Archive for January, 2008

Choice of Faith

Even with the death of 75% of Naomi’s family, I still feel a great relief to be out of the book of Judges! At least in the first chapter of Ruth, the deaths seem to be a bit more natural and less gruesome.

But Ruth 1 is a chapter full of choices, and I’m wondering if I have the faith to make choices based on a word from God rather than on my own reasoning (and just what is the difference between reasoning and rationalization, anyway?)

Elimelech reasoned to himself,

“there is a famine in the land God has told us to occupy, but I have a family to feed. I hear the territory God told us NOT to occupy has food. Maybe I’ll head on over there just for a wee visit and get our family some grub.”

Remember, this was during the times of the judges, and we have discovered the theme of those days were:

“Every man did what was right in his own eyes.”


So Elimelech did what was right in his own eyes and took his family to Moab. It only makes sense after all, he has a family to feed, and the place the Lord has led him to is suffering a famine.

And just like the book of Judges, death ended up being a result.

Naomi made a choice to return to the place she left. To go back to Bethlehem, which means the House of Bread. (interesting to note that the Bread of Heaven was born in the House of Bread!). Though she felt bitter, she knew her only hope was to return to where God had told them to lodge.

Orpah made a choice. The reasoning of her mother-in-law (and just what is the difference between reasoning and rationalization, anyway?) convinced Orpah that it would be a death-sentence to follow after Naomi and her God.

Ruth…ah dear Ruth. She made a choice. And oh how I desire to be like Ruth. She made a choice that presented all kinds of problems and barriers and hopelessness. Yet she made a choice to pursue after Naomi’s God.

Come poverty, singleness, permanent widowhood, abuse, hard times, homelessness, barrenness, victim of prejudice or hate…she was committed to Jehovah. It seemed she was walking right into a definite losing situation. It went against all reasoning and rationalizing. It was social suicide. And yet, she seems to have heard the Word of the Lord, and followed after it.

What a choice of faith. As Robert Chapman says,

“To act when your path is clear of difficulties is not faith,
but to act despite the difficulties the Word of God apparently creates for you…this is the kind of faith that pleases God the most.”

What a woman of Faith. What a choice of Faith. And hopefully we will see how God is going to transform this choice of social suicide into something beautiful. If He can trannsform the Cross into the Salvation of Mankind…He can transform our hard trials and circumstances into something shockingly marvelous.

O Lord, my heart trembles at the question, “do you believe in God’s transforming power?” I fear I would rather trust my own reasoning and pretend I don’t hear You, instead of making a choice of faith like Ruth did. I believe, Lord. Help Thou my unbelief.


After reading Judges 17-21, Ruth is like a lovely lily in a stagnant pool. Here, instead of unfaithfulness, is loyalty; and instead of imoorality is purity. Here, instead of battlefields are harvest fields, and isntead of the warrior’s shout is the harvester’s song. We are in for a treat with this book!

Choice of Faith

Even with the death of 75% of Naomi’s family, I still feel a great relief to be out of the book of Judges! At least in the first chapter of Ruth, the deaths seem to be a bit more natural and less gruesome.But Ruth 1 is a chapter full of choices, and I’m wondering if I have the faith to make choices based on a word from God rather than on my own reasoning (and just what is the difference between reasoning and rationalization, anyway?)Elimelech reasoned to himself,

“there is a famine in the land God has told us to occupy, but I have a family to feed. I hear the territory God told us NOT to occupy has food. Maybe I’ll head on over there just for a wee visit and get our family some grub.”

Remember, this was during the times of the judges, and we have discovered the theme of those days were:

“Every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

So Elimelech did what was right in his own eyes and took his family to Moab. It only makes sense after all, he has a family to feed, and the place the Lord has led him to is suffering a famine.And just like the book of Judges, death ended up being a result.Naomi made a choice to return to the place she left. To go back to Bethlehem, which means the House of Bread. (interesting to note that the Bread of Heaven was born in the House of Bread!). Though she felt bitter, she knew her only hope was to return to where God had told them to lodge.Orpah made a choice. The reasoning of her mother-in-law (and just what is the difference between reasoning and rationalization, anyway?) convinced Orpah that it would be a death-sentence to follow after Naomi and her God.Ruth…ah dear Ruth. She made a choice. And oh how I desire to be like Ruth. She made a choice that presented all kinds of problems and barriers and hopelessness. Yet she made a choice to pursue after Naomi’s God.Come poverty, singleness, permanent widowhood, abuse, hard times, homelessness, barrenness, victim of prejudice or hate…she was committed to Jehovah. It seemed she was walking right into a definite losing situation. It went against all reasoning and rationalizing. It was social suicide. And yet, she seems to have heard the Word of the Lord, and followed after it.What a choice of faith. As Robert Chapman says,

“To act when your path is clear of difficulties is not faith,but to act despite the difficulties the Word of God apparently creates for you…this is the kind of faith that pleases God the most.”

