Good Morning, Ladies!
We are heading towards the end of Judges and we have been on a few wild rides with these deliverers God chose for Israel. I've met knew people and learned things I hadn't known about before. God is growing our knowledge of His Word and giving us a first class history lesson of all that has transpired according to His perfect will. It is so exciting! Right now, we are in the midst of the life of Samson, and he is such an intriguing character. I hope you are enjoying your time in Scripture with God each day and I am praying God draws you closer to Him .
Let's look at this week's reading plan:
Monday, Judges 16
Tuesday, Judges 17
Wednesday, Judges 18
Thursday, Judges 19
Friday, Judges 20
Don't forget to check back here at the end of each week for study notes and please feel free to comment on anything God has shown you through our reading.
Just a reminder: Next week, we will finish Judges and cover the book of Ruth, and the following week we will finish our spring study with Philippians. We will be taking a small break May 16-20th, before beginning our long, 12-week, summer study.
I am so enjoying reading through the Bible with each of you. The accountability that our studies have brought, has made such a huge impact on my daily time with the Lord, and for that I am so grateful.
May God shower each of you with His richest blessings this week!
Keep reading, Sweet Sisters!
Have you ever been in a desperate situation and you have begged and pleaded with God to give you victory or bring you out of something? Has your plea ever been coupled with a vow of your own?
"Lord, if you will do this for me or answer in this way, then I will do this ____________________________________."
You can fill the blank above with many promises. The question is: When God does answer those pleas, do we keep our end of the bargain? Do we even feel comfortable with what we promised? Do we think that God took our words seriously? Or do we just go on with life once the situation has been dissolved? We may think these questions are a bit odd, but truth is, we shouldn't make promises to God. He is God. He knows the deepest depths of our hearts and minds. He knows what our reactions to His answers and direction will be. Unfortunately, when we are truly seeking deliverance or really wanting a particular answer from God, we are quick to throw up a "I'll do this if you will just do that, God." Haven't we all done this at some point? I know I have.
Judges 11 and 12 tells us about Jephthah, a man who had to live out this very situation. Jephthah didn't have the best of beginnings, but God chose to use Him. God does that, you know. He uses those who feel the most unworthy. The ones who feel they may not have anything to offer. God uses His people no matter what their backgrounds, upbringings, accomplishments, successes or failures. He used Jephthah in this same way.
Jephthah was the son of Gilead and a prostitute. He didn't get to choose His parents, but God created and chose Jephthah for his family and for his time. God is the creator of life from the very moment of conception. No matter what the situation, no child is conceived without God's divine creation. Life is up to Him, not us, and for every life He creates- He has a plan and a purpose. Gilead had many legitimate sons with his wife, sadly as the sons grew they become hostile with Jephthah and they eventually ran him out of his homeland because of his mother. The brother's didn't want to share their inheritance with one who was not legitimate.
Jephthah was a great warrior and there came a time when trouble came upon Israel. The elders knew how great a warrior Jephthah was, so they sent for him to come and lead their army against the Ammonites. He wasn't quick to agree, so the elders began to bargain with him.
"'Because we need you,' the elders replied. ' If you lead us in battle against the Ammonites, we will make you ruler over all the people of Gilead.' Jephthah said to the elders, 'Let me get this straight. If I come with you and if the Lord gives me victory over the Ammonites, will you really make me ruler over all the people?' 'The Lord is our witness,' the elders replied. 'We promise to do whatever you say.' So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him their ruler and commander of the army. At Mizpah, in the presence of the Lord, Jephthah repeated what he had said to the elders." ~ Judges 11:8-11
Jephthah went on to lead Israel's army and he summoned the King of Ammon with a message. The King of Ammon was angry that Israel stole his land, years before, and after Jephthah explained how Israel obtained the land, the king ignored the message and pursued battle with them. But the Lord chose Jephthah for such a time as this, and He would bring victory to His people.
"At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he led an army against the Ammonites." Judges 11:29
Before we move on, I want to point out the first portion of this verse. "At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." The Lord was with him. In complete control. Why is this important? Because of what is about to unfold. Jephthah is going to make a vow with the Lord and He will have to keep it. My question is: If God was with him, if the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, then why did he feel the need to make any vows at all? Was there a need for it? God was already in control of the battle.
