Lord willing, we’d like to do three things this morning, both here and online. I want to very generally introduce the book of Judges, not comprehensively, but in a general way. Secondly, we want to work our way through Judges 1, a survey summary of the chapter we just heard read, Judges 1. And then third, we want to apply one of the key messages that I believe God has for us this morning.

So, I would guess not many of you have studied through the whole book of Judges. It’s not been on the New York Times bestseller recently. Most of us fall into one of three or four different opinions or assumptions when we think about the book of Judges. If you’re brand new to the Bible and you see “Judges,” you might think a reality court show, a list of legal stories. Think Judge Judy … Wouldn’t that be fun? And if that’s your understanding of the book of Judges, you’re in for a big surprise because don’t think Judge Judy. Think Mel Gibson as, yeah, William Wallace in Braveheart. Most of the judges mentioned in the Book of Judges are way more like William Wallace than Judge Judy. These judges are more like tribal warlords than court justices.

Others of you might think of Judges as a compilation of human rights violations. Judges records a lot of conflict between Israel and the Canaanites. Canaanite is not a specific nation. It’s kind of a catch-all term for a lot of city-states that existed in the region of Canaan. And what makes these battles that we’re about to move through over the next few months so disturbing is not just their brutality, but their theology. God is commanding his people to fight a specific people. And that’s disturbing. Wait a second, God, you’re the one who forbids this kind of activity elsewhere. What is going on here?

It’s stories like this that prompted Richard Dawkins, the famous atheist, to ask,

“Do those people who hold the Bible as an inspiration to moral rectitude have the slightest notion of what is actually written in it?”

Great question. Well, when you’re done with Judges, you’ll know what he’s talking about. And that raises the question “Is God sponsoring ethnic cleansing? Genocide?” There’s no way I can answer that fully right now. I would love to do a whole series on that, but let me give you the short answer: No. And a couple, just a couple observations.

Number 1. God is the one who forbids stealing and murder. He’s the one who says that imperialism — when a powerful nation tries to expand its ethnic, cultural, racial power by pillaging, raping, murdering a weaker nation — God will hold that powerful nation accountable. It’s wrong. Atheism that has not been Christianized believes that imperialism is actually good. It’s a beautiful example of the survival of the fittest, the strongest, the smartest. It’s macro evolution, social evolution at high speed. But God says it’s wrong. So, what’s going on in Canaan?

Second observation about that — God uses Israel to judge Canaan. Four hundred years prior to Judges (Genesis 15-16), God predicted the judgment, and he gives many reasons throughout the Torah: for their witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:10), for their idolatry (Deuteronomy 12:29), for their immorality (Leviticus 18:27), for their child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21). The people of Canaan offered their children to Molech (Deuteronomy 12:31).

“You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”

Some people may ask, “Well, what makes Israel so much better that they, in this specific situation, would be given the authority to be God’s tool of judgment?” Well, they aren’t. Deuteronomy 9:4,

“Do not say in your heart after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out before you, that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

So, the judgment of Canaan is a unique event in history. This is not like a Jewish form of jihad, where God’s giving them permission to go wipe out anybody. And most Bible readers, because they don’t, like Dawkins (who doesn’t have any idea of the storyline of the Bible) just drop in and assume way too much. This is a unique event that otherwise Israel is forbidden to do, and we are, too. But it is also not just a unique event in history. It’s also a message to all of us.

Third observation. God judges everyone in righteousness. He made all people. He made the world. And he retains the right and the obligation to judge the world. So, every localized or limited judgment … All of these are like tremors or foreshocks before the coming earthquake. Judgments like the flood or like the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah or like the judgment of Canaan are all foreshocks of the coming eternal great judgment. And we would do well to hear and see what those judgments are saying rather than to place ourselves above God and judge God for judging the world. That will not go well for you.

