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Readings

God speaks to us through Scripture. When we are lost, we know that we can look to His Word for guidance. We invite you to join us in daily reading as we go through the Bible together and learn as a family.

Moses spoke of a prophet who would be raised up from among his own brothers. He would be so powerful that His word would be final. Anyone who did not listen to Him would have to give an account to God.

All Israel watched and waited for the special prophet. The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist if he were “that prophet” (John 1:21 KJV). On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted the verse from Deuteronomy 18 to show how the Lord Jesus Christ was the Prophet spoken of. As such, He was God’s ultimate mouthpiece and final authority. After years of looking for the prophet, Moses finally saw Him face-to-face on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31).

The nations of the world are looking for some sorcerer, diviner, teacher, or prophet who can tell them the mind of God. They need look no further! We have found “that Prophet” in Christ. Other prophets may prophesy, but if their words do not line up with the words of Jesus, they are false prophets. The true Prophet has come, and we must keep our eyes focused on Him alone.

Jesus set for His disciples the example of a resolute life. He was determined to accomplish His purpose for coming to this earth.  He tolerated no double-mindedness in His followers. He wanted them to be determined, resolved, bold, and steady. He challenged them to totally cast aside their comforts, worldly desires, and ties to family (both living and dead) in order to put their hands to the “gospel plow.”

In order to follow Him, His disciples needed to be like Him. In the final days of His life, He issued two simple commands to them: “come” and “go.” First, he commanded, “Come, be my disciple” (Luke 9:59), encouraging them to imitate His example of resolve.  Next, he challenged them, saying, “Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). The disciples were given clear instruction to waste no time on greetings along the way or in lingering in towns that rejected the gospel message.

Time is of the essence when the harvest is ripe and a storm is approaching. Similarly, there is a spiritual harvest of souls waiting to be reaped. We must leave behind earthly distractions and work passionately for God, like Jesus did, recognizing that “there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end” (John 9:4).

The Law commanded, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together” (Deuteronomy 22:10). If you hook up to the gospel plow, don’t mix with the wrong company. Be single-minded and resolute, straining “to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (Philippians 3:14).

As used in this context, your neighbor means “someone near.” God has positioned near us all kinds of people with all kinds of needs. By showing love and generosity to such people, we are fulfilling one of the greatest commandments.

The children of Israel were told to treat a runaway slave as a neighbor and to give him refuge (Deuteronomy 23:15). They were also told not to barge into a neighbor’s house to take an article for collateral. They were to let the person bring it out to them, and if the neighbor was poor and had only a cloak for collateral, they could not keep it overnight. In addition, they were told to leave intentional harvests of wheat, olives, and grapes for the poor (Deuteronomy 24:10-13,19-21).

The generosity of the Good Samaritan to his “neighbor,” someone who was near, distinguished his true religion from the selfish religion of the Levite and priest (Luke 10:25-35). Likewise, Jesus’ commandment to us is “Now go and do the same” (v. 37).

We complicate our religion when we think of it as distant and difficult. In fact, it is near—as near as a neighbor in need. If we focus our love and generosity on neighbors in need, God will meet our own needs in return.

Weekend Sermon Discussion

  1. Who can you invite to New Life Church that you haven’t invited in awhile? Maybe that you have never invited before?
  2. How would your spouse, your closest family members, or your best friend answer the question, "What do you like?"
  3. Where can you plug in to serve at New Life Church? Maybe serving together as a life group?

Love for a neighbor is always measured (as it was in the story of the Good Samaritan) in practical ways. Love for God, however, is often measured in impractical ways. In Martha’s opinion, Mary was wasting her time sitting at the Lord’s feet while the details in the kitchen required her attention (Luke 10:39-40). The woman who lavished her ointment on the head of Jesus was also accused of being impractical and of wasting money (Matthew 26:7-9).

