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.

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