"And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. He said, 'If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.' So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave him victory. He crushed the Ammonites, devastating about twenty towns from Aroer to an area near Minnith and as far away as Abel-keramim. In this way Israel defeated the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. 'Oh my daughter!' he cried out. 'You have completely destroyed me! You've brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.'" ~ Judges 11:30-35
Okay, let me be real for just a moment. What kind of vow was that?! "Whatever comes out of my house to meet me." What exactly did he expect to come out of his home? Did he actually think through his vow before speaking it? I don't know about you, but the only things that could come out of my home would be my husband and my children. How could such a promise be made?
The Lord did, indeed, give him victory, and as we see above, his daughter, his only child, came out to greet him. I can't imagine the sorrow he must of felt when he realized what he had done. Chapter 11 ends with Jephthah's daughter accepting her father's vow and asking for two months to mourn with friends up in the hills. Jephthah allowed her this time, and upon her return he kept his vow.
"When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for young Israelite women to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah's daughter. " ~ Judges 11:39-40
God was leading Jephthah to battle and without thinking through the consequences Jephthah made a vow to the Lord that forever changed his life. He not only lost his daughter, he lost his future, his legacy. However, he did keep his vow to the Lord.
What can we take away from this story? I want to be more aware of what I flippantly promise to God just to get an answer to a prayer or a desperate situation. I also want to realize that if I choose to make a vow to the Lord, I must remember who I am talking to. I'm promising God, creator of all things, that I have something to give him. That's not a vow you break. That's not something you just lay aside when the crisis is over. We must take our conversations and relationship with the Lord serious. He loves us, He created us, and He gave His Son as a sacrifice for us. Don't take that lightly. He is the only Worthy One and He deserves our loyalty and faithfulness.
I also want to be more mindful of what I say. I want my words, whether they are to God or anyone else, to be trustworthy. I want to think before I speak. I want to be able to discern the possible consequences of what is coming out of my mouth and what I am promising or agreeing to. I tell my children repeatedly, that every decision we make comes with a consequence. A good decision comes with great consequences, but a bad decision comes with bad consequences and those consequences aren't just thrown upon us, but also to those around us whom we love. Let's make a commitment to watch our words. Let's be sure to think through something before speaking. Let's be mindful of what comes out of our mouths and the possibilities that may come with those words.
Father, thank you for loving me, for directing me, and for choosing me. I love you and I adore you. Lord, I don't always think through my words before speaking. Help me to be mindful of this and to be aware of the consequences of my words. Help me, Lord, to only speak what can be trusted. I love you, too, Lord. In the sweet name of Jesus, amen.
May God bless your reading, this coming week!
Have you ever felt unprepared for something? Not because you knew something was coming up and you chose to procrastinate and were not fully prepared, but you just didn't feel like you were suitable for something that seemed to be thrown upon you. Many times in our life, the Lord will put us smack dab in the middle of something that we just know we aren't equipped, prepared, or ready to handle. These specific circumstances are never by our choice, but are God's choosing as to what He will either cause or allow to happen. It's then up to us how we will handle them. Will we trust God to equip us and direct us through these circumstances or will we choose to be overtaken by them?
Gideon had to make this decision. There had been peace and rest for Israel for forty years, but unfortunately, Israel turned away from God again and began living in wickedness. Because of this repeated disobedience, God handed them over to the Midianites for 7 years. Midian was so cruel to Israel, that they hid from the Midianites in mountains, caves and other strongholds. Midian, Amalek, and the other eastern countries would destroy any and all crops that Israel had or tried to plant. This left them in starvation and finally they began to cry out to God for help. God sent a prophet to them.
"The Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. I told you, 'I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.' But you have not listened to me." ~ Judges 6: 9-10
To stay hidden from the Midianites, Gideon was hiding in a winepress, threshing wheat. It was there that the angel of the Lord met Gideon and called him to rescue Israel from the Midianites. Gideon couldn't believe it. He was shocked and began to argue, saying he was the least in his entire family and not at all prepared or equipped to do such a thing. He even asked God for a sign to prove that he could in fact do these things God was calling him to.
"The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, 'Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!' 'Sir,' Gideon replied, 'if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn't they say, 'The Lord brought us up out of Egypt'? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.' Then the Lord turned to him and said, 'Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!' "But Lord," Gideon replied, 'how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!' The Lord said to him, 'I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.' Gideon replied, 'If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. Don't go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.' He answered, 'I will stay here until you return.' " ~ Judges 6: 12-18
Upon Gideon's return, the Lord graciously and patiently gave Gideon his sign. After Gideon laid the meal he had prepared on the rock and poured broth over it, the angel of the Lord tapped the rock with His staff and fire from the rock consumed all that Gideon had placed there. The angel disappeared and Gideon knew immediately that it was, indeed, God calling him to this great task. The Lord told Gideon to not fear and Gideon built an altar and named it "Yahweh-Shalom" (the Lord is peace).
Often, God calls us to something that we feel inadequate to accomplish. We argue with Him, forgetting that He is God. Remember, Sweet Sisters, when God is in control, we are made strong through our weaknesses. He will not call you to a purpose without equipping you to fulfill it. With God, all things are possible!
God began using Gideon right away to tear down the altars that Israel had built to serve false gods. Gideon was terrified, but he obeyed. God used this to allow Gideon to gain respect from the Israelites. (Judges 6: 25-32). The Midian, Amalek, and the other eastern armies formed an alliance against Israel, they crossed the Jordan River and camped at Jezreel. It was then that the Spirit of the Lord called Gideon to action.
"Then the Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram's horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors. and all of them responded." Judges 6: 34-35
There is no denying when the Spirit of God comes over someone. Things happen. The proof is right here in Scripture. The Spirit came upon Gideon and immediately Gideon blew a ram's horn. Not only was Gideon used by the Spirit, but look at what happened. The men came to his call. To those who were sent his message, they ALL responded. When God takes over our Spirit, you have to follow His lead.
Chapter 6 ends with one of my favorite passages in the Bible: the fleece. This is my personality to a T. I am a "sign" person. I look for signs. At times, I take that a little overboard and think that everything is a sign from God, when sometimes it's just my imagination or my impatience wanting to hurry an answer along. When God called Gideon and all of his warriors together, Gideon's weak faith caused him to ask for assurance. He just had to be sure that this was God calling the shots and not just something coming from His own mind. God graciously answered his requests without reprimand.
"Then Gideon said to God, 'If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.' And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, 'Please don't be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.' So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew." Judges 6:36-40
Sometimes, we need to verify that God is leading us to do something, so we aren't trying to move ahead, outside of God's will. That's called wisdom. We shouldn't jump into something without seeking God's direction first. When you feel led to do something, stop and pray. Ask God if He is in it and ask Him to lead your next steps, on His time. If we want to accomplish great things for God's Kingdom, we must trust Him to lead us, carry us and fulfill it. And when God places you in the midst of something you aren't prepared for, remember: He is with you, He will never leave you, and He won't bring you to something that He doesn't plan to bring you through.
The rest of Gideon's story is amazing! If you haven't finished chapters 6-10, I encourage you to do so. Witness God's amazing triumph with only 300 warriors! I'm praying for each of you this week. May God lead you, direct you and equip you for all He has in store for you.
Good morning, Ladies!
We are about halfway through the book of Judges, and we are gleaning so much from God's Word. Here is this week's reading plan.
Monday- Judges 11
Tuesday - Judges 12
Wednesday - Judges 13
Thursday - Judges 14
Friday - Judges 15
I am posting our reading plan today to keep us on track, but tomorrow I will be posting last week's study notes. My lap top went down for a few days this past week. It is now working perfectly and I was able to finish these posts for today and tomorrow! Thank you for your patience!
Enjoy what God has for you in Scripture this week. Read it, apply it, and listen to all God has in store for you!
Good morning, Sweet Sisters!
We are heading into week 2 of our Judges study. I hope you are as eager and excited to learn what God has in store for us as I am! This week we will meet new judges and watch God do mighty things for His people. Here is this week's reading plan.
Monday, Judges, chapter 6
Tuesday, Judges, chapter 7
Wednesday, Judges, chapter 8
Thursday, Judges, chapter 9
Friday, Judges, chapter 10
Soak up God's Word each day, praise Him, share your heart with Him and be still and listen to what He wants to tell you. I'm praying for each of you, that God will show Himself to you in the big things and the small things of life this week!
Friday morning I was ready to publish a post that focused on Judges 1 & 2. I spent over 2 hours typing and editing the post and right as I was about to click "publish", the site logged me out. After logging back in, I realized that most of the post was lost. Only two and a half paragraphs remained. I have spent the weekend, praying if I should try to rewrite that post and I don't feel that I should. My prayer for this site is that everything that is written and shared brings glory to the Lord. So, if God allowed that post to be erased after I saved it, I have to think that it may have been more of me and less of Him. And I don't ever want that to be the case.
So, in light of this little set back, I have decided to recap our study from last week, a little differently. I'm not sure if this is something we will continue, but I am going to list some highlights from each chapter. Without any further delay, let's get started!
Judges, Chapter 1
Judges begins right after the death of Joshua. Before his passing, Joshua reminded the Israelites of all God had done for them and challenged them to continue in obedience to all the Lord has asked of them. Indeed, they tried to do just that. Verses 1-5 show us how they asked God who should lead the attack on the Canaanites. The Lord answered them with the tribe of Judah. Following His direction the Lord gave them victory over the Canaanites and Perizzites.
I can't recap this chapter without mentioning an usual story in Scripture. We'll just let Scripture speak for itself here.
"While at Bezek they encountered King Adoni-bezek and fought against him, and the Canaanites and Perizzites were defeated. Adoni-bezek escaped, but the Israelites soon captured him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. Adoni-bezek said, " I once had seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off, eating scraps from under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.: They took him to Jerusalem, and he died there." ~ Judges 1:5-7
Moral of the story: you reap what you sow.
The last half of the chapter, sadly describes how the Israelites did not continue in their obedience to what the Lord had asked of them. The tribes failed to drive out all the people in the lands they were given,as God had commanded them to do. Because of this, they compromised for less than what God could and wanted to give them.
~ How often do we do that? How many times does our own disobedience cause us to compromise for far less than what God has for us?
Here, we are introduced to why God appointed judges (deliverers) for His people. The Israelites served the Lord throughout Joshua's lifetime. (Verses 6-9) Unfortunately, this did not last.
"After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight and served the images of baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve baal and the images of ashtoreth. This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to the raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as He had warned. And the people were in great distress." ~ Judges 2:10-15
It was after this that the Lord raised up judges to rescue Israel. He would be with each judge and rescue His people during that judge's lifetime because He is merciful and took pity on His people who were suffering. Sadly, Israel refused to learn their lesson. After a judge would die they would return to their wickedness, behaving worse than the time before. (Verses 16-23)
Here, we are introduced to three judges.
Othniel, Caleb's son-in-law and nephew. (Judges 1:12-13) The Lord gave him victory over King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram and brought peace to Israel for forty years. (Judges 3: 9-11)
Ehud, left-handed from the tribe of Benjamin. Ehud's victory over King Eglon of Moab is quite a detailed and interesting story. If you haven't read it yet, be sure to have a strong stomach. Don't eat as you read it. God used Ehud to conquer Moab and then gave Israel peace for eighty years, during Ehud's lifetime. (Verses 12-30)
We are given only a small glimpse of the third judge, Shamgar.
" After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel. He once killed 600 Phililistines with an ox goad." ~ Judges 3:31
Chapters 4 and 5
Most of us have either read or heard of the story of Deborah and Barak. Deborah is the only female judge mentioned in Scripture. Because we know that God raised up the judges for His people, we can be sure that He had a purpose for choosing her as judge for that time. At the time that God called her, Israel had been ruthlessly oppressed by Sisera of Hazor for twenty years. (Judges 4:1-5)
Deborah sent for Barak and gave him the following orders from God:
* take 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun
* Sisera will be called out and you will be given victory over him
Barak only agreed to these terms if Deborah would go with him. (Judges 4:6-8)
"Very well," she replied, "I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord's victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and 10,000 warriors went up with him. Deborah also went with him. ~ Judges 4:9-10
Now, I have to admit, in reading this, I thought that the " victory at the hand of a woman" meant Deborah. But that was not the case! Honestly, I have read and heard this story many times, but I did not recall how Sisera died or who took him out. Let me set this story up for you.