What a woman of Faith. What a choice of Faith. And hopefully we will see how God is going to transform this choice of social suicide into something beautiful. If He can trannsform the Cross into the Salvation of Mankind…He can transform our hard trials and circumstances into something shockingly marvelous.

O Lord, my heart trembles at the question, “do you believe in God’s transforming power?” I fear I would rather trust my own reasoning and pretend I don’t hear You, instead of making a choice of faith like Ruth did. I believe, Lord. Help Thou my unbelief.

After reading Judges 17-21, Ruth is like a lovely lily in a stagnant pool. Here, instead of unfaithfulness, is loyalty; and instead of imoorality is purity. Here, instead of battlefields are harvest fields, and isntead of the warrior’s shout is the harvester’s song. We are in for a treat with this book! 

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I Don’t Want to Do it My Way!

Oh I can’t wait for the refreshment that will be found in Ruth! Because these last five chapters have been a real cesspool…and sometimes hitting a little too close to home.

The last chapter of Judges (Judges 21) continues the soap opera of life where “every man went to his own tribe…to his own family….every man to his own inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
(her could just as easily be substituted for his)

And just like I couldn’t wait for Judges to end, so I can’t wait for the same conniving to end in my own life.

Just how many man-made schemes have we read about this month in our journey through Judges? Every question posed to the “children of God” seems to end up one way or the other, involving harm and death.

And what have these brilliant plans of men accomplished? They have gone full-circle. Their ultimate solution for the mistreatment of a woman (Judges 19) is the exploitation of at least 600 more women (Judges 21).

Oh the progress and forward thinking of mankind!

I have a tendency to relate more to the prodigal son rather than the older son in Luke 15. As a result, I’m inclined to criticize those who look down on others, all the while sympathizing with the one who wasted their riches with swine.

So in my forward thinking, I end up judging those who judge others. Hmmmmmm. Now how is that really all that different?

So here are the children of Israel judging the Benjamites for mistreating a woman, who end up mistreating women to help the Benjamites! Oh God for a heaven-centered balance!

Just how scheming, conniving, manipulative, rationalizing, and deceived we can become if the Lord does not intervene in our lives and disrupt the whole vicious cycle of it all!

O Lord, I don’t want to do it my way. My heart is desperately wicked and is unable to see what is right and good. Let me live in Your reality. Lord Jesus be my King.

I Don’t Want to Do it My Way!

Oh I can’t wait for the refreshment that will be found in Ruth! Because these last five chapters have been a real cesspool…

and sometimes hitting a little too close to home.

The last chapter of Judges (Judges 21) continues the soap opera of life where

“every man went to his own tribe…to his own family….every man to his own inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (her could just as easily be substituted for his)   

And just like I couldn’t wait for Judges to end, so I can’t wait for the same conniving to end in my own life.

Just how many man-made schemes have we read about this month in our journey through Judges? Every question posed to the “children of God”

seems to end up one way or the other, involving harm and death.

And what have these brilliant plans of men accomplished? They have gone full-circle. Their ultimate solution for the mistreatment of a woman (Judges 19) is the exploitation of at least 600 more women (Judges 21).

Oh the progress and forward thinking of mankind!

I have a tendency to relate more to the prodigal son rather than the older son in Luke 15. As a result, I’

m inclined to criticize those who look down on others, all the while sympathizing with the one who wasted their riches with swine.

So in my forward thinking, I end up judging those who judge others. Hmmmmmm. Now how is that really all that different?

So here are the children of Israel judging the Benjamites for mistreating a woman, who end up mistreating women to help the Benjamites! Oh God for a heaven-centered balance!

Just how scheming, conniving, manipulative, rationalizing, and deceived we can become if the Lord does not intervene in our lives and disrupt the whole vicious cycle of it all!