We show our love for people by service. We show our love for God by worship. One who worships does not count the pennies or the hours but sees only the immense value of the Person he is worshiping. To the outside world, which measures everything by its efficiency, these dollars and hours seem wasteful. But to those who love God from their hearts, the money and time expended are only a trifling pittance.

When it comes to loving people, we must be very practical, but when it comes to worshiping God, we must lay aside our desire to be busy. In our love for God, let us detach ourselves from an earthly mentality. Even if our practical, reasoning side says, “You’re being wasteful,” let’s lavish our time and money upon the Lord in true worship.

Power over the enemy is a sign of God’s blessing upon a person’s life. In contrast, Jesus said that a man who had no blessing in his life would be attacked by seven other spirits more evil than the first spirit (Luke 11:26). In the absence of the blessing of God, demons rush in “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). In every area of life—financial, physical, mental, and marital—these demons will run roughshod and wreak havoc to their hearts’ content.

No blessing . . . no protection! Without God’s blessing, Israel could expect continual shortfalls, diseases, plagues, depression, anxiety, and broken families. However, with God’s blessing, no enemy could affect Israel and no lack could come near God’s people.

Because we are the blessed, let us march triumphantly against our enemies and watch them flee. “When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths” (Psalm 77:16). Demons always tremble when God begins to march! In seven directions they flee in terror; therefore, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).

The Pharisees were bitter men, envious of Jesus and angry about His pure, sweet teaching. A root of bitterness will corrupt many (Hebrews 12:15). A fountain cannot produce sweet and bitter water at the same time (James 3:11), and a person’s heart is the wellspring of his life.

The secret to life, prosperity, and blessing is a heart that is pure, sweet, and undefiled. How quickly the envy and greed of the world can turn someone’s heart bitter and sour toward individuals or races! Moses warned the Israelites that if they harbored poisonous roots of bitterness in their hearts toward God or one another, their land would become a burning waste of salt and sulfur. The Israelites failed to heed the warning, however, and for forty years were bitter at God, Moses, and one another. Consequently, one by one their corpses fell in the wilderness.

Bitterness is a taste in your mouth—a flavor that colors every experience and relationship. If any bitter roots are lodged in your heart today, ask the Holy Spirit to pull them out. In so doing, you are choosing life, “that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Moses’ song was intended to remind the Israelites that if they backslid, they would be neglecting the Rock who fathered them and the God who had given them birth (Deuteronomy 32:18). That Rock, who is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4), had followed them in the wilderness and provided drink for them for forty years. How could they ever have turned their backs on their Rock? Perhaps the Israelites took God for granted, thinking they could provide for and defend themselves without His help.

Our lives are confused and insecure when we leave our Rock in order to build our lives on shifting sand (Matthew 7:26-27). The rich fool thought he was secure in his barns and possessions, but he found out that his life was built on a false foundation (Luke 12:16-21). We can look high and low, trying to find security in money, positions, organizations, and even nations. Unfortunately, we will find that all these things will eventually crumble and turn to dust.

Although the world puts its trust in things and people that disappoint, decide today to seek the immovable Rock of the Kingdom of God. “He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Luke 12:31).

The Kingdom of God does not belong to the slothful and careless. Jesus taught that the person who is a “faithful, sensible servant” (Luke 12:42) will be amply rewarded for his diligence when the master returns.

All your time, money, talents, and influence have been given to you as tests of your faithfulness. You are tested on earth so your eternal position may be fairly and justly assigned. It really doesn’t matter how high or low your station in life or how much earthly wealth you attain. It matters only how faithful you are in that station and with the wealth you have been given.

Whatever your status, be diligent (hardworking, persevering, and careful in work), making the most with even a little. The more faithful you are with a little, the more God can entrust to you. Sometimes He is watching to see what you will do with a little before He gives you much.

“Laziness ends in slave labor” (Proverbs 12:24 NIV), but diligence brings reward. In eternity, your reward for diligence will be to rule over entire cities (Luke 19:17). So persevere! Be faithful in little and God will reward you with much!

