Today: Psalms 57:7-11; John 5:16-30; Judges 6; Judges 7:1-8

Psalm 57

“My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing praises, yes, I will sing praises!” Psalm 57:7

Loving and worshiping God must be a CHOICE. We must choose to live a life of gratefulness. If we rely on just our feelings to worship God, then we will reject Him when life gets tough. And life WILL get tough sooner or later, I guarantee.

People whose relationship with God are based only on their happy feelings, are the same people who become bitter and angry at God when life doesn’t turn out the way they think it should. Loving God only when life is good isn’t really loving God at all.

David made a choice to love God no matter what. He was determined to have a “steadfast” heart that worshiped God even through the toughest times.

You can hear his determination when he declared, “I WILL sing, yes, I WILL sing praises!” Even when he didn’t feel like it, David promised, “I WILL praise You, Lord… I WILL sing praises to You…” (v.7-9) During the hard times when David was rejected by close friends, mocked, hunted, he praised God anyway. “Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I WILL awaken the dawn.” (v.8) Even during the most difficult of times, David began his days with worship. David praised anyway!

"The Pool of Bethesda" painting by Edward Burra

John 5

Jesus healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. THIRTY EIGHT YEARS! Almost four decades of sickness wiped away in an instant!

And how did the religious leaders respond? “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on a Sabbath.” (v.16) They were offended because He was healing people on the Sabbath. Think about that. They were so worried about their rules that they couldn’t even be amazed that a man had been miraculously healed!

Their obsession with following rules had blinded their souls. They had no relationship with God; they had a spirit of religion. Today we would call this legalism. I grew up in a church like this, where following all the rules was much more important than seeking relationship with a loving, personal, forgiving Savior.

Legalistic Christians have little joy. When someone shares their testimony of what wonderful things God is doing, a legalistic Christian will be searching for something wrong with the story rather than rejoicing with their brother.

Teachings about freedom in Christ makes legalistic Christians nervous. They think I’m saying that Christians have permission to act in all sorts of terrible ways. But notice that I’m not talking about actions at all. But legalism can only think in terms of actions, because for them it’s all about following rules rather than the state of our souls. That’s why legalistic Christians miss the joy and freedom that Jesus offers to us.

For many years I rejected Christianity because I thought that’s what it was all about… following a bunch of rules. I just couldn’t get excited about a soul-killing system like that.

Thank God, He eventually grabbed my soul and pulled me back to Himself. He showed me that real Christianity, really following Him, is about RELATIONSHIP, not rules. A true relationship with Christ is ALIVE, dynamic, full of joy and thankfulness. A true relationship with Jesus seeks to spend time with Him regularly, to always be growing closer to Him. True relationship with Jesus recognizes how good He is and how much He loves each of us and longs for us to know Him intimately. Now THAT is something wonderful!!!

Gideon and the Angel of Jehovah

Judges 6

“But you have not obeyed Me.” Judges 6:10

When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he complained to the angel, “if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did the LORD not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” (v.13)

Doesn’t that sound so familiar? Haven’t you heard people making this same complaint? Why is God letting all these bad things happen? Just like Gideon, people complain all the time that it is GOD who has abandoned US.

But it’s actually the other way around. WE have abandoned HIM. “The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” (v.1) Even Gideon’s family had their own personal altar to Baal and Asherah pole. WHO exactly had done the abandoning??

God showed great mercy on the Israelites anyway. When Gideon stopped complaining and followed God’s directions, God led him to miraculously conquer Israel’s oppressors. But first he had to destroy his family’s idols…

I believe there is a message in this story for us today. I believe we are reaching a turning point in our timeline as well, as enough of us are waking up to recognize the wickedness of our own culture. So many of us are crying out to God for help. Even today, God is rising up prophets who are reminding us of God’s miracles and warning us, “but you have not obeyed Me.” (v.10) I believe He IS going to help us but first we need to destroy our own idols. May we heed their message and tear down our own altars. I pray and believe that God is rising up new Gideons to defy the enemy and lead us into a new time of revival.