He asked for water and she gave him milk …” Judges 5:25. Girls don’t fight fairly. I was taught never to hit girls, but boys only handled conflicts overtly. I was a teenager before I realized that girls’ covert ways weren’t similarly restricted and that I’d been manipulated for years by their wiles. How did my daughters know instinctively to come to me with big eyes, helpless stance, and say, “Daddy?” with an irresistible inflection in their voices when they wanted something? Totally not fair. Sisera was friendly with the Kenites, had most likely visited Heber’s tent many times while Jael fixed their dinner. So, the offer of refuge and nourishment was difficult to refuse while he escaped Israel’s army. Exhausted, he never doubted her false assurance of safety while he slept, and the last thing that went through his mind was a tent peg. I suppose the world wouldn’t think that Christians fight fairly as well. All it knows is overt force and strength. But, our ‘wiles’ are covert and yet have divine power to demolish strongholds, destroying arguments and lofty opinions raised against God and taking every thought captive for Christ. With the foolishness of the gospel and God’s weakness, we give milk.
“Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go’” Judges 4:8. The cycle continued and the Israelites were once again oppressed by a power in the world, this time a king of Canaan. God raised up a deliverer, but he was unwilling. So, someone who knew what God had com-manded summoned the man and said, “Has not the LORD, the God Israel, commanded you, ‘Go … and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak’s answer, however, showed a gross lack of courage. God had just promised to be with him and told him to ‘Go.’ Not confident about his own relationship with God, however, he chose to trust another person rather than in God who was inviting Barak to partner with Him in this mighty work. So, what about Jesus’ command to us to ‘Go and make disciples …’ (Matthew 28:18-20) followed by His promise to always be with us, a partnership of He with authority now in heaven for us and we with faith and willingness to obey? Rather than strengthening our relationship with Him or trusting that He can equip us and be with us, we, in our lack of courage, disobey while waiting for others to do it for us. Do you have the courage to obey?
“… Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” Esther 4:16. Our minds often jump to a mandated action through man’s law that Christians would have to oppose and declare that we’d be ready even to die for our faith if necessary—although we hope it wouldn’t ever come to that! What we’re really hoping for is that we can “Trust and Obey” from a comfortable life that continues without trauma or drama. Perhaps that’s where Esther was before Mordecai came and told her the dire circumstances of their people and how she was the only one in a position to help … though it may cost all. Most often we are called to live out our faith when our situation has become difficult in some way, and we question God, wondering how He could really ask us to “Trust and Obey” in this. God is more interested in your character than your comfort, however. Christians in 21st Century America have grown so comfortable that we’d rather compromise with the culture, justifying why we “Trust and Obey” its demands rather than God’s commands—all the while believing the lie that we’d die for God if necessary. If we aren’t faithful in small things, will God trust us with larger ones?
“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you” Psalm 9:10. Perhaps you’ve heard that someone’s nephew’s friend’s roommate’s cousin’s teacher once shook hands with a celebrity, then you probably understand “Six Degrees of Separation” popularized by a 1990 play by that name that says that everyone in the world is connected by six or fewer handshakes. Not that you could get that celebrity to make an appearance at your kid’s birthday party, however! Though the Creator of all things sits on His throne with concerns greater than we have, He is a “stronghold for the oppressed … in times of trouble.” He’s intimately concerned about us and intensely involved in our lives. He invites us to His throne through His Son, through whom all things were made, who promises to do all things that we ask in His Name. There is no longer any separation between us as our mediator is both fully God and fully man. So, we can put our trust fully in Him, for He has promised to those who know His name—and not the friend’s friend who happens to go to church—that He will not forsake those who seek Him. How great that we can know God!
“First of all, then, I urge that … prayers … be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” 1 Timothy 2:1-2. 9/11 was also a Sunday in 1814 when the British sought to take Lake Champlain to split our young nation at the Battle of Plattsburgh. And since airplanes were used as weapons on another 9/11 twenty-one years ago, our country has struggled with patriotism as we’ve increasingly become disenchanted with so many things. We’ve become so divided that Christians, chanting that this world is not our home, have retreated into the walls of our buildings to simply take care of our own while the world burns. This is not how it has always been. Jesus has always been part of the public arena as Christians throughout our nation’s history have exerted His influence into every aspect of the culture to guide policies and cultivate leaders who stand for truth. The way that this will begin again will be with prayer—fervent prayer for our country and our culture, our leaders and our laws. Far from a partisan exercise, we must pray that all return to God and His Word. Do you pray for our country?