Some people say foolish things like, “Well, that was the Old Testament. They were all about judgment. God’s good with everything now.” Really? Have you heard the words of Jesus? He talked about judgment more than anyone, and he gave vivid examples and applied it right to what was happening in that day. For example, in Luke 13, someone raised the question of a natural and a human disaster where a lot of people died. And people asked, “Well, did those people die because there were sinners? Are they like Canaanites?” And Jesus said “No.” That judgment is a warning to all of us that we’re all going to be judged whether it’s today or tomorrow. And you would do well … Actually, Jesus came to prepare us for that judgment. And he said these words: Luke 13:5,

“No, I tell you [they’re not worse than you]; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

What happened to the Canaanites is what happens to all of us, but by the grace of God, the provision that God brings about through the line of Judah, which we’re about to hear about, through King David, through to Jesus. So, the judgments we’re learning of are meant to shock us, yes, scandalize us, horrify us — they’re horrible! — but to wake us up.

A third way we can view the book of Judges is as a series of hero stories. If you grew up in Sunday school, chances are you were introduced to the book of Judges through Gideon’s fleece or winning battles with jars and trumpets — how fun! — or Samson’s superhuman strength, ripping apart lions, carrying away city gates. But as you’ve grown older, you’ve made the mistake of reading the book of Judges for yourself, and you soon, quickly learn — Gideon was just wracked with doubts and insecurity and eventually led the people astray. Samson needs to visit a sex therapist. He’s more like a sex addict than a superhero. What is going on with this man, and why is he in the Bible? And so, we quickly get stripped of this assumption that this is a series of spiritual superheroes. There’s something else going on here. Much of the book of Judges needs a viewer discretion advised label. And even when we do get good leaders … there are some good leaders … they keep dying. They only live so long, and then they die, and the people go back to doing the wrong things.

So, Judges is going to point us beyond the limited and localized leaders to the true eternal King. It’s not just … Some people say it’s an apologetic for the kings, you know, King David… That doesn’t go far enough because you’re going to see those human kings do the same thing. It’s way beyond.

Now, some of us, finally, view Judges as a discouraging cycle of failure. And for those who are familiar with the book, it’s going to sound closer to the truth. Judges records the unwillingness of God’s people to trust the Lord and their addiction to sensory satisfaction, immediate. The gods of the people of Canaan were linked to our most basic instincts. Think of a craving you have, and they had a deity to meet that craving. There were gods of sex; there were gods of fertility; there were gods of productivity and harvest; there were gods that you could follow certain formulas and get what you need, like deities, like concession stands. And you don’t have to love that god, you don’t have to have a relationship, you don’t have to wait and pray and relate and … none of that. Just follow this formula, appease that deity, and you will have immediately what you crave. And Israel kept falling for it. We can be just like everybody else. We can do whatever we want that’s right in our own eyes and in our own gut. And we’ll get what we want immediately.

And that’s why the theme we’re focusing on for Judges is “our deepest need.” And you will notice this graphic, all the bright colors, all the billboards, all the attractions. Our culture is no different from the culture that was tempting Israel constantly in Canaan. And Judges is pointing us past those billboards of immediate sensory satisfaction — where you can just be like everyone else and get what you want immediately, you follow this formula — to our deepest need. A true, eternal King, a genuine relationship with the One who made you for his own glory beyond the fallible, finite leadership.

So, the book of Judges will repeatedly ask questions it doesn’t answer. It’ll tell a story it doesn’t finish. The end is like a car wreck. It’s horrible. But it’s communicating something very powerful — that this story is pointing beyond itself. C.S. Lewis says,

“Human history is the long, terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

It’s a great summary of Judges. But we’ll also notice, if our eyes and ears are open, that throughout this book, we will meet God, pursuing, providing for his people, meeting our deepest need when we’re craving everything else.

So, let’s dive into chapter 1. It splits. We could … There are several ways to break it down, but we’re going to split it right in half, between 1-18, which we could describe as relatively pure victory, and the second half as a kind of partial victory.

Judges 1:1, “After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, ‘Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?’ And the Lord said, ‘Judah shall go up.’”

That’s, right from the beginning, hugely significant about the role the tribe of Judah will play, from which King David and ultimately King Jesus come. Judah with Simeon experience this pure victory. You can divide their campaigns into the upper campaign in 3-8, where the Canaanites and the Perizzites were defeated, and we meet a guy named Adoni-Bezek, lord of Bezek, who, when he is horrifically maimed, he utters a statement of the justice of his own judgment. Because I have done this to countless kings — seventy kings represents an indefinite amount — God is justly judging me. So, you have a pagan king who is declaring the justice of the judgment that is happening.

