Archive for July, 2017

Judges 2:16-23 (Part 2)
The Lord Rescues His People

Since the end of my second marriage in the summer of 2004, one of the things that I did was to really go overboard in re-establishing the relationship with my daughters, particularly with my youngest daughter, Taylor. My oldest daughter had come to live with me and my second wife in 2001 so we had begun reconstructing our relationship to a certain extent. However, my younger daughter had remained living with her mom and when she came to my home for visitations it was still almost like she wasn’t there and then I only did the bare minimum of communication, of support and so on. At least with my oldest daughter, she was living with us and by her mere presence demanded recognition. But even then, I was not the father to either one of them that I should have been while I was married to my second wife.

After my second marriage ended, I spent a great deal of time spoiling my girls to make up for what had happened to our relationship during my second marriage. Meghan, my oldest, was already starting her sophomore year at Clemson but Taylor was a sophomore in high school by this time so there were the every other weekend visitations still with her. Taylor got to experience a lot of spoiling on these weekends. Whatever she wanted she got. Being the only child that chose to stay with her mother, she also got very spoiled on a day to day basis at home with her mom. She took full advantage as any child would. Taylor had no incentive to work as she was handed everything by her mother at home and by me as her non-custodial dad. In fact, Taylor did not get a job until her senior year in high school and even then it was part time. She was so spoiled that she decided to quit her seeking of a post-high school education after one brief semester at a local technical school near her home. It was too much work. Although Taylor is almost brilliant in the ease at which school came to her, she never wanted to work too hard at it. After working several years part time she finally got a full-time job as a customer service rep at a regional pest control company. All the while, I continued to spoil her in certain ways. One of which was keeping her on my cellular telephone plan without asking her to pay her share and I continued to give her money any time she asked for it.

Finally, I began to see that she was abusing the privilege of the phone and running up these huge data usage amounts that would often send me over my data limit. We began having arguments about it and I warned her repeatedly that I was going to cut her off my plan. This was the beginning of the disaster that has become our relationship. I had raised what had become a child that meets the classic definitions of the millennial crowd – the generations of American youth who had a sense of entitlement because they had never been forced to work or do without or sacrifice.

In the midst of all this brewing discord between me and my youngest daughter, her mother, my first wife, passed away at one month shy of turning 55 years old in July 2015. Within a month of her mother’s death, Taylor had quit her job and she has not returned to the workforce (at least not that I know of). Within a few months after her quitting her job, she and I got into a big argument about when she was going to be ready to start working again. Since that time I have barely seen her. Since that time, the only time that she begins conversations with me is when she has a financial crisis. She and her boyfriend live this hand to mouth existence but yet when things get out of hand financially she starts talking to me. So tired of this cycle of silence and awakening of our relationship when she needed something after over a year of saying that I would finally cut the final apron string of her cell phone in November 2016. After that, I did not here from her again until February 2017 when she needed money again. The tears flowed like a river that day and I paid to a four figure sum to get the power and water turned back on at the house she inheritied from her mom. She promised to have a relationship again at that point and she promised to pay me back for the assistance and she said she was looking for a job. It was another con job. I have not heard from her since. She has returned to incommunicado mode. Because of the ongoing war about (1) moving on from her mother’s death, (2) getting a full-time job, (3) living a responsible life (4) going to college, and (5) having a normal relationship with me, the last two years of this rift between Taylor and me, she has not been around any family events in the life of our family including the birth and first birthday party of her niece and my granddaughter, Ralyn. Birthdays of her sister, her granddad, Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name the family event, she has skipped it without even as much as a phone call. As of this writing, though I have texted and asked her to get in touch with me on numerous occasions and even went by her house about six weeks ago, I have not heard from my youngest child in five and half months. Nothing. No communications. She got what she wanted and returned to the veil of silence. For all the teary-eyed talk back in February at the Pizza Inn in Duncan, SC, and the taking of the assistance that I gave her to get her out of a jam with her utilities, I have heard nothing. Silence.

It was my relationship with my youngest daughter that I thought of this morning and how it is similar to the way that Israel is portrayed in this passage. Let’s read through it and I will connect dots after we do. Let’s read it together now:

16 Then the Lord raised up judges,[a] who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.” 23 The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

In this passage, we see that despite Israel’s disobedience, God showed them great mercy by raising up judges to save the people from their oppressors. Mercy can be defined as “not giving a person what they deserve.” This is exactly what God did for Israel and what He does for us as His children. Our disobedience demands judgment. But God shows mercy toward us by providing an escape from the final judgment of our sins in Jesus Christ. He alone can save us from the real and final consequences of our sins when we meet our judgment. When we earnestly come to Jesus realizing that we are painfully aware of our sins and the judgment that they will bring us and ask for forgiveness and the intervention of the covering of our sins by Jesus Christ we are asking for that which we do not even come close to deserving. Yet, when we come to Christ with an humbled heart and ask Him to be our Savior from our sins and to be the Lord over our life, we experience release from judgment by grace through faith.

