The Redeemer

And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech's.... Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance..."
—Ruth 4: 9-10

Under Jewish law, if a married man died before he had children, the man's brother became obligated to marry his wife. The firstborn child would then be named for the dead brother so that his inheritance might continue in Israel.

Boaz— a relative of Elimelech's— redeemed the field because he was in love with Ruth. He purchased the field in order that he might get a bride whom he loved.

Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it
he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field"

(Matthew 13:44).

The field, in this parable, is the world, and Jesus is the One who gave all to purchase the world. Who then is the treasure? Amazing as it seems, the treasure is you and me—we who trust Him as Lord and Savior. We are the bride of Christ. Just as Boaz was willing to buy the field in order to gain the bride, so, too, Jesus willingly paid the price of redemption to purchase the world. He did that because He loved you and wanted you for His own.

Thank You, Lord, that You place such a high value upon us that You willingly gave Yourself to purchase us out of the bondage and slavery of sin, that we might become Your bride. Amen.

The Secret of Strength

So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you."
—Judges 16: 6

Samson's strength had become legendary. When the Spirit of God came upon him, he would do feats of astounding strength. His enemies sought to find the secret of his strength. When they saw he had fallen in love with the Philistine girl, Delilah, they approached her and said, "Look, each of us will give you fifteen hundred pieces of silver if you will find for us the secret of that fellow's strength."

So Delilah said unto Samson, "Samson, tell me, Honey, what makes you so strong? What is the secret of your strength?"

Unfortunately, one of Samson's weaknesses was a sense of invincibility. He seemed to enjoy flirting with danger, and was forever venturing into the territory of the enemy.

Samson finally told Delilah his secret. He explained the vow he had taken— a vow of consecration to God. No razor had touched his head. "If my hair were shaved, I would be weak just like any other man." But Samson's long hair was only a symbol. The secret of his strength was his commitment to God. As long as he kept that commitment, he really was invincible. When the commitment was broken, however, he was weak like any other man.

The secret of your strength lies in your commitment to Jesus Christ.

If you commit yourself fully to Jesus, you will be invincible. Even the gates of hell cannot prevail against you. But if you break that commitment to Jesus Christ, you will become weak just like any other man.

Lord, help us not to flirt with danger,
but may we give ourselves fully and completely over to You. Amen.

Vows

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering... for I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it."

—Judges 11: 30-31, 35

Jephthah had made a terrible vow.

Sometimes when we are in trouble we do that. "God, if You will just get me out of this, I'll do such and such." When a person has made a foolish vow it is really better to confess the sin of the foolish vow than to carry the vow through. In Jephthah's case, to carry the vow through was a greater sin than breaking the vow.

Some vows simply should not be kept.
But there are other vows you cannot go back on.

I have opened my mouth before the Lord and confessed that Jesus Christ is my Savior; that I am depending solely upon Him for my salvation; and that He is the Lord of my life.

And because of this, there are certain things I cannot do. Number one: I cannot go back into that old life of sin and self-centeredness. With the apostles, I must declare, "Lord, only You have the words to eternal life. To whom can I go?" Number two: I cannot deny the love and the peace that Jesus has brought into my life.

Lord, if we have strayed from that first love, help us listen to Your Holy Spirit and return again, until we love You with all we have.
Amen.

Turn and Serve

And the children of Israel said to the Lord, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.
—Judges 10: 15-16

Israel had forsaken God. Once again, they began worshiping false gods. And once again, they ended up in bondage— crying out to God.

God responded by saying, "I have helped you in the past, but I will deliver you no more." In Genesis 6: 3, God warned, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever." There comes a time when God says, "Enough." To the children of Israel, He said, "Go and cry unto the gods you have chosen."

They knew those gods couldn't help them. It is interesting that whenever someone is in real trouble, they know instinctively that the only One who can help is the true and the living God. When trouble comes, even the rebellious cry out, "Oh, God, help me!"

As we are told in 1 John 1: 9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

These people did a wise thing. They cast themselves on the mercies of God. And because they did so, God delivered them again from the hands of their enemies. God is so merciful! And that same mercy is available to us today.