That’s the first half of the upper campaign. And then in verse 8, Jerusalem is temporarily defeated. I say temporarily, because you’re going to meet Jerusalem revived later. The lower campaign in verses 9-18 is in the hill country in the south, the Negev, the lowland, including Hebron, Debir, and areas near the coast. In this section, we meet a remarkable family of Caleb, who most likely flow from the mixed multitude. They’re not pure Israelites, which again is powerful. Here you have a pagan king uttering the justice of this, and you have a non-Israelite who’s being grafted into the tribe of Judah — hugely significant. But this family faithfully and courageously claim God’s promises: pure victory.

But then we move in verses 19-36 — you probably felt this shift, as we did the reading a few minutes ago — into partial victory. Almost all of the stories from verse 19 and on record partial victories. Verse 19, Judah could not drive out the people who dwelt in the plain because they had what? Yeah, tanks, chariots of iron. Verse 21, Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites. Verses 22-26, Ephraim of the house of Joseph drove out, but they made a covenant with a man from Luz. Verse 27-28, Manasseh did not drive out completely. Verse 29, Ephraim did not drive out. Verse 30, Zebulun did not drive out. Verses 31-32, Asher did not drive out. Verse 33, Naphtali did not drive out. Verses 34-36. Dan was driven out. He wasn’t even allowed on the plain. You can stay over there.

Now, next week, we’re going to see in chapter 2 a divine analysis of this. Chapter 2:2,

“You have not obeyed my voice.”

But I want us to pause here in chapter 1 because it’s easy to conclude that the reason Israel didn’t succeed is because they didn’t succeed immediately — completely, immediately. Maybe that’s just me. I just assume that. They were supposed to swoop into the land, take it all over, and they didn’t. So, they failed, and God issued a strong warning.

But that’s not actually what God said would happen. Let me show you a couple examples.

Exodus 23:29, “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.”

Deuteronomy 7:22, “The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you [Say it with me, “little by little.” Let that sink in.] little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.”

And the “wild beasts” there is just representative “lest the land become uninhabited, desolate, a wilderness” because Israel at this time was not big enough to occupy the land if they took it all over at once. They couldn’t even fill the cities with people. So, God says, I’m giving you this land completely, but you are going to receive it … how? Little by little. Yeah. Little by little.

So, Israel failed, not because they didn’t succeed completely right away, but because they refused to trust God in the little-by-little. They misinterpreted partial victory and gave up. What’s the use? I’m tired of this, and they blended in. And that’s why you see at the end of chapter 1, this list of “didn’t drive out, didn’t drive out, didn’t drive out, didn’t drive out.” And I’m thinking, Wait, wait, wait! They weren’t going to drive out everybody completely, but they gave up. They gave up.

So, what’s God’s message for us? There’s a lot here. We could run all sorts of lines of powerful application, but I really believe God wants us to get this one thing. That’s why I want to spend the rest of our time together focused on this. Here it is: Never inflate or deflate the significance of partial victory. Never inflate or deflate the significance of partial victory.

What do we mean? Let’s break it in half. First, don’t inflate partial victory. Anybody watch the Chiefs – Bills game last Sunday night? It was kind of fun because I don’t have a dog in the fight, and I missed most of the game, but when I swooped in, it seemed clear: Chiefs got this. And then a few minutes later: Bills got this. And then a few seconds later: Chiefs got this. Look at the score. Last minute and fifty-four — Bills 29 – Chiefs 26, with a minute and fifty-four left! This is victory! The Bills! Finally! And then a minute and two — Chiefs up 33 to 29. Thirteen seconds left — Bills back up. Thirteen seconds left! If you’re ever going to count your chickens, now’s the time, right? Never inflate partial victory because with zero seconds left, Chiefs tied it up with a field goal. Went into overtime. Chiefs won. Very unfair rule! But we’re not going to talk about that. So, in less than two minutes, twenty-five points were scored. Less than two minutes! So, if you have a tendency to count your chickens too early, to inflate partial victory as if it’s full victory … Both teams had ample opportunity to do that, and it is extremely unwise.

