Ten

I don’t really have anything to say today. I did, however, obtain decent wirecutters for the purpose of removing a barb-wire fence and I look forward to its use. I know that the trees would thank me if they could!

Psalm 10:1-18
 1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
       Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

 2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
       who are caught in the schemes he devises.

 3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
       he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.

 4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
       in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

 5 His ways are always prosperous;
       he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
       he sneers at all his enemies.

 6 He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me;
       I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”

 7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
       trouble and evil are under his tongue.

 8 He lies in wait near the villages;
       from ambush he murders the innocent,
       watching in secret for his victims.

 9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
       he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
       he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

 10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
       they fall under his strength.

 11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten;
       he covers his face and never sees.”

 12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
       Do not forget the helpless.

 13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
       Why does he say to himself,
       “He won’t call me to account”?

 14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
       you consider it to take it in hand.
       The victim commits himself to you;
       you are the helper of the fatherless.

 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
       call him to account for his wickedness
       that would not be found out.

 16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
       the nations will perish from his land.

 17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
       you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
       in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

Indecision

In recent years there’s been a big push for Christians to feature alternative Halloweens. One church I attended always had a carnival with all sorts of games that asked that kids not to come in their costumes. Then they put on a few Hell houses. Another church recently canceled a Halloween wedding. Some hand out Bible tracks or candy with Bible verses when kids come knocking.

In past centuries, the church found a way to incorporate Christian traditions with non-Christian holidays in order to make Christian holidays. Some non-Christian traditions managed to make it into Christian holidays. So where Christianity is concerned, it’s difficult to make much of any holiday purely Christian.

Christmas trees and the Easter Bunny don’t have a Biblical reason behind their popularity, but they are widely accepted. Yet when it comes to Halloween, it’s the ony holiday that hasn’t been made into a holy day, well, not for Christians anyway. Of course, Christianity isn’t the only religion that has some issues with Halloween, but it’s the one that lets everybody know about it. It is certainly a matter that people ought to decide for themselves.

Romans 14:1-23, “1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
 5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

 9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11It is written:
   ” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
   ‘every knee will bow before me;
      every tongue will confess to God.’ ” 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

 13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

 19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

 22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

Mentioned: Conclusion

(Today is a special day indeed. Have some fun! You deserve it! Oh, and the first season of the Legend of the Seeker is now available on DVD! Enjoy!)

Despite David’s unfaithfulness that ultimately ended in conspiracy and murder, he remained faithful to God. It’s no wonder why he recieved an honorable mention. And Samuel’s only flaw was that he didn’t discipline his sons just like Eli, but otherwise he served God all his life. Which leaves the prophets. We know quite a few of the major ones, like Elijah and Elisha. We’ve met some of the minor ones, like Amos and Jonah. Then there are the ones who aren’t named. They are usually referred to as a ‘Man of God’.

None of them were perfect, but David, Samuel, and the prophets all recived a mention in the Hall of Faith that is Hebrews 11:32-34, “32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”

It was through faith that kingdoms were conquered, justice was administered, promises were gained, the mouths of lions were shut, the fury of the flames were quenched, and the edge of the sword was escaped. It was through faith that weakness was turned to strength. It was through faith that people became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. It was through faith God worked through these people to get his plans accomplished.

Faith isn’t for the perfect. Nobody mentioned in the Hall of Faith got it exactly right. Gideon turned his trophies into a priest’s Ephod that was a snare to his family for generations to come. Barak’s lack of confidence caused him to miss out on getting the glory of taking down the bad guy, a woman got that honor. Samson’s love for Deliliah ultimately blinded him and led to his death. Jephthah’s rash vow cost the life of his young daughter. David’s wandering eyes caused him to wander away from God for a time. Samuel’s failure to discipline his sons led to the people of Israel’s demand for a king other than God. The prophets were people God chose to work throughout Israel delivering warnings and messages as well as solutions. Some of them were from the backwater country. Some of them were mostly faithful, but not wholly obedient.

If God can do all of this through some seriously flawed individuals, what can God do through you by your faith?

Mentioned: Jephthah

It’s not surprising to know that once again, Israel didn’t behave. Once again, they got in too deep and they called out to God to do someting about it. And once again, God raised up a warrior, Jephthah. After a bit of diplomacy and some aggressive negociations he made a bit of a rash vow: he would sacrifice whatever came out of his house to greet him. Much to his sadness, it was his only daughter that up and greeted him. Have you yet noticed this pattern of a disqualifing trait that tarnished their records? Gideon’s Ephod, Samson’s giving into Deliliah’s persistant bugging, and Jephthah’s rash vow. Perhaps this is why he reigned a mere six years as a Judge of Israel.

