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September 2005 Archives

September 1, 2005

Punishment with Purpose

These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience). Judges 3:1-2

There is purpose in everything, even in - especially in God's discipline. He is not a God who finds pleasure in punishing His children. Yet He understands that children raised in privilege often grow up with few coping skills for real life.

The Israelites were in the land promised to Abraham, and they quickly turned away from God to the gods around them. As discipline, the Lord did not remove all the peoples of the land. He knew that a nation that did not completely follow Him would disappear into the annals of history. Future generations would learn warfare by fighting the enemies in their midst.

Lord, there are enemies that I cannot seem to overcome. My heart cries out: "Why won't You deliver me completely?" Yet I think I understand. You know that if I cannot follow You alone, I will not survive the pull of the world. The presence of the enemy actually makes me stronger. His presence reminds me that I need You. His taunts and temptations teach me how to say "no." The weapons he uses against me teach me how to fight. Give me the strength to use what I have learned to defeat him. Help me to teach others the ways of warfare. Deliver me completely when I am ready to receive it. Help me to follow only You.

September 2, 2005

Conditional Obedience

Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." Judges 4:8

Conditional obedience. Why do we so willingly follow God's plan, as long as certain conditions are in place? When my children are grown - when I have control over this bad habit - when I feel better about myself... There are so many excuses for delaying our pursuit of God's will. God is not limited by us; He can accomplish anything through a mere thought, through a simple breath. Yet He chooses to work through the hand's of men.

Barak was a strong military leader. He led an army that broke the back of Jabin, the Canaanite king. For twenty years, the Canaanites had oppressed the Israelites. With nine hundred iron chariots, the Canaanites seemed invincible. But in one day, the Lord used Barak to rout every single man.

All except one, that is.

Barak's obedience was conditional. He agreed to fight, only if Deborah the prophetess would accompany him. This request was not what one would expect. Take a woman into battle? Did he lack faith in God's plan? Barak was a man of faith; his name is mentioned among the heroes of the faith in the book of Hebrews. But he missed out on the honor of killing Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army. This honor was given to a woman.

The conditions Barak placed upon his obedience didn't affect the outcome; Jabin's army was destroyed. What was changed, however, was Barak's part in it. Yes, he is commended for his faith, but he is also remembered for his lack of it.

Lord, forgive me for placing conditions on my obedience. To love You, I must obey You. So in truth, it is my love that is conditional. Help me to love with my whole heart. Give me the courage - despite the conditions.

September 3, 2005

Where is God?

"When they chose new gods, war came to the city gates, and not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel." Judges 5:8

Deborah's words are very astute. She knew the truth: When Israel turned to other gods, they were left defenseless. When the enemy arrived at the gates of the city, which he assuredly would, the Lord was not there to fight for them because they had sent Him away.

This has been an interesting week in the history of our nation. A storm of epic proportions has devastated hundreds of thousands, and the effects are being felt by millions. The city of New Orleans may never recover from Hurricane Katrina. The beautiful Mississippi coast has been stripped. Coastal towns lie in ruins. The people are in an uproar because the federal government hasn't responded as quickly as many think they should. Unrest is visiting our country like never before.

Among all the cries for help, the questions about preparedness, and the anger over a response that has been crippled by rescues and violence, I haven't heard the right question: "Where is God?"

The enemy doesn't stand at the city gates. He has torn them down. He has already invaded. And where is God?

Has He been sent away?

Of all the cities, it doesn't surprise me that New Orleans would be defenseless against the enemy. I mean no disrespect. They are facing a horrible situation that few can comprehend. But one visit to Bourbon Street would have told you that other gods are being worshipped. Nowhere else have I seen debauchery so openly celebrated. Where else can you find sex toys in a t-shirt shop, and no one is surprised by it? Where else can you find prostitutes on every corner, and no one even starts to blush? San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami... the list is long of those who should take heed. When people turn to other gods, why would God defend them?

Lord, I confess that I have been far too anxious about the state of our country. With all my being, I am trying to trust in You. Am I prepared for a major depression? Can I financially withstand a devastated economy? Probably not. But this I know - my God has not been sent away. No enemy can take away what is really important. Father, protect my family in this time of trouble. Draw us closer to you. Bring hope in the aftermath of the storm.

September 4, 2005

Silly Excuses

"But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family." Judges 6:15

Gideon amazes me. He thought so little of himself, but he was chosen by God Himself to save the Israelites from the oppression of Midian. In Gideon's eyes, he saw himself as small - not only small, but the smallest of the small.