After hearing what was going on, Sisera went out with all his warriors and 900 chariots to meet Barak. When Barak and his 10,000 warriors began to attack, God caused Sisera and his men to panic. As Barak and his warriors successfully defeated all of Sisera's men, Sisera escaped to Heber's wife, Jael's tent. It's important to mention here, that Sisera was under the impression that he was in friendly territory. Although Heber was a descendant of Moses' brother-in-law, he was living in Kedesh and was on friendly terms with Sisera's king. So, here he sees sweet looking Jael, and thinks he is safe. He's exhausted and thirsty and this woman seems so inviting.
"Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, "Come in to my tent, sir. Come in. Don't be afraid." So he went into her tent and she covered him with a blanket." ~ Judges 4:18
Sisera asks for water, she gives him milk. He asks her to stand by her tent door and tell anyone who may be looking for him that he is not there. It's not stated, but I am certain that she sweetly agreed, probably smiled, and waited outside. Once he was asleep, Jael did something I was just not expecting. She took a hammer and a tent peg and drove the peg through Sisera's temple while he slept! (What?! As I am reading this, I felt like I was sitting in the movie theater watching it on screen. I totally didn't see that coming.) Now, it's important to realize how she could physically do something like this. Obviously, God used her to defeat Sisera, but Jael's physical strength came from the common practice of setting up and pulling down tents. Soon, Barak came looking for Sisera, and Jael took him right to where he lay. (Judges 4:19-23)
In chapter 5, Deborah and Barak sing a song of praise, proclaiming how Sisera and their enemies were brought down. The song gave tribute to Jael for her victory over Sisera. (Remember, Deborah had stated that God's victory over Sisera would be at the hand of a woman.)
I must also mention verses 27-30 of chapter 5. These verses give the thoughts and worries of Sisera's mother as she awaited his return. I just find it interesting that this was added. What do you think?
As the song came to an end, the final praise went to God.
"Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength." So the land had rest for forty years. ~ Judges 5:31 (NKJV)
I hope as you read through these chapters this past week, the Lord spoke directly to your heart. God's mercy to His people never ceases to amaze me. Time and time again, they would cry out to Him, He would rescue them but then they would fall right back into the stronghold of sin. I am so grateful for His mercy, because I have done the same thing so many times. Yet, time and time again He reaches down and rescues me.
I am excited to continue in our study of Judges this next week.
Keep reading, Sweet Sisters!
I hope everyone enjoyed our spring break and my prayer is that we are all excited and ready to jump back in with Judges. Our spring study will run for 6 weeks starting today, April 4th. We will be covering the books of Judges, Ruth, and Philippians. I hope our break last week gave everyone the chance to get caught up and prepare for what God has to share with us in these next three books. This is also a great time to share our study with all the women you know. Feel free to share with your email groups, facebook, twitter etc.
For anyone who may be new, each day we will cover one chapter. Check back at the end of the week for study notes or subscribe to our RSS feed on the sidebar to be notified of new posts. The purpose of Redeeming Elegance is to encourage women, of all walks of life, to read God's Word daily. Our reading plan covers Monday - Friday, allowing you to have the weekend end to catch up or read independently. I encourage each of you to take a quiet time each day to just focus on God. Read His Word, praise Him, pray to Him and be still and listen to Him.
So, without further ado: let's begin our new study! Here is this week's reading plan.
Monday - Judges 1
Tuesday - Judges 2
Wednesday - Judges 3
Thursday - Judges 4
Friday - Judges 5
For those of you who were able to study Joshua with us, Judges is our sequel. In this book we get a strong description of God's power and His covenant mercy in delivering the Israelites from the consequences of their repeated indulgence of sin. I look forward to diving into Scriptures with you and studying deeper what God has for us through His Word.
I'm praying for each of you! Soak up God's Word today and bask in His love and goodness!
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. "
Hi! I'm Andrea, wife to my handsome hubby, homeschooling mama to my 5 amazing blessings (with one more on the way), and daughter of the King of kings. I am so glad you have stopped by my little piece of the web. My prayer is that the Lord will use this blog to encourage you in your personal, daily walk with Christ.