Yet, Jephthah recived a mention in the Hall of Faith that is Hebrews 11:32-34, “32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”

He might have escaped the edge of the sword, but he couldn’t escape his daughter’s fate. He saved Israel, but he couldn’t save his own daughter from his rash promise. So I say it’s remarkable he recieved a mention in the hall of faith, but I’m as thrilled about it as his daughter was.

Mentioned: Samson

Samson Samson Samson. The son a barren woman, who, from day one was litterally set apart. As a nazirite, there were some laws that was expected to keep that didn’t apply to other Jews. For example, he was to abstain from wine and not cut his hair. There was one law that applied to other nazirites but not to him – to stay away from dead bodies.

As we know, Samson left a trail of them wherever he went. On the occasion of his marriage, he tore apart a line and then another thirty men. Then he took out a slew of people before using a donkey’s jawbone to kill another thousand men. Even though he was a nazirite, women were his downfall, Deliliah in particular. She sold him out. From there we know how it all ended.

Yet, Samson recived a mention in the Hall of Faith that is Hebrews 11:32-34, “32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”

He did in death what he had all his life, administered justice, Samson-style. He might have lost the battle, but he won the war. Sometimes you last words have to begin with a prayer.

Mentioned: Barak

The Barak of the Old Testament was called by the lady judge of the day, Deborah, to deal with the Canaanites who were the thorn in Israel’s side. Being the confident leader of an army of ten thousand, he decided that he needed to have Deborah come along. The price for that was that the main bad guy would be killed by a woman. No guts, no glory as they say.

So while Barak was cutting down the enemy’s troops, the main bad guy was fleeing for his life. He happened upon the equivalent of a housewife and helped himself to some hospitality and a nap. After all, a day of fighting is tiring work. The housewife might have had her own reasons for wanting the main bad guy dead, but she did the dirty deed. At the end of the day, Deborah broke out in song and Barak joined her.

Yet, Barak recived a mention in the Hall of Faith that is Hebrews 11:32-34, “32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”

God likes to use unlikely people to get his plans accomplished. Barak was the sort of guy you’d think could get the job done, but he felt he needed Deborah at his side. Yet again, a character has a lack of confidence. However, he did manage to deal with everybody else who wasn’t the main bad guy. Trusting God doesn’t mean you have to do the job by yourself. Sometimes it means relying on him knowing that you’ve failed part of the test. Sure, Barak lost out on the glory of offing the main bad guy, but at the end of the day he was victorous and broke out with a song, with praise for the Lord. Faith will get you through, win or loose.

Mentioned: Gideon

With names like ‘Destroyer’, ‘Mighty Warrior’, ‘Feller-of-trees’, and ‘Let Baal Plead’, you would think you were dealing with a legendary hero, a fearless fighter, and the sort of person you’d rather have on your team than fighting against you. Yet the Gideon of the Old Testament seems so unspectacular on the surface. He needed signs left and right. Judges 6:17, 36-40, and Judges 7:10-11, shows us how uncertain and fearful he was. If anything, his disposition betrayed his name. But he did have something going for him, God.

Now I’ve been told all my life not to test God. It’s an Old Testament commandment that Gideon broke again and again. The only place where God said it was okay for people to test him was when one of the minor prophets was telling the Israelites they were robbing God by not giving him a proper tithe.

Yet, Gideon recived a mention in the Hall of Faith that is Hebrews 11:32-34, “32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”

Gideon’s weakness became his strength and secured his slot in the Hall of Faith. Gideon – of the least family of the weakest clan of the smallest tribe, uncertain and fearful, a man who saved the Israelites from the raiding Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples, a man who took out Baal from his place and honored God, a man who lead a down-sized army of merely three hundred fighters routed a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen and then another fifteen thousand. Yet, after all of that, Gideon’s record is tarnished – he took his trophies and made an ephod that took the people’s devotion away from the Lord.

Ultimately, Gideon did live up to the meanings of the his name. He dealt with Baal, cut the Asherah poles, He was a mighty warrior with the help of God, and was a destroyer in two senses, destroying the Midians and ulimately, the Israelites in the fallout of his life. But, he asked God. He depended upon God. He waited on God. And that is why he is mentioned in the New Testament. Faith isn’t always knowing and being certain. Sometimes faith is asking the hard questions and depending upon God’s answers.