BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU VOW TO THE LORD

Judges 11:35 – I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.

This is a very solemn portion of Scripture that contains the story of Jephthah’s tragic vow. He vowed to the Lord to sacrifice the first thing that came out of the doors of his house if the Lord gave him victory over the sons of Ammon. He did triumph over the sons of Ammon, for the Scripture says “The Lord gave them into his hand” (Judges 11:32).

Making a vow to the Lord is a serious matter. In today’s vernacular, we might call it a promise. In the emotion of the moment, perhaps because of a stirring message or a crisis situation one may promise the Lord things that have not fully been thought through. A rash promise is a sure way to bring grief into one’s life. The Lord takes our words very seriously.

The story of Jephthah is difficult for many of us to relate to. How could the Lord allow this? How could this man follow through with his rash vow?  How could his daughter be so submissive to her father?   There probably is no answer that will satisfy the rationale of the human mind. It is an answer that must be heard in one’s spirit.

The Spirit of the Lord must bring revelation to us over such deep questions. The Scripture is clear about the priority the Lord puts on “keeping one’s word.” Even the Lord has “magnified His Word according to His name” (Psalm 138:2). Your word is the most valuable possession you have. It establishes who you really are. If one cannot trust a person’s word, there is no real basis of trust.

Thank God for the cross of Christ that dealt with all our sins. Only Christ could truly fulfill God’s Word and make it possible for us to become keepers of our word. Through daily intimacy with the Holy Spirit and time spent in God’s Word we learn how to regulate our words and be kept from rash promises.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Lord, I ask You, as the Scriptures say “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). I am weak, but Your Holy Spirit strengthens me and will keep my heart from evil.

I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD; YOU SHALL NOT FEAR

Judges 6:7 – Now it came about, when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord on account of Midian, that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel.

The prophet prophesied deliverance to the children of Israel. Gideon is the man that the Spirit of the Lord chose to deliver Israel. He did not look like a deliverer or sound like one either. When the angel of the Lord addressed Gideon, He said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12). Gideon had “why” questions for the angel. Why has all this happened to us? Where are the miracles which our fathers told us about?

Again, we see when God’s people cried out to the Lord, the Lord responded. The Spirit of God raises up prophets to proclaim what is in God’s heart. In the New Testament, all of God’s people are called to be prophetic. Some are called into the office of Prophet. He also anoints those called to lead into the battles that face us. Leaders are developed to lead God’s people to fulfill God’s purpose. Both leaders and people work together in defeating God’s enemies and to establish righteousness in the land.

A leader is first called, but then must be forged. The story of Gideon is the story of how the Spirit of God called a farmer and formed him into a leader. Gideon became a judge of God’s people. The character of leadership is something that all of us should press toward. As a believer, one is automatically called to be a leader. It might be at work or school or in the neighborhood. God has called for His people to learn to lead in society. It is time for the people of God to arise and volunteer to take back territory the enemy has stolen.

As Gideon was visited by the angel of the Lord, he asked hard questions. He sought to prove what he was hearing. God wants us to prove Him. A key to being developed by the Spirit of God is to wait upon Him and test all that we hear so we can obey with true faith. The expression of true faith is found in obedience. Obedience must first be expressed by obeying God’s written word. Obedience requires studying and praying concerning the word of God preached by His servants. Obedience is expressed by becoming sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in one’s life. This kind of obedience demonstrates a true faith toward God.

In the normal flow of life, the Spirit of the Lord will speak to us and call us to a place of influence in our sphere. When He does, ask the questions that are in your heart. Prove Him fully and then simply obey as Gideon did. Our God wants to show Himself mighty through His willing servants.

Father, speak to me and cause me to be an influence for righteousness in my sphere of influence. Help me to obey as Gideon obeyed and to prove you mighty through my life.

DEBORAH AND BARAK DELIVER ISRAEL FROM THE CANAANITES

Judges 5:31 – Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord; But let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.

This verse is taken from the song of Deborah which covers the whole fifth chapter. It is her song of victory after defeating the Canaanites. The enemy had created problems for the work force in Israel. The highways were deserted and travelers went by roundabout ways. Society was in turmoil without security for tomorrow. When God’s people are serving the Lord and His purpose there are “pleasantries.” But when God’s people choose to serve the gods of this world, the pleasantries cease.

At the time of this writing, our nation has forsaken the Spirit of the living God and we are hurting in many areas, just as Israel was at that time. The nations of the world that serve false gods of secular humanism have taken control. Many in the church seek after worldly ways to expand the church, but God’s Spirit is frustrating their efforts.

Deborah, a prophetess and a judge over Israel, received a word from the Lord that He was about to deliver the Canaanites into Israel’s hands. She gave that word to Barak who was told to take an army against Jabin’s army and that Israel would conquer the enemies of God. God’s Spirit is looking for those today, who will hear and obey God’s word. The world is in crisis and only the people of God can bring the deliverance that is needed. It will take those consecrated to the Lord’s will. Judges 5:2 sums up our thought in today’s devotion, “That the leaders led in Israel and the people volunteered.”

God is looking for those called to lead. He is seeking a people that will volunteer. It is time for the people of God to arise and take down the enemies of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is looking for the Deborah’s and the Barak’s of today. Read over Deborah’s song in Judges Chapter five and see if the Lord has things to say to you.

Oh Lord, my prayer is that all Your enemies will perish and that those who love You will be like the rising of the sun in its might. Father, strengthen me to be an example in my life of how to overcome the enemies of God. Cause me to be a volunteer wherever Your Holy Spirit leads me to serve in order to accomplish Your purposes in this season.

NOW THE SONS OF ISRAEL AGAIN DID EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD

Judges 3:15 – When the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera.