The reason that I thought about Taylor when I read this passage is that because of this situation with her that I really have come to understand the love that God has for us and the grace that He gives us that is undeserved. I understand God’s love for us because of my love for my daughter, Taylor. No matter what she does to thumb her nose up at me and no matter how she blames me for her problems, I still love her. If she walked in my door right now, I would hug her and tell her that I love her. This fight she has with me is because she has created it in her mind. It is not because I do not love her. I do love her. I love her no less now than I did when our relationship was good and when I was showering her with blessings. I do allow her to suffer the consequences of her own actions now, but I do nonetheless love her. That’s a view of God’s grace to Israel and to us. No matter how distant my daughter becomes from me, I still love her and still would exchange my life for hers if it ever came to that. That’s the grace she, by all rights, does not deserve. She uses me to get what she wants and then she ignores me. Sounds like Israel. Sounds like us when it comes to God. Grace means love despite actions that deserve something other than love. Grace means deserving condemnation but getting love.

Through my yearning for having a normal relationship again with my youngest daughter, but her shaking her fist at me in defiance, I know can begin to understand the love of God for us. We shake our fist at him in defiance and we do not deserve His love. We deserve His judgment. We deserve anything but love. But He loves us anyway. He gives us Jesus. Through Jesus, through God’s love for us, we can restore our relationship with Him. Just as if Taylor walked through my door right now, she would be loved and accepted and no condemnation would be given for barely speaking to me these past two years. It is because of love that God remained faithful to Israel despite her defiance. That’s a parent’s love for a child. That’s God’s love for us.

Amen and Amen.

Judges 2:16-23 (Part 1 of 3)
The Lord Rescues His People

It is not very popular these days to take a stand against that which is in opposition to the Bible’s commands. Christians are considered “they” in our society today. We are no longer considered the “we” of our society. Recently, I was watching CNN, that bastion of objective reporting that it has become (LOL!), where they had a panel of “experts” dissecting and, of course crucifying Trump for his decision today to ban transgenders from military service, and one thing that struck me was that one of the panelists talked about how Christians saw this as a hot button issue since this more than any other issue involves personal choice. The reporter even went as far as saying that even if Christians gave some leeway to the argument that gay people may be born that way, transgender issues represent a cut and dried issue for Christians involving a choice to go against nature. Although that statement is false as we Christians do also see homosexuality as a lifestyle choice rather than a genetic issue. The general liberalism on that issue of some Christian denominations may have skewed that thought. The true Christian view of these issues are that they are all wrong in the sight of God and that just like any other sin, we must repent from them and return to God through Jesus Christ. The falsehood of her statements was not what struck me. The thing that struck me the most, was the fact that she referred to Christians as “they” and not “we”.

We no longer live in a society that is ruled by Christian principles. Christian principles are seen as an oppressive thing of the past where we are prevented from doing what we want and believing what we want to believe. Sexual morality as defined by the Bible is no longer seen as valid and that whatever your sexuality is, you should be free to pursue. We are own little islands in which we are own gods, free to determine what is right for us alone. We are own moral bubbles floating around freely. Homosexuality, transgenderism, unrestrained heterosexual freedom, baby mommas, baby daddies, it is all OK now since we have displaced the one true God with ourselves. With us as our own gods, we must only do no harm (like the Hypocratic Oath for doctors) or at least do more good than bad then we all go to heaven. No longer are we restrained by that archaic Christian concept that one sin condemns us to hell and that we must have a Savior. Jesus thus must be taken down from his place of singular deity because we don’t need saving now. Jesus is demoted to just another philosophy among those that you can choose from in life that fits your needs and your desired lifestyle. If you don’t like the parts of the Bible that are against how you want to live your lifestyle, you ignore them. You then must begin to see all religions as equal ways to heaven. Under this pantheistic view, we effectively eliminate hell. There is no need to talk of hell because that is old-fashioned and that our god is a loving, non-judgmental, all-tolerating god. He just loves us and lets us do what we want because our god just wants us to be happy to pursue what we define as right for our own moral little bubble. Our god today is like the old Lionel Ritchie song from 1977 (wow, really? That song’s 40 years old) where god is “easy like a Sunday morning!” The god we have now invented for ourselves is no longer the God of the Bible. The god we have invented for ourselves has caused true Christians to be considered “they”. We are “they” and we are roundly criticized, vilified, and marginalized at any point we go against the current trend toward pantheism and self-worship. If you buck the trend toward self-worship, you are considered an ogre with your knuckles dragging the ground. Some Christian denominations are so scared of being vilified by the majority of self-worship that pervades our society that they have adopted some of the self-worship concepts in contrast to the clear mandates of the Bible. In order to be seen as culturally with it and relevant some denominations have ignored the Bible and embraced the culture.
It is this idea of the self-worship as a form of idol worship that our country has fallen into was what came to mind this morning as I read through this passage, Judges 2:16-23, for the first of three times this morning. The same thing was happening to Israel. Let’s read about it now:

16 Then the Lord raised up judges,[a] who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.” 23 The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

In this passage, we see that God often delivered His harshest criticism and punishment to those who worshiped idols. Why were idols so bad in God’s sight? To worship an idol violated the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-6). The Canaanites had gods for almost every season, activity, or place. To them, the Lord was just another god to add to their collection of gods. Israel, by contrast, was to worship only the Lord. They could not possibly believe that God was the one true God and at the same time bow to an idol. Idol worshipers could not see their god as their creator because they created it. These idols represented sensual, carnal, and immoral aspects of human nature. Adding the worship of idols to the worship of God could not be tolerated by Him.