Moses gave his final blessing upon God’s people, and we, the children of Abraham, can lay claim by faith to the rich pronouncements found in Deuteronomy 33.

First, God promised that His people would “dwell between His shoulders” in security (Deuteronomy 33:12 KJV). There is no greater security and protection than in riding on the back of the Lord!

Next, He said His children would enjoy “the best gifts of the earth and its fullness” (v. 16). Because God made the earth, He can certainly cause it to yield its best for His own.

In addition, He promised His people physical strength for their entire lives (v. 25). Jesus offered this same promise to another child of Abraham hundreds of years later: “Wasn’t it necessary for me, even on the Sabbath day, to free this dear woman from the bondage in which Satan has held her for eighteen years?” (Luke 13:16). Healing and strength are part of the blessing of the Lord.

Finally, He promised His children the peace and security of the everlasting arms underneath them (Deuteronomy 33:27). Security in an insecure world is priceless, and it belongs to us. Let’s lay claim to our blessings, for we are people saved by the Lord (Deuteronomy 33:29).

Fear and timidity cripple and paralyze. Three times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-7, 9). Even Joshua’s own people echoed God’s encouragement to him (v. 18). God cannot use timid, fearful vessels to accomplish the mighty conquests He envisions for His people.

How helpful it would be if we could only see that our enemies are melting in fear because of us (2:9)! If we could take a peek at the enemy’s camp, we would see how fearful they are of those who are in Christ. Gideon was privileged to see this when he crept down to the enemy’s camp and found the soldiers so frightened that they were dreaming about Gideon’s might against them (Judges 7:13-14).

Satan always tries to intimidate before the battle begins. When the Pharisees tried to frighten Jesus regarding Herod, Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that . . . I will accomplish my purpose” (Luke 13:32). Nothing could deter Him from His purpose because He knew the power resident in Him.

When the enemy threatens and intimidates, arise in courage and boldness and go forward. Remember: Satan knows what the Lord has planned for us. “I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Everywhere you go, you will be on land I have given you’ ” (Joshua 1:3). Be strong!

Weekend Sermon Discussion

  1. Have you felt relationally disconnected lately? Ask the Lord to show you where you may have gotten off-track in this area.
  2. As a Life Group, how can you plan in the coming weeks to remain connected with each other in meaningful ways this summer? Plan and dream together about it, even now!
  3. Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? If not, take this free Spiritual Gifts test here: newlifechurch.tv/spiritualgifts

The most powerful illustration of God’s presence going before His people is that of the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan with the ark of the covenant leading them. The ark represented God’s throne, His power, and His might. It went ahead of Israel into the battle at Jericho and brought the Israelites victory. Indeed, if the ark had not gone before them, they would have been on their own.

Whatever impossible circumstance may stand before you will surely be defeated as God’s presence arrives in the battle. Joshua 3:13 says that when the feet of the priests who carried the ark touched the water, the flow of water was cut off upstream and the river piled up there in a heap.

As you come to your “Jordan,” set your foot into the water. How dare the proud waters defy God’s presence and power! The foot of faith carries the arm of omnipotence. One little step of faith releases all the power of God into your situation. Let God’s face shine against the darkness!

Paul’s teaching about sinners focuses on God’s real purpose in sending Jesus: to save those who are lost. Miserable, undone sinners are “the stuff” from which Jesus makes miracles. Often the lower a sinner sinks, the greater the glory God receives when the sinner repents.

Rahab, the prostitute in Jericho, was probably the lowest social outcast in the city (Joshua 6:17). However, God was willing to spare her and her entire family because she was repentant. In God’s sovereign choice to use her, Rahab first was spared from destruction. Then she actually became one of the four women mentioned in Matthew 1 as a direct ancestor of King David and Jesus Christ Himself (v. 5).

Can you see how God loves to take the “things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all . . . to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29)? He will run to meet any sinner who comes to his senses and returns to Him saying, “Father, I have sinned” (Luke 15:21). Let us rejoice with the angels today over even one sinner who repents!

