Judges 6

Vs. 12, “When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”  We now come to fifth major judge in Gideon!  Once again, Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord (vs. 1-6).  The LORD allowed the Midianites and Amalekites to join forces and raid Israel for seven years.  Israel cried out to the LORD and He would send an unnamed prophet to rebuke them (vs. 7-10).  Yet, in His mercy, the LORD would call a nobody from the tribe of Manasseh to help lead deliver His people (vs. 11-16).  Once again, God chooses the supposed weak people of the world as Gideon is quite hesitant about such a task (vs. 14-15)!  But God reassures Gideon by revealing His power through the consuming offering (vs. 16-24).  But, the LORD had to deal with the sin that was within Gideon’s family first (vs. 25-32).  Gideon was instructed to destroy the alter setup to worship Baal replace it with one that honored the LORD.  The next morning, the people of the town wanted to kill Gideon for such an act.  If God could help Gideon overcome this task, this would begin helping him gain the courage for the bigger fights ahead!  Meanwhile, the evil forces had combined and over 135,000 troops amassed themselves Israel’s Valley of Jezreel (vs. 33-40).  It was time to act!  But, the odds were against Gideon and he made another request; this time to put out the fleece.  Bear in mind, such a test is not a way to determine God’s will.  God was showing His patience and kindness towards Gideon’s doubt.

Regarding application…Do You Doubt?  Vs. 39, “Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.”  One of Gideon’s favorite words was “if” (vs. 13, 17, 36).  Gideon was not exactly a picture of a likely candidate for the task.  But God saw potential in Gideon that even we may have a hard time seeing after reading this chapter.  Bigger things were to come for Gideon as we continue on in the next few chapters.  Question: Can you relate to Gideon?  Has there ever been times when you questioned God’s promises?  The ministry I’m in is coming back from a weekend mountain retreat today.  The challenge for all of us when we live in the valley of life is the doubt that can creep up in our lives.  God wants to use you!  Reach up your faith and lift your eyes to the Lord!

Zephaniah 1

Vs. 15, “That day will be a day of wrath—a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.”  Whew~~~this prophecy certainly should bring chills!  The LORD was about to clean house (vs. 2-3).  Question: What would bring such judgment?  Judah’s long list of sins: Baal worship, ungodly priests, worship of stars and Molech (foreign god), corruption, violence, and love of money.  Part of the problem was that most never really thought they were doing anything wrong.  But Zephaniah would warn them that God is a consuming fire (vs. 18).  Certainly, we read this with the understanding that there is still an impending “Day of the Lord” that the New Testament points us towards.  This day will be the fulfillment of prophecy in the book of Revelation.

Regarding application…Godly Anger.  Vs. 17, “I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung.”  When I do my QT’s, one of the things I have been doing the last few months is reading the passage out loud.  As I was reading this chapter, I couldn’t help but hear the wrath and anger from the words that came out.  I even let out an audible gasp!  Let me give you a very loose illustration.  I’m not a father yet, but I am a dog owner.  When I see other dogs acting crazy with no lack of discipline, I shake my head.  But, when I see my own dog doing something he knows he shouldn’t do, I get angry.  I get angry because unlike dogs who are strangers, this is my dog who I love and care for.  Likewise, God’s anger towards Judah is not because He doesn’t love them.  Question: Does that make sense?  In the end, it all comes down to trusting that God is just and gives His creation every opportunity.  Let this type of “Godly” anger draw you nearer in a right fear of Him.  Don’t harden your hearts.

Hosea 13

Vs. 3, “Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears,  like chaff  swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window.”  Hosea is looking back at how Israel used to be (vs. 1).  But they not only turned from God, they were sacrificing to pagan God’s like Baal (vs. 2).   If they had only turned back to God, but they were putting their trust in the things of this world.  But what stands out more than anything is the fact that it is God who directs the outcome of our life.  We would do far better if we feared God more.  Yet, once again, we see the grace of our God as He will one day ransom us from death itself (vs. 14).

Regarding application…Remember God’s Goodness.  Vs. 4 “But I am the Lord your God,  who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.”  Question: How do we remember God’s goodness today?  Jesus would tell us and Paul would remind us that when we meet we are to remember Jesus’ goodness and sacrifice (I Cor. 11) with the Lord’s Supper.  This is just one reminder of why we meet.  Of course, we are a forgetful people.  That is why the Word of God exhorts us to spend time daily.  That is why He gave us the incredible gift called the church!  Think about something God has done for you this past week, month or year.  Acknowledge it and give thanks to the Lord!

Hosea 2

Vs. 8 “She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold—which they used for Baal.”  Question: Who is she?  Literally, she is referring to Hosea’s wife Gomer.  But there is a dual meaning here that the original author intended.  She is also referring to the nation Israel.  The picture of marriage began with Adam & Eve and it is also a beautiful example of Israel and Yahweh as well as Jesus and the church.  But, in this sacred marriage, there was adultery.  God’s people were turning to the world, just like Gomer was turning to other men.  It’s important to realize that God allowed (even punished) the free choice they had to turn away from Him (vs. 2-13).  But take heart dearest brothers and sisters, for God’s loving kindness would shine through (vs. 14-23)

Regarding application…Forgetting God.  Vs. 13, “I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD.”  We are an absent-minded people.  Last Sunday was the Super Bowl and it the one time that you look forward to commercials.  The premise of commercials and really any type of advertising (internet, radio, billboards, etc) is to catch our attention!  There’s always something trying to compete for our time.  The past few weeks, I kept making a note to myself to pick up more soap when I went to the store.  When I would get to the store on the last few visits I would get food, medicine, etc…having totally forgotten my mental note to grab soap.  Question: Does that happen to you?  Maybe I’m just getting old, but I think we tend to do this with our relationship with God.  Certainly we can compare this to a Christian forgetting to do their QT devotions, but I think it can go deeper than this.  Forgetting God, is just not making the effort to make Him part of your life.  It’s like Jesus is tagging along with you in your daily life and not once do you turn to Him and acknowledge He’s there.  Today is an opportunity to break that cycle of forgetting!  Just spend time with the Lord today!  Let His word and your prayers enrich that relationship He so desires to have with you!