April 1, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 10

At this point, Israel has been judged for a total of 45 years by both Tola and Jair. After they had both passed, the people of Israel start worshipping the gods of Syria, Zidon, Moab, and the Philistines. Israel spends 18 years under the oppression of the Ammonites and the Philistines, and then begin crying out to the Lord for help. God becomes frustrated with the Israelites because he has saved them time and time again. God tells them that they’re on their own and must now cry out to their other gods. The people of Israel repent and tell God to punish them.  

This passage kicks off with the phrase “The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord“. This is a phrase that we’ve heard a few different times (seven to be exact) throughout the book of Judges, so it may go through one ear and out the other, just as many repeated phrases throughout the Bible tend to do. But this phrase has some weight to it! It shows us that the evil of Israel was “extra bad” because they committed their sins before the eyes of God. You might say that it is bad to commit adultery, but it would be exceedingly worse to commit adultery in front of your spouse! 

We also see in this story that the Israelites “served the Baals and the Ashtoreths” and “forsook the Lord and did not serve Him”. The people of Israel not only turned away from the Lord, but SERVED and WORSHIPPED the many gods of the cultures they were surrounded with. It seems as though the Israelites were willing to serve and worship anything BUT the one true God. They succumbed to the enticing idols that the Baals and the Ashtoreths had to offer. Don’t we do that all too often in our own lives? We see the things of the world and start trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole in our hearts. Meanwhile, God is patiently waiting, ready to satisfy our hearts to the very fullest (and fill that circular hole). 

When we stop serving God and instead run towards the gods of this world, His soul will grieve for our lost hearts. 

By: Amber Musen — Experienced-Based Career Education (Lafayette High School) Intern


March 31, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 9

Although Gideon was imperfect—very imperfect—he is remembered in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. God showed through Gideon that strength belongs to the Lord. Because of the success of Gideon, the people asked him to “Rule over them” (8:22). Gideon refused the request and said “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you” (8:23). That’s a great answer. Unfortunately, his son Abimelech had other ideas.  

The book of Judges has several important themes, there are two that are very important for today’s chapter. The first theme of the book of Judges is the concept of the next generation. Judges 2:10 says, “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which [Joshua] had done for Israel.” This statement is true of almost every Judge to follow. In Gideon’s case, he had 70 sons with many different women. He sired so many kids, there was no possible way for him to keep the words of Deuteronomy 6:6–9,

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Thus, it is no wonder that his son, Abimelech, rebelled in such a way that he betrayed Gideon’s words in 8:23.

The second important theme is about an earthly rule over the nation of Israel. There is a repeated statement that starts appearing toward the end of the book of Judges, “There was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (cf. 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25). There is a big difference between a judge and a king. Although judge’s served as military and administrative leaders (part of what a king does), they worked on a local level (rather than a national level) and their authority was not passed on to the next generation.  Part of kingship was passing the baton to your offspring. Part of Abimelech’s offense was the attempt to make himself ruler by force. This attempt worked for a little while, but ultimately led to his inglorious death at the hands of an unknown woman.

Abimelech serves as a warning for parents to love their kids well and raise them according to the Word of the Lord. If Abimelech had known the consequences of trying to establish an earthly rule according to the Law of Moses, who knows, perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided. Secondly, he serves as a warning for those who try to usurp the Lord’s power. Gideon’s words are as true for us as that generation, “the Lord shall rule over you.” Many of us, like Abimelech, are dissatisfied with God’s management style. We think we know better. We don’t, and Judges shows us the depths of a people apart from God.

Ask yourself today, what reminders have I set up in my life to remember the word of the Lord, and what strategies can I use to pass it on to the next generation?  

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

March 30, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 8:22-35

This is a sad story to read. It is a description of Gideon falling away from the Lord and getting caught up in his own pride. This is a man who with his mouth “elevates” God and with his actions elevates himself and what he wants. Just look back at he says to the people that the Lord will rule them.

Gideon denies ruling as king. This sounds great and humble at first. Then he asks for all of the earrings and many valuables which he creates an ephod with. This later becomes the object of worship for the people. The Lord is essentially forgotten about. Not only that, but Gideon himself functioned as king even though he said that he was not the king. Gideon’s son Abimelech who would take Gideon’s place after he dies sheds a lot of light on Gideon, that even though he claimed to not be king, he saw himself as just that. “Abimelech” literally means “My father is King.”

It is a sad record of events. But in reading and studying I had to ask myself how many times have I said one thing and lived another? I was greatly convicted over my commitment to keeping God as the center and not myself. I believe that many of us, due to our sinful nature, have this problem. We tend to have a self-focus, even though we claim God as our focus. I am not saying we must be perfect, because we cannot achieve perfection. I am saying that as followers of Jesus we should be aware that we are just a couple of decisions away from ending up just like Gideon. Our God is of more value and is worthy of all praise and honor. This is a passage that causes great awareness of the potential to fall away from God.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

March 29, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 8:1-21

Yesterday, we read of one of the coolest moments in the the book of Judges. It’s when Gideon led God’s people into battle, but not just any battle. Instead of going in with a full platoon, the Lord sends only 300 people, which showed everyone in the nation that God is strong and sovereign, and that His ways are far higher than ours. Flip to chapter 8… Gideon’s good leadership continued.

The Ephraimites, being a bunch of whiners, were furious at Gideon for not letting them be a part of the huge victory. Sour grapes, right? But I think there’s more here. I don’t think they really wanted to fight, but after the fact, they probably wanted the notoriety and fame. “We could have been the heroes of the story!” Just a conjecture on part… what do you think?

Gideon diffused that situation, and continued to be courageous and valiant. Tomorrow, we’ll learn about some of his mistakes (that actually begin around verse 4), and hopefully steer clear of making those same mistakes in our own lives. Blessings on your Wednesday, Center Point!

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor