Tag Archives: love

Judges 15

It’s not my fault

“Blame him, not me! I had no choice. They deserved it. Paybacks are fair game. Because!”

Do these words sound familiar?

They sure do to me… I’ve said them, many times. But as I look at them now, on the other side of whatever incident or event that prompted them, they somehow feel like sand in my throat. They are all rooted in self. I didn’t get something. Something didn’t happen in the way I expected. I got angry…

Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.” – Judges 15:3

Really Samson, you cannot be blamed? Um, you abandoned your “wife” on your wedding night! And you didn’t return for weeks, perhaps months. Then you have the gall to say that you cannot be blamed because her father later gave her in marriage to a man who would actually take his wife with him – like he was supposed to do?

What a pathetic excuse for an irrational temper, prone to fits of rage, and fueled by the supernatural power of God.

“Because you did this,” Samson vowed, “I will take my revenge on you, and I won’t stop until I’m satisfied!” – Judges 15:7

Notice that it is all about him. The “I” word is rather prominent in both “outrage” verses. Now, I do know that Samson accomplished God’s work in putting some fear into the Philistines. But imagine how much more could have been done if he had also lived a holy life, a life which sought after the heart of God instead of the fleshly wants of Samson? He was designed to lead, not merely destroy.

How much more could I accomplish for God if I lived a holy life, a life which sought after the heart of God instead of the fleshly wants of Jan? How different would life be if I didn’t cast blame, or if I looked a bit harder and prayed for alternatives rather than having knee-jerk reactions? What if I didn’t payback evil with evil? What if I truly sought God for any and all actions which I was unsure about?

I suspect that there would not be quite as much sand scratching my uvula.

Father, blame me. I had a choice. They deserve your mercy and mine. Paybacks are the devil’s tool. Because your son died so that I would live life as he did, for others, not for myself. Please forgive me for failing so often. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It is my fault. That’s why Jesus came, to take it away. Jan

Judges 13

Nazirite

I’ve heard this word most of my life, but today is the first time I actually looked to see what it means.

Naziyr – consecrated or devoted one, untrimmed vines. It comes from the root word, Nazar – to dedicate oneself, devote oneself , separate oneself from others.

With that in mind I read the following passage.

In those days, a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink or eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will rescue Israel from the Philistines.” – Judges 13:2-5

Ok, so he will be set apart. But then the angel gives specific “set apart” instructions. And in the following passage he adds a bit more for Mrs. Manoah, as if to say, “I know you guys have forgotten what it means to be set apart, you don’t read the law of Moses anymore. So let me remind you.”

“Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.” – Judges 13:-13-14

What was he reminding them about? The following verses from the book of Numbers.

If some of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazirite, setting themselves apart to the LORD in a special way, they must give up wine and other alcoholic drinks. They must not use vinegar made from wine, they must not drink other fermented drinks or fresh grape juice, and they must not eat grapes or raisins. As long as they are bound by their Nazirite vow, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything that comes from a grapevine, not even the grape seeds or skins.

“They must never cut their hair throughout the time of their vow, for they are holy and set apart to the LORD. That is why they must let their hair grow long. And they may not go near a dead body during the entire period of their vow to the LORD, even if their own father, mother, brother, or sister has died. They must not defile the hair on their head, because it is the symbol of their separation to God. This applies as long as they are set apart to the LORD. – Numbers 6:2-8

There is a lot of stuff there; nothing from grapes – not even skin, no cutting of their hair, don’t go near dead bodies, and don’t mess with the hairdo. Add in the rest of Jewish dietary and custom restrictions on top of all that.

Being wise, the listened.

When her son was born, they named him Samson. And the LORD  blessed him as he grew up. – Judges 13:24

I love the last part of the verse, and the Lord blessed him as…

Father, thank you that you bless us because you choose to. We’ve done nothing to deserve it. You do it simply because you love us. May I love you back, no matter what. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Maybe I should let my beard keep growing… Hmm, but I do like raisins. Jan

Judges 3

Rescue Them

I have a pretty good overview of the Old Testament history of the Hebrews. Frankly if I was God I would have abandoned them and started over with a people a bit more receptive to obeying his commands. He certainly had plenty of nations to choose from. But no, he remained faithful even if they didn’t. However, he did discipline them.