His clan was the weakest.

He was the least of his family.

These excuses seem rather silly when one considers to whom Gideon gave them. Any excuses we may give God are silly because no man is limited when God stands with him.

It appears that Gideon was from a family of influence. The altar to Baal he destroyed and the Asherah pole he cut down belonged to his father, yet the men of the town were enraged. Obviously, these gods were central to the community, and since they belonged to Gideon's father, one could assume he was a key figure among them. Despite the position of his family, Gideon saw himself as nothing. Despite Gideon's opinion, God saw him as great. The angel of the Lord called him "mighty warrior." God saw Gideon's future, and history proved His words to be true. If only Gideon could have heard it.

Lord, what is it that You call me that I can't even hear? You see my future, yet like Gideon, I see myself as so little. If I had eyes to see, I would be surprised. I think every man would be surprised by the things that could be accomplished if we would only hear what You say to us. Help me, Father, to make a difference. Help me to see the man You have made me to be. Help me to quit making excuses.

September 5, 2005

Unique Trust

Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. Judges 7:6

It is hard to believe that out of ten thousand men only three hundred knelt beside the water and used their hands to drink. Gideon must have thought, "You've got to be kidding! Have You seen how many Midianites there are in the valley? What in the world will I do with three hundred men?!"

Despite Gideon's lack of courage, God was gracious.

First, God gave Gideon two signs that he was hearing Him correctly. Twice, fleece was laid on the ground. Dry one time and wet the other, that fleece confirmed for Gideon that God was going to deliver Israel.

Then, God gave Gideon the final confirmation through a Midianite's dream and its interpretation. God was going to deliver them, and Gideon knew it.

Every time I have read this story, I think of how afraid Gideon must have been. But there is something I have never considered. What must it have been like for the three hundred? They didn't have confirmation. There was no fleece for them. Their ears didn't hear a dream and how it was interpreted. Yet they followed.

Were these men filled with an extra measure of courage? Possibly. My guess is that they might not have felt as brave at three hundred as they did at ten thousand. More than courage, however, these men were filled with trust. They trusted that the God who delivered them from Egypt would deliver them from Midian. Those three hundred knew that more could be accomplished by one man who trusts in God than an entire army without Him.

Lord, we are in a battle, and I feel outnumbered. Am I one of the three hundred? Do I trust You enough to win the battle for me? I have always felt different and out of place - like a man who doesn't fit into the crowd - like a man who drinks differently from the river. What I haven't understood is that my uniqueness doesn't make me strange; it makes me special. So what if I don't fit the mold. You love unique!

Father, I choose to trust You. Am I afraid? You bet. But will I stay and fight? I have no other choice. Help me to carry the torch. Help me to call out the truth in the night. The battle is won!

September 6, 2005

The Expectations of Manhood

Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, "Kill them!" But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and afraid. Judges 8:20

Zebah and Zalmunna, two kings of Midian, had been captured. As Gideon questioned them, he grew angry at their words, but instead of grabbing his own sword and killing them, he demanded that his son Jether do it.

Jether was a boy, and he was afraid. He responded as frightened boys do; he did nothing.

Why did Gideon ask this of Jether if he was only a boy? Why was Jether carrying a sword if he was only a boy? Why was he with his father on the battlefields if he was only a boy?

Having a son, I understand the struggle. Too often fathers expect too much from their sons. It is as if our demands of them will make them men.

Well, won't they?

Boys don't become men until the expectations of manhood are placed upon them. I have witnessed this firsthand. I have experienced this firsthand. I wish I had done a better job. I wish my father had done a better job. Far too many fathers in our society haven't gotten this right, and generations of men respond as frightened little boys. They do nothing.

Lord, help me on this journey into manhood. It seems to be a never-ending trek. Some days, I feel strong, like a mature, whole man. Others I feel like a boy, afraid to draw my sword. You are the Perfect Father. Call me out. Help me to smite the enemies who taunt me. Give me the courage to respond as a man would.

September 7, 2005

Thornbushes

"Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, 'Come and be our king.'" Judges 9:14

After Gideon's death, there was great turmoil in Israel. As I read the story of Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal (aka Gideon), one question keeps coming to mind: "Who are these people?"

These cannot be the same people who worshipped the One True God in the desert. Most certainly they are not the children of a people who built a tabernacle to honor the One True God. How could they be? God's chosen people would follow Him - not some man who killed his brothers and said, "Let me be your king." These people look nothing like God's chosen!

