Do you think you’re too grown up to be a superhero? Today in the book of Judges, you will meet Jael, a housewife turned superhero. What does her story possibly have to do with you and me?
And in our New Testament reading, great multitudes were following Jesus. What an evangelistic opportunity! But instead of encouraging them to pray a prayer and accept Him into their hearts, he wanted to know if they had counted the cost of following Him and whether they were prepared to love Him so much that their love for father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even love for themselves would seem like hate in return. How do we reconcile that with what goes on in many evangelistic circles today/
The book of Judges contains some very interesting stories to say the least!
One of the more surprising, especially if you haven’t read it before, is the story of Jael and her tent peg! God used a “housewife,” a “tent-wife” in this case, to destroy Israel’s and God’s enemy with a hammer and a tent peg. Judges 4:
¹ When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. 3 And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.
A Prophetess named Deborah was judging Israel at this time. She had assured the people that God would give them victory over Sisera and Jabin’s army, but when Israel’s commander, Barak, refused to go to battle without Deborah, she told him, God would still deliver them, but he would get no glory for the victory. Instead, a woman would get the credit. Verse 15: Continue reading →
Verse 56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
This was difficult for those who followed Him to understand and many quit at this point. But Jesus was not concerned about making everything palatable.
We, too, are told to “count the cost” of discipleship.
Luke 14.27-28 says, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost …”
So what does it mean to “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” In verse 56 Jesus says the one who does “abides” in Him. John 15 also talks about “abiding in Him.”
John 15.9-11 says, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
We “eat His flesh and drink His blood” when we allow the “Word of God,” to become as much a part of our being as the food we eat. Food is digested and broken down in our bodies and literally becomes a part of us. So should the Word of God.
Is it truly a part of who you are or just some nice ideas that you consider if you feel like it or if it “seems right to you” as our Proverbs passage today says? The Word of God is not a buffet where we can pick and choose what seems palatable to us.
The same Bible that talks about God’s love and mercy also requires us to “count the cost of being a true follower.” That means we must give up some things which “seem right” like holding grudges, refusing to discipline our children biblically, seeking an unbiblical divorce, or dating an unbeliever.
Instead, we justify by saying, “You don’t know what she did to me!” Or, “If I spank my children, the psychologists say, it will make them hit others.” Or, “I know what the Bible says, but I believe God wants me happy!”
Your “happiness” is not God’s first concern, rather it’s your holiness! In fact, the “happiness” the world offers is like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia, only an illusion crafted by the deceiver himself.
True happiness is found by “abiding in Him,” in “keeping the commandments,” in “eating His flesh and drinking His blood,” so that His “joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
As today’s Proverbs reading says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16.25).
When we seek happiness in disobedience, the end is death, beginning with our intimacy with God. The next thing we know the yum-yums we desired have vanished only to be replaced by a craving for something that brings no satisfaction.
God had told David in 2 Samuel 2.11, “‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house …”
And so it begins.
David’s sins were adultery and murder. Now his son Ammon has raped his own half-sister and another son, Absalom, has murdered Ammon.
We think we can sin in secret and our sins don’t affect anyone but us, but we never sin in isolation. First, we set in motion the laws of sowing and reaping, and second, we are discipling our children and others by our lives and behavior. Children, in particular, are much more likely to do what we “do” than what we “say.” Continue reading →
Welcome once again to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I’ll feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. Some will be about relationships, emotional struggles, or other areas of practical living. Some are books that have helped me in my personal devotional life. This week’s selection, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a biography.
I enjoy reading biographies and don’t have the time to read nearly as many as I would like, but I read this one a year or so ago. To say the book impacted me would be an understatement!
In case you’re not familiar with him, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor, theologian, and writer (The Cost of Discipleship) who came into his own during Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. While many pastors and religious leaders were wooed into believing Hitler only wanted the best for Germany, Bonhoeffer refused to close his eyes to what was happening. He was a founding member of the Confessing Church, those who went underground because they refused to fall in line as Hitler nationalized the German church. They understood and taught that God and His Word must be the final authority in life.
Friends who recognized his importance to the true church in Germany got him out of the country and safely to America. But a couple of weeks later, convinced he needed to stand with the believers in his homeland, he was on a boat back to Germany.
He eventually joined the German underground, working selflessly and in spite of great personal danger, to save and protect as many Jews as they could. Over and over he demonstrated great moral courage in the face of unspeakable evil. Eventually, he and others decided Hitler must be stopped.
What a great reminder in chapter 21, the story of Naboth, that sometimes when we do what’s right there is a cost. There are times in our lives when we obey God in some area and it looks like it isn’t working out so well, but we have to leave it in the hands of a sovereign God and trust that He knows just what He’s doing!
Yet, there are times, as in Naboth’s case, when it costs something very precious to us, possibly even our lives.
Last year I read Eric Metaxas’ book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. (If you enjoy biographies or history or you just want a deeper understanding of what it means to be a believer in difficult times, I highly recommend the book.)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor. He was one of the few men who stood up to Hitler and it cost him his life. He was hanged (in an act of sheer revenge on Hitler’s part) just 3 weeks before the war ended. He was only 39 years old when he died, but his life, his writings, and his story have impacted generations. Continue reading →