Monthly Archives: January 2012

Judges 11:29-40 — Interpreting the sacrifice of Jephthah

This is one of the more difficult passages in scripture to interpret.  Did Jephthah really sacrifice his daughter on an altar to God?  And if he did, did God approve of this action? We’ve already addressed the second question in … Continue reading

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Judges 10-11 — Fickle

The Israelites were definitely a fickle people.  It showed not only in their relationship with God, but also in their relationship with a man named Jephthah.  In fact, there’s a very definite parallel shown here.  Jephthah had been rejected by … Continue reading

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Judges 8-9 — Be careful what you wish for

There’s an old saying that says, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”  The point being, of course, that sometimes what we wish so desperately for is not always a good thing. After being in the … Continue reading

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Judges 8:22-35 — But I deserve it

When I learned about Gideon in Sunday School and Bible clubs, the only stories I ever remember hearing about were his encounter with God and the battle against the Midianites.  Our teachers never touched on the darker side of Gideon.  … Continue reading

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Judges 8:3-21 — Did God really approve?

There are times that we read things in the Bible, and we see people, even the heroes of the Bible, do things that seem terrible to us.  And we then ask ourselves, “Did God really approve of this?  Did God … Continue reading

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Judges 8:1-3 — Words that soothe

When someone lashes out at us with an unfair attack (or to us, what seems like an unfair attack), how do we respond? The natural response is to attack back.  To return harsh word for harsh word.  Another response is … Continue reading

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Judges 7 — Who are you putting your faith in?

Who are you putting your faith in? That seemed to be the question that God was asking Gideon.  Gideon had gathered 32,000 men to fight against the Midianites.  But God said, You have too many men for me to deliver … Continue reading

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Judges 6:11-40 — The God who sees what we can be

In a lot of ways, this passage is similar to the one of God’s call on Moses.  In both cases, you have men who lacked any kind of self confidence, but God called and used them anyway. In this case, … Continue reading

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Judges 6 — You get what you (don’t) deserve

How many times do we get in trouble because of our bad decisions, and people tell us, “Well what did you expect?”  Or “Don’t expect any sympathy from me.”  Or “Well, you got what you deserved.” And it’s true.  The … Continue reading

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Judges 5 — Are you in the game or on the sidelines?

Scottie Pippen played with Michael Jordan during the Chicago Bulls’ championship years in the 1990s.  He was one of the best forwards of all time, and after Jordan’s first retirement, he helped lead the Bulls to the playoffs as one … Continue reading

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Judges 4 — A time to follow God

All of us have role models.  For some of us, it’s our mom or dad.  For others, it was a teacher or grandparent.  As we’re growing up, they’re vital in our development.  They help shape us.  They help us grow. … Continue reading

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Judges 3-4 — Who are you giving yourself to?

There is a  repeated theme throughout the book of Judges. It says in Judges 3:7-8, 7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The anger of … Continue reading

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Judges 2:6-23 — Failing our children

I was reading an article a few years ago, and it was talking about how many young parents in Japan struggle to teach their children morals.  The reason:  they themselves have no strong convictions of right and wrong.  And of … Continue reading

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Judges 1-2 — But I can’t do it

There are times when God asks us to do what seems impossible.  Maybe it’s a task that seems too big for us.  Or maybe it’s a sin in our lives we’re struggling with.  And we say, “I’m sorry God.  I … Continue reading

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Joshua 23-24 — Who will you serve?

There’s an old song by Bob Dylan that goes, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have … Continue reading

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Joshua 22 — Communication, miscommunication, making right judgments

Often times arguments happen because of bad communication.  We misjudge others and their intentions simply because we don’t communicate well. And that’s what seems to have happened in this passage.  The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, with Joshua’s blessing, … Continue reading

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Joshua 21 — A God who keeps his promises

I love the final part of this passage. 43 So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The LORD gave them rest on … Continue reading

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Joshua 19; Judges 18 — Taking the easy way

Following God’s way is not always easy.  God never promised us an easy life.  But faced with difficulties, sometimes God’s people seek an easier way.  And that’s what happened with the tribe of Dan in the promised land.  It says … Continue reading

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Joshua 18 — Taking hold of what God has for you

Does God really want to bless me?  Does he really have something good in store for me?  Will he really keep his promises to me? Sometimes, we really struggle with these questions, and it keeps us from taking hold of … Continue reading

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Joshua 17 — Sin that just doesn’t go away

All of us struggle with sin.  And there are some sins that are very difficult to completely expel from our lives.  For guys, lust is a big issue.  (I’m not sure what women struggle with).  And it’s so easy to … Continue reading

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Joshua 14 — God is faithful. Are we?

When I read Caleb’s story, it’s pretty amazing.  At 40 years old, he went to spy out the land that God had promised to give to the Israelites.  But he and Joshua were the only men to believe that God … Continue reading

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Joshua 13 — Pressing on

I suppose for a lot of people, they look forward to retirement.  After years of working, they can’t wait for the day that they can finally rest and just do whatever they want. But in the kingdom of God, there … Continue reading

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Joshua 11 — Nothing undone

I like what it says in verse 15. As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. I think that’s what I’d like … Continue reading

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Joshua 10 — A God who listens to us. A God who fights for us.

This is one of the more remarkable miracles in the Bible taken at face value.  According to this passage, God “stopped the sun and moon” giving the Israelite army enough light to finish the battle against their enemies. What does … Continue reading

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Joshua 9 — But it seemed right at the time!

Joshua was basically a good leader.  But there were two times he got in trouble.  And both times it was for the same reason.  He relied on his own wisdom and understanding rather than God’s. The first time came at … Continue reading

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Joshua 8 — Run to the battle

Can God still use me?  Or is it all over for me? People often think these things when they fail, particularly when they sin.  And perhaps the Israelites were thinking the same thing. They had suffered a devastating defeat at … Continue reading

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Joshua 7 — Cannot be hidden

In the area where I live in Japan, we speak Kansai dialect.  And one of those words unique to Kansai is “akan,” which basically means, “No good.”  Coincidentally, that’s how Achan’s name translates into Japanese.  Mr. “No Good.”  And he … Continue reading

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Joshua 6 — Rebuilding evil in our lives

I’ve probably read this story dozens of times, but this time, it’s the last part that strikes me.  After all of Jericho was destroyed, Joshua pronounced a curse saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild … Continue reading

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Joshua 5:13-15 — Who’s on whose side?

Recently, Tim Tebow, the quarterback for the Denver Broncos, has been a national sports phenomenon.  A very gifted athlete, but not a particularly good passer.  Still, he led his team to six straight victories with most of them coming in … Continue reading

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Joshua 5:9 — The rolling away of your past

In Japan, people often have parties called bonenkai.  Literally translated, it means “Forget the year parties.”  After all this time, I’m still not sure what that means.  I’ve asked my English students, “Was your year so bad that you have … Continue reading

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Joshua 3-4 — Facing the unknown

Happy New Year all! I can’t believe another year has come and gone.  And as always, when it comes to the future, we’re always facing the unknown.  We just don’t know what things we’ll face this year.  That can be … Continue reading

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