How to Find Peace

In Judges 6 we read the story of Gideon and we learn the name for God, Jehovah Shalom, meaning the Lord is Peace (v. 24). Peace is something we all long for in our world, our nation, our churches, our communities, our hearts, and our homes. There will never be peace in each of these places if everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Peace can only be found in:

The God Who Saves
Israel’s story is much like our own story. It’s an endless cycle of doing right and doing wrong. In verse 1 we see that Israel once again “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” The bad news is man sins. The good news is God saves! Regardless of what you have done, if you are willing to cry out to God, He will save. Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved! Israel cried out to God and He once again moved on their behalf. Salvation is all the work of God! In verses 8-10, the Lord said, “I brought you up… I rescued you… I delivered you… I drove them out before you… I said to you…” The gods of this world are false gods, with false promises. They cannot save or bring peace. Only the one True and Living God can!

God knows where you are! He went to Gideon in a winepress and addressed him as a “mighty warrior.” God sees not just what we are, but what we can be! Gideon did not “feel” like a mighty man of valor. Gideon asked, “Why is this happening to us?” and “Where are the miracles?” Ever been there? Do you have more questions than answers? God can handle your questions! Cry out to the God who saves.

The Holy Spirit will remind you of who you will be. The Devil reminds you of what you have been.

The God Who Sends
Judges 6:14 says, “The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” Gideon said, “My clan is the weakest… I am the least…” but the Lord said, “I will be with you” (v. 15-16). The Holy Spirit will remind you of who you will be. The Devil reminds you of what you have been. Gideon was not the first to be reluctant. Remember Moses? Stop making excuses! God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. See yourself as God sees you in Jesus. Your sins are under the blood. You were bought with a price. The same God who saved Gideon saves us. The same God who sent Gideon sends us!

God told Gideon, “Go and I will give you the victory.” God promised us victory too – “I build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). In Matthew 28:19-20, God told us to go and promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. God’s answer to everything is “I will be with you!”

The God Who Speaks
In verse 17, Gideon asks God for a sign that it is really Him talking. After seeing God’s response, Gideon builds an altar and calls it “The Lord is Peace,” Jehovah Shalom. Again, towards the end of the chapter, Gideon asks God for another sign. The Lord responds, making a fleece wet and then dry. You may be thinking, “I wish God would give me a sign and speak to me like he did Gideon.” You have something that Gideon did not have; you have the complete Bible. Confirmation is sweet, but it not the starting place. Gideon already knew what God wanted him to do, he just had doubts and fears.

The cross is our fleece, the ultimate demonstration from God that He is our Peace. The cross was wet! Jesus sweat drops of blood and was beaten and bloody. They thrust a spear in His side and water and blood poured out. Jesus took the cup, the bowl of God’s wrath. The cross was also dry. Jesus said, “I thirst.” As He hung between heaven and earth saying, “Father forgive them” and “It is finished,” the final word was spoken. The cross and resurrection declare sin and death no longer have any hold. True peace is only found in the Prince of Peace, the ultimate Judge and Deliverer, Jesus Christ!

You Can Make a Difference

As we continue our series in the book of Judges to chapters four and five, we see that Israel continued to fall into the cycle of sin. Sin always enslaves you in bondage, but Jesus came to set the captives free! God raised up a judge named Deborah to bring His people peace for forty more years.

What Women Do
Deborah’s name means “bee.” She was a Busy Bee, a Queen Bee. She could do it all. She was a wife, “a mother in Israel,” a prophet, judge, song writer, and worship leader! She was like “Miss” Tammy! I did not marry a weak woman. She is my partner in ministry. The problem in the world is not strong women, but weak men! Judges 5:2 says, “When the princes in Israel take the lead… praise the Lord!”

Jesus was revolutionary when it came to women. Just look at the way He interacted and served with them. Women were never called to sit on the sideline. They answer the call of God, use their spiritual gifts, serve in the body of Christ, and make a difference in their day. Thank God for what women do!

What Wives Do
Deborah is introduced in Scripture as the wife of her husband. What a tribute! The leader of Israel is also remembered by God as a faithful, dedicated, loving, supportive, mate. If you are married, your gifting and your calling should not hinder you from being a faithful mate (husband or wife).

Men, we can learn from Deborah’s husband, Lappidoth. He is not intimidated because his wife is a judge. He did not belittle her to make himself look big. He is proud of her. He encourages her. The best thing a husband can do is understand that opposites attract, and let your wife be who God made her to be. Don’t try to make her be someone she is not. A wife and husband should be best friends. Lappidoth allowed his wife to be a blessing to the people of God.

What Warriors Do
You have heard it said, “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” Well, sometimes a woman has to do what a man won’t do! God sent a judge named Deborah to deliver his people. In Judges 4:6-10, we read that she called for Barak to lead as General of the army. He would not go to war without her. Why? Because she was a prophet and he might need a word from the Lord. In verses 15-21, we read about another woman God used, Jael. She risked her own life to protect herself and her children.

Being a wife and mom requires the mental toughness and physical energy of a soldier. In Proverbs 31:10, we read of a virtuous woman. The word “virtuous” is the same word used to describe Gideon as a man of valor. Over 200 times the word is used to describe an army!

What Worshippers Do
Judges 5:1 says, “On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song….” They sang this ode, this song, to immortalize the victory that God gave through Deborah, Barak, and Jael. They sang to keep the memory alive. To tell the story to a new generation.

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.

