Devotional on Judges

2014 – Grand Canyon, AZ

Not exactly the Sermon on the Mount
Judges 15: I swear I’ll get even with you.
Samson decides to marry a Philistine. Along the way he gets mad and kills thirty men for their clothing to use in paying a lost bet. He gets married, but when he’s absent for a while, her father gives his bride to the fellow who was best man at the wedding. Once again, Samson gets mad and burns their fields. The Philistines retaliate by killing his bride and her father. True to form, Samson swears to get even. Isn’t this a pleasant story (not!)? Interestingly enough, we’re told at the beginning of this story that “God was behind this.” What’s going on here? How can God be involved in feuds and retaliation and the like? I think I know the answer. Samson is one of the most selfish and self-absorbed people in the Bible. Apparently, his parents are so impressed that the birth of their son was announced by an angel and since he came with special “handling instructions” they have never said “no” to him in his life. The Lord knows that Samson will never consider taking on the Philistines for the good of his people. All he’s interested in is Samson. Therefore, there has to be something in this for Samson and a great motivator in his life is revenge. It’s strange, I know, but it seems God accomplishes his purposes by manipulating Samson into doing what the Lord wants him to do in the first place. Had Samson been a man with some moral integrity the account of his life would be quite different. Still, the Almighty has his way with Samson even though the byword of his life is “revenge.”
Take Away: Better to cooperate with the Lord in doing what he wants done, but, ultimately, God’s purposes will be accomplished either way.

Devotional on Jeremiah

Letting God be Lord
Jeremiah 10: Mere mortals can’t run their own lives.
Years ago there was a TV commercial in which a stressed homemaker rudely said to her well-meaning mother, “Mother please, I’d rather do it myself.” According to the ad, she needed to take a pill, and not just any pill: their pill. However, her desire to “do it herself” could never be fixed by her taking a pill. It’s a part of the human condition. Specifically, it’s what we say to our Creator. We’re made to live in fellowship with the Lord, to be partners with him in his purposes in our world. Instead, we turn our backs on God, insisting “I’d rather do it myself.” The result is, well, it’s what I see on the evening news every day. Pain and suffering, hating and killing: it’s all the result of our doing it ourselves. The fact is that as long as we make the most basic of mistakes: the exclusion of God from our lives, everything else is just putting band aids on life-threatening wounds. On the largest scale, the only hope of humanity is surrender to God. On the personal scale, it’s the same. Jeremiah says, “Men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.” His solution is to do what God designed us to do in the first place: connect to God and let him be Lord of all that we are.
Take Away: We’re designed to live in fellowship with the Lord and nothing else will do.