Everyday we are faced with choices. Everyday we choose. Are you consistent? Are you aligned? Are you moving forward? Are you moving back? Are you moving to the left? Are you moving to the right? Whose side are you on? What is driving your decisions and direction?
Today’s reading starts in the book of Judges…
Bloodshed of Abimelech and Shechem
1Now Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s brothers, and spoke to them and the whole clan of his mother’s father’s household saying, 2“Speak now, in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem: Which is better for you, that 70 men—all the sons of Jerubbaal—rule over you, or that a single man rules over you? Remember also that I am your flesh and bone.” 3When his mother’s brothers discussed all these words of his in the ears of all Shechem’s leaders, their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” 4So they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-berith. Abimelech then hired idle and reckless fellows, who followed him. 5Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and slew his brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, 70 men, on top of one stone. But Jotam, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, for he hid himself. 6Then all the leaders of Shechem and all Beth-millo assembled themselves together and went and made Abimelech king at the terebinth of the pillar that was in Shechem. 7Now when they told Jotam, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, lifted up his voice, called out and said to them, “Listen to me, O lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you! 8Once the trees set out to anoint a king over them. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I stop yielding my oil, that honors God and man, and go wave over the trees?’ 10Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I stop yielding my sweetness and my delicious fruit, and go wave over the trees?’ 12So the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13But the vine said to them, ‘Should I stop yielding my new wine, which cheers God and man, and go wave over the trees?’ 14Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 15And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If you truly are going to anoint me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shadow; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ 16“So now, if you have acted in truth and integrity by making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt kindly with Jerubbaal and his household, and have done for him as he deserved— 17for my father fought for you, and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian, 18but you have risen up against my father’s household today and have slain his sons—70 men on one stone—and have made Abimelech, son of his maidservant, king over the lords of Shechem just because he is your brother— 19if you then have dealt in truth and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his household today, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo, and let fire come out from the lords of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech!” 21Then Jotam ran away and fled, and went to Beer and remained there because of his brother Abimelech. 22After Abimelech had ruled over Israel for three years, 23God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. So the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech— 24in order that the violence done to Jerubbaal’s 70 sons might come due, so their blood might be laid on their brother Abimelech who slew them, and on the lords of Shechem who strengthened his hands to slay his brothers. 25So the lords of Shechem set up ambushers on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed anyone who passed by them along that road. So it was reported to Abimelech. 26Now Gaal son of Ebed had come with his relatives and moved to Shechem, and the lords of Shechem put their trust in him. 27When they went out into the field, they gathered grapes of their vineyards, trod them and had a party. Then they went into the house of their god, ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech. 28Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Isn’t he the son of Jerubbaal? Isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem—but why should we serve him? 29Now, if this people were under my hand, then I would get rid of Abimelech.” So he said to Abimelech, “Muster your army and come out!” 30When Zebul the governor of the city heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, his anger burned. 31So he sent messengers to Abimelech in deceit saying, “Watch out, Gaal son of Ebed and his relatives have moved to Shechem, and look, they are inciting the city against you. 32So now, arise by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. 33So it will be in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you will rise early and advance on the city; and behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, then you should do to them whatever your hand finds.” 34So Abimelech and all the people who were with him rose up by night and lay in wait against Shechem in four columns. 35Now Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate. Then Abimelech and the people who were with him emerged from the ambush. 36When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!” But Zebul said to him, “You’re seeing the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.” 37Then Gaal spoke up again and said, “Look, people are coming down from the middle of the land, and one column is coming by the road of the Diviner’s Oak.” 38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now? With it you said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Isn’t this the people that you have trashed? Now go out and fight him!” 39So Gaal went out ahead of the lords of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40But Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many fell wounded up to the entrance of the gate. 41While Abimelech stayed in Arumah, Zebul drove Gaal and his relatives out so that they could not stay in Shechem. 42Now it came to pass the next day that the people went out into the field, and it was reported to Abimelech. 43So he took his people, divided them into three columns, and lay in ambush in the field. When he looked and saw the people were coming out of the city, he pounced on them and struck them down. 44Then Abimelech and the column that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the city gate, and the other two columns rushed on all who were in the open field and struck them down. 45So Abimelech fought against the city all that day, captured the city and killed the people that were in it. Then he razed the city and sowed it with salt. 46Now when all the lords of Shechem’s Tower heard about it, they went into the vault of the temple of El-berith. 47When Abimelech was told that all the lords of Shechem’s Tower had gathered there, 48he and all the people with him went up to Mount Zalmon. Then Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a branch from the trees and lifted it up and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, “What you’ve seen me do, hurry and do likewise.” 49So all the people likewise each cut down his branch and followed Abimelech. He laid them against the vault and set the vault on fire over them. So all the people of Shechem’s Tower also died—about a thousand men and women. 50Then Abimelech went to Thebez, camped against Thebez and captured it. 51But there was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the city leaders fled there and shut themselves in, and went up to the roof of the tower. 52So Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it, and approached the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53But a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor-bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman slew him.’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55So when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they each departed to his place. 56Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech—what he had done to his father by slaying his 70 brothers. 57Also all the wickedness of the men of Shechem God requited on their heads. Thus on them came the curse of Jotam son of Jerubbaal.
