Missing the Mark

Have you ever tried to take on a big task all by yourself. In almost every case it is easier to tackle big things with help than it is to go it alone. The same thing applies to our relationship with God. When we try and go it alone in life, we are setting ourselves up for a much harder road than is necessary. But we don’t always believe that’s really the case. Fortunately, there are several great examples from which we can learn this important truth. One of those is the book of Judges…all of it. Starting today and for the next few weeks, we are going to walk through this intriguing and sometimes disturbing little book as we see over and over again that life is better when we walk it with God. Thanks for joining me as we go.

Missing the Mark

How many of you remember where you were on January 28, 1986? Like or comment if you do. I’ll confess that I was four and I really don’t remember much of anything prior to my 5th birthday, but I’ll bet some of you who are not all that much older than I am do. I’ll bet you remember very clearly. And just to prove my point, what happened on that date? Post your response in the comments. Some of you knew immediately. Just before noon local time, a space shuttle called the Challenger was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. While that’s always exciting, this launch was special because it was the first of the now-infamous Teacher-in-Space program. Christa McAuliffe, a history and English teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, had been selected from more than 11,000 applicants to the program in 1985 and here, just a few months later, she was making her debut. But the excitement quickly turned to shock and then horror as 73 seconds into the flight the Challenger exploded, killing McAuliffe and the six other crew members on board with her.

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Morning Musing: Zephaniah 1:4-5

“I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the residents of Jerusalem. I will cut off every vestige of Baal from this place, the names of the pagan priests along with the priests; those who bow in worship on the rooftops to the stars in the sky; those who bow and pledge loyalty to the Lord but also pledge loyalty to Milcom.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I have some good friends, a married couple, who live in a divided house. What I mean is that one of them cheers for one college team, and the other cheers for their arch rival. Oh, they get along just fine. But when the two teams play each other things are just a little more interesting than usual. The thing about these divided-house situations, though, is that while each partner may tolerate living with fans of their rivals, they don’t usually start actually cheering for them. Instead, they tend to double down on their commitment to their own team…sometimes just to get under the skin of each other. Trying to cheer for each at the same time would just be weird. God agrees…sort of.

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Morning Musing: Habakkuk 2:18-19

“What use is a carved idol after its craftsman carves it? It is only a cast image, a teacher of lies. For the one who crafts its shape trusts in it and makes worthless idols that cannot speak. Woe to him who says to wood: Wake up! or to mute stone: Come alive! Can it teach? Look! It may be plated with gold and silver, yet there is no breath in it at all.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever tried to get more out of something than it was designed to do? Sometimes we hear about a driver pushing a car, or a pilot a plane to its limits and beyond, but while those occasions can make for impressive stories, a car was designed to drive and a plane to fly. If that’s what they are doing, then they’re right in their zone. I’m talking about trying to get something to do what it was never designed to do. Those stories usually leave us shaking our heads at the foolishness of the person making the effort. In this last woe, Habakkuk cautions those who would do something similar.

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Digging in Deeper: Amos 6:1

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure on the hill of Samaria — the notable people in this first of the nations, those the house of Israel comes to.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the things Jesus talked about more than just about anything else was money. He spoke frequently about our attitude toward our money and condemned our tendency to trust in it more than we ought. He warned against trying to serve two masters—God and money. On one occasion, He commanded a rich young man to actively sell all of his possessions before he could come follow Him. It’s almost like He was trying to say something. It wasn’t something new though. He was right in line with what the prophets of old had been saying for a long time. Amos gives us a great example here.

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Digging in Deeper: Amos 5:21-24

“I hate, I despise, your feasts! I can’t stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. Even if you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle. Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever received a gift you really didn’t want? I remember playing a big family White Elephant game when I was growing up. I can’t remember exactly what the first gift I opened was, but it was something pretty cool and I was pleased. But then, my uncle used his turn to steal it for my cousin. The second gift I opened was literally a paperweight. I was crushed. I may have gotten a gift, but I most decidedly did not want it. That was a little bit like how God felt about the worship of the Israelites here. He wanted one thing, but they kept giving Him another; and He wasn’t happy about it.

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