Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 14

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,

Read Judges 17-18

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read chapter 17. Was this the same Micah who wrote the book of Micah? How do you know?

Remember the old “What’s wrong with this picture?” puzzles? This chapter seems like the Bible version of that. How many sins can you spot in this passage? Which of the Ten Commandments are being broken?

Is it possible to dedicate something to the Lord and simultaneously dedicate that thing to idolatry? (17:3) To worship the one true God via idol worship? How is this an example of syncretism? Explain why “syncretism” is just a fancy word for “idolatry”. How does syncretism violate the first two Commandments?

Explain the syncretism taking place in 17:7-13. Imagine you’re Micah’s godly, doctrinally sound friend and he says 17:13 to you. How would you correct his false theology from Scripture? (Challenge yourself: First try correcting him using any applicable Old or New Testament Scripture. Then try correcting him using only the Old Testament Scriptures/events/teachings he would have had access to or should have known (Genesis 1 – Judges 16).)

Why do you think 17:6 was inserted into this story?

3. Read 18:1-6. How is the purpose of 18:1 different from the purpose of 17:6 in today’s passage?

Carefully examine the interaction between the Levite and the men from Dan in 18:3-6. Generally speaking, what were the duties of the Levites? Was this Levite doing his job as Scripture commanded? Did the men from Dan know this? (18:3) What should they have done to the Levite (and Micah, for that matter)? What did they do instead (18:5)?

Explain how enlisting the priest of an idol to inquire of the Lord was also an example of syncretism. How does this compare to professing Christians of today who consult false teachers for a “word of knowledge” or “prophecy” over their lives, attend “churches” headed up by false teachers, “worship” God using music created by heretics, etc.?

4. Read 18:7-31. Examine and summarize the actions and beliefs of the men of Dan throughout chapter 18.

  • What did they do in 18:5?
  • What did they believe in 18:6, 10?
  • What did they believe in 18:14-20 and what did they do 18:14-20 as a result of that belief?

Explain how idolatry and unbiblical theology led the men of Dan, and lead us, to sinful actions. How does what we believe about God impact what we do?

Do you think the men of Dan and the Levite were consciously, proactively, and objectively choosing to do wrong (idolatry), or do you think they were deceived and spiritually blind, thinking that their syncretism was good and pleasing to the Lord? Perhaps a mix of both? Ultimately, does it matter? Either way, they were sinning, right? How does this apply to professing Christians today who think they are actually worshiping the one true God, the God of the Bible, through false and unbiblical “Christian” systems like Catholicism, Mormonism, Word of Faith (prosperity gospel), and New Apostolic Reformation?

Really let Micah’s statement in 18:24 sink in. Compare it to these verses. What was Micah’s heart, hope and faith set on? Who were Asaph’s and Peter’s heart, hope, and faith set on?

5. Notice how idolatry not only permeates, but bookends (17:3-4, 18:30-31) today’s passage. How did the idolatry snowball from one woman purposing to make a household idol to an entire tribe of Israel worshiping that idol? Think about this in terms of how your own personal sin and unbiblical beliefs can impact not only you, but your family, friends, church, workplace, and community.

6. If Micah, the Levite, and the men of Dan had been committed to God and His Word, in what ways would this story be different?

7. In most passages of Scripture, God is present with His people. He’s giving a command, speaking through a prophet, the passage describes His thoughts and actions, etc. We’ve even seen God present in this way in previous passages in Judges. Where is God in Judges 17-18? Do you feel the weight of His absence in this passage? Are the false beliefs and sinful actions we see in this passage the cause or the result of God taking a step back from these people?


Homework

Can you think of any modern day examples of syncretism? What about churches offering yoga or “Christian yoga” classes? Churches that participate in Kwanzaa? Churches that use music from heretical sources? Christians who consult psychics, use horoscopes, or practice mindfulness? Think about the way you worship God and walk out your Christianity, both at church and as an individual. Is there any way in which you’re syncretizing Christianity and another religion, or Christianity and worldly methods?


