Considering Shamgar

Thought about Shamgar lately?

Probably not. He was one of the Judges of Israel like Samson and Gideon. However, he rarely makes the cut for children’s Sunday School lessons because the entire biblical narrative of his life consist of only one verse. Take a look:

“After him [Ehud] was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.” – Judges 3:31 NKJV

That’s it. The guy shows up out of nowhere swinging a big stick, gets the “honorable mention” and then disappears just as quick. But the important part is; he got the honorable mention. From that one verse we get some important facts:

  • God stepped in and delivered Israel (at His chosen time)
  • God included facts that were pertinent (Shamgar’s lineage, Philistines, six hundred enemy…dead)
  • God left out details we needn’t worry about (as He often does)
  • God used a unique method (not many “ox goad” stories in there)

Based on those facts, consider this:

  • Perhaps you’re feeling a little short on details right now; maybe they’re not really that relevant.
  • Perhaps the method God’s using to shape you right now doesn’t look like the average story; maybe that’s because your story is unique.
  • And perhaps God’s timing feels off; maybe that’s because He works on His own schedule.

Prayer: “Father your ways are unique. Thank you for the many times you’ve cared for me and how you’ve always proved yourself faithful. Please help me to trust you; even if I don’t have the whole story.”

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Wisdom 14.12

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 14:12 NIV

At the end of it all, our opinions about “what’s right” will be irrelevant. Polling data, legal rulings, academic theories, political correctness, and cultural norms will all be distance memories in the presence of the Almighty. So, when it comes to what’s right, choose wisely…

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Not Forsaken

There are points on the journey when the “weather” of life can go from clear and sunny to dark and stormy. Those are the exact times when the words of Psalm 9 are most applicable. Somehow, making the decision to speak them aloud reveals a previously hidden trail to a spiritual shelter from the storm…

“I will praise You O Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High…

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”    – Psalm 9:1-2, 9-10 NKJV

Not forsaken. As a child of God, isn’t it incredible to know that you’re always remembered. There’s never a moment where you’re forgotten or out of The Most High’s sight. Speak the words so your heart can resonate with His goodness. Embrace the truth that brings strength to the deep parts of the soul. Praise His name for He is our refuge in times of trouble!

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Advent – Week 3 – “Joy”

During the private moments of the Last Supper, Jesus spoke many powerful words to His disciples (John ch.13-17). He challenged them, instructed them, encouraged them, and prayed for them. He also prayed for us (those who would believe by their testimony). In the middle of the discussion, he mentioned joy. Not happiness or celebration, but a deep abiding joy that only comes from Him. He said very specifically:

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11 NKJV

The natural question is, “What things had he spoken about for joy to be remaining and full?” The answer is “abiding”. He described Himself as the vine and a disciple as the branch; and when we abide in Him, there is a soul-level gladness. As deep roots nourish distant branches, He refreshes our spirits through the various seasonal changes of life. May His joy be full in us today.

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Spirit Led

Have you ever experienced the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit? A presence more real and lasting than manufactured excitement? In our world, there are a lot of voices speaking all manner of spiritual talk, but there is only one voice that speaks transcendent, eternal truth. Consider what Peter wrote concerning the prophetic word:

“For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”    – 1 Peter 1:21 NKJV

Perhaps today there are many voices in your head (from various sources) giving spiritual advice; consider a simple return to the scripture. God never violates or contradicts His word, so it’s always the best place to be. Besides, without the Holy Spirit’s leading, it’s just activity with little or no power anyway. Don’t seek the things about Him; seek Him…seek His word…and be moved.

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Truth and Opinion

Opinions are cheap and endless. They’re printed, posted, tweeted, spoken, and advertised; but at the end of it all, these words will still be true:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth its fruit in due season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” – Psalm 1:1-6 NKJV

As believers, we must choose to focus our attention on the refreshing truth of God and not worry over the presence of the misguided; no matter how loud and obnoxious they are. Their apparent “wins” can unsettle the peace within us if we allow them to, but God says the way of the unrighteous will perish and their shouting is just the noise of a doomed agenda.

So what opinions are influencing you today and from what source do they come?

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Lines in the Sand

When a culture trades truth for compromise, the concept of drawing a moral “line in the sand” is considered extreme. However, in a similar environment, Joshua (leader of the Hebrews after Moses) made a bold statement doing exactly that. Take a look:

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”     – Joshua 24:15 NKJV

Joshua’s statement in verse 15 comes after a brief recounting of God’s faithfulness to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. It wasn’t a random comment. It was a deliberate, bold statement representing the way he led his household; which was to follow God’s standards, instead of carnal, pleasure-centered idolatry.

The truth is, an obedient life has always been a contrast to the lost world. It’s been true since the beginning when Abel’s life contrasted Cain’s.

So where are your lines? Have you taken a stand and said “As for me and my house…”? It’s not a phrase to be uttered or displayed lightly – “Choose for yourselves this day…”

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