But they are.

How far we fall when we settle for thornbushes.

Lord, I'm tired of being scratched by the thorns. Help me to turn away from the things of this world to You. Let my heart follow only You. Help me to look like one of Your children. Be my King today!

September 8, 2005

Well-deserved Misery

Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel's misery no longer. Judges 10:16

There's something about God's love. He cannot bear to withhold it from those who serve Him.

The Israelites were on the edge of destruction. Time after time, they abandoned God, and He was growing weary. Had it not been for a promise He made to Abraham, it is likely that Israel would have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Despite their abandonment to other gods, the Israelites were never forgotten. When they got rid of the foreign gods and served the Lord, He couldn't ignore them. Their well-deserved misery didn't seem as well-deserved anymore, and God revealed His true nature: mercy, forgiveness, and love. Regardless of the frustration He felt over Israel's unfaithfulness, when they turned to Him, He always opened His arms.

Lord, more often than I like to accept, I have turned to other gods. You have given me the freedom to do so, but it always comes with a price. Oh, how much it costs to hear Your words: "Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!" But every time I turn back, You have been there. You have received me - You have rescued me. No misery can stand in Your presence for very long. Help me to stand next to You, so I might taste of Your mercy. I love You, Father. I choose to serve You. Be my only God, and keep me from my well-deserved misery.

September 9, 2005

In the Heat of the Moment

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. Judges 11:29a

What man has not made an unreasonable promise in the heat of the moment? Jephthah made one of these promises: if the Lord would give the Ammonites into his hands, he would sacrifice the first thing that came through the door of his house to greet him. These words, spoken in the heat of the moment, cost him dearly when his daughter hurried out to see him.

The toughest thing for me to grasp is that these words were spoken after the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. How could a man who is filled with the Spirit do something so stupid? How is it that the Spirit could guide Jephthah on the battlefield, but He wouldn't control his tongue? Why would the Spirit of God allow him to make such a rash vow? Why didn't he stop Jephthah and say, "Choose your words carefully."?

The greater struggle for me is why, as a Christian filled with the same Spirit that led Jephthah into battle, I act rashly as well.

I have been a Christian since the age of seven. I have known the wages of sin is death. My greatest sins have all been committed in full knowledge of the consequence. Why didn't the Spirit stop me?

The truth is: our free will doesn't cease to exist simply because the Spirit is present. We must choose our words and actions carefully, or like Jephthah, we will live in regret.

Father, I live with regret over my sins. If I had committed them before knowing You, they might be easier to forgive. Help me to forgive myself for rash action that caused me to sin. Help me to be mindful of You in the heat of the moment.

September 10, 2005

Petty Conflicts

Jephthah then called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. the Gileadites struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, "You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh." Judges 12:4

With all the enemies that Israel faced, the continuation of Jephthah's story surprises me. The greatest conflict during the time of Jephthah wasn't with a foreign enemy but between the Ephraimites and the Gileadites. These men were descendants of Joseph the favorite son of Jacob.

Didn't they have enough to worry about from outside forces? Why did they spend so much time and energy fighting among themselves? Forty-two thousand Ephraimites died during this time, and why?

The conflict seemed to begin when the men of Ephraim complained to Jephthah because he didn't ask them to fight beside him against the Ammonites. But the real reason stemmed from petty jealousies and insults. The Gileadites wouldn't stand for being called renegades, so they fought against their brothers.

Dysfunctional families are like that. There aren't enough external problems to maintain a certain level of turmoil, so internal strife takes its place. As an adult, it amazes me to consider the petty family battles of my childhood. Some of the most damaging experiences in my life were caused by those who should have stood by me and fought for me - not against me.

Lord, thank You for helping me to break the cycle of family turmoil. My own home has not been devoid of strife, but it has been filled with forgiveness and love. Watch over my children. Protect them from petty conflicts. Draw them closer to You.

September 11, 2005

Hi, my name is...

He replied, "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding." Judges 13:18

Have you ever noticed how we can have conversations with so many people and not even know their names? The next time you are on an airplane, listen. Two people may converse for over an hour, but it isn't until they are standing in the aisle preparing to leave that they introduce themselves. How many people do we speak with everyday whom we have never formally met? At the gym, at the store, at a neighborhood restaurant... There are so many faces we might know, but so few names.