 

O Lord, I don’t want to do it my way. My heart is desperately wicked and is unable to see what is right and good. Let me live in Your reality. Lord Jesus be my King.

The Costliness of Poor Choices

These last few chapters are an unusual read especially when I study them right after asking the Lord to communicate with me. “Lord speak to me. Show me Your mind.” And then to read about a prostitute gang raped leading to her death. Hmmmm.

Today’s no exception to this puzzling response from the Lord to my request. Judges 20 has me scratching my head, wandering what is going on with the children of Israel.

It seems like the last 5 chapters of Judges show an internal breakdown of Israel’s worship and unity. A whole disintegration of Israel seems to be occurring. As soon as we behave in an ungodly fashion (ie, neglecting God), unrighteousness is soon to follow, until we get outright wicked in our ways.

Aside from the bloody civil war that has occurred within Israel, the most noticeable element of this account was how often the concept of “one man” or “unity” is mentioned. I’m thankful to see that at least everyone else understood the atrocity of what was done to this lady.

What was Benjamin thinking? Why rally all your men to protect the guilty perpetrators? Where is their outrage? How did they manage to get unanimity in this decision to protect these murderers?

Whether it was tired of being the “little tribe” or the “youngest brother”, or being confronted by so many at one time, or a soft compassion for the rapists that thought the law of Moses was too harsh, their choice had far-reaching ill effects.

  • A civil war broke out.
  • 40,000 Israelites were slain.
  • 21,000 Benjamites were killed.
  • The whole city of Gibeah, men, women and children, up in smoke.

The only folks who needed to be dealt with were the men who raped and murdered the woman of chapter 19. But Benjamin’s choice cost so much more.

Conviction for me comes from the two battles that were fought and lost by the zealous children of Israel who inquired of the Lord.

  • A tenth of the men of Israel, were lost in that battle with Benjamin.
  • God demonstrated that the “race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.”
  • Attempting great exploits for God by trusting in our power and schemes shall always fail.
  • Israel had their own sins that needed to be addressed. (we need to remove the plank from our own eye before dealing with the iniquitous sliver in a brother’s eye)
  • And we must not think it strange that a good cause should suffer defeat for a while.
  • Nor should we judge the merits of a cause by the success of it.
  • Loss and affliction humbles us like no other impetus

Lord Jesus Christ, may my responses be in accordance with Your will. Preserve me from choices that are motivated by selfishness or ego. Gently humble me so I might perceive the world through Your eyes.

The Costliness of Poor Choices

These last few chapters are an unusual read especially when I study them right after asking the Lord to communicate with me. “Lord speak to me. Show me Your mind.” And then to read about a prostitute gang raped leading to her death. Hmmmm.Today’s no exception to this puzzling response from the Lord to my request. Judges 20 has me scratching my head, wandering what is going on with the children of Israel.It seems like the last 5 chapters of Judges show an internal breakdown of Israel’s worship and unity. A whole disintegration of Israel seems to be occurring. As soon as we behave in an ungodly fashion (ie, neglecting God), unrighteousness is soon to follow, until we get outright wicked in our ways.Aside from the bloody civil war that has occurred within Israel, the most noticeable element of this account was how often the concept of “one man” or “unity” is mentioned. I’m thankful to see that at least everyone else understood the atrocity of what was done to this lady.What was Benjamin thinking? Why rally all your men to protect the guilty perpetrators? Where is their outrage? How did they manage to get unanimity in this decision to protect these murderers?Whether it was tired of being the “little tribe” or the “youngest brother”, or being confronted by so many at one time, or a soft compassion for the rapists that thought the law of Moses was too harsh, their choice had far-reaching ill effects.

  • A civil war broke out.
  • 40,000 Israelites were slain.
  • 21,000 Benjamites were killed.
  • The whole city of Gibeah, men, women and children, up in smoke.

The only folks who needed to be dealt with were the men who raped and murdered the woman of chapter 19. But Benjamin’s choice cost so much more.Conviction for me comes from the two battles that were fought and lost by the zealous children of Israel who inquired of the Lord.

