“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Prov. 12:15) Man’s auditory system is not only the gateway to hearing; it also allows him to have a proper sense of balance. When we tune out godly counsel, foolish decisions will naturally follow. Our steps will also be erratic and unsure...leading us not to a successful end but setting us up for a certain fall!
Samson broke his Nazarite vows and defied the final one when he foolishly revealed it to Delilah. After she cut his hair, Samson woke up and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” (Judges 16:20) Blinded to his spiritual condition, he soon became physically blinded… Samson took God’s anointing and presence for granted.
Discipline: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity. Correction: a change that makes something right, true, accurate, etc. I was told never to call anyone stupid but there is a Biblical standard of stupidity, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” (Prov. 12:1)
After many disciples turned back and no longer followed Jesus, he asked the 12, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67,67) Once you encounter the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and presence of a Living Savior…there is NOTHING to go back to.
When faced with feeding the 5,000+, Andrew questioned, “Here is a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (Jn 6:9) When you put your little in the hands of Jesus, He can do miracles with it. The lunch was more than enough and they had 12 baskets of leftovers! We can either eat our own lunch or give it away and be a blessing to others. Food for thought…who took home the leftovers?
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” (Prov. 11:22) Indiscretion in judgment and modesty is like an unclean animal… no matter how society tries to beautify impurity; it is still unattractive and unacceptable in God’s sight. Beauty is not an outward adornment or appearance….it is produced by an inward spirit of godliness.
Scripture Reading: Judges 6:1-7:8 / John 5:16-30 / Psalm 57:7-11
There are times in life when you are challenged by God and given an assignment that is bigger than you have ever tackled before. Such was the case for me a little over a year ago. I had a passion to have our congregation meet with God everyday in His Word and in prayer. As I was reading my daily Bible, God dropped an assignment in my heart…write a daily devotional designed to encourage others in their daily time with God. It has been challenging and time consuming but very rewarding for me personally and spiritually.
God at times has to stretch us for our own good and for a greater purpose. Gideon was approached by the angel of The Lord and told, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12) Gideon didn’t feel mighty or powerful but fearful. Midian had severely oppressed Israel and ruled over them with cruelty and wickedness. Little did Gideon imagine the significance, plan and purpose God had for him… to deliver Israel from Midian bondage.
The first thing God had Gideon do was to get his own house in order. God instructed him, “Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. (vs.25) Every man likes to tear things apart so this should have been a joy for Gideon but it would take a great deal of courage to denounce his father and confront Israel’s apostasy. Baal was worshipped as a god and Asherah was recognized as his wife, the goddess of the sea. Idolatry was to be confronted and removed as spiritual apostasy brought national humiliation and bondage on Israel.
God also told him, “Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God…” (vs.26) Gideon would take the wood from the demolished idol and build an altar to God offering a bull as a sacrifice. Building up is at times more difficult than tearing down but Gideon was faithful to God’s instructions. He did tear down and build up but he was afraid and “He did it at night rather than in the daytime.” (vs.27)
The following morning, the people were infuriated and wanted to kill Gideon because of the desecration. What Gideon feared was about to come upon him but his father, Joash, intervened and spoke against the hostile crowd, “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself…and they called Gideon “Jerub-Baal”, “Let Baal contend with him.” Gideon did not need to fear because God was big enough to contend with any force that would oppose him.
Gideon still needed reassurance and God responded with unmistakable clarity. He would need it because the task would require even greater faith. I pray that like Gideon, God has revealed Himself as you have read, reflected, and meditated on His Word. This is my 365th devotional and I have been faithful to God’s assignment. I will continue to share some abbreviated devotional thoughts but it’s my prayer that your devotional passion will deepen… God will speak; He has an assignment for you!
Scripture Reading: Judges 4:1-5:31 / John 4:43-5:15 / Psalm 57:1-6
The most creative job in the world involves fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, romance, cuisine, literature, art, economics, government, pediatrics, entertainment, maintenance, law, religion, energy and management. Anyone who can handle all these things has to be somebody special but who has that type of job description? A Mother!
The most important people in the world are mothers…often overlooked and under appreciated. Israel had spent 20 years in bondage to the Canaanites and King Jabin. Israel was defenseless and crushed. Men’s hearts were despondent but there was a woman/mother named Deborah whose heart burned with passion and faith. God used her mightily in the prophetic and Israel turned to her for wisdom, direction and judgment. She was honored and revered among the Israelites.
She prophetically spoke to Barak to lead 10,000 Israelites against the forces of Jabin. God said, “I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.” (Judges 4:7) This divinely appointed man looked at Deborah and said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” (vs.8)
Barak possibly spoke out of fear but a greater probability is he spoke knowing Deborah’s importance. Barak could lead an army but he needed Deborah to inspire it. The strength and anointing on her life was just as important to the victory than what Barak could bring. Deborah agreed to go but said, “The honor will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.” (vs.9)
God did deliver Israel through the inspiration of Deborah and the fighting skill of Barak. Both were exalted and praised but God used another woman to bring the life of Sisera to an end! Jael was a “tentmaker”, the wife of a Bedouin who frequently moved their tents to different grazing spots. Jael was skilled with a hammer, driving new tent pegs every time they pitched the tent.
