The book of Judges covers the 400 years after the conquest of the Promised Land and after the Israelites said, We will serve the Lord our God and obey him. Yet in this period of Hebrew history every man did what was right in his own eyes. Have you ever promised to put God first in your life, only to fall away from that vow later? The Israelites did after they settled in Canaan not once, but seven times!
The book of Judges shows us God delights in doing extraordinary things through very ordinary people like you and me. The character studies of these judges give us insight and hope for those times we feel unworthy or inadequate to face lifes difficult challenges. Through apostasy and its terrible consequences God shows us some wonderful truths about how He honors faithfulness and fulfills His purposes for His people.
Even though Gideon was hiding and afraid, God demonstrated through Gideon He delights in taking the least, the weakest, and the most ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary supernatural miracles, when such people are available and committed to doing what God tells them to do. It is important when God calls you to do a work for Him that you go into that work knowing that God has sent you and that God is with you.
The book of Ruth is a beautiful love story that mirrors salvation and our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Old and New Testament Scriptures tell us we are betrothed to Him as a bride to her bridegroom. In Ruth this relationship as a Romance of Redemption and the law of the kinsman redeemer echo the message of the grace God has for all mankind.
The book of Ruth is a profound allegory illustrating redemption. To redeem means to buy back and to bring back. Boaz redeemed Ruth; first he bought her back when he paid all her debts, then he established a relationship with her that brought her back into the family of God. Learn how in the same way we must decide we want Jesus to be our redeemerto buy us back and to bring us back into the family of God.
What is the Kingdom of God? In the Old Testament, Gods kingdom was a literal, historical and geographical realm over which God was sovereign, with God Himself wanting to be the only ruler. The people, however, rejected God as their king and asked for human kings, which they got. The result was often tragic. This gives us insight into the concept of the Kingdom of God and how it relates to the New Testament and our lives.
The books of Samuel communicate Gods truth to us in the form of short biographies, focusing on three people in particular. According to the scriptures, Samuel, Saul and David and all the things that happened to them are for our warning and for our example. David is the best king Israel ever had, and judging from the amount of space the Holy Spirit gave to his story, he is one of the most important characters in the Bible.
Saul, Israels first king, was disobedient and caused the Lord to cast him away. The dominating characteristic of Davids life was obediencehe would do all Gods will. Real success is usually best discovered in the private places of our hearts. Israels greatest king, David, was a shepherd, a musician, a warrior, a leader, and a friend. Most important of all, he is described as a man after Gods own heart.
Through the life of King David we can learn to succeed through failure. For much of his life, David was a shining example. But in one season of Davids life, he committed the sins of adultery and murder; for a whole year, he tried to cover up his sin. His sins show us even godly people may give in to temptation if they are not careful. Davids life teaches us the important thing is how we respond when we fail.
In Psalms 32 and 51, among others, David speaks of emotions we can all relate to: the feelings associated with guilt. Psalms of confession and forgiveness show us the relief and joy found in Gods forgiveness of our sin and the blessings of Gods grace and restoration. Psalm 139 describes the God to whom we pray. God knows and understands everything about us, so He is the perfect counselor in times of difficulty.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.
Jesus begins by teaching His disciples eight attitudes called, the beatitudes, or blessed attitudes, because each one is introduced by the word blessed. Jesus is promising to bless the disciple who has each of these attitudes. This word blessed can actually mean happy, spiritually prosperous, or in a state of grace. Each attitude also includes a promise that describes the form in which this blessing will come into the life of that disciple.
Believers sometimes have the misguided opinion that their faith is weak if they show signs of mourning. This beatitude not only supports mourning it links it to a blessing. Mourning a loss is normal and there are things God wants us to learn from the loss. We must let God use our mourning to move us in three ways. First, mourning helps us ask the right questions about life. Second, it helps us to seek Gods answers. Third, it also helps us to accept the blessing God has provided including our salvation.
Many people think Jesus was contradicting the Old Testament in these verses, but He was only confronting the teaching of the religious leaders. He was telling His disciples: Everything I am teaching you is found in the Word of God, but what I am teaching is in direct conflict with what your religious leaders have been teaching you.
Salt is a preservative that keeps meat from spoiling, and Christians with the attitudes of Jesus are like salt to the world. When disciples with Christ-like attitudes are rubbed into the people of the world as salt is rubbed into meat, their influence will keep the world from total corruption. They become a valuable commodity Jesus uses to revolutionize the culture. The second metaphor indicates that Christians are the only source of light for multitudes living in darkness. As with the first metaphor, Jesus words literally mean that you and you alone are salt and light. If His disciples do not fulfill their role as salt and light, no one else is left to fulfill it. The people who have Jesus attitudes are sent into the world as Gods solution in order to shine for all to see.
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