Prostitution Unleashed

The Lord raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way of their fathers, who had walked in obedience to the Lord's commands. They did not do as their fathers did. Judges 2:16-17 HCSB

Some have said that prostitution is the world's oldest profession, but that is not true. The point of this statement is that prostitution has been around for a long time. Statistics prove that where prostitution is allowed, other crimes increase. Many women turn to prostitution because they feel it is the only way to make a living. A real tragedy are the many women and children who are forced into prostitution.

This verse in Judges records that the Israelites prostituted themselves with other gods. The Canaanite religions appealed to the sensual and selfish nature of man. Male and female prostitution was not only allowed but was encouraged as a form of worshiping false gods. Like all sin, it brought short-term gratification but long-term it destroyed people's lives. Serving the one true God does not appeal to the sinful human nature but calls on people to live in a selfless way that brings honor and glory to God.

Challenge: We cannot live a selfless life without God's help. Satan will tempt us to follow our sensual human nature and desires rather than follow God's commandments. God does not offer short-term gratification but offers an abundant life (John 10:10) here on earth and eternal life in heaven. Living by God's standards is not easy, but it is the way that brings fulfillment and happiness in life (Matthew 6:33). Christ faced and defeated Satan's temptations. Without Christ's help we cannot live God's way.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 23:1-20; Matthew 13:24-58

Break the Cycle

The Lord raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way of their fathers, who had walked in obedience to the Lord's commands. They did not do as their fathers did. Judges 2:16-17 HCSB

There are many documented stories of people who have been abused as children who then become abusers themselves as adults. Some have been sexually abused while others suffered at the hands of domestic violence in the home. The cycle seems to be: 1) Tensions build; 2) Abusive incident; 3) Remorse and reconciliation; followed by 4) Calm. But then the cycle starts over again with tensions building. There have been several advertising campaigns that encourage people to break the cycle and get out of abusive situations.

The Israelites were in a cycle: 1) Rebelling against God; 2) Being overthrown by enemies; 3) Being delivered and restored by God; 4) Forgetting what God had done and returning to their worship of false gods. It seems that they never learned the lesson to trust God and worship Him alone.

Challenge: We tend to be in the same type of cycle. We remain faithful to God as long as things are going well and we are around those whoare devoted to Him. But when things start going wrong and we trust in our own abilities, we stop going to church, we stop having a daily quiet time, and we hit rock bottom in our attitudes and abilities to face any life situation. We then realize our need for God and turn back to Him. Determine to be faithful to God despite the difficulties you encounter.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 21:1 – 22:24; Matthew 13:1-23

Does God Run Out of Patience?

The Lord's anger burned against Israel, and He handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold them to the enemies around them, and they could no longer resist their enemies. Whenever the Israelites went out, the Lord was against them and brought disaster on them, just as He had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly. Judges 2:14-15 HCSB

As a parent of four children there where times when I lost my patience and became angry with my children. I still loved them more than life itself but I was angry with their behavior or disobedience. I had reached the “end of my patience” and would have to carry out some type of discipline to help my children understand the consequences of their actions and to help them learn how to obey and do what is right.

God is our heavenly father. He reached the end of His patience with the Israelites whocontinuallyrefused to do what He commanded and refused to do what they had promised. Sometimes the best and loving action is to allow people to suffer the consequences of their actions. The Israelites suffered greatly as a result of their failure to obey and their insistence on worshiping false gods. God had promised He would bring disaster, so He was just fulfilling what had been promised.

Challenge: When has God lost His patience with you because of your insistence on your own selfish ways? If you surrender to God and His ways you will experience blessings instead of suffering.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 20:1-18; Matthew 12:22-50

Have You Infuriated the Lord?