Why would the people of Israel turn away so quickly from their faith in God? Simply put, the Canaanite religion appeared more attractive to the sensual nature and offered more short-range benefits (sexual permissiveness and the promise of increased fertility in sexual activity and in farming). One of its most attractive features was that people could remain selfish and yet fulfill what they thought were their religious requirements. They could do almost anything they wished and still be obeying at least one of the many Canaanite gods. Male and female prostitution was not only allowed but was encouraged as a form of worship. Faith in the one true God does not offer short-range benefits that appeal to our sinful human nature. The essence of sin is selfishness. The essence of following God’s ways is selflessness. We must seek Christ to live in God’s way.

Do you not see what America is becoming is just like the Israel of the Judges era? We have turned away from God and worship our own free expression of the desires of our hearts and it is that desire that we worship not God. We may feign belief in God in our nation now but only when it does not get in the way of our self-worship and pantheism of all roads lead to heaven. We no longer need a Savior. We are own gods. There is no real sin. There is no condemnation. God is our buddy. Jesus is our friend. We have elevated ourselves to being our own gods and we define what is right for ourselves not some higher external being known as the one true God.

Let us pray for revival. Let us pray for bold Christians. Let us pray for Christians who care enough about the reality of hell that we don’t want our worst enemies to go there. Let us pray for an evangelistic explosion where we relate the Word of God in ways that meet people where they are at in their self worship in today’s world. Let us quit being “they” and engage the culture of self-worship with the truth of the Word of God in loving ways but yet reveal the truth about sin. All of us are sinners who blind ourselves at times to our sins and call them good, until we encounter a pure, holy and just God who exposes our sins for what they really are. It is only then that we see that Jesus is necessary. Jesus not just a friend who tolerates anything we do but rather our only way to be saved from the condemnation of our sins to that very real place known as hell.

God give us that boldness and that caring. We pray for the day that we are no longer they!

Amen and Amen.

Judges 2:6-15
Israel Disobeys the Lord

There is an old axiom that says grandchildren are our chance to correct the mistakes that we made with our children. When we are young and have our children, we often make mistakes with them that impact them the rest of our lives. I know that is the case with my grown daughters. One of the biggest mistakes that I made with my kids is that God was never really part of conversations at home. I guess I expected them to catch the faith by taking them to church on Sundays. But we never read Bible stories to them. We never did family devotionals at the dinner table. And the little church that we went to that was my first wife’s family church was little more than social club that meet on Sundays between three local extended families. There was no discipleship, no Sunday school, just Sunday morning preaching and that was about it.

At home, there were two parents who were not anywhere closed to being saved by grace through faith. We claimed to be Christians but that was it, the claim. There was not even a Bible in our house that I can remember. Then there was all the marital discord and causes and effects that led our marriage to the courtroom. Then, our children were never really exposed to discipleship through us as parents after that. I am pretty sure that my oldest daughter, now 32 and a parent of a 1 year old daughter of her own, is saved simply by listening to her talk about God and faith and how she prays. My prayer for her is that she will find a local church that will energize her and deepen her faith through the fellowship with other believers. My youngest daughter, who and am going through relationship struggles right now may not be saved. She may be but the fruits of the spirit are not evident. I pray that she will come to the Lord. I pray that God will place people into her life that will lead her into the light of the Lord.

The thing that is striking to me about my grown children and I think it is true of all children is that it like the old saying about it being tough to get the horse back in the barn after leaving the barn door open. If we don’t teach our children the ways of the Lord when we have them at home, we leave the barn door open. Much of our lifelong behaviors are learned in those early first 5 years of life. If we do not make our faith evident to them and if we do not directly have time where we teach them about the Lord, we leave the barn door open. If we do not take life’s teachable moments and interweave the Christian faith into the teachable moments, we leave the barn door open. It is like trying to get the horse back in the barn after leaving the barn door open. The world is too ready to teach our children the ways of the Lord and trying to combat that when you have not taught them about God and His commands and His Word after say they are teenagers, you missed the golden opportunities. Those early formative years when our kids are little and moldable and teachable are an important window of opportunity to teach them the ways of the Lord from which they will never depart. I just pray that my children forgive me and that the Lord forgives me for missing that window of opportunity with my kids.

But I do have an opportunity at making up for the mistakes that I made with my kids. The granddaughter that just turned 1 this past week is that opportunity to make up for not seeing the importance of teaching the next generation about the Lord. I want young Miss Ralyn to know the Lord at an early age. I want her to be exposed to Bible stories. I want her to be exposed to Christian principles. I want her to be taught about who Jesus is and what He represents for us. And I want to do it in a way that is not preachy but such that she asks questions about Jesus and God and the church and use those moments to impart the gospel to her. I want it to be easy going and part of everyday conversation so that Jesus is fun and intriguing to her young mind. Grandkids are our opportunities to make up for how we screwed up our own kids. They are our second chance. I hope that I do well with my second chance.

That idea of imparting knowledge of God and the ways of God to our next generations was what I thought of this morning. How Israel failed at it. How I failed at and how my grandchild is my opportunity make up for the mistakes I made in teaching my kids about God. If we don’t teach our kids about God and about His love for us through Jesus Christ, there is a world out there too willing to ask them to join in the things that the world worships. We see it in Israel’s history in this passage, Judges 2:6-15:

6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.

8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres[a] in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

Here in this passage, we see that one generation died and the next did not follow God. Judges 2:10-3:7 is a brief preview of the cycle of sin, judgment, and repentance that Israel experienced again and again. Each generation failed to teach the next generation to love and follow God. Yet, this was the very center of the law (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). It is tempting to leave the job of teach the Christian faith to the church, Sunday school, or church-related organizations. Yet, God says the responsibility for this task primarily belongs to the family. Because children learn so much by our example, the home offers the most effective place to pass on the faith to the next generation.