Since they wanted to live for themselves, God withdrew his protection and allowed natural consequences to take effect. Soon they were conquered by their enemies and enslaved.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:11

Once they experienced the discipline, the consequences of their actions, they cried out for relief. Funny how we always seem to remember God once we are in trouble, but never when we are getting into it.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:9

And again.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:15

And again.

After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel… – Judges 3:31

And the same sad story continues through the entire book. They do evil. God lets them have their way. They are overcome, they are enslaved. They cry for help. God sends rescue.

Isn’t that our story? It is my story.

If I was God, I would have abandoned me long ago and left me to rot. But he didn’t and he doesn’t.

He considers me infinitely valuable.

How do I know that? His Son Jesus created infinity and God allowed him to die to pay the penalty for all of my sins: past, present and future. He rescued me.

Heavenly Father, please continue to create in me the desire to be holy. I want to love the things you love, hate the things you hate. Help me to see everyone through your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m Rescued

Job 22

Nothing to Gain

We value altruism in others when we see it, Mother Terresa, David Livingstone, Eric Liddell, and Florence Nightingale, to name a few. But rarely do we want to engage in that type of self-sacrifice ourselves. Yet even these undoubtedly good-hearted people had a motive beyond the mere desire to do good. They were motivated by a vision of the future, of entrance into heaven. I’m not saying that they thought their works would get them there, but their works were greatly influenced by their eternal destiny. So, they did in fact have something to gain.

Job’s so-called friend Eliphaz asked an interesting question.

Can a person’s actions be of benefit to God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect? – Job 22:2-3

No matter how good anyone behaves or thinks, it really is of no benefit to God. He does not need us in any way whatsoever.

Ponder that for a moment. God does not need you. Nothing you could ever do will change that…

The beauty is that he wants you!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. – Romans 5:8-11

If we accept the offer of life, then he calls us friends. Wow!

Father, thank you for life and friendship that will never end. Thank you for making a way for me to come to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I gain everything! Jan

Job 3

What I Always Feared

I wonder if Satan perked up and started dancing a little evil jig when he heard Job utter the following words.

What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes. – Job 3:25-26

As a Christian I know that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). But when you are in the crucible, in the time of trial, it certainly doesn’t feel like love is anywhere nearby. My wife taught me an expression early in our marriage. It is, “Our fears reduce us to lunatics.” From that lunacy all sorts of bad things follow.

Job was starting to despair. Thankfully he had his friends there to sit Shivah with him. There is a very old saying, “Joy shared is double joy, sorrow shared is half sorrow.” At least his burden was lightened for a little while.

Lord, I pray that I never go through anything like Job’s testing. Please continue to guard over me an my family. And may I be sensitive to those who are undergoing trials. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Then his ‘friends’ spoke… Jan

1 Timothy 1

Unsealed Orders

During WWII my grandmother, then in a German slave-labor camp with her family, was given sealed-orders to bring to the commander of a different camp to which she and her family were being transferred. Her maiden name was Hoffman and she was trying to convince them that she was of German descent. Non-Germans were often worked to death, whereas those of German origin were treated less harshly.

Prior to arriving at the other camp my grandmother carefully steamed the envelope open, unsealing the orders. They stated that if the commander was not fully satisfied that she and her family were German, they should be taken out and immediately executed.

In reading Paul’s letter to Timothy I noticed some unsealed-orders.

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they give you the confidence to fight well in the Lord’s battles. – 1 Timothy 1:18

Paul gave him instructions that were going to be crucial in aiding Timothy in the great war in which he was engaged. So what were those orders that inspired confidence to fight well?