Lord, I know Your name is beyond understanding. Father, Jesus, Spirit - these are the names I call You, but someday I want to hear what You call Yourself. Then I want to comprehend. Reveal Your name to me, so I might know You more. Spirit, give me ears that hear, eyes that see, and a heart that loves.

September 12, 2005

Part of His Plan

(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) Judges 14:4

Samson was raised to be a Nazirite, a reminder to the people of God's calling to be set apart - to be different from the nations around them. Yet here he is chasing after a Philistine woman. His parents were dumbfounded. How could their son so blatantly seek something contrary to God's law?

What they didn't realize was that God had a plan. Did He cause Samson to sin? By no means. God cannot do that. Did He allow Samson to sin? He allows a great deal in order to accomplish His purposes. In Samson's case, God allowed Samson's lust so He might confront the Philistines.

If only He hadn't allowed so much sin in my own life. Sometimes I am dumbfounded that He could be so forgiving, but in truth, I realize He has a plan. The very things that I believe could have destroyed me, God can use to confront a fallen world in need of Him.

Has He caused me to sin? That is contrary to His nature. But He has certainly allowed it. The real question is: Will I have the courage to step out - to reach for those blinded by the darkness - to lead them to the Light?

Father, use everything in my life for Your purpose. Am I proud of my sin? Of course not! Can I accept that it is part of Your plan? Give me the strength to face the world and speak the truth. Send Your Spirit upon me in power so others might be saved.

September 13, 2005

Intention

Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?" He answered them, "I merely did to them what they did to me." Judges 15:11

When forming an opinion about a man, I depend a great deal on his intentions, for whatever motivates someone often reflects his true character. God's intention for Samson was to confront the Philistines.

What were Samson's intentions, and why in the world did God pick him?

Though he was called by God before birth to deliver the Israelites, Samson was not a man of upstanding character. His life proved that he was driven by selfishness. His struggle with lust was apparent and eventually was his ultimate downfall. He was continually filled with anger and the desire for revenge.

Samson is not the type of man I would describe as a man of God. I have always pictured him as a massive hulk of a man, but since his strength came from God alone, it is quite possible that he was rather ordinary.

An ordinary man with several character flaws... that sounds like every man I know.

Lord, if You can use the likes of Samson, You can most certainly use me. Forgive me for thinking too little of You by depending too much on me. Fill me with Your Spirit. Make me a man who reflects Your character. Make me a man of Your intention.

September 14, 2005

This time...

Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Judges 16:20

Samson grew complacent, and it cost him dearly. If only he had learned from the catastrophe of his wedding feast. His new bride begged him to explain a riddle, then she revealed the secret to his enemies.

Time after time, Delilah asked him to reveal the secret of his strength. Time after time, Samson gave her some silly story. Each time Delilah did to Samson what he had said. This time, the final time, it worked. Samson was captured, tortured, blinded, and alone. The Spirit of God had left him. Wouldn't he have known that Delilah would cut his hair if he told her? How could he expect anything else?

How do we expect anything else? Like Delilah, Satan doesn't hide his intentions. If he attempts to harm us once, he will attempt every time. Yet we sometimes think we can get away with it. It is as if we think God won't see us this time. We feel that if we can hide our sin, He will continue to protect us.

Sin only does one thing: it pulls us away from the God of Life. Eventually, God allows us to experience the worst.

Lord, keep me from complacency. Help me to recognize the lies of the enemy. His words may seem sweet, but his intentions are to destroy me. Hold me close today.

September 15, 2005

Image Management

And Micah said, "Now I know the Lord will be good to me, since the Levite has become my priest." Judges 17:13

Micah was all about image. He thought that having a Levite serve as a priest in his home would make him look good, and this would somehow make him acceptable to God. In truth, Micah was an idolater. Nothing he could do to look good would change that. God had made it clear in His first two commandments: Worship only the Lord your God, and make no idols of anything. No amount of goodness in Micah's house would make him acceptable, for God desired his devotion. Man looks at appearances; God looks at the heart.

I learned the fine art of image management when I was a young boy. It seems silly now, but I used to carry four Bibles to church. Each week, I would lug them around. Four translations. The King James, the New American Standard, the Living Bible, and a New Testament that compared four separate translations. With these in hand I was certain people would think, "My, he must be a good little boy. Look at all his Bibles!"

In truth, I rarely opened those Bibles during the week. I knew what I was doing. Maybe by looking good, it would somehow make me acceptable.

