I have recently become affiliated with a church that may be a little more charismatic than I am used to. One of the things to indicate that is that they have a healing ministry. A couple of weeks ago, I was at a life group meeting where a member had just had surgery. Of course we prayed for that member and of course we prayed for healing. There is nothing out of the ordinary about that; but during the prayer the group leader gave a command that the member should be healed. I had heard of that before and while I thought it was strange at the time it wasn’t unacceptable to my sensibilities. What got to me though is that after the prayer, the leader asked the member if during the prayer, he felt anything. He kept pressing the member trying to get him to admit that some healing took place.
That started me thinking. The illness that caused the surgery to be performed was obviously God’s will. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. I can’t help but wonder what good God wants to work when he allows sickness and suffering to come into our lives. With that in mind, why do we always pray for healing when someone gets sick? It seems that we pray for the outcome that we want never considering the possible outcome that God planned. The perfect outcome! Shouldn’t we be seeking God’s will in all things? Sure we need to let our desires be known. I mean He knows them already. Why then should we pray? Maybe when we pray we should try to determine if what we are praying for aligns with God’s will. Maybe our prayers can tell us if we are heavenly minded or earthly minded. I wonder if our prayers would be different if we remembered Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
That’s what I think. Am I wrong? What do you think?
Judges 13 starts “Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD”. My first thought was “Are these people stupid?” My second thought was “How are we different from them?” I think about September 11, 2001 which brought our country together. People started to attend church services and pray regularly. The refrain “God bless America” was heard loud and often. It appeared that America was turning back to God.
That was short lived! It is once again bordering on illegal to ask God to bless America. Women wail when their “right” to sacrifice their children on the altar of abortion is threatened. It is considered “hate speech” to quote passages of the Bible pertaining to homosexuality. Christians are standing by passively accepting sin because they do not want the label “intolerant”!
So far I have only quoted half of the first verse of Judges 13. The other half is this, “so that the LORD gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.” What consequence does God have for America? Will the terrorists torment us? Will the men of sin subdue us? The end of this story is written in the book of Revelation. As individuals we will be judged. The time is now to accept the mercy of God. In Judges 13 God sent Samson to save the people. To us God sent Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus or Judgment? Which will you choose?
The story of Jephthah, the ninth judge of Israel is a sad story. Jephthah was the son of Gilead and a harlot. When Gilead’s wife had sons, they eventually drove Jephthah out from their father’s house and out of their territory.
When they had need, for Jephthah was a great warrior, they pleaded with him to come back and fight their enemies and they would make him there leader. He did. Jephthah vanquished the enemies of the Gileadites. It seems like a great story, doesn’t it?
The problem was that Jephthah vowed before God that if he was granted victory, he would offer the first thing out of his house as a burnt offering. The first thing out of his house turned out to be is only child, his daughter.
Have you ever made a promise to God if He would help you in a trying situation? I think we all have. We forget that God loves us and wants what is best for us. We don’t need to make vows to God to obtain His Grace. Typically, we break the vow anyway, which makes us worse off spiritually than we were before. By the way, Jephthah did sacrifice his daughter.
What lengths will you go to for God’s Grace?
The following link goes to T. E. Hanna’s Of Dust And Kings. It’s a blog worth following
Do you remember the story of Gideon? Yeah, I know, Gideon, that’s the guy who places the Bibles in all the motels in America. Never seen but ever present. To refresh your memory, Gideon is the guy who, with 300 men defeated the armies of the Midianites and the Amelekites. The armies were as numerous as locusts and they were defeated by three hundred men without weapons. For Gideon and his 300 men to go against the army of the Midianites took incredible faith.
Gideon was the youngest son of Joash the Abiezerite. One day as he was beating out wheat, an angel of the LORD appeared to him saying “The LORD is with you O valiant warrior.” Because the people had been oppressed by the Midianites for the last seven years, Gideon questioned the angel, “If the LORD is with us, why has this happened to us?” Does that sound like Gideon had incredible faith? Then of course, Gideon asked for a sign. He got the sign (read Judges 6). I don’t see any great faith there!
