Mighty Warrior?

The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” Judges 6:11-12 HCSB

When I was a young boy, there was a boy who lived in our neighborhood that frequently bullied me. One day after complaining to my parents about the bully picking on me, my father taught me how to defend myself against the bully. I usually tried to avoid this boy rather than have to confront him in some way.

Gideon was hiding from the Midianites. Wheat was not normally threshed in a wine vat. Threshing floors were usually high and exposed so that when the wheat was tossed into the air the winds would carry the useless pieces of shell called chaff away and the grains of wheat would fall to the ground. The heavier pieces were used for making breads and other food. If Gideon had done this, he would have been a target for bands of Midianite raiders. Therefore, he was forced to thresh wheat in a wine vat hidden from view. This certainly does not sound like a person that would be called a “mighty warrior”.

Challenge: Are there times when you would rather hide than fight? God knows your true character and He has a different perspective on life than ours. God came to call an unsure and insecure Gideon. With God's power and ability, He used Gideon to defeat the Midianites. God can use you to accomplish His will, even if you do not feel very confident.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 34:1-31; Matthew 22:23-46

Angels, Angels, Angels

The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Judges 6:11 HCSB

Our young son, Jonathan, had wandered out of the house without our knowledge. The doorbell rang and a man asked my wife if this young boy was our son. He was bringing Jonathan back home from a construction site where he was working just two doors down from our house. My wife was thankful to see Jonathan and quickly thanked the man. She later thought that she should go tell the man how appreciative we were that he brought Jonathan back home, so she ventured to the construction site to be told by the others working there that the man she was describing to them was not there and they did not have any employee that fit his description. We have always felt that the man was an angel sent by God to protect Jonathan and bring him back home safely. We do not know that to be a fact, but it was the only reasonable explanation.

This Scripture tells us that the Angel of the Lord came to deliver a message to Gideon. The Old Testament records several appearances of the Angel of the Lord: Genesis 16:7; 22:11; 31:11; Exodus 3:2; 14:19; Judges 2:1; 13:3; Zechariah 3:1-6. We do not know if this is the same angel or several different angels acting on behalf of God. The angel in this Scripture had the authority to speak for God and hadcome to deliver an important message to Gideon.

Challenge: The Scriptures are very clear that God created angels and they exist to serve God. It appears that many angels appear in human form to deliver messages from God. Thank God for His angels and their watchcare over us. Be vigilant – you never know when an angel may visit you. Read the book Angels, Angels, Angels by Billy Graham for a closer look at how God uses His angels to accomplish His will in our world and in your life.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 32:1 – 33:20; Matthew 22:1-22

The Lord Did It

The Lord threw Sisera, all his charioteers, and all his army into confusion with the sword before Barak. Sisera left his chariot and fled on foot. Judges 4:15 HCSB

I can remember purchasing a bicycle for our daughter that was unassembled. I opened the box and pulled out all of the parts, screws, and bolts. How hard could it be to put together a bicycle? I attacked the project and began to put the bicycle together totally ignoring the assembly instructions that were in the box. When I got the bicycle almost assembled, I realized I had left a vital piece out. The only way to get the piece in the proper place was to practically take the bicycle completely apart. If only I had read and followed the instructions.

The Lord had given Barak instructions on what to do. When Barak was faithful to complete the instructions as the Lord had commanded – success and victory were accomplished. It was not by the power and might of the 10,000 men with Barak, but it was by the power of the Lord that caused Sisera and all of his army to be confused.

Challenge: When we are willing to do what God has instructed and trust Him to accomplish what He has put before us, there is nothing we cannot do. This story is another example of how God can be trusted to do what He has promised. Our response should always be one of trust and obedience even when the task before us may seem impossible.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 30:1-43; Matthew 20:17-34

Saturday: Psalms 7-8; Matthew 21:1-22

Sunday: Genesis 31:1-55; Matthew 21:23-46

Move On

It was reported to Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up Mount Tabor. Sisera summoned all his 900 iron chariots and all the people who were with him from Harosheth of the Nations to the Wadi Kishon. Then Deborah said to Barak, “Move on, for this is the day the Lord has handed Sisera over to you. Hasn't the Lord gone before you?” So Barak came down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. Judges 4:12-14 HCSB

The Kentucky Wildcat basketball team is ranked as one of the top 10 teams in the nation and they recently played Tennessee, which is not even ranked. Even though it seemed like an impossible task for the Tennessee Volunteers to beat the Kentucky Wildcats, they played well and were able to defeat them by two points. On the same night the fourth ranked Kansas Jayhawks were defeated by the unranked West Virginia team.

The odds were against Barak. It seemed impossible for Barak's 10,000 men to be able to defeat Sisera with his 900 iron chariots. In that day, chariots would have been a big advantage. To face that many chariots had to be daunting for the 10,000 Israelite soldiers. Deborah told Barak to “Move on, for this is the day the Lord has handed Sisera over to you.”