God doesn't owe us anything. But He has promised to be merciful to any who forsake their wicked ways and turn to Him.

Lord, thank You for continuing to strive with men and women today. Help us to surrender our hearts to You.
In Jesus' name, amen.

God's Army

Then the Lord said to Gideon, "By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand."
—Judges 7: 7

God thinned the troops in order to get men He could use for His glory. Eventually, from the 32,000 men who answered Gideon's call, only 300 remained. God disqualified the majority in two ways: He eliminated those who were fearful, and those who were careless.

Fearful men run in the midst of the battle, and they can infect others with their fear.

God knows that fear is born when we focus on the problem or on the power of the enemy.

Two-thirds of Gideon's army went home after this first cut, leaving 10,000 men. So God said, "Gideon, the men with you are still too many. Take them to the stream and observe how they drink. All who get down on their knees and put their face in the water are disqualified." Only 300 cupped the water with their hands, as they kept a watchful eye. God had found His army.

Today, God seeks men who are fearless and alert. Fearlessness that is borne of faith results in keeping your eyes upon God. He is also looking for men who are aware and alert to the war around them. Men who, even when involved in the necessities of life— whether it be drinking water or working on the job— are always aware of the larger issues, the spiritual battle in which we are all engaged.

Father, help us to go forth in faith without concern, knowing that if You are for us, no man can stand against us. May we be used in the accomplishing of Your purposes and Your will. Amen.

The Sin of Doing Nothing

"Curse Meroz," said the angel of the Lord, "Curse its inhabitants bitterly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty."
—Judges 5: 23

The angel of the Lord pronounced a bitter curse upon Meroz because they didn't help in the time of crisis and need. In the day of the battle, they did nothing to come to the help of the Lord.

God has called His people to action. You have been saved to serve. "Be doers of the word," James tells us, "and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1: 22). So many times when we hear the Word of God, we say, "Right on, man, that's so true. Yes, we ought to do more for God." But then we do nothing.

Love is demonstrated by our actions.

Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me" (John 14: 21). You may leave church on Sunday morning saying, "Wow, I really enjoyed that sermon." But what are you doing about it? You see, if it doesn't bring you into action, you are building on sand. You are resting on a false security. When the storms come, your house will fall because you haven't been doing— only hearing.

I wonder how many of us belong to the clan of Meroz. We are so busy doing our own thing that we don't respond to the call of God. There is no evidence in our lives that we're doing the work of God. Instead, we are engaged in the sin of doing nothing.

Father, we pray that Your Holy Spirit will challenge us to action. Help us to volunteer ourselves willingly, Lord, to obey Your Word and keep Your commandments.
In Jesus' name, amen.

AN INESCAPABLE LAW

And Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me." Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
—Judges 1: 7

Adoni-Bezek was a powerful king. He had conquered seventy other kingdoms, and cut off the thumbs and big toes of each defeated king. When he was finally conquered by the men of Judah, what did they do? They cut off his thumbs and big toes. And he said, "As I have done to others, so God has requited me."

In the New Testament we read, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6: 7).

We often get upset because we think someone is getting by with evil deeds. But sooner or later, their sins will catch up with them.

The law of reaping what you sow is an inescapable law. But it is also a beautiful law. If you sow love, kindness, and forgiveness, you will reap love, kindness, and forgiveness. If you sow mercy, you will reap mercy.

Maybe your past is dark and dismal, and you have sown a lot of bad seed. Take heart. God has made a way that you don't have to reap what you have sown. He took the guilt of your iniquity and laid it all upon His Son. Jesus Christ reaped the consequences for you— that you might reap the glory of God's love and eternal kingdom.

Help us, Lord, that we might sow good seeds in the hearts and lives of those around us; that we might reap, Lord, the beautiful fruit of that harvest.
In Jesus' name, amen.

The Only Wise Choice

...choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
—Joshua 24: 15

In prosperous times, it is easy to take your eyes off God. That's what was happening with Israel. Settled in the land, they were beginning to prosper— and beginning to turn to the gods of their fathers again. A choice awaited them— the same choice that awaits every man.

Whatever it is you are living for, whatever passion rules your life, whatever it is that gets you out of bed in the morning and drives you — that is your God.

Whom will you serve? Whom are you serving? To discover that, just finish this sentence: "For me to live is...." Ultimately, when you reach the hour of death and you are facing eternity, money can't save you. Pleasure can't save you. Intellect can't save you. If you have made those things your god, you're in trouble. Only Jesus has the power to save you, so Jesus is the only wise choice you can make.

The fact is, you've already bowed your knee to something. If you've chosen to serve a false god, choose this day to serve the true and the living God— the God who is faithful, the God who is powerful, the God who is able to deliver His people.

Father, we choose to serve You, crown You as King of our lives, bow our knee before Your throne, kiss Your scepter, and submit as obedient servants through Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Sincerely Yours

Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!
—Joshua 24: 14

The children of Israel had begun serving other gods. They still acknowledged God's existence, but their time and energy were absorbed in other pursuits. They shoved God into a secondary place.

Joshua saw how the hearts of God's children were turning away from Him. So he issued a challenge. When Joshua stood before the people, he gave them a choice. They could continue serving themselves— their intellect and their pleasures— or they could serve the Lord.

God isn't interested in mere lip service, though that's what most people offer to Him. We can serve God with sincerity and truth when we remember
His goodness and faithfulness to us.

In Deuteronomy, Moses asked, "What does the Lord require of you?" The first two requirements listed were that we fear God and serve Him with all of our hearts. So Joshua reminded the people of God's requirements: fear God (reverence Him), and then serve Him in sincerity and truth— serve genuinely.

God had brought the Israelites into the land, driven out their enemies, and delivered them from bondage. Because God had been so good to them, they should have wanted to serve Him!

The glorious thing about choosing to serve the Lord is that it brings you everything else. When you choose to make Him first in your life, He then blesses you with the desires of your heart.

Father, we are so grateful for the opportunities You have given to us. Teach us to serve You with sincerity and truth.
In Jesus' name, amen.

The Faithfulness of God

So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.
—Joshua 21: 43-45

What a powerful witness this is to the faithfulness of God— for God was faithful to His Word even though the people were not. They had broken their covenant with God on many occasions. At one point they were even trying to persuade someone to lead them back to Egypt. But God kept His Word.

Not a single word of God has failed.

We need to realize the certainty of God's Word. He promised to send His Son to be born of a virgin, and to die for the sins of man. As God has promised, so God has fulfilled. He promised to gather Israel again and birth a nation in one day. On May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation. God has fulfilled His Word.

And He has promised to come again and receive us to Himself.

If God has been faithful up to this point, you can be sure He is going to continue to be faithful. Though heaven and earth may pass away, His Word shall stand forever. You can bet your life on that!

Father, thank You that what You have said, You have done.
Lord, help us today to have that assurance that we can trust Your Word. Amen.

The Power of God

Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. —Joshua 10: 12-13

The Israelites had fought hard, and victory was near— but night was coming. Joshua realized that when it got dark, the Amorites would be able to escape. They needed more time. So in front of all of his troops, he commanded, "Sun, stand still, and moon, you hold there in the valley of Aijalon. Don't move!" And the sun stood still, and the moon held its position.

The same resources that were available to Joshua— the resources that brought the universe into existence, the resources that began the earth on its axis and put it in its rotation around the sun— are available to you as a child of God.

We often make the mistake of thinking that God will do it all and that there's nothing for us to do. But the Bible tells us that faith without works is dead.

God expects us to do our best, and then commit the rest.

When we reach our own limitations, we discover infinite resources that are available to us to accomplish and to finish the work of God.

Father, we are so grateful that we serve You
— an unlimited, infinite God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think. Lord, we are weak and we need Your strength. Take over our lives, Lord, and guide and direct us. Amen.

Ungodly Alliances

Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.
—Joshua 9: 14-15

God specifically told the Israelites that they were not to make any covenant with the people in the land, but were to utterly drive them out. God knew that if the inhabitants remained, their practices would ultimately destroy His people. The Gibeonites realized they couldn't stand against the armies of Israel, so they devised a scheme to make it appear that they had traveled from a far country in order to make a covenant with Israel.

