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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB April 26

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
  • 2009 Apr 25
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Today's One Year Bible Reading

Judges

6:1 The Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Israelites went back to captivity after all the deliverance and promises to God that they would completely obey! It's amazing how quickly they lost their power when in disobedience.

6:14-16 Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!"

"But Lord," Gideon replied, "how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!"

The Lord said to him, "I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man."

I love this passage. God used it to encourage me at a time when He was calling me to do something far bigger than I'm equipped to do. I felt weak, intimidated, fearful, and unprepared. He reminded me that He often chooses the weakest and the least qualified for the task! He gets a lot more glory that way!

6:17-18 Gideon replied, "If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. Don't go away until I come back and bring my offering to you."

He answered, "I will stay here until you return."

This is a very heartwarming and intimate moment. God doesn't despise Gideon's need for reassurance; He welcomes it! Often I have felt faithless for asking for reassurance or for "a sign," yet I am so concerned about either getting ahead of God or listening to the wrong voice. Here God makes Himself available to the "weak one" and lovingly offers His reassurance! Notice that Gideon asked for 3 signs and the Lord was very patient and accommodating each time. If we are willing, God wants us to know we are on right path. And I have often asked for more than one confirmation when God is asking me to do something significant and life-altering. He has always been faithful to that request!

This "angel of God" (vs. 20) was Jesus in the flesh (vs. 22).

6:19-22 I'm sure this entire passage is significant. The young goat is a sin offering (Jesus), the unleavened bread is symbolic of the Bread of Life without sin (Jesus), the rock (Jesus), the staff (God's authority), fire flaming up from the rock to consume (God is a consuming fire). It's interesting that Gideon didn't even know He was encountering the Lord Himself until this happened.

6:24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it 'Adonai-shalom' (Yahweh-Peace, Jewish Bible). The Lord's peace is Jesus! He made peace with God for us at the cross.

6:30 "Bring out your son," the men of the town demanded of Joash. "He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole." Sometimes I feel like this is my theme verse for trying to cut down a few traditions of men! Here these are God's people, the Israelites, revering their Asherah pole more than God's truth, and they don't want anyone cutting it down, even if there's proof that it's a lie from history and straight from Babylon! And notice that it is usually one person or a few people against the masses, and the masses always assume they're right because everyone else is doing it this way. But it would behoove us all to take a sober look at the traditions of men throughout history-where the masses have assembled in the name of God-and see where it's led. Captivity, deception, and false hope. Let us never be afraid to question honestly why we do what we do!

6:34 Then the Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon. Feel the joy and relief of God equipping the called!

Luke

22:54 And Peter was following far behind. How many times am I following far behind instead of close beside?

22:60-62 And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord's words flashed through Peter's mind: "Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me." And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. I tear up every time I read Luke's account of this event. I has to be one of the saddest moments in the Bible for me! One event in my life in particular, in an area that I had determined not to sin or to "deny my Lord," I fell as far as possible in a moment of weakness. The most excruciating part was when I had to look Jesus in the face afterward. But the most beautiful, kind, gracious thing happened! The Lord gave me a verse of hope after my plunge into sin from Luke 22:32. The verse was something He spoke to Peter just a few hours BEFORE his denial, and had to bring Peter comfort in his despair for abandoning His Lord: But I have pleaded in prayer for you, [Julie], that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.

22:70 This mistranslation in NLT makes me steaming mad! See if you spot the difference: NLT (newer) They all shouted, "So, are you claiming to be the Son of God?" And he replied, "You say that I am."

NASB And they all said, "Are You the Son of God, then?" And He said to them, Yes, I AM (emphasis mine)." ALL THE DIFFERENCE! Do you know why this is so significant? Because Jesus was claiming His deity—the I AM. NLT makes it very weak.

23:4 Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, "I find nothing wrong with this man!" (Spotless Lamb—they could find no fault with Him).

Psalm

95:11 So in my anger I took an oath: "They will never enter my place of rest." Rest. As in, Sabbath Millennium.

96:2, 10 Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Tell all the nations, "The Lord reigns!"  The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly.

Questions for reflection:

  • Have you ever felt weak in the task God called you to do? What was your response? Did you say, "Here am I, send me!" (Isaiah) Or did you say, "Send someone else, I can't do it!" (Moses) I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss seeing what God can do through me. I want to be an Isaiah!

  • Do you have areas of guilt or shame from your past failures? Remember that when you have turned away from your sin (Jesus prayed for you to do so!), go and strengthen others who struggle in the same areas. It's such a blessing, and brings about healing as you help others with the strength you have received.