Challenge: How many times have you been too afraid to “move on”? Barak and his men were afraid to “move on”. What is God calling you to do that may seem impossible and daunting? With God on your side, you can “move on” and have victory over your fears.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 28:1 – 29:35; Matthew 19:16 – 20:16

Needing Support?

Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Judges 4:8 HCSB

Have you ever attempted to do something that was a bit difficult or scary and you wanted someone to go with you? I know of people who have gone on a roller coaster, skydiving, scuba diving, or mountain climbing and they wanted someone to go with for support rather than attempting the task alone.

Was Barak a coward or did he really need the support of Deborah to go and do what God commanded? Did he think that Deborah's presence would bring God's favor and victory in battle? We really don't know, but we do know that he would not take God at His Word and trust in what God had told him to do. It demonstrated that Barak trusted in Deborah and human strength more than he trusted in God's strength and ability to destroy the enemy, even though God had promised him victory.

Challenge: A person of faith will step out and do what God has commanded without hesitation, trusting in God to bring victory in any situation or challenge. Even if the person has to go alone, he knows that God will be with him. Trust in God and follow His leadership and direction even if it means that you have to go against the crowd and stand alone for what you believe is right.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Proverbs 1; Matthew 19:1-15

Why Are You Not Doing What God Commanded?

She summoned Barak, son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn't the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you: 'Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you 10,000 men from the Haphtalites and Zebulunites?'” Judges 4:6 HCSB

There have been times in my life when I have had strong feelings that God was leading me to do something very specific. At other times when I have sought God's direction in my life, I have wanted Him to write on the wall or speak to me audibly so I would know what He wanted me to do. Most people want to be in God's will and doing what God desires of them.

God had commanded Barak to deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, but he had not done what God had commanded. Deborah called him on the carpet and demanded an explanation for why he had not listened and done what God had commanded.

Challenge: Pray and seek God's will and direction in your life. What has God commanded you to do? Are you listening to and obeying God? Who holds you accountable to do what God has directed you to do?

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 27:1-46; Matthew 18:1-35

Women in Leadership?

Deborah, a woman who was a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. Judges 4:4 HCSB

My grandmother, Bonita Potter, served as the Justice of Peace in Amarillo, Texas for 25 years. She was the first woman judge in Potter County. It was unusual for women to hold positions of leadership in her time. This was an elected position and in her 25 years as the judge, she ran unopposed most of the time. She retired at the age of 75. At the age of 100 (25 years after leaving office) the news station interviewed her and did a story on her life and how she had faithfully served the people of Potter County.

In the Bible we find that several women served in positions of leadership. Romans 16:1-2 attests that Phoebe was a servant of the church. In Romans 16:3 Paul encourages his readers to greet Priscilla and Aquila and refers to them as his fellow workers in Christ Jesus. Luke 2:36-38 introduces a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. Deborah was an exceptional woman and was obviously the best person for the job. God chose her to lead Israel.

Challenge: God can choose anyone to lead His people – young, old, man, or woman. God has created everyone equal and does not look at people through the lenses of prejudice. He is more concerned about the person's heart, faith, and trust than their gender, color of skin, or age. Respect and pray for those who God has put in positions of leadership regardless if the person is male, female, young, or old.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 26:1-35; Matthew 17:1-27

I apologize for not including Saturday and Sunday's readings on Friday.

Saturday: Psalm 5 and 6; Matthew 15:1-28

Sunday: Genesis 25:1-34; Matthew 15:29 – 16:28

Are You Bullheaded?

Whenever the Lord raised up a judge from the Israelites, the Lord was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The Lord was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them. Whenever the judge died, the Israelites would act even more corruptly than their fathers, going after other gods to worship and bow down to them. They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate ways. Judges 2:18-19 HCSB

Obstinate is defined as stubbornly refusing to change one's opinion or chosen course of action despite attempts to persuade one to do so. Some synonyms of obstinate are stubborn, unyielding, inflexible, unbending, bullheaded, pigheaded, self-willed, strong-willed, headstrong, perverse, uncooperative, unmanageable, stiff-necked, rigid, uncompromising, unrelenting, immovable, and unshakable.

These words define the attitude of the Israelites. Even though they had experienced God's protection and deliverance, they were determined to follow their own selfish ways and worship false gods. They became even more corrupt with each generation. The word “turn” means to repent and go in a different direction. The people would not turn from or repent of their evil ways. They were bullheaded.

Challenge: Have you been bullheaded? Are you unwilling to change? Are you following your own selfish desires? Do you need to repent and turn from your evil ways? Ask God to reveal how you are evil and what you need to change in your life. Pray that God will give you the strength to change and become more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

Read The Bible Through In Two Years: Genesis 24:1-67; Matthew 14:1-36

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