Little Miss Rayln, my sweet grandchild, I want you not have to suffer through years and years of struggles and such a long and winding road to the cross. I want you to know the Lord, know what Jesus Christ did for you, and for you to know Jesus Christ as your Savior at a time that is right for you and hopefully that it is early in life. I want you not to have to get caught up in what the world worships and the struggles that it will cause you in life. I pray that your granddaddy here will be able to influence your through direct and indirect ways about our Christian faith and God’s Word. I pray I will be able to answer the tough questions that you will have about life and being a Christ follower. I pray all of that fervently.

Amen and Amen.

 

Judges 2:1-5
The Angel of the Lord at Bokim

I remember when I was married to my second wife, I lived with her and her three boys. Watching the way discipline was handled by the boys’ mom was an eye-opener to me. For all the faults there were with my first marriage, one thing we did right was being consistent with discipline. However, by the time that I got the boys in this second marriage, they were 9, 6, and 3. Discipline patterns and child behavior patterns had already been set. I came in expecting consistent discipline and support from this wife when it was time to dole it out. However, what I found out was that life was going to be quite different from what I had expected.

One of my things with my children (which I learned from my dad) was that discipline starts at the dinner table. In my first marriage, whatever Lisa put on the table was what we all ate. No questions asked. If you didn’t eat it. You went hungry. No negotiations. No mom being a short-order cook for the husband and the two girls. We ate what she cooked and that was it. This sometimes was really difficult with Meghan and Taylor, but we never gave in on it. To this day, my girls will eat a wide variety of foods and will try any type of food at least once. This is where discipline begins. When you sit down at my dinner table, young lady, you will eat what is put in front of you and you will go hungry if you don’t. This simple discipline taught my girls not only to eat more than chicken nuggets but it also taught them that you cant always get what you want. It taught them that you can negotiate your way out of things you don’t want to do. It also taught them that there are fixed boundaries with parents that you cannot cross over. It also taught them that you can’t pitch a temper tamtrum to get what you want or to get out of something you don’t want. It taught them sometimes in life you just have to grin and bear when there is no easy way out of a situation.

With my second wife, the dinner table was like watching a cook at McDonalds. She would fix one meal for me and up to three different things for the three boys. It used to blow my mind. By the time I came into the picture, this pattern of behavior had already been set. I used to try to get the boys to eat what Trena and I were eating but the cast was set. That was not the only place that the kids had established a pattern of negotiating their way out of what they did not like. When they got in trouble and Trena or I would dole out a punishment, they would come back an hour or so after the confrontation and would beg their mom to let them off the hook. They would do in this in hourly cycles all night long. They would keep the pressure up until she would relent somewhat. They would negotiate their way down to almost having no punishment at all. Within 24 hours of this incessant whining and Trena not being willing to pay the price herself for whatever punishment was doled out, there would be no punishment anymore. When a punishment is inconvenient for the parent, we must be willing to pay the price as well so as to teach our children lessons. But all this lack of effective discipline with built-in consequences for actions led to an unruly household that used to drive me insane. My first marriage was a living hell much of it but in some ways this second marriage was just as soul crushing. I had no authority in my own home and that made our home like living in the insane asylum where the patients were in charge of the hospital.

Reading today’s passage reminded me of the time I spent in my second marriage. Here, we see the Israelites being called out for their disobedience. They then do all the right things, say the right things. But as we see immediately in the next passage, they go right back to what they were doing. It reminded me of how the boys would do stuff that they knew was wrong and against my rules but they would plain out do it any way just to spite me. Then, when they got busted by me for the millionth time, they would do all the right things and say the right things in front of their mom and get their sentence reduced or eliminated. And dinner time was like that too. If they didn’t wanna eat what was proposed they would negotiate their way out of it. In all of their patterns of behavior of negotiating of putting on the right appearances, they then got way with pretty much anything they did. They had no discipline. They learned situational ethics from the beginning. Do what you want. Rationalize it away as not being bad. Then go back to doing what you want. The boys and the Israelites reminded me a lot of each other when I read that they were called out. Then they dance the dance they needed to dance. But then go right back to doing the very things they were called out for.

Let’s read Judges 2:1-4 right now and see if you can get that same vibe as I did:

CHAPTER 2 

1 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”

4 When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that place Bokim.[a] There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.

 

Here you see that the angel called out the Israelites for their disobedience. The angel explains why God has his requirements for His people. God knew that the idol-worshiping, evil, immoral people of Canaan had to be completely driven out and destroyed. Because otherwise, they would become temptations and snares for the Israelites. We find from the remainder of the Old Testament that this came true and had disastrous consequences for Israel over the centuries. All because way back here in Judges, they disobeyed and got lazy in obeying God.

I know that it sounds crazy but with your kids, discipline must start at the dinner table. If you lose that battle, they will use it as a prompt for negotiations in other areas of life. We, as parents, must require and enforce discipline at the dinner table. If they don’t eat what mom puts on the table, then they go hungry. Plain and simple. It will only take one time of there being a consequence. Going hungry is a pretty good punishment for disobedience. If you lose that battle, they will learn that they can negotiate over punishments, over curfews, over homework, over you name it. Never lose the battle of the dinner table. It is the beginning of a slippery slope if you do. Then you get kids who think they can do all the right things to your face and then do whatever they want behind your back.