Money tests our hearts, our motives, and our character. What we do with it will prove to God whether He can entrust us with the “true riches of heaven” spoken of in Luke 16:11. The spirit of covetousness ruled the Pharisees. The Lord warned them that they could not “serve both God and money” (v. 13), but verse 14 says they “dearly loved their money,” ignoring the Lord’s stern admonition to them.

The principle of covetousness is immortalized in the story of Achan in the Old Testament. God gave explicit instructions to Joshua that no one was to touch anything of value in Jericho. The entire city was God’s, dedicated to Him as the holy firstfruits of the Canaan conquest. Achan’s hand, however, could not resist grasping a bar of gold, coins of silver, and a beautiful Babylonian coat. His sin followed a familiar pattern: “I saw . . . I wanted . . . I took them . . . They are hidden” (Joshua 7:21).

Our eyes can look enviously on things that do not belong to us, and covetousness can lead us to “take” and “hide” that which is not ours. How much better to follow the wisdom of Luke 16:9: “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.”

Use worldly wealth; don’t let it use you!

Satan forms alliances with those who desire to “take possession of the pasturelands of God” (Psalm 83:12 NIV). Joshua and his forces faced enemies who united in one common pursuit: to extinguish the light of God’s people from the face of the earth (Joshua 10:3-4). Though our enemies join forces to destroy us, they are still no match for our God.

In incredible fashion, God loosed the destructive forces of nature against Israel’s enemies. First, He threw hailstones from heaven to smite the Amorites. Then, as though the enemy could have escaped such destruction, God actually stopped the sun and moon for the better part of an entire day to provide enough light for Israel to pursue the fleeing armies (Joshua 10:11-14).

There is no stopping our Commander-in-Chief. The Lord will make our enemies blow away “like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind” (Psalm 83:13)! Have you ever watched the whirling dust of a dust storm? It flies so fast that it only touches the ground occasionally. Pursue your enemies; God will “blow them away.” Though they have declared war on God, they are no match for His anger. Remember: He is the “Most High, supreme over all the earth” (v. 18).

Everyone, no matter how small or insignificant, can be included in God’s house. Can you imagine God taking time to record that He is concerned about a swallow’s having a place to nest in His house? God’s house is big and wide. It has room for anyone who desires to come under His shadow and eat from His table. And the fare in God’s house is delightful!

Psalm 84 says that the people in God’s house are always praising Him (v. 4). They are always full of strength (v. 7), drawing fresh energy like a tree planted by the waters. Their prayers are always heard (v. 8) because they are so close to Him that praying is as natural as breathing. Furthermore, their needs are always met (v. 11).

Luke 17:15-16 tells us how the lowly Samaritan leper found a place in God’s house. Being a foreigner, he was not allowed to enter the earthly temple and show himself to the priest. Instead, he found an even better place at the feet of Jesus, the High Priest over the house of God.

Come in and dwell in the courts of the Lord. The door is open, and there will always be a place for you!

Caleb was a man of unrelenting pursuit. His eyes had seen a mountain, and Moses had given him a promise. Although he was now eighty-five years old, his resolve and desire to possess the promise were undiminished. He said to Joshua, “So I’m asking you to give me the hill country that the Lord promised me” (Joshua 14:12). Then this elderly man of faith promptly went in and drove out the giants who lived there!

Forty-five years of waiting did nothing to daunt this man’s purposes in God. How often do we “circle the mountain” one time and then decide it is not the will of God for us to receive what we need? In many instances recorded in the Bible, people of faith had to persevere in order to receive the promise. For example, Elijah prayed seven times before he saw the cloud of rain, and Joshua marched seven days until the walls of Jericho toppled.

In the parable of the importuning widow (Luke 18:5), Jesus taught the importance of persistence. If an unjust judge would eventually grant the request of a persistent widow, how much more will a compassionate God answer the prayers of His righteous saints?

Pursue your dream. And until the dream comes to pass, continue to proclaim, “Give me this hill country!”