Suggested Memory Verse

Holidays (Other), Reformation Day

12 Songs for Reformation Day

Reformation Day is Sunday, October 31.

Originally published October 27, 2017

Reformation Day, October 31, is the annual observance of the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Celebrate the day with these songs showcasing each of the Five Solas of the Reformation, or use them as a guide for your Reformation Sunday worship set. (I’ve also compiled the videos below into a YouTube playlist entitled Reformation Day.) Soli Deo Gloria!

Sola Scriptura

Scripture alone – not church traditions, the teachings of man, or extra-biblical revelation – is what we base our beliefs and worship practices on.

O Word of God, Incarnate

The B-I-B-L-E

Sola Fide

We are not saved by good works, by by faith alone.

On Faith Alone I Stand

Let Us Plead for Faith Alone – Sola Fide

Sola Gratia

We are saved by God’s grace alone, not by any merit or righteousness of our own.

Grace Alone

Grace Greater Than Our Sin

Solus Christus

There is salvation in no other name but that of Christ alone.

In Christ Alone

The Church’s One Foundation

Soli Deo Gloria

To God alone be the glory for our salvation!

Soli Deo Gloria

Glorious is Thy Name

🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

Reformation Hymn

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

What’s your favorite Reformation Day song?


I have not exhaustively vetted these musicians and songwriters. please make sure to examine against Scripture any of them you choose to follow and make sure they are doctrinally sound.
Holidays (Other), Reformation Day

The Mailbag: What is Reformation Day?

Reformation Day is Sunday, October 31.

mailbag

Originally published October 10, 2014.

reformation day

The Protestant Reformation. Outside of biblically recorded events and the closing of the canon of Scripture, it is arguably the most important event in church history, and one of the most important events in world history as well, yet many Christians today are unaware of this landmark incident in their heritage which birthed the Protestant church.

The year was 1517. A monk named Martin Luther gripped his hammer and nailed a list of biblical grievances against the Roman Catholic Church to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, much like we might post a notice to a community bulletin board today. These 95 Theses protested the Catholic Church’s unbiblical policy of selling indulgences,  part of an effort to raise funds for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Catholic Church had created the idea of the Treasury of Merit, sort of a “bank account” of merit deposited by Christ, Mary, the saints, and others as a result of their good works. When church members sinned, they could purchase an indulgence, which was akin to asking the Church to “transfer funds” from the Treasury of Merit to the sinner’s account. The indulgence basically excused the sinner from a certain amount of time in purgatory and/or temporal punishment for that sin.

In addition to protesting the sale of indulgences, Luther’s 95 Theses called the Catholic Church to conform to Scripture by abandoning its unbiblical practices and teachings regarding the doctrines of salvation, religious authority, the nature of the church, and the essence of Christian living.

95Thesen

Luther’s calls for reform spread quickly throughout Europe, inspiring the likes of church fathers Ulrich Zwingli (Zurich), John Calvin (Geneva), and John Knox (Scotland) to join the effort in their own locales. As they worked to address the issues raised in Luther’s document, these men codified what we know today as the “Five Solas of the Reformation,” the basis of Protestant church doctrine. The five solas are:

1. Sola ScripturaScripture alone is the basis for all church doctrine, belief, and practice. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. Sola Gratia– Salvation is by grace alone. It is an unmerited gift of God based solely on His goodness, not our own (because we don’t have any). (Ephesians 2:8-9)

3. Sola Fide– Salvation is through faith alone. Faith is a gift bestowed by God. We are saved only by placing that faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, not by doing good works or by any other attempts to earn salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

4. Solus Christus– Salvation is found in Christ alone. As Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

5. Soli Deo Gloria– God saves man for God’s glory alone, and Believers are to live our lives to glorify Him alone. (Romans 11:36)

One of Luther’s most cherished ideals, from which we still benefit today, was that common people should have access to both the Scriptures and worship services in their own language. Prior to the Reformation, the Bible was only available in Latin. Likewise, all masses and other church services were conducted in Latin. Luther translated the Bible into German, and was later followed by William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, David Brainerd, and others who translated the Bible into various languages.