Here you see the Israelites dancing the dance that needs dancing for the moment to get themselves out of trouble. However, they go right back to doing wrong. However, instead of being able to negotiate their way out of or rationalizing away their out of consequences, God allows the consequences to play themselves out in the Israelites lives. It is the same kind of thing that happens with our kids. When we release them out into the world (with a I can get away with pretty much anything mentality), they will soon crash and burn and get crushed by the realities of the fact that world is not mom and the world doesn’t negotiate consequences. It all starts at the dinner table. Win that battle. Win the war.

It is the same with us as children of God. If we obey the Lord and if we stay in His Word, we will learn that God has boundaries for us not because He is some mean, capricious God but because He loves us and does not want us to become ensnared in sin and its non-negotiable consequences. God wants what is best for us. That’s why He wants obedience from us.

Amen and Amen.

Judges 1:19-36
Israel Fails to Fully Conquer the Land

A few days ago, I wrote a blog in which I wondered where all the great leaders have gone. The decay in leadership of our country over the past generation has led us down the path where in the most recent presidential election our choices were limited to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. A few elections ago, we bemoaned our choice between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Back then, a lot of people called it the choice between the lesser of two evils. By 2016, we only wished that we could have had that choice compared to the real lesser of two evils, Trump vs. Clinton. The funny thing was that in this past election, particularly the Republicans, of which I am one, spent so much time trying to make Donald Trump a morally superior candidate to Clinton. They had to be very vociferous in this attempt. They were blasting all over Facebook about those who attempted to deride Trump. They would say that any dissent toward Trump would result in Clinton winning the White House. Any thought of voting third party would guarantee Clinton’s election. They were so afraid of a Clinton victory (and her liberal agenda, which of course frightened me as constitutional purist and Republican) and so enamored with the Trump mystique that they failed to see how completely amoral that Trump himself is. Trump’s ethics depend on the situation and what makes him look the best. His need for self-satisfaction is the whole reason that he ran for President to begin with. Trump has no external moral compass and will reverse position on any issue as long as it preserves the best possible image of himself. Trump, the dealmaker, will do, say, act whatever way that gets him the prize that he wants. I pray that he does not screw things up too badly while in office (which many people fear on both sides of the aisle) and I pray fervently that someone with principal will rise up in the Republican Party to take his place by 2020.

But the thing is, why it came to down to Trump as the “moral” alternative to Clinton. These two are simply the product of the society in which we live now. We are a nation that is descending into moral relativism and running away from God. We no longer are a nation that fears God. We are a nation of gods. Each one of us now determines what is right. Morality is a moving target. There are no moral absolutes. The reason that Trump is where he is today is that we glorify bullies. We may talk a good game about why bullying is wrong in schools but we elected Trump. We have glorified him since the 80s when we burst on the scene as a brash young real estate developer who made his fortune by bold moves and grabbing what he wanted based on the vagaries and loopholes in the tax system. He was bold, arrogant, and bragadocius. We loved him for it. We loved his arrogant bullying type of personality. Now in his seventies with all this adoration for his self-centered approach to life, we wonder why he is a person that would lie to your face to get what he wants. We wander why he is almost child-like his “I know you are but what am I” antics with those who disagree with him. He is simply a reflection of the society in which we live and we should be aghast at who we have become.

We have become a society that breeds Donald Trumps. We have become a society that is all about what I can get for myself. We have become a society where what I want is what I want and I have a right to my own way of doing things regardless of what that means for society. We have become a society that blockades the state of North Carolina for having the temerity to tell someone that they must use public restrooms that correspond with their God-designed and God-given sexual identity of birth. We have become a society that wants to change the nature of nature. We have become a society that says what has been morally wrong for eternity is now not wrong but rather that all of eternity was wrong. We are a society that produces teenagers that see that a man drowning is entertainment rather than a real person in need of assistance. We have become a nation that glorifies the objectification of women as sexual objects and then we wonder why our ten year old daughters dress like adult women going to a night club. We wonder why our children think now that having a baby out of wedlock is a badge of honor. Trump is not some aberration of society. The reason that Trump got elected is because Trump is us. We are Trump and he is us. He is the product of our state of society. Situational ethics, lack of moral absolutes, each of us being our gods and determining what is right and wrong for ourselves is who we are now.

It is that idea of how we became a country whose presidential election choices have hit an all time low back last here with the choice between Trump and Clinton and how Trump is simply the product of our times is what I thought of this morning when I read this passage. In this passage, we see that once Joshua passes on, the Israelites begin to descend in to a relativistic attitude of life. They no longer are concerned with obeying God but rather with what was easiest for them, whatever made them feel good:

19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak. 21 The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.

22 Now the tribes of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 When they sent men to spy out Bethel (formerly called Luz), 24 the spies saw a man coming out of the city and they said to him, “Show us how to get into the city and we will see that you are treated well.” 25 So he showed them, and they put the city to the sword but spared the man and his whole family. 26 He then went to the land of the Hittites, where he built a city and called it Luz, which is its name to this day.

27 But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. 28 When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. 29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, so these Canaanites lived among them, but Zebulun did subject them to forced labor. 31 Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob. 32 The Asherites lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land because they did not drive them out. 33 Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced laborers for them. 34 The Amorites confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain. 35 And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim, but when the power of the tribes of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labor. 36 The boundary of the Amorites was from Scorpion Pass to Sela and beyond.