Like Caleb, Bartimaeus was a man of persistence. He refused to stop calling out for mercy even when others demanded that he be quiet (Luke 18:39). He knew that Jesus was “so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love” (Psalm 86:5) to all who called on His name.

To get the attention of this God of mercy, your call of faith must never grow weary but must remain fervent. Something about seriousness attracts God’s compassion. A halfhearted request may impress the world, but God knows when you have reached a place of desperation.

Bartimaeus was tired of blindness and cared nothing about public opinion. His fervent pleading drew the attention of the Son of God, and his miracle brought much glory to God. The woman with the issue of blood showed the same determination when she pressed in to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Remember the words of Psalm 86:17: “Send me a sign of your favor. Then those who hate me will be put to shame, for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.” Keep calling out fervently, for the God of mercy is listening.

Weekend Sermon Discussion

  1. What new thing is God asking you to do?
  2. What step have you taken, or do you need to take, to pursue His purpose for you?
  3. What things are currently in your life that need to be removed?

Joshua rebuked the seven tribes who had not yet asserted their victory over the Canaanites. Why? Like many of us, they were waiting for God, while in reality God was waiting for them! Joshua’s rebuke to the Israelites was that though God had already given them the land, they refused to pay the price to possess it.

Similarly, the lazy steward of Luke 19:20 demonstrated no initiative to become involved in the risky, dangerous world of investment. He simply took the money his master had given him and hid it away. Though he blamed his master for his lack of effort, the real fault lay with him.

God has given you certain talents and gifts, but He will never force you to use them. Yes, it will cost you something to use your talents, and you may even fail once or twice. You will have to practice, sacrifice, and learn, but you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

Step out of the boat and onto the water as Peter did. Your eternal reward depends upon your assertiveness, so stop being passive and go take a few cities!

Christ certainly felt the burden of a city that refused His grace (Luke 19:41). Jerusalem had every opportunity to repent, having seen great miracles and having heard the Lord’s greatest sermons. The knowledge that Jerusalem would finally reject and crucify Him caused Jesus to weep over a lost opportunity.

Paul also felt heartsick over Israel’s rejection of the Gospel: “My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them” (Romans 9:2-3).

Have you ever thought that a certain person would surely repent after hearing a particular sermon or experiencing an especially painful situation in his life, and yet he did not? Intercession can arise from deferred hope, knowing that God is waiting to bless, but human beings are resisting. The pain and agony of watching others miss God’s best in their lives should be turned into a continual prayer on their behalf.

Keep on standing for your lost loved ones. As long as they are alive and breathing, there is still hope. Imagine the joy you will experience when they turn their lives over to God!

Jesus is the Cornerstone. A cornerstone is a large, immovable stone that sets the direction for an entire building. Trying to test and move Jesus by questions and tricks was impossible—a point the Pharisees amply proved. He is unchangeable Truth, the Rock of integrity and honesty. If you try to move Him or persuade Him to change His standard, you will be crushed (v. 18) as that Stone falls on you. You can’t go around Him, under Him, or over Him.

Proverbs 13:15 says, “A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person walks a rocky road.” Being treacherous means you’re trying to push God’s truth out of your life! Why not build on the truth rather than trying to budge it? Don’t alter it, try to move it, or break it. Fall upon that Stone and let Him break your will to pieces. Then allow the Holy Spirit to build your life upon the foundation of eternal truth.

Align the walls of your life to match the direction of the Cornerstone. A life built upon His truth will last for all eternity. He will never change. Isn’t it time you did?

Although the Israelites had been granted the victory, it still took them a long time to subdue their enemies. “Little by little” and “inch by inch” is the pattern for gaining the territory promised to you. Sometimes your progress may be very slow, but you must fight on because every enemy you leave in your territory will become “a pain in your side and a thorn in your eyes” (Joshua 23:13).

Christ Himself is now seated at the right hand of God until He makes your enemies a footstool for your feet (Luke 20:43). Though the battle may be long, you are assured a victory in the end: “Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised” (Joshua 23:10). Fight on until every promise from God comes true, for surely the enemy who contests you is trying to resist the Word of God. The promise in Psalm 89:23 is clear: “I will beat down his adversaries before him and destroy those who hate him.”

In the midst of the long battle, remember that your character is being transformed. “Count it all joy” . . . your patience is growing (James 1:2 KJV)!

Jesus saw a terrible scene coming to Jerusalem in the not-too-distant future. He saw the Roman legions invading Jerusalem and completely destroying it in A.D. 70. Josephus, the Jewish historian, reported that more than one million Jews died during this invasion, thousands of them by crucifixion outside of Jerusalem. The city was so leveled that a plow was pulled across it from side to side. David also foretold this horrible event: “You have renounced your covenant with him, for you have thrown his crown in the dust. You have broken down the walls protecting him and laid in ruins every fort defending him” (Psalm 89:39-40).

The price for rejecting truth is high, and history, unfortunately, is strewn with the wreckage of civilizations that did just that. Joshua told the Israelites that if they forsook the Lord, He would turn against them, bring disaster on them, and make an end of them (Joshua 24:20). God gives a season of opportunity to repent, but then, like a potter fashioning his pot, He destroys the vessel and makes another.

Determine to be like Joshua, who said, “But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). History will prove you right!

Secret sins will always be exposed in the light of God’s presence. Judas thought he would make a profit by selling the knowledge of Christ’s whereabouts for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16).

The sin of the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10) has deceived millions into living only for this life. Moses instructed Israel, “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). A person who makes the most of his time understands the brevity of life. That person knows that soon our days, like our money, will be expended.

What are thirty pieces of silver in the light of eternity? Where is Judas’s money now? After Judas threw it into the temple, the priests collected it and used it to buy the field where Judas hanged himself. Where is Ananias and Sapphira’s money? Their greed bought them an early death (Acts 5). Where is Felix’s money? Felix kept asking Paul to come and speak to him in hopes of getting a bribe, but he never succeeded (Acts 24:26).

We must be so careful to keep our financial dealings open, clean, and eternal in value. The truth is, eighty years of life is not a very long time (Psalm 90:10).

We all have to face battles and trials. No one else can pass through our trials for us. The hour will surely come when we must face the enemy for ourselves. Parents, pastors, and counselors may shield us from warfare for a season, but the day will come when God allows us to walk into the battle alone. He does this so that we can testify of His faithfulness—a faithfulness that we have personally observed. Another reason He allows us to face the enemy is to see whether we will obey His commands (Judges 3:4).

Peter discovered that he had more “mouth” than “might” (Luke 22:33). As long as Jesus was around, he could really talk a good battle. However, the moment Jesus was gone, Peter denied that he even knew the Lord!

Your first “solo battle” may be a little shaky, and you may even fail. But take your licks, learn from the battle, and rejoice that the battle belongs to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47).

“Who will stand up for me against the evildoers?” This is a simple question, but God truly has a difficult time finding even one man who will be the first to take a stand against evil and injustice.

Deborah waited for Barak to have the courage to stand up against the evil oppression of Jabin and Sisera (Judges 4). Often we cry to God for relief from the enemy, but God is waiting for us to arise and get involved in the spiritual warfare. Deborah blessed those who took the lead and willingly offered themselves (5:2). In that crucial moment when God was delivering their enemy into their hands, some, like the Reubenites, stood back. Because they were so interested in their sheep, they were very indecisive. All they had was “great searchings of heart” (5:16 KJV), but no action.

It is easy to remain seated in our comfort zones and analyze why we should let someone else fight the Lord’s battles. Today is the day God is defeating our enemies. Who among us will rise up first?

Peter denied his identity when confronted about being a disciple of Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, boldly stood and declared His identity to the Sanhedrin: “You are right in saying that I am [the Son of God]” (Luke 22:70).