  • Don’t let people waste time in spiritual arguments. – 1 Timothy 1:4
  • Cling tightly to faith in Christ. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Always keep a clear conscience. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Pray for everyone. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Plead for God’s mercy for everyone – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Give thanks. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Pray with actions, not just words. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Pray free from anger and controversy. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Be faithful. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be self-controlled – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Live well. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Cultivate a good reputation. 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be hospitable. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be a capable teacher. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be temperate (not a drunkard). – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Be gentle – peace loving. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Not motivated by money. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Manage your family well. – 1 Timothy 3:4
  • Don’t be prideful. – 1 Timothy 3:6
  • Have integrity. – 1 Timothy 3:8
  • Be responsible. – 1 Timothy 3:10
  • Receive everything with a thankful heart. – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
  • Don’t waste time in arguments. – 1 Timothy 4:7
  • Exercise both physically and even more spiritually. – 1 Timothy 4:8
  • Work hard, suffer if you must. – 1 Timothy 4:10
  • Teach others; insist they learn. – 1 Timothy 4:11
  • Your youth is not an obstacle. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Be an example in; life, love, faith, and purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Encourage others by teaching them from the scriptures. – 1 Timothy 4:13
  • Be enthusiastic in your mission. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Let others see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Check regularly to ensure you don’t stray from the truth. – 1 Timothy 4:16
  • Never speak harshly to elders. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Speak to younger men as you would your own brothers. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Treat older women as you would your mother. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Ensure that true widows’ needs are met. – 1 Timothy 5:3-7
  • Those who work hard for God should be paid for their work. – 1 Timothy 5:17-18
  • Unless there are 2 or 3 witnesses, do not listen to accusations against leaders. – 1 Timothy 5:19
  • Publicly rebuke those who sin. – 1 Timothy 5:20
  • Be impartial, no favoritism. – 1 Timothy 5:21
  • Take your time in appointing leaders, don’t be hasty. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Don’t take part in other people’s sin – stay pure. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Take your medicine. Being sick doesn’t help anyone. – 1 Timothy 5:23
  • Workers should honor their employers by working hard. – 1 Timothy 6:1-2
  • Teach these truths to others and encourage others to obey them. – 1 Timothy 6:2
  • If your material needs are being met, be content. – 1 Timothy 6:7-8
  • Don’t let money tempt you and derail you. – 1 Timothy 6:9-10
  • Run from evil things. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Pursue, run after, a godly life. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Continue to fight God’s battle. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Hold tightly to what you’ve come to believe. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • In purity obey Christ Jesus’ commands! – 1 Timothy 6:13
  • Trust the living God. – 1 Timothy 6:17
  • Know that God richly gives you everything you need for enjoyment. – 1 Timothy 6:18
  • Tell the wealthy to use their money to do good. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  • Guard what God has entrusted you with. – 1 Timothy 6:20
  • Avoid foolish godless foolish discussions with those who think they are wise. – 1 Timothy 6:20

Wow, what a list! And I’ve probably missed some.

Father, thank you for inspiring Paul to write this. Please help me to make this part of my life as Timothy did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And yes, my grandmother did convince the German commander. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Jan

Romans 13

Love

I know a man who recently posted the following on his web blog. It was about the subject of love.

“What is the TEST” to see if they are really Christians…? Or Not…? Is it ‘Love’… or is it… “Truth?”

Is it “Love”… or is it… “Belief in the Total Authority of the Word of God… that Identifies a “Real Christian”… a believer in “Christ Jesus”…?  I believe that the Teaching of the Word of God… identifies that one… by their… “Validity of the Authority of The Word of God!”

Yes, the strange capitalization and punctuation are his; I did not embellish or alter anything. He is a rather unusual man who, whether he knows it or not, revealed the true problem with his belief system in the above sentences. He does not understand love, nor does he truly intimately know the author of love. If he did, his relationship would not be based on works of law, but on works of love. Paul wrote about works of love in Romans 13. In fact he called it our debt.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting—and any other commandment—are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. – Romans 13:8-10

Did you catch that last statement? Love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Period.

Jesus said something very similar.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:38-40

I used the King James Version because I love the symbolism of the word “hang”. Loving God, and Loving People are like two nails, or pegs which up hold the entirety of the law on a shelf or dangling from a rope. If you pull a nail or peg out, the shelf comes crashing down. Now, notice that it isn’t just some ephemeral love. It is specific. Jesus said to love God with all we’ve got, heart, soul, and mind. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We don’t serve God out of duty or a compulsion to fulfill the obligations of the law. No, we serve out of love for him. Likewise, if I love someone in the same way I love myself, I do not want that person harmed. I want to see good for them, which includes knowing Christ as their savior. By doing this, I’m upholding all of the law in the process.

Father, may I show love, your love, to everyone. Please give me the grace and courage to do so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, and love some more. Jan