all this is that I believe that by watering down everything that we stand for, and by opening the church doors wide to worldliness, we are going to lose the next generation. If we have only “a form a godliness”, what will our kid’s have? If we have to tickle the ears of people now to get them to come in, or keep them from going out, what will the next generation have to do?

We need to hold the line, and we need to work to raise a new generation of godly Christians that will be more sold-our, more separated, and better soul-winners than we are. If we don’t, America will be totally lost. Somebody’s got to hold the line.


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They Did It Their Way

Today’s Passage – Judges 20, 21; Proverbs 27

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 4 – 6; Memorize John 10:29 – 30)

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – (Judges 21:25)

I hope that you are taking the time to carefully read these chapters in the Book of Judges. If you have, then you have noticed that there certainly is a lot of wierd stuff going on here in these passages; and you may be wondering if God is putting His stamp of approval on all that was happening. He certainly is not. The Bible here is merely recording honestly the condition of God’s people as they really were in this time period. They have certainly gone a long way away from the will of God. The concluding verse (above) to the Book of Judges seems to sum it all up: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. They could have sang the Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way”. There was no earthly king, but the real problem was that they stopped submitting to the kingship of God. Israel was in a mess morally, and they had forsaken the system of worship that God had instituted for them as they wandered in the wilderness.

We can see this same problem in our country today. Our nation used to instill Biblical principles into the lives of her citizens. A lost heathen of 100 years ago knew more about the Bible and could quote more verses than the average Christian can today. We are a Bible illiterate society, and the dearth of the Word of God is manifesting itself in every area of our society. We are in a mess here in America. We call “right” wrong, and “wrong” right. We tolerate, condone, and even support the vilest immorality imaginable; and it is getting worse by the day. As a nation, we know precious little about the Person of God, let alone the Principles of His Word. We need to have an awakening like the children of Israel had in these chapters in the Book of Judges. Maybe God will have to shake our world a little bit more in judgment in order to get us to wake up.

I hate to say this, but the problem is also huge within our fundamental churches. It amazes me that people will come to church; listen to the Word of God as it is preached, and sometimes even nod their heads or say “Amen” in agreement; and then go out into their lives, and do the opposite of what God just instructed. And the crazy thing is, they don’t even realize that they are doing it. We need to wake up. We need God to shake us back into an awareness of our utter dependence upon Him. We need to follow the Word of God wholly, and allow the Spirit of God to guide us into all truth.

The nation of Israel entered into the land of Canaan with full intention to live according to the will of God for the rest of their existence. If you were to somehow show them how far away they would get, they would think it absurd; but slowly, and very gradually they moved further and further away from the truth. Christians, we are doing the same thing; and it is happening so gradually that we do not even notice it. Let’s get back to the basics of loving God, winning souls, and living in and by His Word.


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You Can Do A Lot With A Little

Today’s Passage – Judges 7, 8; Proverbs 22

(Second Milers also read – 1 Peter 1 – 5; memorize Hebrews 1:8)

“And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.” – (Judges 7:4)

This is one of my favorite passages in all of the Bible. The nation of Israel was at war with the Midianites, who numbered 135,000. The Bible says that even the number of their camels was too large to count. The camp of Israel, on the other hand, was much smaller, numbering only 32,000. The people of Israel were already outnumbered by more that 100,000 men, yet God said that Israel had too many men, and He wanted most of them weeded out. First, He eliminates all that are afraid. I have to admit right here that I know that I would have been eliminated in this first cut. Afraid!! I would have been scared to death. Israel was outnumbered  nearly 5 to 1. Amazingly, after the fearful left, there was still 10,000 left. Now they were outnumbered 13 to 1. This is not good military strategy folks. Yet, God said that they still had too many. At the next cut the troops of Israel were reduced down to 300. This was 440 Midianites to every 1 Israelite. You would agree, that this left Israel in a (humanly) hopeless situation. But you know what happens, don’t you. God gave the victory.

Consider some other verses:

“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” – (1 Samuel 14:6)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – (Luke 1:37)

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” – (Genesis 18:14)

Sometimes, I get a little discouraged that we don’t have more people in our town that are saved and living for the Lord, serving Him in one of the Bible preaching churches. It also bothers me when there seem to be so few within the local church that are really surrendered to the Lord. But when I read passages like this I am reminded that God can do an awful lot with a little. He took down a great big giant with a little teenager. On numerous occasions He destroyed powerful armies with a few sold out soldiers. God loves to be the “underdog”. He loves to show Himself powerful in impossible situations. We may only have a few soldiers in the army at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, but God is more than able to reach the multitudes with them. And God is also ready to show Himself powerful in your life. What impossible situation are you facing today?


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