Lord, I'm tired of merely looking good. I long to be acceptable because of who I really am - not some image I try to portray. Change my heart. Only You can see what is really there. Make me a man who worships only You and makes idols of nothing. Holy Spirit, be my father and priest. With You as my Guide, I know the Lord will be good to me. Make me acceptable in the Father's sight.

September 16, 2005

Subtle Changes

There the Danites set up for themselves idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity. Judges 18:30

The story of the Danites perplexes me. This tribe set up their own system of idol worship, which was directly in contrast to God's law, yet the people of Israel had grown so complacent that no one seemed to notice.

Several generations before, all of Israel gathered together to rise up against the eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh simply because they had built an altar. When they learned the altar was a reminder for future generations of their commitment to God, the Israelites turned back. But now, the descendants of those who were once so passionate about serving God didn't even notice when gods were established in their midst.

How is it that we become desensitized to evil? The change from one generation to the next is subtle, yet as generations pass, the subtleties disappear. Blatant disregard for God becomes completely acceptable.

America is in a dangerous place, for the passions of our forefathers have been lost. Evil is completely acceptable. Idols are worshipped. Priests are established.

And we do nothing.

Lord, the change in our country is not so subtle anymore, and we still do nothing. In the name of freedom, we have forgotten You. Worshipping the gods of money, power, and sex is rampant in our midst, and we accept it. How tolerant will we be when our land is in captivity? Forgive us, Lord Jesus. Our founding fathers fought the reign of a king, and we disregard Your reign as THE King. Forgive my complacencies. Protect my grandchildren's grandchildren from the not-so subtle gods that will be in their midst.

September 19, 2005

Think about it!

Everyone who saw it said, "Such a thing has never been done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!" Judges 19:30

The story of the Levite and his concubine is likely one of the most disturbing in the entire Bible. What a testament to the depravity of man without God. Everyone was living as he saw fit, and they had fallen further than one can imagine.

Anyone reading this story will see the comparison to another place and time in Israel's past. Gibeah, an Israelite city, had become like Sodom, a city seen as one of the worst in the history of the world.

The Levite in this story refused to stay the night in the city of the Jebusites. He probably would have been better off! My guess is he may have been greeted with hospitality similar to what Abraham received from its most famous resident, the king-priest Melchizedek. Instead, the Levite stayed the night in Gibeah, an Israelite city in Benjamin.

Just as the men of Sodom pounded at the door of Lot's house demanding to have their way with the men he had taken in for the night, the men of Gibeah demanded the Levite. This city, like Sodom, deserved destruction, for it had become truly wicked.

Another element of this story that distresses me is how the Levite could so easily disregard the life of his concubine. When the men of the city would not relent, the Levite sent his concubine out to them. How could he so easily hand her over to be abused and raped? We know she had been unfaithful to him, but did she deserve to die like this? And the next morning it appears he was readying to leave without giving her a second thought. If she hadn't died in the doorway, I wonder if he would have remembered she was with him.

How far we fall when we seek our own way without God!

Lord, Gibeah was a wake up call for the Israelites. They had become like the most wicked city in history. If only America could hear the call. Like the dismembered body of the concubine, the people of New Orleans have been sent throughout our nation. Yet rather than recognizing the depravity of a city destroyed by an act of God, we make plans to continue the revelry once it can be rebuilt. Forgive us, Father, for the ways we have fallen. I don't stand in judgment; I have no room to judge the sins of another. But if we do not hear Your warnings and heed them, our fate is clear.

Save us, Lord Jesus. You are the only hope for our nation.

September 21, 2005

Do you want this, or not?

They asked, "Shall we go up again to battle with Benjamin our brother, or not? The Lord responded, "Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands." Judges 20:28b

A cancer had begun to grow in Israel. Gibeah had become a wicked city, and if the Israelites had allowed the sin to continue in their midst, the whole nation could have been lost. It took the hideous act of one Levite to get their attention, but finally the men of Israel awoke from their complacency. Gathering together, they made plans to remove the evil; Benjamin, their brother, must be destroyed.

From all appearances, they did things right. They inquired of God about what to do, and He said to first send the men of Judah to fight against the Benjamites. The first day of battle, twenty-two thousand Israelites died. Again, they inquired of God about what to do. Again, He said to fight.

On the second day, eighteen thousand Israelites lost their lives. Forty thousand men had died! I'm certain Israel was questioning, "Did we really hear God correctly? If we are supposed to fight, why are we losing?"