Probably one of the most famous, historical examples of not inflating victory came out of the mouth of Winston Churchill in May 1940. The Germans blitzkrieged through the French defense, took over France, drove the fleeing French army and the British forces that were there up against the water on the beaches of Dunkirk, and it looked like it was going to be a massacre before the war even really began. And in one of the greatest ocean evacuations in history, about a thousand big and little ships, with the RAF supporting them in the skies, evacuated over 300,000 French and British forces. Stunning! Nobody could have imagined to move that many people in that little bit of time under that much pressure!

So, Churchill, June 4th, reported to Parliament, praised the Air Force, the Navy, all the volunteers, and then he spoke some of his most memorable words. He said,

“We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

But notice here this tension.

“But there was a victory inside this deliverance, which should be noted.”

So, stop there for a second. Do you see what he’s doing? He’s saying this is victory, a partial victory. We just evacuated hundreds of thousands of troops that we would have lost immediately. So, we can rejoice in this partial victory, but we cannot inflate this victory as if it’s a real victory because fleeing the scene is not victory. So, he does both things. Yes, this was a partial victory. But it is setting us up to continue to fight, and we must not stop. And these are some of his most famous words:

“We shall go on to the end … We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

What is Churchill saying? Never inflate partial victory. It’s not full victory.

So, what does it mean to deflate partial victory? How are your New Year’s resolutions going? So, this is about the time where anyone who started working out at the beginning of the year is starting to deflate partial victory. There are some victories: you got up earlier, you got a gym pass. That’s a victory. You got an outfit, you know. You want to look like you’re training, perhaps. So, there are some victories. But it’s really easy once you start trying to get in shape. You go through what James Clear in his book Atomic Habits calls the “Valley of Disappointment.” Look at this. Because we think what should happen is we start working out (bottom left corner) and then there should be a straight line culminating in my becoming Usain Bolt, like, just whoosh! But it never works that way, right? Because for the first many weeks, we’re in that dip, what he calls there the valley of disappointment. Muscles are sore. I’m doing the work. I’m getting up early. Those are big victories. I haven’t had a Twinkie in weeks! Huge victories! But yet that Valley of Disappointment is where New Year’s resolutions are buried because we haven’t yet experienced this momentum, swinging up to full victory, whatever that is, to actually being in shape or experiencing whatever goals we have … to run the marathon. You could put next to Valley of Disappointment “iron chariots.” I don’t think I can keep doing this. Especially as you get older, the time to get in shape is stretched; the injuries are multiplied. It used to be that I used to have to do something athletic to pull something, and now I go to get the mail. Oh! Coach, I’m out!

So, it’s easy to deflate partial victory because the greatest outcomes are delayed. The most fruitful harvests are not experienced right away. That’s what God was talking to Israel about when he said little by … what? Little by little. Little by little. And some of you maybe thinking, well, that’s Old Testament, you know. They had to wait. We don’t have to wait for anything. We get everything.

I John 3:2, “Beloved, we are God’s children now.”

Whew! You talk about victory! “We are God’s children now.” We, who used to be … If your faith is in Jesus, you were a child of wrath; now you are a child of God. That is victory. It’s all yours as an inheritance. You get it all. But, he goes on to say, “and what will be has not yet appeared.” The inheritance is yours, but you get it little by little. 2 Corinthians 3:18, from glory to glory, “one degree of glory to another,” grace to grace, little by little. But when we get in that Valley of Disappointment, and we feel like, “I am growing so slowly; I’m not going anywhere,” it is easy to give up.

So, how do we refuse? Let’s bring these together. How do we refuse to inflate or deflate the significance of partial victory? Here are a couple suggestions from Judges 1. First, start with God. And I mean by “start with God,” you’re fixing your eyes on God, not on the amount you’ve achieved, the mile marker you think you should be past. Start with God. Back in Deuteronomy 7:7, Moses said to Israel,

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set …”  [I love this!] He “set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples.”

