The book of Judges details a period of Israel’s history where a cyclical pattern is repeated. Instead of a King ruling over the people, God appointed judges over the land to settle disputes. However, because the Israelites had not dealt with the other inhabitants of the land and their false gods, they would fall away from the true God and serve idols. This would lead to them being oppressed and plundered by other tribes. God would then raise up a judge to deliver them and the people would repent. However, it would not be long before the judge died, and the people would return to evil until they once again were conquered. Unfortunately, this problem can still persist today. Often those professing Christianity can live in sin and darkness. When their sin ensnares them, they run back to Jesus for deliverance. However, it isn’t long before they once again fall prey to the temptations of this world.
In the time of Judges, the Bible says that because there was no King, “everyone did as they saw fit.” Left to our own fleshly desires, humans can come up with a form of religion and morality that suits their own purposes. It is easy to rationalize and excuse our own lifestyle. In reality, we have set ourselves as King or Queen of our own lives. We do as we see fit. Only in times of need and distress does the need for a savior become evident.
The call of Jesus is a call to death and re-birth. We die to the world and our own desires and are re-born to the Spirit of God and everlasting life. The Christ follower no longer serves him or herself, but serves the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that is from generation to generation, a kingdom that shall never pass away! The mark of a Christian is not attending service, saying a prayer one time, or following a set of rules and regulations. It is a true surrender. It is giving our life to Jesus fresh every day. Today may you live as a servant of the one true King!
The Bible’s emphasis on prayer is thorough. Jesus’ devotion to prayer is displayed throughout the gospels. The epistles instruct us to pray without ceasing. In Philippians, Paul instructs the church not to be anxious about anything but to go to pray to God ‘in everything.’ It can be a natural pitfall of the Christian life to press into God only in the midst of dilemma. Our circumstances can provoke emotions and stresses that our beyond us, and drive us to the Lord. The loss of a loved one, unemployment, a trip to the hospital, can move us to cry to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. At other times, we can feel comfortable in our situation. We do not feel stretched or pressed, and our prayer life and intercession to God the Father can fade, and lack fervor.
Maturity in Jesus brings with it an understanding of our reliance on God. As Jesus quoted, “man does not live on bread alone, but every word from the mouth of God.” Our daily bread and strength comes from our relationship with God. We are called to live a life in constant communication with the Holy Spirit. Rather than relying on our own skills and abilities, like non-believers, we are to rely on the power and wisdom of God that is delivered to us through prayer. Although we may be confident in where we are in life, and confident in what God is doing, we should remain constant in prayer, knowing that God is bringing us to a higher place. We have been made to bring God worship and glory.
As a Christian, our life is to represent Jesus Christ, and to represent the overwhelming blessing of God in the midst of every situation. This will always be achieved, everything will reveal God’s glory, but His glory revealed through our blessing and righteousness is revealed to our degree of relationship and reliance on Him. As we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, and rely on Him even in the routine of life, understanding that if we can do something well in our own talents, He can do it extraordinarily operating through us. May you rely on God and acknowledge Him in all you do, and may He make your path straight and use your life as a demonstration of His love, power, and blessing!
In this passage of scripture, Jesus had just come down off the mount of transfiguration. Most of his disciples were below and they were unsuccessfully trying to free a boy from demonic possession. Jesus exhorts them that anything is possible to him who believes. However, when the disciples ask Jesus specifically why they couldn’t cast this demon out, Jesus replies that “this kind” of devil only comes out by prayer and fasting (some versions just say “prayer”.)
All things are possible to the person who believes. Prayer and fasting is not just a discipline that somehow in its own right grants new power. It is not in the rote action, but in the transformational process. What Jesus reveals in this passage is that prayer and fasting can take us to a level of faith that is unobtainable otherwise. “Nothing but prayer and fasting”. If there is any stronghold, sickness or disease, any spiritual oppression that has persisted, there is a new level of faith, a new level of belief that can be gained in the secret place of prayer and fasting.
God’s power and love are able to conquer any mountain we face, but it is our challenge to believe in Him. The closer we get to Him, the more we understand the limitlessness of His power and His love for us. This increasing revelation spurs our belief to new levels. Levels which see results. May you speak to your mountain today, and may it cast itself into the sea today!
Praise and worship is an important part of our devotion to the Lord. Praise and worship doesn’t necessarily mean singing. It is about declaring God’s goodness and power; it is about declaring our love and affection for Him. All of God’s creation displays His majesty and might, His justice and mercy, His wisdom and authority. When we praise and worship God, we join history and nature, which all speaks of the glory of the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 20, praise and worship is linked to victory. Judah was about to be attacked by neighboring countries. Jehoshaphat, the ruler of Judah at the time, didn’t know what to do, since it was such a large army against them. He proclaimed a fast for all of Judah and sought the Lord. His prayer praises the Lord’s power and might. He prays “we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” The Lord responded to the prayers of Judah. Jehoshaphat sent people in front of the army of Judah. Their job was to sing to the Lord and praise Him, saying “Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.” The Bible says that when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against their enemies. The invading force was completely defeated. In fact, there was so much treasure left behind, it took Judah three days to collect all of it. May you find victory today as you praise and worship the Lord!
Acts 8:35, Revelation 19:10
At the end of the gospels, Jesus declares to His disciples, “And you shall be my witnesses.” It is called the Great Commission, and from the apostles until now, it is the primary mission of the church of Jesus Christ. To be a witness is to be someone who declares what they have seen and heard. God’s son has come to the world to declare righteousness. He died to pay the penalty for sin, and was raised to new life so that we could live in Him, free from sin, alive to God, and filled with the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, we are a witness to what Jesus has done, both in our own lives, and for humanity as a whole. It is the good news of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.
There is no better job than to be a messenger of good news. In Revelation, it is declared that the ‘testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ A prophetic word is a word that encourages, lifts up, and exhorts all those who hear and believe it. As messengers of Jesus, we spread the news of joy, hope, and love; that Jesus came into the world to redeem humanity, and provide new life. His death brought an end to the punishment of sin, and His resurrection brought a new life filled with a power over all the works of sin and the devil.
As we proclaim this message, we are reminded ourselves. In the midst of life, the news of Jesus Christ can bring clarity to who God is and what He has done. It brings encouragement in the midst of trial, hope when our situation seems lost, and victory in the midst of temptation. Just as the message of Jesus Christ brings life to all those who accept it, it brings light by the Holy Spirit to our own life and situation. Today may the gospel of Jesus Christ rise from your heart and be declared over you, your life, and to all those around you.