April 29

Judges 9:22-10:18

Abimelech was guilty of the blood of his own brothers, and God was about to make him pay for his sin.

Isn’t it interesting what we read in:

Judges 9:23 (NKJV) “God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.”

Peace between people is not only something we endeavor to keep, it’s also something God grants between us. Have you ever seen or sensed a “spirit of ill will” between people? If God so chooses, He can raise up adversaries against us as He did with Solomon because of his sin  (1 Kings 11:14, 23, 26).

Things started stirring in Shechem, the men who previously supported Abimelech no longer did. Although Abimelech was able to squash the first uprising, and a few others, he wasn’t able to defeat them all. In the end, because of Abimelech’s aggressive campaign against Thebez he came too close to the tower and a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head, it crushed his skull. Abimelech asked his armor-bearer to finish him off – and he did, but Abimelech couldn’t erase the fact that his downfall was at the hands of a woman. Ultimately it was God who crushed him for the blood he had shed of his own brothers.

Judges 9:56 (NKJV) “Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers.”

After Abimelech, there were many other judges who led, such as Tola (23 years), and Jair (23 years), we don’t have the details of their days but you can be sure they all have some interesting stories. But once again the children of Israel did evil – and it seems to be getting worse! Israel served the gods of Syria, the gods of Moab, the gods of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, so the Lord “sold” them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites.

The children of Israel cry to God, again, but it’s as if God is done delivering them. Is He?

No. Our God is long-suffering and  compassionate. It’s comforting to read the words we have recorded for us in:

Judges 10:16 (NKJV) “…And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”

God should have given up on them. He should have given up on me – but He didn’t, He doesn’t, He hasn’t. If a person can muster up the strength to pray, and the wisdom to repent – God will meet us there every time! And the cycle continues.

Luke 24:13-53

The day Jesus rose, there were a couple of disciples on the road to Emmaus – they were discussing the recent events in Jerusalem at which point Jesus Himself joins them. They’re eyes are restrained from recognizing Him – as they walk and talk…the conversation and conversion begins.

The two disciples were disappointed with the work of Jesus, explaining that fact that they were hoping it was He who was going to “redeem” Israel (Luke 24:21). Along with everyone else, they were only considering the physical, the temporal, the here-and-now political kind of redemption, when in all reality Jesus HAD redeemed them, but it was spiritual (eternal). He paid the price, He bought us back from Satan with the ransom of His blood.

Jesus rebukes them (Luke 24:25-26) and then proceeds to explain in verse 27 the many, many prophecies in the Old Testament – how the Messiah had to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead. Can you imagine what an amazing Bible study that must have been! There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming!

After the seven-mile walk comes to an end, Jesus would have gone on, but they invited Him to stay, they insisted, they were hungry for more fellowship, to go deeper (that’s always a good thing to do). As Jesus prays for the meal, suddenly their eyes are opened, and they realize, this is Him – at which point He vanishes from their sight – mission accomplished. They talk amongst themselves, “Did your heart burn? Yes, my heart was exploding with joy when He talked with us on the road opening the Scriptures to us!” When that truly happens, you can’t keep it to yourselves, so the two disciples do something crazy (especially at night) they go right back to Jerusalem. They make the seven-mile journey in order to tell everyone that they had seen the risen Lord. When God opens the Bible, and opens your heart, and opens your eyes, He will also open your mouth – it’s time to testify. Later Jesus would do the same thing with His disciples – He would appear to them and open their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

Jesus appeared to His disciples – bodily – He wasn’t simply a spirit, He was in the flesh, He even ate with them. The Bible had predicted the resurrection of the Messiah (Psalm 16:10) and now it all makes sense. It actually makes PERFECT sense to follow the One who conquered the coffin, gutted the grave, and defeated death. This is the only “sign” we will ever need, the risen Lord (see Matthew 12:39-40; 16:4; Luke 11:29-30; John 2:18-22). The cross is payment for our sins and the resurrection is the receipt! All we need to do now is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, be empowered by the Spirit (Luke 24:49), and go out into the world spreading the Word! What do you say?

Psalm 100:1-5

This Psalm is specifically called “A Psalm of Thanksgiving.”

How do we show our gratitude to God? This Psalm seems to describe God’s people going to the House of the Lord with a heart of thanksgiving.

Make a joyful shout to God (do we ever do that?).

Serve – and do so with gladness (do we do that?).

When it’s time for worship, it’s not a performance from the stage, we come before God with singing (let your heart and voice be an instrument of praise, even weapons of war).

Enter into those gates/doors/driveways with thanksgiving (be grateful to be there).

And make sure to know that the LORD is God. He is the one who made us, and is even making us into His image. He also takes care of us, leading us as the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd.

Psalm 100:3 (NKJV) “Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 100:5 gives more mega reasons to praise – God is good, His mercy never ends, and His truth (Word) is forever and ever.

A brief Psalm that packs a big punch.

Proverbs 14:11-12

V. 11 – The contrast is between the upright and the wicked, where we live is insignificant in comparison to how we live.

Charles Bridges, “The feeblest state of the upright is more stable than the prosperity of the wicked. The latter build a house; the earth is their home, where they settle down and take their rest. But the upright, knowing the uncertainty of this world and seeking a better home, only set up a tent or tabernacle (Hebrews 11:9).”

V. 12 – This is the Scripture our modern-day society desperately needs to hear. They make their decisions, determine their actions, even sign legislations based on what “seems right” to them. Here we read in God’s Word that it may very well lead to death.

The Message puts it this way, “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again – it leads straight to hell.”

Charles Bridges, “No one can doubt the end of open ungodliness. But other paths in the broad road seem right but will also end in death. Vice passes under the cover of virtue.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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