A third time, Israel inquired of God. This time, their frustration is obvious. "Shall we go up again to battle with Benjamin our brother, or not?"

How many times do we start down the path upon which God tells us to travel, and we fail? How many battles do we seem to lose - even when God is clearly saying to fight? The third day of battle changed the course for Israel, but it took two days of heavy losses before they saw success.

Why did God's plan involve the loss of so many? There were times before when Israel routed an enemy and not one man was lost. What was different about this time?

I don't know the answers, but I can see the lessons.

This time, Israel was not attacking a foreign people. Benjamin was a brother. Attacking a brother is painful - for everyone involved. But regardless of the pain, the battle must sometimes be fought.

Sometimes, God calls us to break the bonds of blood, so His purpose can be fulfilled.

Another important lesson I see can only come from experiencing loss: humility. The pride of Israel was fairly apparent. They were the chosen people of the One True God; He even resided in their tabernacle. But they still lived as each one saw fit.

Sometimes, God calls us to be broken, so His purpose can be fulfilled.

Lord, do You want me to again battle the enemy, or not? Sometimes, it seems I lose more than I gain, but I know the battle cannot be abandoned - Your purpose is yet to be fulfilled. There is always more to be broken, but (I am afraid to ask) break me in the way of Your choosing. Make me a man who wins, yet give me patience for the loss.

September 22, 2005

Absolutely Insane!

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 21:25

A world without God is a pretty mixed up place!

The Israelites nearly destroyed the tribe of Benjamin, for they had supported the wickedness of Gibeah, a place as evil as Sodom. Yet before the fighting was finished, the men of Israel began to grieve the loss of their brother. In order to keep the tribe of Benjamin alive, the leaders devised a plan that uses the strangest logic I have ever seen. They planned to attack one city that stayed out of the fight, to kill everyone except the virgins, and to give these young women to the surviving Benjamites who were hiding in the hills. When that wasn't enough, they determined that it would be okay for the Benjamites who didn't receive a wife to kidnap one.

This is absolutely insane!

The Israelites determined that kidnapping and murder were better solutions than breaking their own oath. This commitment is commendable, but golly - it is so mixed up!

Did they once ask God to take care of Benjamin? God once told Moses that He would raise up descendants from the rocks of the ground. He could have fixed this situation without all the insanity. But that is what happens when we simply do as we see fit. It's every man for himself.

Lord, keep me from this insanity. Help me to trust You to solve the problems that are too big for me. I am just as prone to the strange logic of Israel when I am doing as I see fit. Help me to do as You see fit. Bring sanity into this crazy world!

September 23, 2005

Empty?

"Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortunes upon me." Ruth 1:20-21

Things are not always what they appear to be. Naomi believed her life was empty. In her grief over the loss of not only her husband but both her sons, she could not see how God had filled her life. There she was, living in a foreign land, and the three most important men in her life were gone. She could have been completely alone, yet God had given her two daughters-in-law who stood by her.

In truth, she was never empty. She simply couldn't see it, and normally when someone can't see God's goodness, he will do whatever he can to live up to his own expectations.

Naomi tried it. She tried to send away those closest to her. It was as if she was attempting to create the life she thought she had. But it wasn't what she had! She wasn't empty. Ruth stood by her - even to the point of leaving everything behind.

Lord, give me eyes that see Your fullness. I am so blinded at times by my own perceptions that I find myself creating misfortune. For years I seemed to believe my life was empty. Despite a wonderful helpmate and two fabulous children, I could only see what was missing. Forgive me for the ways I have disregarded Your blessing. Help me to redefine "empty." Help me to see how full life really is. Help me to teach others to see it, too.

September 25, 2005

Stay in His Field

As it turned out, she found herself working in the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech. Ruth 2:3b

What a coincidence.

As it turned out, Ruth found herself working in the field of Boaz. Some might believe in coincidence, but I have come to see that God's hand is in every circumstance, every encounter, every turn of the road. There is nothing that escapes His notice. There is nowhere we could go where He hasn't been there ahead of us preparing the way. Every blessing we glean, He has pulled from the stalk and left for us to find.

Lord, just as Ruth stayed in Boaz's field, I want to stay in Yours. Why have You taken notice of me that You would give order to leave so much blessing? I am only worthy by Your choice. Thank You, Father. Provide for my family. Show me where to glean.

About September 2005

This page contains all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in September 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2005 is the previous archive.

October 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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