April 11, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 17

The book of Judges is a tough book to get through. The amount of disobedience throughout the book is hard to swallow at times. Chapter 17 is no exception. It is riddled with idolatry and what is hard not to describe as stupidity. The irony of Micah’s name alone is pretty crazy. His name means “who is like Yahweh.” He carries a name that says that he is like God and yet he lives in disobedience to God and with his focus on idols rather than God.

Micah has his own house of gods, and goes as far as making his own son the priest. It says that this is a result of the lack of any true leadership. The people are leading themselves and are accountable to no one. Then the Levite comes into the picture, and Micah thinks that he can certainly gain favor with the Lord by making him a priest in addition to his son. In all that he is doing wrong, he does something else wrong thinking that it is better and right.

How often do we find ourselves in very similar situations? At first glance many might say never, but think through this. As followers of Jesus we are called Christians meaning “little Christ.” With that title we very often create idols in our life. If you want to have a good measure of whether you have an idol or not, ask yourself a few questions. Do I give it more time than I give God? Do I care more about it than I care about God? Do I think about it more than I think about God? Do I love it more than I love God? If you answer yes to these questions it is a pretty good indication that you have an idol problem. Micah had an idol problem, and instead of repentance he chose to “fix” it himself, which leads him farther away. We often do the same thing. We are far from God, but instead of humbling ourselves, seeking council and turning back to God we choose to “figure things out” on our own. Then we end up even farther away just like Micah.

How similar are you to Micah?

Do you have idols in your life that need to be destroyed?

Do you need to turn back to God and seek wisdom and accountability?

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

April 10, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 16:23-31

Over the past few days, we have read about the life of Samson. He was a judge over Israel for a total of twenty years (v.31), and, boy, were those twenty years action packed!

We have seen Samson in many different conflicts:

  • A marriage dispute that ended terribly with the burning of Samson’s wife and father-in-law
  • A bloody slaughter of 1,000 Philistine men by Samson using the jawbone of a donkey
  • A violent encounter with the Gazite men after Samson was with a prostitute
  • A naïve trust in Delilah, which leads to Samson’s capture and loss of his eyes.

Yikes.

But we also see the Spirit of the Lord rush upon Samson four different times despite his many acts of violence and arrogance.

  • Judges 13:25
  • Judges 14:6
  • Judges 14:19
  • Judges 15:14

In our story today, Samson is brought before the 3,000 Philistine elites as entertainment during a “great sacrifice to Dagon their god.” Samson calls to the Lord to restore his strength only this once, so he could “be avenged on the Philistines for [his] two eyes.” The Lord grants Samson his strength one last time, as he pushes two columns supporting the structure where all the Philistine elite stood. There were no survivors.

The life of Samson amazes me because the writer of Hebrews mentions him in the famous “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11). Samson’s arrogance, temper, and lust continually led him into bad situations, but the Spirit of the Lord still worked in him.

Samson being mentioned as a man of faith brings me encouragement because I think we are similar to Samson. Our sins may look different than Samson’s, but we are still sinners. His story is another biblical example of God using sinners to accomplish His purposes for His glory. How much greater, then, would it be for God to use us while we “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called” (Eph. 4:1, ESV)!

How has God used you for His glory in the past despite your sin?

What is one area of your life in which you need to repent to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called?”

By: Lucas Taylor — Worship Ministry Intern

April 8, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 16:1-22

Throughout the book of Judges we have seen different accounts of these leaders that the Bible calls judges. These judges are different than what we think of judges today; they were primarily military deliverers that God provided for Israel as a means of showing his grace. The whole point of the book of Judges is to show the depravity of the people of Israel and their need for a godly king to lead them. Samson is a perfect example of someone who was used by God, but who was not an example of godliness.

We have seen examples of the way God had blessed him with great strength and all that allowed him to do. But we also see example after example of his lack of character. He is enticed by women and in our passage today, we not only see him enticed by a prostitute, but also by a Philistine woman who is using him on behalf of the Philistines.

Four times she asked where his strength came from in hopes of being able to take it away so that he could be defeated by the Philistines. He finally relented, just like he had earlier (14:17) and she was able to shave his head and his power left him.

What is important to notice here is that it wasn’t actually Samson’s hair that was the source of his power, but it was God. We know from verse 20 that the Lord had left him after his hair had gone, and the Philistines were able to attack him.

A point of application that we can walk away with today is that it is foolish to fight our battles with sin without the power of God. We also need to see that, like Samson, we can be living in sin and have the appearance that everything in our life is fine, that God is with us. But eventually our sin will catch up to us and we will see what it really looks like to have God show us the seriousness of our sin (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Are you walking in sin that you need to repent from? Are you attempting to repent from sin on your own power? Be encouraged today that God loves you so much that he sent his Son to die on the cross for you! God desires for us to live lives that are fruitful for His Kingdom. Realize that if God has exposed sin in your life, this too is an act of grace, and that Jesus has made a way for you to turn from your sin and live for His glory.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

April 7, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 15

Samson is one of those Old Testament Bible characters that is turned into a kids Sunday school story that becomes known for only a few things. I remember how my son had heard about Samson from church and our family devotions and he would say “I Samson” while flexing his muscles (or even kissing his muscles thanks to the Bible for Kids iPhone app as pictured below, THANKS KIDS BIBLE APP!!!) 😉

Today’s Jumpstart is an amazing picture of that superhuman strength that Samson is known for. After releasing 300 foxes with their tails on fire into the Philistine’s grain fields out of revenge from his wife’s father giving her away to his best man (this sounds like a Jerry Springer scenario), the Philistines are in hot pursuit of Samson for revenge.  They first attack the people of Judah, looking for Samson. The people of Judah then look for Samson to deliver him to the Philistines out of fear of what they’ll do next. Samson allows the people of Judah to bind him up and take him to the Philistines. It says in verse 14 that the “Spirit of the Lord” rushed upon Samson when the Philistines came shouting to meet him and Samson ended up killing 1,000 Philistines with nothing but the jawbone of a donkey. In this act he delivered the people of Judah from the Philistines and as verse 20 says, became a judge over Israel for 20 years.

In between this great story of victory and salvation from the Philistines, we see Samson start to doubt God’s deliverance in verse 18 as he’s extremely dehydrated and thirsty with no sight of water around. He asks God why he would use him as a servant in this salvation from the Philistines to just let him die after? God then miraculously provides water for him, reviving him once again.  This last section is a great reminder of our forgetfulness and doubts of God’s salvation and deliverance for us. Many times after experiencing salvation we don’t think God will provide in the midst of the our spiritual hunger and thirsts. C.H. Spurgeon preached an entire sermon on this one verse (v. 18) and said:

“Well, then, dear Brother, there is a special reason why God should deliver you because if Satan could overcome you in that peculiar case, he would then say that he could have overcome all the saints if he could have got them into the same corner! And he would loudly boast just as though the whole had perished! But I do not think that your case is so very peculiar—it is only the way in which you look at it. The road to sorrow has been well trodden—it is the regular sheep path to Heaven—and all the flock of God have had to pass along it. So I pray you, cheer up your heart with Samson’s words and rest assured that God will deliver you soon!”

As we can see, we’re not alone in thinking this way as much as we may think that our trials or situations are more unique or worse then others. Many saints have gone before us where God has not only delivered but provided for them in the midst of their trials and He’ll provide for you, even if it’s not in the way you’d prefer. Jesus’ deliverance through the cross and the resurrection was sufficient for our salvation and He’s just as sufficient in our provision.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor