Can Failure be God’s Will?

March 26, 2016  Can Failure be God’s Will?

Today’s reading: Judges 20:1-Ruth 1:22

Mother Teresa is attributed with this saying, “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful.”   I agree with this thought, yet in God’s eyes faithfulness to Him is true success.  In this reading we find that God led His people to war three times and they failed the first two.  No reason was given.

Teresa was right in warning us not to assume that faithfulness will always result in what we commonly call success.

Yes, failure is sometimes God’s will for us.  Jesus’ death looked like failure, at first.  Think about it.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

The Ambitious Minister

Today’s reading: Judges 18:1-19:30

When a society throws off the restraints of God’s law and its members do what is right in their own eyes, they open the door to unspeakable evil.  Here we see how this played out in Israel.  It is not a pretty scene.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Everyone is Doing It!

Today’s reading: Judges 14:1-17:13

Not unlike the society we read about in Judges, post-modern man overestimates his wisdom to know and do what is morally correct.  He has rejected God’s law and leaned to his own understanding.  As a result, he honors what is despicable and punishes righteousness. “Everyone is doing it!” he says.  “Nothing’s gonna stop us now,” he sings.     It happened in ancient Israel and it is happening again in our time.

“Not so fast,”  the Bible warns us. God is still the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25).  Romans 2:5 tells us, “ But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Take heed.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Jephthah’s Foolish Vow

Today’s reading: Judges 10:6-13:25

Here we read about Jephthah, best known for his foolish vow that resulted in his offering his daughter as a human sacrifice. But there is an interesting account of his diplomatic negotiations with the Ammonites (Judges 11:12ff). The two sides discuss their opposing views of the history of their conflict. Jephthah sees the hand of God in the matter. The Ammonites, not surprisingly, do not.

Clearly, one’s world view affects one’s interpretation of history.  Even when there is no dispute over what happened there can be a dispute over why it happened and what we should conclude about it. Jephthah had the correct interpretation of what happened and in the end he was proven to be in the right.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Beware the Seduction of Power

Today’s reading: Judges 9:1-10:5

In this passage we have a sad example of how pride and the desire for power and prestige can trap and destroy a person. Flee those temptations! Seek to do and be what God has called you to.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

A Soft (and Wise) Answer

Today’s reading: Judges 7:1-8:35

In today’s reading we come across a magnificent example of how “a soft answer turns away wrath.” This is Monday, an easy day to be in a bad mood.  Not you and me, of course, but perhaps someone else in your world.  Look for ways to turn wrath away by giving a soft answer instead of responding in kind.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Whose glory? The Story of Deborah and Barak

Today’s reading: Judges 3:31-6:40

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I do. Read and find out who got the glory!

See you here again tomorrow.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Limits to Legacy

Today’s reading: Judges 1:1-3:30

We are starting the book of Judges and we will transition from Joshua as the leader of Israel to a time when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). For hundreds of years the nation experienced ups and downs as a result of their sin and disobedience.

Why was this? Had the older generation failed to pass on the knowledge of God? Was the fault with the new generations and their unbelief?

We can’t be sure who is most to blame, but we can be instructed by the consequences that came as a result of losing faith and the knowledge of God. We need to carefully pass on the truth of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to the next generation.  Don’t lose the legacy.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Longing for the Kingdom

Today’s reading: Judges 20-21; Luke 11:1-28

25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.                                                                                                     Judges 21:25

2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.                                                                                         Luke 11:2

The theme of the book of Judges is “there was no king in Israel [so] everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Especially the final chapters of the book show selected incidents all illustrating this same theme.  People disregarded the law. Their worship of God was corrupted. Their marriages were in disarray. There was sexual immorality reminiscent of Sodom and Gomorrah.   It is not hard to see that public opinion in Israel would soon favor installing a king.  But will a king in Israel solve the problems that existed under the Judges?

Hold that question for a bit and fast forward to the Gospel of Luke where Jesus’ disciples are impressed by His prayer life. They ask for instruction about prayer. Jesus gives them the prayer we usually call “The Lord’s Prayer” with its assortment of sample petitions. After addressing God as Father and praying that His name be held as holy, the Lord gives them this petition, “Your kingdom come.”

Now, back to the earlier question. The kingdom of Israel would not solve the problems of their society, much less the problems of the world. But Jesus came announcing the arrival, or, at least the beginning of the arrival, of the kingdom of God. He also gave His disciples the assignment of praying for the kingdom to come in its fullness.

We have a responsibility to the secular governments or kingdoms we live in now, but ultimately the only government that will last is the kingdom of God ruled by the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray that His kingdom may come soon. Today would be a good day for it, don’t you think?

The Cost of Loving Your Neighbor

Today’s reading: Judges 18-19; Luke 10:25-42

25  But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. Judges 19:25

36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37

The value of human life is emphasized throughout the Bible. When asked about how to obtain eternal life, Jesus showed that loving God and loving our neighbor are the two key elements of a righteous life. The first two chapters of the Bible show that Man was specially created by God, male and female, in His image and according to His likeness and given life by His Spirit.

The fall soon introduced alienation from God and between the first humans. Their son was the first murderer, his victim being his own brother (Genesis 1-3).

God in the Bible holds all people responsible for how they treat one another. The command is simple, but it is not easy. Alas! Loving your neighbor as yourself can mean standing up against some serious opposition in society.

The old man in Judges 19 tried to protect the traveler in his village from the abusive men, but his neighbors stormed his house. He foolishly tried to placate their evil desires by offering them his daughter and the visitor’s concubine. In the end, it cost a woman’s life and started a civil war in Israel. The Samaritan in Jesus’ parable reached across a huge racial divide to care for a wounded man. It’s fairly easy in theory to say, “we should all love our neighbors as ourselves,” but it is quite another thing to actually act consistently with that concept.

Those who read the Bible and profess belief in it should be among the most caring of all people, willing and ready to pay a price, if necessary, to preserve and value life.
Look for opportunities to show mercy and kindness toward others today, but know that you may not be appreciated for it. It could even cost you more than you thought.