Now just let that sink in. He’s saying to them, “Listen, I didn’t pick you because you’re able to blitzkrieg through the Promised Land the most effectively of anybody. I didn’t pick you for your greatness or your ability to accomplish more than anyone else or bring something to the table.” That’s not it. “I set my love on you even though you had nothing to offer. I love you.”

This is why the shift from “Have I done enough? Have I come far enough? Is God giving up on me?” No, no, no. He loved you when you had nothing to offer. You still don’t have anything.

“…but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Joshua, right before he died, said to Israel, Joshua 23:11,

“Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.”

That’s it. This is our deepest need: to rest in the love of God through Christ. I tend to inflate or deflate. How far am I? Should I be further? And by the way, this is one of the reasons Judges 1 is so frustrating because the name of God … what’s the covenant name of God in the Old Testament? Yahweh, Yahweh. You’ll see it translated all caps, usually in the ESV, “L-O-R-D.” His name appears five times in Judges 1. You’ll see 1:1, “They inquired of the LORD.” You’ll see the second in verse 2, the LORD is speaking, Yahweh is speaking: “The LORD said.” You’ll see the third in 1:4: the LORD is providing. “Yahweh gave.” And then the Lord is enabling, 1:19, “Yahweh was with Judah.” In 1:22, “Yahweh was with them [Joseph].”

Now think about it. Yahweh was with them when they didn’t defeat the people in the plain who had iron chariots. Let that soak in. Is it possible that God is with us, and we don’t win the battle right away? But notice he doesn’t go anywhere. His love is still on them. But as we’ll see next week, they gave up, blended in. When we inflate partial victory, we think we don’t need him. When we deflate partial victory, we think he doesn’t want us. We think he’s done with us, we’ve messed up too many times. So, our deepest need is to see our need of him. His love is on us.

Second thing we see in Judges 1 is refuse to settle. And by settle, what I mean is to accept partial victory as permanent. We get a vivid illustration of this in the story of Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother, who captures Kiriath-Sepher, is permitted to marry Achsah. And the story quickly becomes more about Achsah’s boldness and courage than Othniel’s courage in battle. She is far more than some passive prize of matrimonial success. You wonder, why is this story in here? It talks about the intensity with which she gets off of her donkey. She slams the car door! She runs up to her father-in-law and is like, “I’ve got … we just … our family just inherited a desert. What good is that?! It’s a giant sandbox!” And she was given the upper and the lower springs. And you think, with all that could be recorded, why do we care? Why is that in there? And the text doesn’t tell us. So, we have to be careful, but when you’re reading through it, you’re like, “Oh, that’s curious.” And then you keep going and “did not drive out, did not drive out, did not drive out.” So, you have this contrast between Achsah, who’s like, “I’m not satisfied with partial victory.” She doesn’t have a mindset of “Well, better dry land than no land. We’ll just settle.” No, she’s all in. She’s all in. “We need a water source if we’re going to thrive.”

So, what’s the New Covenant version of that? I think some of us are right here, right now and need to hear this because you’ve experienced God’s blessing in your life. You’ve trusted Christ, you’ve seen God do miracles in your life, but maybe it’s been a while. And maybe you’ve had a series of prayers that haven’t been answered the way you anticipated, and you’re just kind of settling for the fact that “Yeah, I’m going to keep coming to church. I don’t want to be an ax murderer.” But you’ve just settled. And God includes stories like this to say, “No!”

And the New Testament version of this is 2 Peter 1. It’s a great example, where Peter says,

“His divine power has given us [everything] all that pertains to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

And then in verse 5, “For this very reason, make every effort [See if this sounds like settling … “Make every effort” Jump off your donkey with haste!] to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with steadfastness, steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Pause for a second because I know that can be overwhelming, where we’re thinking, “Uh, what do I add next? Do we have a menu for all these items?” I don’t think that’s the point is to come up with a formula. I think the point is he’s just dumping these Christian virtues, gifts, blessings that God has for you. And the point is don’t stop growing! That’s why he says “if these are in you and increasing.” Wherever you are right now, don’t settle. I’m kind of done. These iron chariots! If God wanted me to live in victory, he wouldn’t have invented iron chariots. He wouldn’t have given me these temptations, these desires to look at porn or these temptations of anxiety or same-sex attraction or these gender dysphoric-like thoughts. He wouldn’t have done that! He would never have allowed iron chariots if he wanted us to live in victory. Really?