On Reformation Day, we commemorate the work, zeal, and sacrifices of Luther and the other reformers. Reformation Day is observed on October 31.


Additional Resources:

Why do we celebrate Reformation Day? – A Word Fitly Spoken

What are the 95 Theses of Martin Luther? – Got Questions

Reformation 500: Can Roman Catholicism be Considered Christianity? – Berean Research

Protestant and Catholic: What’s the Difference? – Berean Research

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer – Ligonier Ministries

Martin Luther (1953 movie)

Steve Lawson’s books and sermons on various Reformers

Why We’re Protestant by Nate Pickowicz

Luther: In Real Time (podcast)-  Ligonier Ministries


This article was originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Waterford, California Conference

I had a super time last week sharing with the wonderful ladies of Waterford, California, at First Southern Baptist Church’s women’s conference.

This was my first time traveling to northern California, and I’m indebted to everyone who took the time to show me around and tell me all about the things that make this area of the country so special, especially Pastor Greg, and the delightful couple who hosted me in their home, Lisa and Curt.

The Waterford area is covered with almond and walnut groves. This is a picturesque almond grove across the street from Curt and Lisa’s house.

Another of Curt and Lisa’s neighbors has recently acquired a few llamas. Aren’t they cute! Don’t worry, we didn’t get close enough for them to spit on us. (When I posted one of these pictures on social media, several folks corrected me that these are alpacas, not llamas. I’m no expert, and that may very well be, but here’s what I read that led me to the llama label. If I’m wrong, I stand corrected! :0)

Curt is the head of South Blossom Designs. He crafts phenomenal cutting boards, chopping blocks, serving boards, and other specialty artisan wood items. Go get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

These are some of the awesome hostess gifts and snacks from the ladies of FSBC. Those walnuts are straight from a local grove and were so fresh! And, of course, Cheerwine is my favorite, and is hard to come by where I live.

Friday night of the conference kicked off with a delicious steak dinner grilled by the fantastic men of FSBC. I also want to put a word in for one of the drink options, which was a cocktail of cranberry juice, Hawaiian Punch, and Sprite. That was super good.

And check out these lovely decorations:

Next up was our first teaching session: The Authority, Sufficiency, and Necessity of Scripture. God’s Word is vital to our lives as Christian women, sufficient to instruct us in the ways of life and godliness, and we are beholden to Scripture as the ultimate authority over our lives.

Saturday morning, after the ladies were treated to breakfast, it was time to get down to business with session two of the conference: Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways.

Our final session was a stimulating Q&A with lots of insightful questions. These ladies know their stuff! Afterward, it was fun getting to chat with several of the attendees:


When I travel, instead of buying souvenirs, I like to try whatever food is iconic to that area (clam chowder in Cape Cod, Chicago-style pizza, etc.). California doesn’t really have a specific iconic food, but In-N-Out is pretty close for me because I always see people raving about it online, and we don’t have In-N-Out here in Louisiana. So, for a special post-conference treat, Lisa took me to In-N-Out so I could see what all the fuss was about.

My verdict (the short version): It was good, but 5 Guys (which we do have here) is just as good. (You can check out the slightly longer version here.)

I also got to try some northern California style Mexican food (which is different from the southern New Mexico style Mexican food I grew up on and the Tex-Mex Louisiana offers), which was excellent, and a delectable Latin dish called Chipotle Milanesa at Cafe Bravo in Oakdale.

All too soon, it was time to head back home. I even got a few good pictures from the plane:

Looks like some of the mountains already got a light dusting of snow.

Considering our flight plan, I’m almost sure this is part of the Grand Canyon. It’s kind of hard to tell from the pictures, I guess. And, I didn’t get a picture of it, but I saw a dam that sure looked like it was the Hoover Dam, which also would have been in keeping with our flight plan. Besides Tiger Stadium all lit up at night at LSU, those are the coolest things I’ve ever seen from a plane.

Nothing special, and the lighting is terrible, I just really like the geometric pattern of these circular, square and triangular fields.