Joshua's mistake was that he examined the evidence but didn't inquire of the Lord. God would have warned him about this ungodly alliance, but Joshua didn't seek God's counsel. He just sized up the situation by what was before him. Some things seem so obvious. You shouldn't have to bother God about those things; right? You can just go ahead and use your common sense.

Wrong. The Scriptures tell us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3: 5-6).

We can avoid tragic mistakes by:
(1) Always allowing God's Word to guide our decisions.
(2) Never making a decision until you have first sought God's guidance through prayer.

Isn't it rather foolish to trust my own judgment when I have the advantage of going to God for counsel?

Lord, help us to pay attention to the warnings in Your Word. May we seek You to help us in making every decision. Amen.

Glorious Victory

And the Lord said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand..." —Joshua 6: 2

If you want victory over the strongholds of the old nature, look at Israel's conquest of the land. The principles of victory are found right here. First of all, notice that God spoke to Joshua in the past tense. "I have done it. It is finished." In the same way, your victory is a finished work of Jesus Christ. The Lord has already provided you with victory over your flesh life— all you have to do is believe it.

The second principle is to follow God's plan for victory even when we don't understand it. God's plan for conquering Jericho was interesting, to say the least. As Joshua called his generals together to explain the battle strategy of marching around the city, they probably began to have second thoughts about their allegiance to follow this guy.

God's plan for your situation may seem peculiar. And you may even be reluctant to try it. Obey the impressions of God upon your heart.

The third principle is that the people were to give a great shout of victory— even though the walls were still standing. This was an expression of faith and anticipation.

We can trust God's Word. He promises that He is going to work. Praise Him for those promises of victory. God doesn't want you to go on in defeat, being mastered by your flesh and the strongholds of the flesh-life. Turn your life over to Him and trust Him. He will bring the walls down.

Father, thank You for the glorious victory that we can experience through the power of Jesus Christ. Thank You for setting us free from our past sins.
Amen.

God Is for Us

Joshua... lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped...
—Joshua 5: 13-14

Joshua's load is heavy and frightening. God has made him responsible for leading the people. As he stands looking over Jericho— probably developing a strategy for assaulting the walls— he sees a Man with a drawn sword. Joshua asks, "Are You for us or are You for our adversaries?"

When he learns the Man has come from God, Joshua worships Him. By this action, we can conclude that this Commander was none other than Jesus Christ. An angel would not have accepted worship.

It was a long time before I realized that God was for me rather than for my adversaries. I used to believe God was just waiting for me to make a mistake so He could punish me. I thought He was going to chastise me because I was not always what I should be.

When you have a true encounter with God,
you come away with the realization that God is for you.

As Paul said, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8: 31). With God on our side, how can we lose?

Father, we thank You for assuring us that You are on our side. Lord, in Your name we go to face our problems. In Your name, we go to claim the territory that You have promised to us.
Amen.

The Uncertainty of Tomorrow

And Joshua said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." —Joshua 3: 5

With the wilderness journey behind them, the children of Israel are about to begin an entirely new experience with the Lord. Forty years of wandering had taught them a lot about themselves and God. But now they faced an uncertain future.

Unknown, uncharted territory often brings fear. Perhaps I am going into a new job— will I be able to handle it? What does tomorrow hold?

Standing before the people, Joshua assured them with these comforting words, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow God...." And that is the thing that I need to hold in my mind, too. "Tomorrow God." You see, God has already gone before me. God is already there.

Although there are uncertainties about the future, there are also some certainties— one of which is yesterday. The past gives me assurance for the future. The past deliverance of God predicts the future deliverance of God.

Though the future is unclear, you can face it with confidence in God.

God is not going to leave you. He is not going to let you down. The God who brought you through the wilderness is going to take you in until you have conquered the land and possessed the promises.

Father, thank You for the hope that springs out of Your past faithfulness. May we find security and peace in Jesus who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.
In His name we pray, amen.