Sisera fled by foot to Jael’s tent after routed by Israel. He took refuge in her tent, believing it was a secretive and a safe place. Jael did not regard Sisera as a friend but a cruel, ruthless and wicked man. Sisera broke an Eastern custom by intruding in a woman’s tent; enforceable by a death penalty…little did he know it was about to be carried out! While he slept, Jael drove a tent peg through his temple.
Later Deborah sings, “Most blessed of women be Jael…” (5:24) God used a woman and He still does today! Family victories that are won, advancements that are made and dreams that are secured come through mothers of all shapes, sizes and skills. So Moms, get those hammers of faith, hope and trust out and get ready to use them. God still defeats the enemy when a mother… has a hammer in her hands!
Scripture Reading: Judges 2:6-3:31 / John 4:27-42 / Psalm 56:1-13
My mother tells a story when her sister’s were visiting us at our house when I was a toddler. They were sitting in the kitchen and I was in the high chair. The sky turned black and a severe thunderstorm began to light up the sky. A bolt of lightening landed outside the kitchen and a tree branch hit the roof. Mom and my aunts screamed and ran out of the kitchen leaving me behind in the kitchen by myself. It didn’t take long before they realized Mom left her crying son in the kitchen. She left me behind…surprised I am not emotionally scarred today!
People leave things behind for a number of reasons. Sometimes out of fear, forgetfulness or even excitement. Things are accidently left while others are intentionally forsaken. Jesus was just finishing up His conversation with the Samaritan woman when the disciples came back from the grocery store. The disciples didn’t ask Him why He was talking to her even though it was highly unusual. Instead the woman responds, “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town…” (John 4:28)
She left her water jar… not because she forgot but because she intentionally left it behind. She brought the jar to the well to fill it but she found a filling that superseded what she could put in the jar. The thirsty Samaritan was looking to fill her physical need for water but she was also emotionally, relationally and spiritually empty. When she met Jesus, her water jar didn’t matter anymore… she was filled with living water!
While she was searching for temporal satisfaction, Jesus spoke to her about eternal life. Her human appetites and desires were never really satisfied and met. She longed to find purpose and hope. Satisfaction would not be found in a well but in the words of Jesus. Faith took root in her heart and living hope and assurance began to well up within her.
She found life, not “Bios” physical life but “Zoe” life in her spirit and soul! She believed and the Spirit of God began to flow through her fulfilling the longing of her soul. Just as the water jar was empty, she left her emptiness behind at the well. She left all of the hurts, brokenness and immorality. She left with her heart filled with hope and her soul renewed.
She went back to the town and announced, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (vs.29) She avoided the women at the well but in excitement told the entire town about The Messiah. Her life was changed and she just had to tell somebody! When we meet Jesus, He changes us and transforms our lives. He fills us with His presence and power. His water of eternal life satisfies the longings of our lives. It is then we realize that the emptiness of our old lives simply need… to be left behind.
Scripture Reading: Judges 1:1-2:5 / John 4:1-26 / Proverbs 11:9-18
A divine appointment is a meeting with another person that has been specifically and unmistakably ordered by God. It is never simply a coincidence because God is in it. Sometimes we may recognize it, other times we don’t but might later after the light goes on in our head! There was a Samaritan woman that was about to have a divine appointment…a real face-to-face conversation with The Son of God.
It says that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” (John 4:4) The Samaritans were Jews who had intermarried with Gentiles so they were despised, unwanted and rejected from Jewish association. Jesus went to meet with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. This well was dug by Jacob and was a most honored place. This woman would have her most spiritual experience here.
She came to the well at high noon, when the sun was the most intense. She did not go the well during the cool of the day when other women gathered. The well was a social gathering place and women would meet to talk and gossip. Knowing this woman’s reputation, she was probably the topic of the gossip and she went alone to escape the taunts, sneers and looks. She desperately needed someone to love her but she was so alone.
To her surprise, a Jewish Rabbi was sitting at the well. He asked her for a drink of water and she was taken back by his request. It was unusual that a man would speak to a woman, let alone he was a Rabbi, a Jew and requested a drink out of her water pot. She scoffed at him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (vs.9)
The conversation got real interesting for her as this Rabbi told her if she really knew who he was, she would ask him for a drink…a drink of “Living Water”. He did not have a water pot, nothing to draw out the water and the well was 150 feet deep. She again scoffs at him, “Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob…” (vs.11,12) Jesus then says something that gets her attention and pricks her heart… living water that will satisfy her so she will never thirst again and it will be her source of eternal life!
There were springs of living water that were ready to break open in her heart. Jesus who cried on the cross, “I Thirst”, was ready to open a floodgate of redemption within this parched and stagnant woman. This immoral woman was a victim of abused relationships, deep wounds and a longing to be loved. She found hope, forgiveness, and life at Jacob’s well! We may think we would be the last person God would ever want to make an appointment with. Like this Samaritan woman, He knows we exist and we are not far removed from His ever-reaching love, grace and touch. Thank God there is a Savior who insists on going through Samaria. He has scheduled you for… A Divine Appointment!
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!