Here We Go Again

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Judges 1-3; Luke 4:1-30

here-we-go-again

The Israelites did things that the Lord saw as evil, and they forgot the Lord their God. They served the Baals and the Asherahs. The Lord became angry with Israel and gave them over to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim. The Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. But then they cried out to the Lord. So the Lord raised up a deliverer for the Israelites, Othniel, Kenaz’s son, Caleb’s younger brother, who rescued them. 10 The Lord’s spirit was in Othniel, and he led Israel. When he marched out for war, the Lord handed over Aram’s King Cushan-rishathaim. Othniel overpowered Cushan-rishathaim, 11 and the land was peaceful for forty years, until Othniel, Kenaz’s son, died.

12 The Israelites again did things that the Lord saw as evil, and the Lord put Moab’s King Eglon in power over them, because they did these things that the Lord saw as evil. 13 He convinced the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, defeated Israel, and took possession of Palm City. 14 So the Israelites served Moab’s King Eglon eighteen years.

15 Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord(Judges 3:7-15, Common English Bible)

It was just yesterday we read of the Israelites promise before God, Joshua and each other that they would follow God. They promised. And, when Joshua told them they were witnesses unto themselves, they readily agreed.

How quickly things can change. Please understand, I am not saying this was literally the next day. In fact, we know some amount of time passed because by the time of our lesson today Joshua had died. With their leader gone, the Israelites immediately start doing evil in the sight of God.

It is the beginning of what we have talked about a couple of times already, the Israelites cycle of evil and good. Without Joshua to lead them, they fall into evil. And, apparently, their current version of evil was pretty bad as God turned them over to their enemies. God worked against His chosen people. But, there was grace that followed as God raised up leaders that turned the people around.

In our lesson today, it is at least the second time for Israel to go in a direction other than the one God would have them go. God became angry. God let their enemies run over them and the Israelites cried out to the Lord. God raised up a new leader, Othniel. Apparently, Othniel was the quintessential leader. Othniel came in, raised up an army that tossed the enemies of the nation. The lesson says that once the Israelites defeated their current set of enemies, Othniel continued to lead them and God gave the Israelites peace for 40 years until the death of Othniel.

Then again, the Israelites backslide once again when there is no leader. Their enemies overrun them again (because God allowed it) and there was an enemy force that occupied the land until the Israelites cried out again to God. Until God raised up Ehud as the judge and leader. Once again the Israelites defeated their enemies and again there was peace in the land. This time for 80 years.

I wish I could tell you Israel finally learned their lesson, but they did not. It was a pattern we will see again. And again.

There is one other thing. I find it interesting when the Israelites had a leader they seemed willing to follow. Without a leader, they fell back into evil. While I don’t think it is so much a leader, it is someone who held them accountable. We all need accountability partners. We need people in our lives who will walk with us, reminding us of what is good and what is evil before God. If you don’t have an accountability partner, I urge you to move in that direction.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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