In this passage, we see that tribe after tribe failed to drive the evil Canaanites from their land. Why didn’t they follow through and completely obey God’s commands? Reasons may have included:

• They had been fighting for a long time and were tired of war. Although the goal was in sight, they lacked the discipline and energy to reach it.
• They were afraid that the enemy was too strong
• After Joshua’s death, power and authority was decentralized to the various tribal leaders and the tribes were no long united and of a single purpose.
• Spiritual decay had infected them from within. They thought they could handle temptation and be more prosperous by doing business with rather annihilating the Canaanites.

We, too, often choose to tolerate sin rather than drive it out from our lives. We may know what to do but just don’t follow through. This state of affairs results in a gradual deterioration of our relationship with God. Victory comes from living according to His purpose and from being willing to fully obey Him.

So, we in America may want to complain about a man like Trump and Lord knows he is a doozy. He is about as morally bankrupt a man as we have ever had in the White House (and I say this as a person who believes in the fundamental ideas of the Republican Party). Trump makes Bill Clinton look like a boy scout. At least Slick Willie would spin his actions in the best possible light so as to align his actions with some sense of moral center. However, Trump just doesn’t care. He doesn’t know what a moral center is. He will do what he pleases and will denounce and detract those who do not get out of his way. The liberals that hate him are so much the same too. If you support Trump even in the slightest way, you are a bigot not to be listened to (think Samantha Bee and her nightly diatribes on her show on TBS – oh man I am so tired of her!). Trump and his detractors are all products of our society. We may hate Trump but he is what our society has become. There is no moral center to our nation anywhere and we are surprised and shocked when our choices for president are between two morally bankrupt candidates and we elect the one who shouted the loudest though saying nothing of value.

We must pray for our nation. We are becoming ancient Israel that descending into moral depravity and worshiping themselves and other gods rather than the one true God. We may look at the Bible and say we are a better nation than ancient Israel but we are headed down the same path.

I pray that our nation will return to God and that there will be revival in our nation. May we see that Donald Trump is not an aberration and that he is a reflection of who we have become and maybe awaken ourselves from our moral slumber. Maybe Trump is what we need to realize that our nation is adrift in self worship and needs to reclaim the moral absolutes of the Bible and realize that the Bible is not intended to hold us back. The Bible is there to reveal that God wants the best for us if we just obey Him. The Bible is there to let us know that we are not our own gods and evidence after evidence of every society is that when they turn from God that they ruin themselves.

May all believers pray for our nation to have new leaders rise up from among us and to provide the moral leadership that our country needs to lead us back to God. Then Trump will have served his purpose in God’s plan. To show us who we have become and we did not like what we saw in the mirror. May Trump chase our country back to God by his own ugliness that is a reflection of our own ugliness.

Amen and Amen.

Judges 1:1-18 (Part 3 of 3)
Judah and Simeon Conquer the Land

Last night, I was having a discussion with a friend who is a ministry leader in our church. He has calling to his ministry and honestly wants to do the right thing by it. However, right at the moment, he is feeling boxed in about how he is to lead the ministry after having a meeting with our discipleship associate pastor. One of the things that we discussed was about seems to have become my mantra of late. That mantra that has been laid on my heart constantly for the last few months is “to keep plowing the field in front of you!” Sometimes, we may get bitter or upset over the turn of events in our lives when we feel like we have done everything that God has asked of us but you seem to come up empty or you seem not to get what God has promised you.

As I have discussed here many times before about my desire to be in full-time ministry. I have done what God has led me to do – to go to seminary to get my Master of Christian Ministry (MCM) degree and am even now working on my Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) degree. My assumption was that right after graduation there would be my church or another church waiting on me after I stepped down from the stage with my MCM degree in hand ready to offer me a job or that he would make it immediately clear as to what I was supposed to do. However, here we are three years later, and I have only come close to being in full-time service to the Lord once. I thought I had a job in Wooster, OH at a church there in the bag. I had made it through three job interviews, one of which was on-site over a weekend. However, it did not turn out that way because they felt that I did not see the job “as my destination job!” Ever since then, and as I have begun working on my doctorate, that mantra that the Holy Spirit has drilled into my head is “to keep plowing the field in front of you!” In other words, God does not want me to worry about what may be happening around me (in the present) or in front of me (in the future). He just wants me to be faithful at what I am doing now.

What I am doing now is serving Him at my church as the director of finance and as a teacher in our discipleship stake of ministry. The Lord has taken away the bitterness that I have been feeling because of that idea being pounded into my head. It is an assurance that if I will trust the Lord even in the circumstances that don’t seem to exactly what I thought the calling would look like that it will be rewarded. I am having to learn to truly trust the Lord that He has a purpose for it all. I am having to trust that God is using what I am doing right now as rounding me out to prepare me for what He has in store for me after I finish plowing this field. I can easily think that God has abandoned the call He has placed on my life but the trust thing is the thing that I think that I am learning. God has a purpose for everything. He has no randomness and capriciousness in Him. He would not have made me feel as though I am called to full-time ministry and then say He was just kidding. Be faithful and plow the field and front of you and I will see if you really do trust your Father in heaven to know what is best for you and what you need right now and what you will need to be prepared after you finish plowing this field.