The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord's sight. They worshiped the Baals and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They infuriated the Lord, for they abandoned Him and worshiped Baal and Ashtoreths. Judges 2:11-13 HCSB

It seems that we live in very evil times. Louisville, Kentucky had over 100 murders last year and Chicago, Illinois is known as the murder capital of the United States with over 400 murders last year. Crime is up in just about every area. More and more children do not respect their parents, much less their teachers at school. There seems to be more friction between political parties and even threats towards those who do not hold the same views.

The Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight. In Joshua 24:16 the Israelites promised to follow God alone but they turned away from God and began to worship Baal, a weather and fertility god. They bowed down and worshiped the gods of the Canaanites, the people that God had commanded the Israelites to completely destroy (see Numbers 33:55-56). The Canaanites influenced the Israelites to abandon the one true God. God knew that the Canaanites would have a negative influence on the Israelites and therefore had commanded that the inhabitants of the land and all of their false gods and idolsbe destroyed.

Challenge: How have you failed to keep your word to God? How have you done evil in the eyes of the Lord? How have you infuriated the Lord? Pray for forgiveness and recommit your life to serving the one and only God of the universe. Don't be led astray by evil people around you. Do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 19:1-38; Matthew 12:1-21

Jesus Loves Interruptions

Many people told him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up; He's calling for you.” Mark 10:48-49 HCSB

One of the manners my wife and I tried to teach all four of our children was to not interrupt. As children they did not want to wait, they wanted to say or do something immediately. We taught them to wait their turn and wait for a break in the conversation.

The blind man was crying out to Jesus using the terminology “Son of David”. He was acknowledging that Jesus was the Messiah and was the rightful one to be the Davidic king. The people wanted the blind man to stop interrupting and told him to be quiet, but that caused him to cry out even louder, trying to get Jesus' attention. Jesus then stopped and called for the blind man to be brought to him. Jesus did not mind the interruption.

Challenge: Jesus saw the blind man as a valuable person, one who was created by God, while the crowd only saw him as a nuisance. You are a person of worth and value to Jesus. Cry out to Him and ask Him to intervene on your behalf. Do not listen to others who are telling you to be quiet or that you are not a valuable person. Look around and determine who might be feeling as though he is worthless. God is calling you to reach out to that person and help him know that he is a valuable person to God.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 15:1 – 16:15; Matthew 9:18-38

Saturday: Psalm 3-4; Matthew 10:1-42

Sunday: Genesis 17:1 – 18:33; Matthew 11:1-30

In Desperate Need

They came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, and Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus, Have mercy on me!” Mark10:46-47 HCSB

I have told this story before but it is worth repeating. When my family was visiting New York City we were walking down the sidewalk where beggars were sitting leaned up against the buildings asking for money. I was walking on by just hoping I could get my family past the beggars to a safe place. When I turned around to check on my children, my oldest daughter, Bethany, was stopping to put change in each cup or box as she passed by. I will never forget that sight and the conviction her actions brought to me. She was setting the example for me when I should have been setting the example for her. Even today, Bethany still has such a compassionate heart for those in need. She is always giving sacrificially and willing to help others. I am thankful God has planted that spirit within her that has helped me to become more compassionate.

Beggars were a common sight in most towns in Jesus' time. Begging was the only way a person with a disability could make a living since most jobs required some type of physical labor. A person who was blind was considered to be cursed by God, but Jesus refuted that idea in John 9:2. Even though God's laws required that people were to care for the needy (see Leviticus 25:35-38), most people saw the beggars as nuisances. Bartimaeus was in desperate need and he knew that Jesus could help him, so he cried out for Jesus to have mercy on him.

Challenge: You may not be blind or need to beg, but you may be in desperate need of Jesus, the only One who can heal a broken spirit, a broken relationship, and give you hope for the future. Cry out to Jesus and turn your problems over to Him. He will hear your cry and answer.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 14:1-24; Matthew 9:1-17

Looking at the Heart

If you say, “But we didn't know about this, won't He who weighs hearts consider it? Won't He who protects your life know? Won't He repay a person according to his work?” Proverbs 24:12 HCSB

There are many who are elderly, disabled, blind, and/or homeless. I have encountered such individuals and have oftenbeen tempted to avoid or ignore them. We will all be held accountable for ignoring the innocent and needy.