Gideon went through the process of learning boldness in his identity with God. “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’ ” (Judges 6:12). Just three verses later, Gideon replied, “But Lord . . . how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” (v. 15). Gideon’s natural inclination was to hide in the winepress, but his spiritual identity was that of a deliverer. After the test with the fleeces, he began to believe the report of the angel about himself. Gradually, Gideon realized that when God was with him, he could accomplish the impossible.

Stop looking at your old identity of weakness and fear. Believe that God has called and equipped you to win your battles. Fear and timidity are just weapons the enemy uses to intimidate you. Boldly confess to the world, to the devil, and to yourself: “I am who He says I am!”

Essential to the most basic faith in God is the belief that He is coming. From the time of Enoch, who Genesis 5:22 declares lived “in close fellowship with God,” faithful believers have understood that He is coming to judge everyone (Jude 14-15). The thief on the cross was saved just by saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

The Lord will return suddenly and swiftly to judge the ungodly. Just as Gideon descended with a trumpet blast in the night in sudden judgment upon Midian (Judges 7:19), Jesus will suddenly return with His saints to judge the world. If you are “faint, yet pursuing”

(8:4 KJV), keep up the fight. Your blessed hope as a believer is that the Lord will return not only to deliver you from this world but also to punish His enemies who have afflicted you.

Paul reminded the Philippian believers that “we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior (Philippians 3:20). . . . Remember, the Lord is coming soon” (4:5). One day the Lord will descend from heaven, and our battle will be eternally over!

The prayer of the psalmist for God to come and change the world was a bold one. The closing hours of Jesus’ life epitomized the answer to David’s prayers. Jesus’ slow and agonizing death on the cross caused the earth to convulse and quake. Even the sun refused to shine. The presence of the Lord was so awesome that the elements He had created were unable to function normally.

Even the guards shook when the Lord of Life came out of the tomb (Matthew 28:4). Mighty angels confronted the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ body, and Luke 24:5 says, “The women were terrified and bowed low before them.”

Who can stand in the presence of almighty God? His presence will shake anything and everything until all creation acknowledges that “the Lord reigns” (Psalm 99:1 NIV). When God came down on Mount Sinai, the earth and mountain began to quake and shake violently, and the mountain was engulfed in fire and smoke (Exodus 19:18).

God’s kingdom is the only kingdom that cannot be shaken or destroyed (Hebrews 12:28). Let the nations tremble under the Lordship of Christ. If the earth now shakes in His absence, what will it do when He personally appears?

Satan’s primary objective is to blind our eyes to the truth. Gaal could clearly see people attacking the city, but Zebul implied, “I know you see what you think you see, but what you see is not what you think!”

How does Satan work? He tries to get us to deny the reality of what we see about sin until it is too late. Once the deception is complete and it is too late to reverse it, he says to us, “Now where is that big mouth of yours? . . . Go out and fight them!” (Judges 9:38). Satan will mock for eternity those in hell that were deceived by him.

Jesus, on the other hand, is in the business of opening our minds. For the eleven disciples, He “opened their minds to understand” the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). When Jesus opens our eyes, we begin to recognize the dangers we did not even see before. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (Proverbs 14:12). Lord, give us eyes to see!

Rejection cuts deeply into the soul of man. To be rejected by one’s own family and others can wound a person to the very core. Jephthah, son of a prostitute, knew what it was like to be rejected (Judges 11:2). His half brothers sent him away to the land of Tob simply because of his background. He had done nothing to deserve such rejection.

Often we are rejected because of factors beyond our control. Nevertheless, the pain of rejection makes us lash out at those who have hurt us, especially when they reach out to us for help later on. Our response is frequently like Jephthah’s: “Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?” (Judges 11:7).

Jesus Christ knew the pain of rejection to the fullest. The entire nation turned its back on Him, for He was “despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

Have you ever come to your friends or family with a loving witness, only to have it flung back into your face? Love them anyway. One day, like Jephthah’s brethren, they will come knocking on your door. When they do, give them a glimpse of the love of Christ in you.