The song ends in verse 31: “So may all your enemies perish, Lord! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.” This pictures the battle between spiritual light and darkness. One day all the enemies of the Lord will perish! When Jesus died on the cross and they drove nails in his hands and feet, every drop of blood that hit the ground drove a nail in the devil’s head! Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. He came to kill the power of sin over us. We do not have to live in bondage. Jesus wants us to have peace and freedom! Praise God saying, “I will go, give, serve, and worship!”

Winning Life’s Greatest Battles

Why does God allow us to struggle in life? Why does God allow the enemy to attack us? As we continue our study through the book of Judges, we move to chapter 3, where we find an answer in the first four verses. God allows these things as opportunities to test us, to teach us, to train us, and to build our trust. Here are a few things to remember when facing life’s greatest battles.

God’s Spirit
In verse 7, we read that the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Choices have consequences. Their compromise and sin brought eight painful years. Then, they did what some of you have done, are doing, or are ready to do; they cried out to God, saying we are tired of being conquered by this world. God, in His mercy, raised up a deliverer named Othniel, who would be faithful like Caleb. Verse 10 says, “The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge….”

The secret to breaking the cycle of sin and strongholds of the enemy is the Spirit of the Living God.

You self-destruct when you disobey God and disregard His word. The secret to breaking the cycle of sin and strongholds of the enemy is the Spirit of the Living God. Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

God’s Strength
In verse 12, we see the cycle of sin again. “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord….” The consequence this time was being subject for 18 years to Eglon, King of Moab. Verse 15 says, “Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud….” How do you break the cycle of sin? You have to want help. You have to cry out to the Lord.

Ehud was left-handed. The Hebrew seems to indicate he could not use his right hand. God can use even our physical disabilities! Weakness is the stage on which God displays His strength! When we are weak He is Strong. Give God your left hand. Give God your weakness.

God is writing your story. God sees your pain. God knows your suffering is real. His salvation is real too. Our salvation does not come through our strength, but God’s. Weeping endures for the night, but joy is coming. While the Israelites were subject for 8 and 18 years, the Lord gave them peace for 40 and 80 years (v. 11, 30). God wants to give you long lasting victory over sin.

God’s Success
Verse 31 says, “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” This is all we know about Shamgar, but this is all we need to know. His name is not an Israelite name, and an oxgoad is a farming tool used to spur oxen. We do not know if he struck down the Philistines all in one battle, or over time. Mark Batterson writes in his book All In, “He could have said I don’t have the right weapon. I can’t do this by myself. These are not even my people. If we look for an excuse, we will always find one.”

Stop saying, “I can’t,” and start saying, “I can win the battle of today through Christ who strengthens me.” Stop focusing on what you can’t control. Stop saying, “What if I had not done that?” and “What if this happens?” There are two days you don’t have to worry about – yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come. Live life one day at a time. Focus on what you can do today and God will give you success one step at a time, one battle at a time, one day at a time.

How can you break the cycle of sin? If you really want to change, and want help, you will find a way to win! By God’s Spirit and in God’s Strength, you will experience God’s Success!

Hope for the New Year

Happy New Year! We just started a brand new study in the book of Judges. The period of Judges is the 300-400 years between Joshua and Saul. The key to understanding the book is the last verse. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25). Notice they did what they thought was right, not wrong. There is a way that seems right, but the end is death (Prov. 14:12). What they called right, God called evil. Doesn’t that sound like America today?

The War to Win
In the book of Joshua, all the tribes are working together and relying on the Lord. In Judges, the tribes were not united or obedient. Judges 1:19 says, “…they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron.” The Canaanites had come into the iron age and had tanks, compared to the foot soldiers of the Israelites. The Israelites said, “We can’t win.” They forgot the God who brought the plagues on Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and brought the walls of Jericho down without firing one shot! They said “I can’t.” God said, “You won’t.”

2017 needs to be a year where you win the victory in certain areas where you have been saying, “I can’t.”

If you will be honest, there are areas in your life where you still struggle. There are areas that need to be conquered, where the enemy must be defeated! 2017 needs to be a year where you win the victory in certain areas where you have been saying, “I can’t.” I can do all things through Christ!

The Mess of Man
The book of Joshua shows us the thrill of victory. Judges shows us the agony of defeat. They were defeated by their disobedience. There is a cycle of sin that is repeated. They are dedicated to God, but in time, the people depart from the Lord.

At the beginning of chapter 2, the Lord reminds the Israelites of His promise and their disobedience. Instead of conquering the enemy, they compromised. They went from friendship with the world, to loving the world, to conforming to the world. Culture conditions us to accept what we would have never accepted. Instead of influencing the other nations, the nations influenced them to do evil and worship false gods. Are you influencing your lost friends or are they influencing you?

The Grace of God
Judges 2:18 shows us the grace of God. “And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them.”
We get ourselves in a mess sometimes! God can deliver you out of your mess!

You self-destruct when you disobey God and disregard His word. God is looking for individuals that He can use to make a difference in our culture today. Israel failed in their relationships, failed to reach the next generation, and failed to reach their neighbors. Where have you been failing in 2016? We must recognize the pattern of sin in our lives and break the cycle of self-destructive behavior.

There is hope for you after you have failed the Lord! God is a God of mercy and forgiveness. No one is beyond the grace of God. The human judges were not perfect. They were flawed leaders just like all leaders are. The book of Judges anticipates and foreshadows Jesus, the ultimate Judge and Deliverer to come. Our hope is not in ourselves, because we can’t save ourselves. It is not in others, because other people can’t save us. Only Jesus can save and deliver us from our sins. Jesus never fails! Jesus is coming again to Judge both the living and the dead, and this could be the year! But, He came the first time on a mission of grace and mercy to save us from our sins.