And we become just like Israel. What’s the use? Do not settle! Yes, it’s going to be little by little. And yes, there will be seasons where you’ll be in that Valley of Disappointment, you’re tempted to give up, and you haven’t seen a big harvest in years! But we are not giving up and caving in and blending in with the culture around us and the cravings within us! No! We’re going to war! It’s not the time. Peter ends that:

“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted [We’re just looking right here] that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

You’re acting like God hasn’t done anything for you!

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these things you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you [like Achsah] an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Refuse to settle!

One more, real quick, that we can pray through, talk with your life groups about is flip failures. We see this. Flip failures. When Judah failed to drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of fire … chariots of fire? Chariots of iron. They needed to learn to flip their failure. What do I mean by that? You could imagine the guys coming back from that battle that didn’t go well, and they’re dragging, and all they needed was one guy or girl to say, “Listen, we learned something really valuable. Arrows don’t go through iron chariots. That’s a win. We’re going to have to get on our knees because God promised in Joshua: you will defeat them even though they have iron chariots. So, we’re going to have to go back to the shop, work on some new weapons, but more than that, we need to get on our knees and say, ‘God, what are you doing here?’”

Let me give you an example of this. A couple of years ago, Adam Grant presented research that disproves something Daniel Kahneman had believed was true. And Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winner, eighty-seven years old. He’s won about every award you can win. But when he was sitting in this lecture, Adam Grant presented something, and his response was, “That was wonderful! I was wrong.” No defensiveness. And later, Adam Grant pressed into that and said, “When you were talking about being wrong, you had a twinkle in your eye as if you were having fun.” And he said this: he said he enjoys being wrong, discovering he was wrong, not being right, discovering he was wrong because it means he is now less wrong than before. That is flipping failure! I am now less wrong than I was before. I now know what doesn’t penetrate iron chariots.

Christians, of all people on the planet, we should be the least defensive. Our failure was proven on the cross. We can’t do it! Christ wouldn’t have had to die on the cross if we could do it. We can’t do it. We can’t fix ourselves. We need a Savior! And so, when by God’s grace, our spouse, our kids, our friends, our coworkers point out something that maybe we need to hear, why are we so defensive? And why do we go from being defensive to totally discouraged, as if the world has ended and we’re done? We need to learn to flip failure because Jesus Christ — who died, total failure — buried, total criminal — raised the third day as the ultimate failure flipper — he’s ours if your faith is in Jesus! And he gives us freedom and power and grace to be able to be honest about our weaknesses, our failures, to live in true community, where we can actually have a twinkle in our eye when somebody says, “Hey, I need to tell you something.” And we’re not frozen in fear like, “Oh no! People are going to realize I’m not the perfect person that they thought I was!” It’s delusional.

So, let’s stop here in chapter 1. We’ve got enough to work on. Are you ready to pray? God, thank you for speaking to us through your Word. I pray that all of us would just be bathing right now in your steadfast love. Your love is on us. You’ve proven that love on the cross. I pray if anybody is resisting you right now, running from you, that Lord, you would soften their hearts, draw them to yourself. Our eyes are on you. I pray specifically for those here who are apathetic and tend to inflate victory like “I’m good,” that you would use Judges 1 to bring a true humility. Yes, we’ve received so much, but we’re not home yet.

And I pray for many who are discouraged, who tend to deflate victory, who tend to just focus in on the failure and can’t move forward and, “I’m done because there’s iron chariots.” Lord, I pray that this time in Judges 1 would show us our greatest need, our deepest need is you. And you’re drawing us to yourself, and you’re transforming us from one degree of glory to another, little by little. I pray that we would not be like the servant in the parable of the talents who received his one talent and was paralyzed by fear and so hid his talent, assuming the worst about you. God, give us that confidence of Achsah to receive all that you have for us. Lord, I pray that if we’re holding anything back, that this morning would be a time of surrender. We’re not where we are ultimately going to be, but Lord, we’re not where we were. So, pour out your Spirit on us now as we respond in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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