We must always be vigilant when it comes to sin. The enemy is always waiting to lure us away from our relationship with the Lord.  Israel had known the peace of God for forty years and then they reverted to idolatry. The Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.

The Lord will strengthen the enemy against us in order to bring us to repentance. Jesus covers this point in Matthew 18:31-35 when he tells the story of how a king dealt with an unforgiving servant who failed to forgive one that owed him a little compared to what he owed the king. The king throws him in jail until he paid his debt to the king. Jesus then says “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

In God’s great love, He will discipline His children to get their attention and draw them back to serving His kingdom of righteousness. Ehud went straight to the king of Moab. Ehud told him that he had a message from God. For the king it was a message of death as Ehud plunged a knife into Eglon’s abdominal area. We must be intentional and ruthless when dealing with the enemies of God’s people. In New Testament terms, disobedience to God’s word is an enemy. Carnality is an enemy. an unforgiving heart is an enemy to God’s purposes.

Regardless of the sin, it will separate us from God’s intended relationship with us. Ehud knew what it would take to restore the people of God and he accepted the responsibility to go after Moab and put an end to the tempter’s power. God accomplished this for us in Christ. Our deliverance has been purchased, but we must implement what Christ has done. It is our responsibility to rebuke the enemy of our souls. We are to remind him of his utter defeat by the Lord Jesus Christ. We can stop his aggression against us by using the weapons the Lord has supplied. The sword of the Spirit is our weapon. “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Today, be resolute in your determination to overcome sin and binding the enemy by putting to death the lusts of the flesh through the overcoming life of Christ that resides in you.

Father, in Jesus’ name, I put on the armor of God so I can stand against all the trickery of the enemy. Help me, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to be resolute in my resistance against sin, the world and the devil. Father, I ask You to empower me to restore others to You.

GOD JUDGES HIS PEOPLE WHEN THEY FORGET HIM

Judges 3:10 – The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and He judged Israel.

The first Judge in Israel was Othniel, the younger brother of Caleb. God raised up Othniel after Israel had cried out to the Lord for deliverance from their enemies. Israel had a habit of falling into idolatry and becoming the slaves of others. Idolatry always leads to “servitude”! God had mercy on His people and sent them a deliverer. Othniel prevailed over the enemies of God’s people and the land had rest for forty years.

Whenever we find ourselves in bondage to others or things, it is important to examine our heart to see if we have made people or things a god to us. A dear sister in the Lord received deliverance from the Lord as she recognized she had made her husband a god. She depended on him for everything and found herself with a bad attitude when he did not meet her expectations. She had stopped seeking the Lord for herself and hearing the Spirit of Lord speaking to her. As she repented and released him to his rightful place as her husband and not a god, she experienced God’s rest and peace filling her soul once again.

Idolatry can take on many forms. For Israel, it came in the form of sexual sins. The nations around Israel worshipped the creature more than the Creator (Romans 1:25). It takes a warfare attitude to defeat the enemy and overcome the sin of idolatry. Othniel led the people of God into war against their enemies and God gave him great victory. First we must identify the “sin of idolatry.” Then we must rout it out of our lives. We do this by confessing the sin of idolatry, repenting of any idolatrous activity, renouncing it as wrong and against God. Finally, ask that the blood of Jesus cleans you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:5-10). Once this is done, rest will return and a renewed fellowship with the Spirit of God.

Society around the world is filled with the sin of idolatry. It is almost impossible not to be touched by it in some form or fashion. Ask the Lord to show you any idolatry in your life. With a willing heart, repent and let go of every form of idolatry the Spirit of God reveals to you.

Father, I recognize that the sin of idolatry has always plagued Your people, please show to me any form of this sin in my life. I ask You for the overcoming victory of Jesus to reign in my life. 

THE GIFT OF FAITH CAN BE YOURS

1 Corinthians 12:9 – To another is given faith by the same Spirit.

Let us remember that through faith we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). We call this “saving faith.” The first work of the Spirit in our life is to lead us to faith in Christ. Faith that believes the Word of God which declares what the Lord has done for us through His death on the cross. This is faith that began to work in us before salvation actually takes place. Paul calls it “The faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20).

Faith is named in the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5:22. This kind of faith can only be developed by the Spirit as we learn to walk in the Spirit. Fruit can only be grown, not made. This fruit of faith speaks of God creating us to be a faithful people. We begin in faith that saves us. Then we learn to walk in faith, learning to trust the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. At times, we may experience the gift of faith which the Holy Spirit gives at His will for special times of need.

The gift of faith is distinct from saving faith and the fruit of faith.  The gift of faith is in the family of the power gifts. When one operates in this gift, they believe God in such a way that God honors their word as His own. He miraculously brings to pass those things spoken in faith.  It is a supernatural endowment by the Spirit whereby what is uttered or desired by a person shall eventually come to pass. This faith utterance covers blessing, cursing, destruction, and is different from the gift of the working of miracles and the gifts of healing in that often its operation is not immediately or even generally observed.

The operation of Miracles is more of an act, as when the Red Sea was rolled back by Moses, while the operation of the gift of faith is more of a process. The Gift of Faith begins with a sudden surge or boost of faith given by the Holy Spirit, when needed, as seen in Joshua 10:12-13, Acts 9:40, and Acts 13:11. Peter is a great example of this operation of faith. He entreated the Lord to bid him to come as the Lord was walking on the water and approaching the disciples. The other disciples in the boat thought Peter had lost it for sure, but when he came back in the boat with Jesus, Peter was their hero of “faith.” You just have to know, each one of them wished they had done what Peter did!

Holy Spirit, there are times when only the “gift of faith” can bring us through to Your intended purpose. Make me a willing vessel to allow You to give me that gift to help me do Your will when my natural ability fails me.