Another aspect of this too is this is one thing I wished I had shared last night with my friend and fellow ministry leader. Sometimes, God holds off on opening the gates to a ministry calling because there is some character flaw or something lacking in our leadership that we must deal with. Leaders should be held to a higher standard than the flock of believers that they lead. Is there something that is characteristic of a leader in the church that sets an example for the flock that I am not doing that I should be. Is there some character flaw that I need to identify and work on because in full-time ministry whatever our character flaws are, they will be magnified and exposed? I know that I need to work on my prayer life for example. I am weak in taking specific time to pray. I may be faithful here daily in writing my blog as my way of meditating upon Scripture, as we are supposed to do as Christ followers, but I know my prayer life, that time of intimacy with God with no distractions, is something I am lacking in. I need to ask my friend that same question. Which of the spiritual disciplines are you weak in? Another is examining what of my habits and behaviors could be create a stumbling block for others in their walk with the Lord. Maybe it is during this time of crisis in my friend’s ministry that He must take time to examine his spiritual weaknesses and potential stumbling block habits and behaviors.

While we are being faithful even the face of crisis circumstances or where circumstances are not playing out the way we want them to, we must remain faithful to the Lord and what He has called us to. It is during these times of crisis or times when nothing seems to be happening the way we envisioned that we must trust the Lord and keep plowing the field. We must learn faithfulness in adversity. We must learn faithfulness when there are no obvious results or payback. Maybe the Lord is testing me and my friend to see if we will remain faithful in a crisis (for my friend) and when you are waiting for something to happen (me). We must sometimes keep plowing the field when everything seems to be swirling around us and we don’t understand what is happening. We must keep plowing the field when nothing is happening or nothing is happening as fast as we want or in the way we want.

This passage made me think of “keep plowing the field in front of you” this morning as go through this passage one more time before we move on to the next one. What struck me this morning was the reference to Caleb in vv. 12-15 of this passage. Let’s read through this passage together now, Judges 1:1-18, with a special eye out for the verses 12-15:

1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?”

2 The Lord answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”

3 The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.

4 When Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek. 5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.

9 After that, Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. 10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. 11 From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher).

12 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.

14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him[a] to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”

15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms[b] with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed[c] the city. Therefore it was called Hormah.[d] 18 Judah also took[e] Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory.

In this passage, we see that the event with Caleb and his daughter Acsah and son-in-law Othniel is repeated once again from the book of Joshua (Joshua 15:16-19). Caleb was one of the original men sent out to scout out the Promised Land and with Joshua, encouraged the people to conquer it. For Caleb’s faithfulness all of those years, he was given the land of his choice.

In this passage, we know that Caleb was rewarded and given some choice lands that he shared with his daughter and son-in-law. What we don’t see is that Caleb was faithful to the Lord even when things didn’t seem to go his way. He felt like the Israelites could conquer the land but the whole nation decided that he was wrong and decided to follow the majority opinion that the land was not conquerable. The Israelites then spent forty years wandering in the barren wilderness of the Sinai peninsula. It would have been very easy for Caleb to become bitter while wandering in the desert even though he was one of the two who said the conquest could be done. He could have lost his way. He could have become bitter. He could have relinquished his leadership role and said “screw it! I am done!” But He didn’t. He apparently remained faithful to what the Lord had placed in front of him even when it was not turning out the way he had envisioned. This is not directly stated in Scripture, but he must have been faithful and trusting of the Lord through the wilderness wanderings because as soon as it’s time to dole out the Promised Land to the tribes, Caleb get rewarded for his faithfulness.

Just think of Joseph, one of Abraham’s sons, when in Egypt, he had made somewhat of a place for himself in the new land in which he found himself. He had worked his way up into being the head servant at Potiphar’s house. He had seemingly gained balance in his life and recovered, in a way, from being sold into slavery by his brothers. So he finds some equilibrium. Things get to be going OK. Then, bam, he gets accused of crime he did not commit. He’s thrown into prison. And…he remains there for 12 years. I am sure that Joseph had his bad days with it but in general Joseph trusted in the Lord that there was a purpose in him being there. He served faithfully there. He became so trusted by his jailors that he was placed as the head of the prisoners, the head trustee, kind of like the president of the workers union. It was while he was there that because of who some of the past prisoners had been that Joseph was brought before the Pharoah to interpret his troublesome dreams. From there, Joseph goes on to become the second most powerful man in Egypt. Without Joseph the Egyptian empire would have crumbled and His own family would have starved. If his family had starved, there would be no earthly lineage for Jesus. Joseph did not know that it would be through his people that Jesus Christ would come but he simply was a faithful servant of the Lord. He plowed the field in front of him even when it just did not seem right to him. He just plowed. He trusted that God had some purpose in the current events of his life and he kept plowing.

To my friend, I say keep plowing brother. Just keep trusting the Lord. Just keep doing what is in front of you. It may not be the way you like it or the way you envisioned it to be, but keep plowing. These are the times that God tests our faithfulness and our obedience to Him. When we trust Him and keep plowing, he will reward it down the line. Like He did with Caleb and Joseph.

Amen and Amen.

