SanLo Community, an update for the week of November 25, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Scott for the message from Judges 19-21, “All Eyes on Him.” From the time we are young, we are taught to keep our eyes on what’s important. When we don’t and we lose sight of something important, something bad can happen or we can lose our motivation. As we close our study of the book of Judges, we see how far Israel had gone from the first chapter to the end of the book. Joshua leads the tribes of Israel into the Promised Land and tells them to obey God’s Word. By doing this, it will show all the other nations what God is like. Joshua dies and the LORD tells the Israelites to clear the land of all the Canaanites. Instead of driving them out, the Israelites moved alongside and adopted the selfish ways of the Canaanites. Israel lost sight of God. We also live in a world where we are influenced by our world. We are bombarded by ideas that are not what God intended for us. Like the Israelites, God calls us to be a holy people but we lose focus and then have to suffer the consequences. Losing focus on God leads to destruction but focusing on God leads to redemption. Focusing on God helps us live the life God created us to live. How do we lose our focus on God?
1) We lose focus on God when we lose our priorities. (ch.19) Instead of focusing on a wife, the Levite went after an unfaithful concubine. As they were traveling back, they were invited into the home of old man. (vv.22-24) Look how far they have fallen. In Middle East, hospitality is huge. Men were to protect their guests at all costs. There was nothing more honorable. But here, it’s taking it way too far. A group of men wanting to rape and hurt this Levite and the old man and the Levite turned their backs to the daughter and woman. They were selfish, had no courage, allowed deliberate abuse and murder. (v.27) He was able to sleep while horrific things were happening. He put his own safety ahead of others. He put sleep ahead of helping. (vv.28-30). When we lose focus on God, we lose our priorities. This Levite man shows us this here, but we also see it in our own lives. When we don’t have God as our King and we worship man made things like money and possessions and relationships, we lose sight of what is good and make decisions that takes us farther away from what is good. When we lose our priorities, we lose focus on God. When we put other things in front of God, it will reflect in our relationship with Him. That’s true of any relationship but our relationship with God should be our number one priority.
2) We lose focus on God when we lose our partnerships. (20:12-48) Fellowship is important in staying focused on God. In chapter 20, the tribes got together and decided they would all go against the evil people at Gibeah that did that to the concubine. The Levite doesn’t tell whole story. (vv.8, 9, 11, 12-14). Gibeah is in Benjamin. There were 12 tribes and 11 were down to help the cause but the Benjamite leaders refused to join in battle. Maybe because they refused to believe that their own men would be capable of such evil acts. So now while all the tribes should be joining together, they are divided. When you are not in fellowship with other believers, you lose focus on God. When you don’t have that accountability, that support, that encouragement in Christ, it makes it that much more difficult to focus on God. We need fellowship. We need people to help us focus on God. Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” That’s a recipe for success – study the Bible, stay in fellowship and pray and we can stay focused on God. The more we are in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, the easier it is to grow and encourage each other.
3) We lose focus on God when we lose our purpose. (21:25) We lose focus when we forget why we are here and what God wants us to do. The Israelites were supposed to drive out all the Canaanites. God called them to be a holy people and didn’t want them to be influenced by all the evil of the Canaanites. The Canaanites worshipped gods through child sacrifices and were very morally corrupt. Instead of driving them out, they moved along-side them and adopted their customs and religious practices. This began a spiral downward for the nation of Israel. Instead of showing others the true God, they acted like everyone else. Israel had lost their purpose. At the beginning, Judges 1:1-2 – God has given the land to Israel. But when they failed to clear out all the Canaanites, the LORD withdrew His promise to help drive the people out and bless the Israelites in battle. The last verse of the book (21:25) shows how far they had gone. Israel had become like the Canaanites.
The book of Judges is a warning to all of us. We see Israel who turned away from the God who loves them and delivered them from slavery, but there is hope! There is a need for God’s grace, for God to send a King who will save all His people. That’s what Christmas is all about. Even though Israel lost sight of God, He never lost sight of them. Despite their disobedience and horrible decisions, God was always there for them. And even when we lose sight of God, He NEVER loses sight of us. We see that displayed on the cross. Romans 5:8, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It’s because of His love and grace that we are able to focus on Him and grow in our relationship with Him!
So how do we focus on Him? What are some action points?
1) Spend time reading His word. Allow God to speak to you. We need to receive spiritual nourishment.
2) Spend time praying and just talking with God.
3) Stay in fellowship – join a small group, meet with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Church so important.
4) Serve Him by serving others. Help others while using the gifts and talents God gave you to make a difference.
We live in a dark and mixed up world. We need to focus on God more than ever these days. Keep your eyes on Him. When we lose sight of our King (Jesus), we may forget what we are here for. We forget that our lives have meaning and purpose. You are not a part of your family or in that school or job or neighborhood by accident. God has a purpose for you! Live in a way that others around you see who God really is. Through your words, by your actions, and in the way you treat others. When you live the life God gave you to live, it makes it easier to stay focused on Him.