–from Judges 9
Every action will trigger a reaction! So consider what you will do and get wisdom to ensure you are going in the right direction. Do you need someone to be the guard or the judge to help you stay aligned? Can you manage yourself and keep yourself from swaying away from the truth? Will you remember to turn back to God who is faithful and just? Will allow Him to be the standard bearer for you? When He corrects, He doesn’t destroy, He cleanses!
Troubles in Gilead
1After Abimelech, Tola son of Puah son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to deliver Israel. He dwelt in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2He judged Israel for 23 years, then died and was buried in Shamir. 3After him Jair the Gileadite arose, and judged Israel for 23 years. 4He had 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys and had 30 towns in the land of Gilead, which are called Jair’s Villages to this day. 5Then Jair died and was buried in Kamon. 6Then Bnei-Yisrael again did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes. They worshipped the Baalim, the Ashtaroth, gods of Aram, gods of Zidon, gods of Moab, gods of the children of Ammon and gods of the Philistines. They abandoned Adonai and did not worship Him. 7So Adonai’s anger burned against Israel, and He sold them over into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the children of Ammon. 8They shattered and crushed Bnei-Yisrael that year—for 18 years all Bnei-Yisrael who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. 9Then the children of Ammon also crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was greatly distressed. 10Then Bnei-Yisrael cried out to Adonai saying, “We have sinned against You, for we have forsaken our God and have worshipped the Baalim.” 11So Adonai said to Bnei-Yisrael, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the children of Ammon, the Philistines, 12the Zidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites who oppressed you? When you cried out to Me, I delivered you from their hand. 13Yet you have forsaken Me and worshipped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. 14Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” 15Then Bnei-Yisrael said to Adonai, “We have sinned. Do to us whatever seems good to You, but please, deliver us this day.” 16Then they removed the foreign gods from among them, and worshipped Adonai. So His soul could not bear the misery of Israel. 17Then the children of Ammon were summoned and camped in Gilead. Bnei-Yisrael gathered together and camped in Mizpah. 18The people of the princes of Gilead said one to another, “Whoever begins to fight against the children of Ammon will be chief over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
–from Judges 10
Where are you at today? Need help? Cry out to God! Ask Jesus to come into your heart! As God to forgive you! Ask Him to help you! Ask with all of your heart, mind, and soul! Turn back to Him!
Let’s fight the good fight! Let’s not give up! Let’s stand firm putting on the full armor of God! Let’s love! Let’s be faithful! Let’s be just! Let’s be imitators of Jesus so that our lives will point others to Him!
1So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind alone in Athens. 2We sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the Good News of Messiah, in order to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know we are destined for this. 4For even when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer persecution— just as has happened, as you know. 5For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faithfulness, for fear that the tempter had tempted you and that our labor might be in vain. 6But now that Timothy has come to us from you and brought us the good news of your faithfulness and love, and that you always have good memories of us, longing to see us just as we long to see you— 7because of this, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and trouble, we were comforted about you by your faithfulness. 8For now we live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9For what thanks would be enough to offer to God, in return for all the joy we feel before our God because of you? 10Night time and day time we keep praying more than ever to see you face to face, and mend any shortcomings in your faith.
Thanks, Joy, and Love Before God
11Now may our God and Father Himself and Yeshua our Lord direct our way to you. 12May the Lord also cause you to increase and overflow in love for one another and for all people, just as we also do for you, 13in order to strengthen your hearts as blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Yeshua with all His kedoshim. Amen.
–from 1 Thessalonians 3
Let’s allow God to direct our path! Let’s listen to the still quiet voice that is the Holy Spirit who is our comforter and our guide! Let’s not go it our own way but rather go it God’s way! There is truth! There is right and wrong! There is a difference! And the way we choose to live makes a difference not only for ourselves but also those around us! So let’s live a life set apart, different from what the world is proclaiming and live the life that God created us and wants us to live!
Walking in Sanctification
1Finally then, brothers and sisters, we ask you and appeal in the Lord Yeshua—just as you received from us the way you ought to walk and please God (as in fact you are walking)—that you keep progressing more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Yeshua. 3For this is the will of God—your sanctification: to abstain from sexual immorality; 4to know, each of you, how to gain control over his own body in holiness and honor— 5not in the passion of lust like the pagans who do not know God; 6and not to overstep his brother and take advantage of him in this matter— because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, as we told you before and solemnly warned you. 7For God did not call us to impurity, but in holiness. 8Consequently, the one who rejects this is not rejecting man, but God, who gives His Ruach ha-Kodesh to you. 9Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for anyone to write you—for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. 10In fact, you even practice it toward all your brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to keep progressing more and more 11and aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, just as we directed you— 12so you may behave properly toward outsiders and not have need of anything.
The Shofar Call of Messiah’s Return
13Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, so with Him God will also bring those who have fallen asleep in Yeshua. 15For this we tell you, by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede those who are asleep. 16For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
–from 1 Thessalonians 4