Judges 1:1-18 (Part 2 of 3)
Judah and Simeon Conquer the Land

Recently, I don’t know if it was the Supreme Court of Florida or the Supreme Court of our land that released a ruling that states in the absence of a law to the contrary, the Constitution does not require us to provide assistance to someone who is about to be harmed or to prevent harm that is about to befall them. The case in question is about Florida teens who watched, filmed, and made derogatory remarks as man drown in a retention pond. According to the court, we are not bound by the constitution to render aid to others when they are in peril. That is the scary thing here is there seems to be a disconnect now between what is moral in our country and what is legal. The boundaries the two, morality and legality, once reflected one another. Our society once had moral boundaries that were equivalently reflected in the laws of our states and country. Further, I think it used to be that the legal boundary of behavior was far beyond (as a final backstop) what we as our country’s citizens considered to be the moral boundaries of life.

This particular court ruling in a case is reflective of the fact that our nation has lost its inside-the-law moral boundary and now we depend strictly on the law to establish the bounds of our behavior. To film a man dying from drowning, making fun of him as it happens, and not offering assistance as he screams for help is not legally wrong according to the court ruling but man is not ever morally wrong? Establishing as a legal precedent that we have no legal obligation to assist others when they are in peril will be used going forward in a myriad of ways. Surely, many states will rush to pass Good Samaritan laws but the precedent in this case will be used to challenge every one of those laws. Since the constitution is silent even in an implied way through case history since the beginning of our nation under it, there is no constitution guarantee or requirement that we help others in peril. I bet that the framers of the constitution if asked this specific question, they would have said “are you kidding me?” Do we have to write something like that into the constitution? That’s a given. But we live in a different world now where we have to be legally spurred to do what is right and what is moral. There are no moral boundaries to our behavior any more.

We can blame the teenagers for failing to render aid and yes they should be roundly criticized. They were of old enough age to know the reality of the situation and yet they failed to render aid to another human being. That’s just wrong and though they may not be judged by the law, God will certainly judge their behavior. However, the teenagers actions are simply reflective of the moral drift of our society in which we have become a self-centered, self-seeking nation. We have guaranteed people’s rights to self-determine their sexual identity in contrast to what is right and natural. We have so taken our individual rights to do whatever we please that we no longer have moral boundaries. We are free to determine what our own morality is now. What is right for me is OK. It used to be that we had a right to self-determination as long as my exercise of my inalienable rights does not infringe upon the rights of others. No longer. We have taken to the extreme that my rights are valid even if they infringe upon your rights. Now, we have become our own legal bubbles. My reality is what I define it within my bubble. The fact is that we have taken that right away from God as the external force that defines for us what is right and what is moral. We have become our gods. Thus, these Florida teens have learned from the society in which they live that they can define for themselves what is right and what is not right for them do.

God is not a mean guy with a magnifying glass and we are ants. He does not without cause punish us. He executes His righteous judgment upon our sins by allowing the consequences of our sins to play out in our lives. He withdraws His blessings from nations that do not honor Him. He is in the process of withdrawing His hand from us. We have drifted so far away from Him that we now we have court cases about whether we should help someone in need or not. This moral drift reminds me of what this Book of Judges is a chronicle of. This passage is the just the beginning of the evident moral drift of Israel away from God.

This passage made me think of that recent court case because in both that case and in this passage, we see the beginnings of moral decay, the beginnings of the drift away from God. Let’s read through this passage together now, Judges 1:1-18:

1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?”

2 The Lord answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”

3 The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.

4 When Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek. 5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.

9 After that, Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. 10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. 11 From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher).

12 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.

14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him[a] to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”

15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms[b] with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed[c] the city. Therefore it was called Hormah.[d] 18 Judah also took[e] Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory.

In this passage, we see that the Canaanites were all the people who lived in the land of Canaan (known the Israelites as the Promised Land). They lived in city-states where each city had its own government, army, and laws. One reason that Canaan was so difficult to fully conquer was that each city had to be defeated individually. There was no single king who could surrender the entire country into the hands of the Israelites. Combine that with the tendency of the Israelites to bend God’s commands to their own needs and taking the easy way out, we find that Israel would not fully realize its conquest.

For example, the maiming of Adoni-bezek was another example of taking a shortcut that demonstrated Israel’s partial obedience to the Lord. Enemy kings were supposed to be executed, not simply humiliated. This defeated king recognized God’s righteous punishment more clearly than God’s people acknowledged God’s commands. When we understand what God tells us to do, we run great danger if we don’t carry out both the letter and spirit of God’s commands.

God knew the greatest threat to Israel was not Canaan’s city-states’ armies but its religion and culture. Canaanite religion and culture idolized evil traits: cruelty in war, sexual immorality, selfish greed, and materialism. It was a “me first, anything goes” society. Obviously, the religions and cultures of Israel and Canaan could not coexist.

As we will see in the book of Judges going forward, Israel no longer was different from the lack of morality around them, they became just like the Canaanites and wondered why God had withdrawn His hand of blessing from them. Are we headed in that direction as a nation today? We have long thought in the American collective psyche that we are the New Israel. God’s people doing it God’s way and being blessed mightily for it. Israel thought that too. But we and the Israelites began defining for themselves what is right and what is moral. When we have to have a court case where we must define whether it legally wrong to not provide assistance to someone in peril, then, we as a nation have left our collective moral boundaries in the dust and we have become the nation of Israel found in the book of Judges.

Let us pray for our nation to return to God. Not just pay lip service prayers to that. But really, really, really, pray for it. Pray fervently. Don’t just say that “this is what the world is coming to!” and throw up your hands in a sort of Christian ivory tower kind of way. Let’s beg God to send a new Great Awakening to our nation. We need it. PRAY FOR IT!

Amen and Amen.