Scripture

Don’t Negotiate With God

Last week we looked at Jepthah’s example in Judges 11 of how to lead with faith by being empowered by God’s work in the past. This week, let’s finish that conversation by knowing that leading with faith means we are persuaded by God’s promises for the future.  

Jepthah seemed like a rational guy when negotiating with the king of the Ammonites. But when the King of the Ammonites would not listen war couldn’t be avoided, Jepthah moves into battle with the Spirit of the Lord upon him.

It is important to note that God empowered Jephthah for the battle that is coming, and Jephthah had already declared that the king of the Ammonites was really messing with God, not him. You would think that Jephthah knew that he was being used by the Lord to bring about justice on the Ammonites. But then you read the crazy account of verses 30-40, which centers on Jepthah’s vow to the Lord in Judges 11:30-31:

And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”

The first thing out of his door when he returned home was his only child–his daughter.

Why did Jephthah feel like he has to make a vow to the Lord when he clearly knew God’s work and power in the past?

He sounds like a desperate, scared person at the end of his rope—if you do this, then I’ll do that.

Jephthah is not persuaded by God’s promises for the future. The Spirit of the Lord was already upon Him. Instead, he reverts back to negotiating, but this time he tries to negotiate with God and not men. Negotiation has its place among people, but don’t negotiate with God–you really do not have anything that He needs.

Negotiation can be masked as making a commitment. If this, then that. Lord, I’ll do anything if you just help me…  But it’s a form of bribery. Lord, I really want a certain outcome, so I’ll offer up my services to you.

You’re basically saying God, you really need what I have to offer, so why don’t you do this, and then I’ll let you have what I have to offer.

What a flippant statement to make to the Creator and Almighty of the Universe! Negotiation is the antithesis of faith because we aren’t trusting God to do what we know he can do; we’re trying to bribe God to do what we think he should do.

When you lead, you need to be persuaded by God’s promises for the future. In other words, leading with faith based upon the promises you find in God’s Word. You need to submit your decisions and actions to the Word of God.  

We need to lead with faith, powered by God’s work in the past and persuaded by His promises for the future.

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Five To Focus 35. Praise God for His Powerful Word

If God’s Word brought forth everything in this earth and in the heavens, then surely His Word that we can read can transform our lives as we live it out! This episode is 2 of 4 of the natural worship service order seen in Psalm 33.

 

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Five to Focus 27. Listening to Sadness

The Road to Emmaus account in Luke 24 is a great example in how Jesus handled the sadness of two people who were struggling to make sense of what they experienced in life.  

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You Don’t Need Scripture & Your Fleeces To Trust God

What’s the deal with Gideon’s fleece in Judges 6:36-40? This passage is one of those strange ones in the Old Testament that makes you wonder how we are to apply it to our lives. Here’s the summary:

Midian and other pagan nations gather together, cross the Jordan River, and camp at the Jezreel Valley. The battle is set between this pagan nation and God’s people, Israel. The Spirit of the Lord is empowering Gideon and God’s people gather when Gideon sounds the trumpet and sends messengers to bring them in. This is going to be a big battle!

You would think that Gideon would be fully confident because God already told him that He would save Israel through Gideon. But instead, Gideon asks for another sign (God has already been gracious to give some) that God would do what He said He would do. He asks him twice to perform a sign with a fleece he lays down. First, to put all of the dew on the fleece and not on the ground around it. Second, all the dew on the ground but not on the fleece.

Gideon is testing God.  And that was a sin. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah” (Deuteronomy 6:16, ESV). Gideon must have known this because he asks the Lord in verse 39 to not be angry with him! In fact, there is only one time the Lord says it’s okay to test him, and that is with bringing in the tithe and seeing God’s blessing (Malachi 3:10).

This passage is an example of a descriptive passage (explaining what happened, not necessarily endorsing it), not a prescriptive passage (command). We know it is a descriptive passage because Gideon is committing a sin and he even knows it.

Some people ask the Lord for a supernatural sign of some kind before stepping out in faith. But He has already given us His Word! The whole time someone might be asking for a sign, the Lord has already given guidance for the right things that are to be done. Some believe that there will be a new revelation from God, something outside of his already-complete Scripture (the 66 books of the Bible), and they cherish that false idea more than the truth that God has already given to them.   

Just because Gideon put out a fleece and God answered his request to make it wet and the ground dry does not mean that this is how God speaks to everyone. Don’t think that you need the Bible and your fleeces (or just your fleeces) to hear God speak. God was gracious to Gideon–his was a very specific situation of a timid servant needing some reassurance.

Let’s put our trust in the Lord and His Word and not in signs.

Photo by Hisu lee on Unsplash

Five To Focus 23. Strength and Equipping For Every

We talked about the four roles of Scripture in your life in the last four episodes. Now focus on what should happen next when you allow Scripture to take its place in your life.  

Scripture reference: 2 Timothy 3:17

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Five To Focus 22. Let Scripture Train in Righteousness

The last of four roles of Scripture in your life: it will train you in righteousness.

Scripture reference: 2 Timothy 3:16

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Five To Focus 21. Let Scripture Correct

The third of four roles of Scripture in your life: it will correct you.

Scripture reference: 2 Timothy 3:16

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Five To Focus 20. Let Scripture Rebuke

The second of four roles of Scripture in your life: it will rebuke you.

Scripture reference: 2 Timothy 3:16

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Five To Focus 19. Let Scripture Teach

The first of four roles of Scripture in your life: it will teach you.

Scripture reference: 2 Timothy 3:16

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Five To Focus 18. Sixty-Six Books Tell One Story

A common argument against the inspiration of Scripture: The Bible is a collection of unrelated books. From the outside, it is kind of strange how Christians talk about the Bible: is it a book, or is it 66 books? Find out how you can get more from the Bible by keeping the larger story in view.

Scripture reference: 2 Peter 1:19

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