Please note that clicking on the song titles below will open a youtube video of that song in a separate window.
Verses of the Week
The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.
When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”
Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”
So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.
When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.
(Judges 6:1-32 ESV)
Songs of the Week
Charles Wesley wrote this song to commemorate his conversion. Although we at Desert Hills don’t have a “thousand tongues” to sing, let us sing with the sentiment of a thousand, wholeheartedly and passionately giving all praise to God!
A close observer may notice that I often begin a worship set with a song of adoration and then move into the specifics of what Christ has done for us, followed by our response. I chose this hymn to remind us of the incredible act of grace Jesus did for us. This song, too, mentions our tongue, querying how we can even begin to praise our Savior. The amazing truth of the Gospel is that God offers grace to all, even the vilest of sinners!
His grace truly is enough! If only the Israelites had recognized this during the time of the judges. Instead, they continually sought the favor of idols. Still, God showed his faithfulness to them by remembering His people and His covenantal promises to them. Although we are not Israelites, those who have received God’s free gift of grace have also entered into a covenant relationship with God. As such, He has promised to remember us, His people, and to overflow with love and justice on our behalf.
Do you recognize God as the supplier for your every need? Physically, He created this world with life giving oxygen, food, water, shelter, and clothing. Emotionally, He fills us and comforts us. Spiritually, He saves us from eternal separation from God. He gives us even more than we could ever ask for or imagine. Let us not forgot God’s many blessings, as the Israelites did; let us recite them over and over again lest we forget!
So often in the modern church, the focus is on God’s love to the exclusion of His holiness. God surely loves us with an everlasting love, but He is also a holy God who cannot tolerate sin. That is why a punishment was needed for our sin. Yet God in His love chose to bear the weight of punishment so we could be rendered holy, even as He is holy. Instead of ending with a song of response as I often do, I chose to end with a song of motivation to follow the song of response.
This week, we will only sing the second verse as a song of preparation for the sermon. This verse is a prayer that God’s Word would dwell richly in our hearts from moment to moment, with the goal of reflecting God for all to see as we live out the truths of the Word.
The Israelites greatest fault was that they did not faithfully give God the glory. True, they at times would cry out their unending devotion to God, but then their “unending devotion” rarely lasted more than a few years, and certainly rarely until the next generation. Let us commit to following God and giving Him glory without wavering in our devotion!