Many thanks to Pastor Greg, Lisa, Curt, and all of the ladies and gentlemen of FSBC who worked so hard to put on a great conference and made me feel so at home. If you’re ever in the Waterford, California, area, be sure to stop by and visit First Southern Baptist Church of Waterford.


If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits

Photo of chopping block courtesy of South Blossom Designs.

All photos and videos of Michelle by Lisa Cowan.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Discernment, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ The Perilous Parable of Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Tickle

Originally published January 27, 2013

tickle-shepherd
mh900442249

Once upon a time, there was a college student who was majoring in engineering. Let’s call her Brie. (Why? No particular reason except that I’m hungry and I happen to like cheese. But back to our story.)

One of the pre-requisite classes Brie had to take for her major was calculus. Brie had heard about the various calculus professors at her university. Some were tough. Some were boring. A few had a reputation for being easy.

MH900409045

Brie knew she did not want to take calculus from Dr. Shepherd. Although she had some friends who had taken his class and really seemed to know their stuff, calculaically speaking, they had told her that he demanded excellence of his students, had a no qualms about flunking students who weren’t trying and didn’t know the material, and gave regular—and challenging— homework and tests.

MH900386222

Brie was leaning more towards Dr. Tickle. Everybody said she was really nice and cared warmly for her students. She wasn’t a stickler about deadlines for assignments, taught in a funny and entertaining way, and –most importantly for Brie—didn’t believe in tests. Brie hated tests.

All of the sections of Dr. Tickle’s classes usually filled up quickly, so Brie wasted no time registering, and, happily, secured a spot. She knew she’d made the right choice when, on the first day of class, Dr. Tickle started the lesson off with a one woman skit. She filled the rest of the class period with jokes and inspiring personal stories about her own days as an engineering major. No formulas. No notes. They didn’t even crack the spines on their new text books. Brie felt completely at home and comfortable in Dr. Tickle’s class.

About half way through the semester, Brie was regaling her friend, Tess, with a joke Dr. Tickle had told in class that day. Tess giggled at the punch line, but then her brow furrowed.

“Wow, you’re really taking Dr. Tickle for calculus?” Tess asked.

MH900442248

“Sure,” replied Brie, “I love her class. Why?”

“Well, I took her calculus class for a few weeks. Dr. Tickle didn’t really teach much actual math. And even when she did teach us a little bit about how to work some of the problems, I checked my notes against the book, and she had completely botched it. She had left out parts of the formulas, and some of the other things she taught us were the exact opposite of what the book said. If I had stayed in her class, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what’s going on in the upper level classes I’m taking now. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be graduating. I’d really recommend that you drop Dr. Tickle’s class and take calculus from a good professor who knows what he’s doing. I took Dr. Shepherd’s class. He’s tough, but he’s a great teacher.”

“What?!?! How can you say that about Dr. Tickle? I leave her class every day feeling great about calculus! Not once has she ever made me feel uncomfortable or stressed about my calculations. She’s so understanding and kind, and I love the fun way she teaches. I thought you were my friend, Tess, and I thought you were a nice person, too. How could you say such mean things about Dr. Tickle?

“I am your friend, Brie! I want you to be able to understand calculus properly so you’ll do well in the tougher classes that come later. I want to see you graduate with high marks and become a great engineer. I’m trying to help you!”

“Well, I think Dr. Tickle is a great teacher, and I really enjoy her class,” Brie responded coolly, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

There are Dr. Shepherds and Dr. Tickles on church campuses, too. God has not called pastors to stand in the pulpit and tickle your ears with jokes and stories. Nor has He called them to make the Bible and his sermons all about you and your self esteem, your dreams, your health, or your lust for material things. God has called pastors to:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

If you have a Tess in your life who is warning you that a pastor, teacher, or author you’re following is a false teacher, don’t react like Brie did. What if your friend is right? Do you really want to follow a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, or do you want to follow a Dr. Shepherd who will give you the truth of God’s word even if it’s difficult? Check him out. Where? Here are some resources:

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own