  • A tenth of the men of Israel, were lost in that battle with Benjamin.
  • God demonstrated that the “race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.”
  • Attempting great exploits for God by trusting in our power and schemes shall always fail.
  • Israel had their own sins that needed to be addressed. (we need to remove the plank from our own eye before dealing with the iniquitous sliver in a brother’s eye)
  • And we must not think it strange that a good cause should suffer defeat for a while.
  • Nor should we judge the merits of a cause by the success of it.
  • Loss and affliction humbles us like no other impetus

Lord Jesus Christ, may my responses be in accordance with Your will. Preserve me from choices that are motivated by selfishness or ego. Gently humble me so I might perceive the world through Your eyes. 

 

The Levites as a Litmus Test

Seems like after Samson’s death in chapter 16, things have been looking pretty bleak. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprise, after all, these chapters are just an outworking of what happened in the garden “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” We always seem to be wanting to define what is good and evil.

Thinking about today’s chapter, Judges 19, wasn’t all that fun. It was horrifying, graphic, angering, it stirred emotions that don’t get stirred very much in this news-evading, tv-drama-avoiding gal. But still God spoke to me about my own issues.

  • There’s the topic of procrastination again, which could have contributed to the ghastly events later in the chapter (verses 5-10).
  • What about the whole idea of judging those not of “our denomination” or “faith-base”? Though he was near Jerusalem and the day was far spent, he pressed on in the night to avoid staying with “foreigners”. (It looks like he would have been better off he had stayed with those who were NOT children of Israel).
  • Then there is the issue of just how wickedly the Benjamites treated their brother Levite. Can family really be so cruel?
  • Homosexuality makes an appearance in this chapter, along with rape, prostitution and pimping.
  • Oh, and how about the dramatics the Levite employed at the end of the chapter, almost as an attempt to lessen his involvement in the whole merciless exploitation?

It makes the head spin and the heart faint. 

And I’m wondering why I don’t feel this outraged when I hear about the kangaroo trial the Lord had to endure, and the gang rape of the whole world’s sin being put upon Him on the cross. Have I become so desensitized to the gruesome horror of the cross, that even Mel can’t capture the perversion of it all?

The last few chapters have a common denominator in the story line. Yes, there is the downward spiral. And the headlong trip into idolatry. But what strikes me the most is who the lead role is.<

The Levite, in chapters 17, 18 and then this chapter, serve as a litmus to just how acidic things were getting in Israel. What happens when the watchman is the burglar? Or he who is to be setting people free, is tossing folks in the dungeon? 

  • In chapter 17 the Levite is satisfied to disregard Micah’s idolatry for a few bucks. 
  • Chapter 18 have the Danites toting along a very cheerful and willing Levite to “bless” their corruption and disobedience.
  • Then there is the behavior we have from a Levite in this chapter.

Question…why isn’t he serving in the temple? Why is the Lord’s business being neglected? Could it be that if the Levites would have been tending to the calling the Lord placed on them, that not only would they be staying out of trouble, but perhaps all of Israel would be more godly?

I can imagine the excuses being rendered (not hard to imagine, because I hear them echoing in my mind). 

  • “Well, they aren’t paying us the offering like God said they should?” 
  • “Nobody wants to worship in today’s society.” 
  • “The times they are a changin’.” 
  • “What difference will one person make?” 
  • “I’m just taking a little hiatus.” 
  • etc.

Interesting that the story of David committing adultery with Bathsheba, and eventually murdering her husband, all began with:

“It happened at the time when kings go out to battle that David remained in Jerusalem and saw a woman bathing from his roof top.” 

Why wasn’t he where he was suppose to be? Oh the grief it would have spared him and other people if he had been.

Oh Lord God, show me where You want me, and compel me to concert my energies and efforts in Your work, and not my own wonderings. Grant me a new heart towards the shocking work You did on the cross for my sake, awaken me to it. And Lord Jesus, I pray You will minister to those who have suffered any type of abuse, especially sexually.

The Levites as a Litmus Test

Seems like after Samson’s death in chapter 16, things have been looking pretty bleak. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprise, after all, these chapters are just an outworking of what happened in the garden “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” We always seem to be wanting to define what is good and evil.

Thinking about today’s chapter, Judges 19, wasn’t all that fun. It was horrifying, graphic, angering, it stirred emotions that don’t get stirred very much in this news-evading, tv-drama-avoiding gal. But still God spoke to me about my own issues.