This verse is referring back to the previous two verses and describes the consequences for ignoring the innocent and needy. It also shows the seriousness of following God's commands. Someday we all will stand before a Holy God and give an account for what we did here on earth. He will judge sin and the deeds of all mankind.

Challenge: God looks at our hearts – our motives, thoughts, and intentions – rather than our actions. Nothing we do or think is hidden from God. Be careful what you think. Pray that your thoughts and motives will always be clean and pure.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 12:1-13:18; Matthew 8:18-34

Rescue the Perishing

Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter. Proverbs 24:11 HCSB

The state of Kentucky just passed a new law requiring that all women desiring an abortion must first have an ultrasound. Kentucky has also passed legislation banning all abortions after 20 weeks. This is a reversal from current policies that did not require an ultrasound and allowed abortions up to very late in the pregnancy.

This verse in Proverbs reminds us that all of life, from conception until death, is valuable and important. Therefore life is worth protecting at all stages. The unborn child that is being aborted is being taken off to death. If at all possible, we are to rescue the babies who are being slaughtered. There are people we encounter every day who are not Christians and who are stumbling toward eternal separation from God. We must share the Good News and rescue them from death.

Challenge: Pray for women who are considering having an abortion. Consider supporting a Choose Life clinic that is trying to save children from abortion. Volunteer your time or make a contribution to a clinic which protects the unborn. Pray for and share the Good News with those who need to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Listen to the old hymn “Rescue the Perishing” by Fanny J. Crosby on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_e4RXHF6Yk

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 11:1-32; Matthew 8:1-17

Facing A Difficult Time?

If you do nothing in a difficult time, your strength is limited. Proverbs 24:10 HCSB

I have heard it said, “Getting started is half done.” or “To fail to try is to fail.” or “It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried.” or “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” These are all good motivational sayings that have a lot of truth to them. Just imagine if David had shrunk back in fear at the thought of facing Goliath, the giant of the Philistines. Instead He boldly moved to take action when others were afraid to do anything.

In this proverb Solomon is challenging his readers to face difficult times and to at least do something. Lack of action is not an option; it will limit us and lead to failure. Life is filled with difficulties. How one approaches and deals with the difficulties will define who a person is and what he will accomplish in life. A person can either shrink back in fear or boldly move forward to face the challenge.

Challenge: When you are faced with a difficult situation, know that God is with you and that you can boldly face the challenge with confidence, knowing that with God all things are possible.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 10:1-32; Matthew 7:1-29

Memorials

And Joshua said to all the people, “You see this stone – it will be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words the Lord said to us, and it will be a witness against you, so that you will not deny your God.” Joshua 24:27 HCSB

Our family had the privilege of traveling to Washington DC. We went to see the Lincoln, FDR, Vietnam War, Korean War, and the World War II memorials. Each memorial is designed to be a permanent reminder and memorial to the individuals or group of soldiers who fought in the war. Each time a person visits these memorials, he is reminded of what a sacrifice those whose names are engraved did for our country.

The stone that Joshua placed was to be a reminder or memorial of the commitment the people had made to serving the one true and living God. The stone could not actually hear or be a witness, but it would be a reminder to the people and a way of helping themkeep their promises.

Challenge: Have you ever made a promise to someone? Have you ever made a promise to God? Be careful what you promise to do. Be a person of your word. Who helps to hold you accountable to do what you have promised? Consider planting a tree as a memorial for someone who has special significance in your life. Each time you see the tree, it will be a reminder of that person and the sentiment you hold for him.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 7:1 – 8:22; Matthew 5:21-48

Saturday: Psalms 1 and 2; Matthew 6:1-15

Sunday: Genesis 9:1-29; Matthew 6:16-34