Gideon’s first task was to destroy an alter of Baal and an Asherah which was beside it. Gideon’s next task was to deliver Israel from the Midianites and the Amelekites. Gideon’s response? “Give me a sign!” God gave him the requested sign, so Gideon rushed out to destroy the Midianites. Actually what Gideon did was to request another sign. God gave Gideon the requested sign again.
My point is that God does not expect us to have blind faith. God gave us the nation of Israel to show that He is powerful and is faithful to keep His promises. He expects us to perform great deeds. Consider Matthew 28:19-20. Those deeds require great faith. He has given us the sign, He has given us the power. Our job now is to step out in faith.
Are you ready to obey God or do you need greater faith?
In Judges 1, we discover the tribes that did not drive out the Canaanites are: Judah, Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali and Dan. So, eight of the twelve tribes did not do as the LORD commanded.
In Judges Chapter two, we see that Israel is rebuked. “Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'” When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD.”
In this passage it is unclear if what the sin is and what the consequence is. What we do know is that the Canaanites that remained in the land were to be a snare to the Israelites. I couldn’t help but wonder if Israel had obeyed God, would the situation in the Middle East be different today?
After the dramatic exodus from Egypt, Israel still did not trust the LORD fully and constructed a golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai. God wanted to punish them immediately but Moses intervened and the LORD allowed Israel to live. God led them across the desert to the land of Canaan. When Moses sent spies into the land, the report they brought back brought fear into the Israelites so that again, they did not trust the LORD. This again angered the LORD. The people were sentenced to wander the desert for forty years until the unfaithful people were dead.
After the forty years of testing in the desert was completed, God brought Israel back to the land of Canaan. This time they trusted Him and occupied the land. Israel saw many wonders of God during their desert sojourn and subsequent taking of the land. They had become loyal followers of the God of their fathers. After they settled the land and had peace on every side, Joshua, Moses successor, said this; “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
America has witnessed the many wonders of God over its short history and yet we have all but abandoned God. It is time for loyal Christians to count Gods many blessings, proclaim His wonders, fear His judgment and decide who they will serve. Each day as you face the day, we need to put away the gods of materialism, fornication, voyeurism, lust, selfishness and humanism and choose for ourselves who we will serve and act accordingly. Let the world know who you chose to serve by the way you conduct your daily affairs. I pray that you also will say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
The book of Joshua is hard to follow because it is a litany of the cities and the borders of each of the tribes of Israel. A map of Israel and it’s divisions would be helpful for understanding. Here it is:
The book of Joshua records the division of the land among the tribes of Israel. Joshua chapter 17 records the allotment of the land to the half tribe of Manasseh. After describing the portion of land that was to be Manasseh’s inheritance, verse 12 records that “the sons of Manasseh could not take possession of these cities, because the Canaanites persisted in living in that land.”
Wasn’t god’s command to take possession of the land? Didn’t God say that He would drive the inhabitants of the land out before them? This sounds to me like disobedience on the part of the tribe of Manasseh. Why, after all they had experienced, the grace and protection of God Almighty, would they not obey Him? They were afraid because the Canaanites living in the valley has chariots of iron. They did not trust God to keep His part of the bargain. Then in verse 14 we see that they complained because the portion of land they had been given wasn’t adequate for them.
Do we do the same thing? Do we not follow God’s command, which is required to claim His promise, and then complain when things don’t go our way? Like the tribe of Manasseh, we rationalize away our failure to obey. We compromise God’s word to suit our own desires. We don’t do what God requires because we are afraid; afraid of what people will think, afraid of being “different”, afraid of not fitting in. We forget the nature of the God that we worship. We don’t trust His promises.
The answer? Repent and follow God.