 

  • There’s the topic of procrastination again, which could have contributed to the ghastly events later in the chapter (verses 5-10).
  • What about the whole idea of judging those not of “our denomination” or “faith-base”? Though he was near Jerusalem and the day was far spent, he pressed on in the night to avoid staying with “foreigners”. (It looks like he would have been better off he had stayed with those who were NOT children of Israel).
  • Then there is the issue of just how wickedly the Benjamites treated their brother Levite. Can family really be so cruel?
  • Homosexuality makes an appearance in this chapter, along with rape, prostitution and pimping.
  • Oh, and how about the dramatics the Levite employed at the end of the chapter, almost as an attempt to lessen his involvement in the whole merciless exploitation?

It makes the head spin and the heart faint. 

And I’m wondering why I don’t feel this outraged when I hear about the kangaroo trial the Lord had to endure, and the gang rape of the whole world’s sin being put upon Him on the cross. Have I become so desensitized to the gruesome horror of the cross, that even Mel can’t capture the perversion of it all?

The last few chapters have a common denominator in the story line. Yes, there is the downward spiral. And the headlong trip into idolatry. But what strikes me the most is who the lead role is.<

The Levite, in chapters 17, 18 and then this chapter, serve as a litmus to just how acidic things were getting in Israel. What happens when the watchman is the burglar? Or he who is to be setting people free, is tossing folks in the dungeon? 

 

  • In chapter 17 the Levite is satisfied to disregard Micah’s idolatry for a few bucks. 
  • Chapter 18 have the Danites toting along a very cheerful and willing Levite to “bless” their corruption and disobedience.
  • Then there is the behavior we have from a Levite in this chapter.

Question…why isn’t he serving in the temple? Why is the Lord’s business being neglected? Could it be that if the Levites would have been tending to the calling the Lord placed on them, that not only would they be staying out of trouble, but perhaps all of Israel would be more godly?

I can imagine the excuses being rendered (not hard to imagine, because I hear them echoing in my mind). 

 

  • “Well, they aren’t paying us the offering like God said they should?” 
  • “Nobody wants to worship in today’s society.” 
  • “The times they are a changin’.” 
  • “What difference will one person make?” 
  • “I’m just taking a little hiatus.” 
  • etc.

Interesting that the story of David committing adultery with Bathsheba, and eventually murdering her husband, all began with:

 

“It happened at the time when kings go out to battle that David remained in Jerusalem and saw a woman bathing from his roof top.” 

Why wasn’t he where he was suppose to be? Oh the grief it would have spared him and other people if he had been.

 

Oh Lord God, show me where You want me, and compel me to concert my energies and efforts in Your work, and not my own wonderings. Grant me a new heart towards the shocking work You did on the cross for my sake, awaken me to it. And Lord Jesus, I pray You will minister to those who have suffered any type of abuse, especially sexually.

The Costliness of Isolation

What is a person suppose to make of Judges 18? There are many a good lesson to be had from the migration of the Danites away from the land the Lord gave them. Thinking they knew better, they left the call of God to follow their own plans.

Their demise ends up being one of unhampered idolatry that never seems to find a cure, until they have totally disappeared from the closing book of Revelation 7. There is no seal of God on the foreheads of the Danites.

But today, I am challenged more by the people of Laish (located in the orange northern region marked Dan on the map found in yesterday’s posting). I’m sure I have idolatry that needs to be contended with, but the issue of isolation or withdrawal from accountability seems the greater likelihood.

In verse seven the vulnerability most notable to the enemy of Laish was that:

“they dwelt safely, quiet and secure. There were no rulers in the land who might put them to shame for anything. They had no ties with anyone.”

We often think we would enjoy time to ourselves. No one telling me what to do, or challenging me, or sharpening me. What’s the big deal with fellowship, anyway?

Verse 28 shows the result of the isolated living that the people of Laish engaged in:

“There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no ties with anyone.”

And so it was, the idolatrous, rebel-rousing, God-defying Danites were able to sneak in and strike them by the edge of the sword and burn the city with fire. Laish was so razed that Dan reconstructed and gave it the new name of Dan!

No doubt, isolation seems like the easy way to go. Do your own thing, when you want to do it, the way you want to do it. But this chapter shows me…it’s costly.

O Lord, help me to be content where You want me, and not to go searching for greener pastures outside of Your will. Please help me to establish ties with other people, and avoid the isolation black hole.

PS: brace yourself for tomorrow’s chapter…it’s a real gut wrencher