Day 128

How to Live in High Definition

Wisdom Proverbs 11:19-28
New Testament John 5:31-47
Old Testament Judges 7:8b-8:35

Introduction

It was back in 1966 when England last won the football World Cup, yet I can still remember the moment. As children, we were watching the match on a black and white television set. We could never get a very good picture; it was always fuzzy and going into lines. We were quite happy with it since we did not know anything different. One day, we discovered all it needed was an aerial! Suddenly, we found that we could get clear and distinct pictures. Our enjoyment was transformed.

Now, not only do we have colour television, we can get high definition (HD). There are no fuzzy lines or distortions, and it produces a richer, bolder and more vibrant picture than ever before.

Rather than black and white, or even colour, Jesus offers you high-definition life. There are two Greek words for ‘life’. The word ‘bios’, from which we get the word ‘biological’ means the condition of being alive rather than dead – mere existence. The other word ‘zoe’ means the full, abundant, spacious, open-hearted, richness of life that Jesus speaks about – a life of fulfilment and purpose. This is life in high definition.

Wisdom

Proverbs 11:19-28

19 Truly the righteous attain life,
  but whoever pursues evil finds death.

20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
  but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
  but those who are righteous will go free.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
  is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
  but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
  another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous person will prosper;
  whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
  but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.

27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
  but evil comes to one who searches for it.

28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
  but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

Commentary

Enjoy the High-Definition life

The book of Proverbs sets out two paths: one leads to ‘death’ (v.19b); the other leads to ‘life’ (v.19a). The path that leads to death is the path of evil (v.19b), perversity (v.20a), wickedness (v.21a), meanness (v.24b), hoarding (v.26a) and trusting in wealth (v.28a).

The path that leads to life is for those who are righteous (vv.19,21). You are ‘righteous’ through your faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22).

In this passage we see a description of what this life is like. It is not mere existence. It is high-definition living. It means enjoying God’s delight (Proverbs 11:20b). It is a life of freedom (v.21b). It ‘ends only in good’ (v.23).

When you are generous, you are ‘enriched’. When you ‘refresh’ others, you are ‘refreshed’ (v.25).

This does not mean that life is without its difficulties, challenges and suffering. But ultimately, you will be crowned with blessing (v.26b). You will find goodwill (v.27a) and will ‘thrive like a green leaf’ (v.28b).

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you give me the righteousness of Christ by faith and put me on a path that leads to life.

New Testament

John 5:31-47

Testimonies About Jesus

31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing —testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Commentary

Encounter Jesus daily

If we fail to see that the Bible is about Jesus and a relationship with him, reading it can easily become a dry, academic and arid activity. Once you understand that it is all about Jesus, and you see that studying the Bible is a way to grow in your relationship with him, it becomes the source of life (v.40).

The way to find life is to come to Jesus. On numerous occasions, especially in John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to this life as ‘eternal life’ (for example, v.39). Eternal life comes from this relationship (v.40). It starts now and goes on forever. It is the high-definition life.

How can you know that Jesus really is who he says he is? As if in a court of law, Jesus calls four witnesses, as evidence, to support his case.

  1. The first witness Jesus calls is other people – in particular, John the Baptist (vv.31–35). John came as ‘a witness to testify’ (1:7). Today, there are more witnesses than ever before (over 2 billion) pointing to Jesus.
  2. The second witness Jesus calls is his own life work. This is a ‘weightier’ witness than the first one – it is the ‘very work the Father has given me to finish’ (5:35), which culminates in the resurrection of the crucified Christ who cries out on the cross, ‘It is finished’ (19:30).
  3. The third witness Jesus calls is the Father’s direct testimony (5:37). You too can experience his direct testimony today through his Spirit in your heart (15:26).
  4. The fourth witness Jesus calls is the Scriptures. The whole Bible is about Jesus and about coming into a relationship with him. Jesus says, ‘These are the Scriptures that testify about me’ (5:39). He says, ‘Moses… wrote about me’ (v.46).

It is possible to ‘study the Scriptures’ but miss the whole point. Jesus says to religious leaders, ‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life’ (vv.39–40). Every time you study the Bible, expect to encounter Jesus.

Even though there is ample evidence about Jesus, ultimately coming to him is an act of the will. And some, Jesus says, ‘refuse to come to me to have life’ (v.40). Why would anyone refuse?

Some are not willing to put God first in their lives (v.42). Others are more concerned about what people think than about what God thinks (v.44). Still others simply refuse to believe in spite of the evidence (v.47). ‘If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me’ (v.46, MSG).

Jesus touches our fundamental sin. We are continually seeking honour, glory and admiration from one another – seeking our own glory (v.44).

Do not worry about what other people think. What God thinks is what matters. Encounter Jesus again today and enjoy the full, abundant, spacious, open-hearted, high-definition life which Jesus offers.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, today I come to you – the source of life. As I study the Scriptures, may my heart burn within me as I encounter you.

Old Testament

Judges 7:8b-8:35

8b Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.

17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.”

So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they seized the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. 25 They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb . They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.

Zebah and Zalmunna

8Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian? ” And they challenged him vigorously.

2 But he answered them, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? 3 God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” At this, their resentment against him subsided.

4 Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it. 5 He said to the men of Sukkoth, “Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

6 But the officials of Sukkoth said, “Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?”

7 Then Gideon replied, “Just for that, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers.”

8 From there he went up to Peniel and made the same request of them, but they answered as the men of Sukkoth had. 9 So he said to the men of Peniel, “When I return in triumph, I will tear down this tower.”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a force of about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of the armies of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen. 11 Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the unsuspecting army. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them and captured them, routing their entire army.

13 Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of Sukkoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Sukkoth, the elders of the town. 15 Then Gideon came and said to the men of Sukkoth, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, ‘Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men? ’” 16 He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor? ”

“Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.”

19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.

21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

Gideon’s Ephod

22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.”

23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder. ” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)

25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

Gideon’s Death

28 Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land had peace forty years.

29 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live. 30 He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelek. 32 Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. 35 They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them.

Commentary

Examine the biblical examples

Gideon is listed in the New Testament as an example of someone who lived ‘by faith’ (Hebrews 11:32–33). He, therefore, received a foretaste of this ‘High–Definition’ life.

Gideon knew the Lord, who spoke to him and told him he was going to give him victory over the Midianites (Judges 7:9). Gideon ‘worshipped God’ (v.15) even before he had won the battle. This demonstrated his faith and inspired the others.

Such was Gideon’s faith that he went into battle with only 300 men – each with a torch in one hand and a trumpet in the other (‘leaving no chance to use swords’, v.20, AMP). Faith and confidence was not in themselves but in God, who gave them a great victory.

Whatever battles you are facing today, put all of your confidence and trust in God instead of in your own ability to cope. Like Gideon, resolve in faith to worship God ahead of the battle and walk with the boldness that comes from God-confidence. Whatever God has asked you to do may seem impossible for you, but it is not impossible for him.

Learn from studying the example of Gideon:-

  1. Wisdom in dealing with criticism
    When ‘the Ephraimites asked Gideon… “Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” they criticised him sharply’ (8:1). Gideon dealt with this criticism with great charm and tact. He said to them, ‘What have I accomplished compared to you?… What was I able to do compared to you?’ (vv.2–3a). And we are told, ‘At this, their resentment against him subsided’ (v.3b).

    On the whole, people want to be valued for what they do. They want to be included in God’s plans. Criticism may flow from a person who is feeling underused or undervalued. Once the Ephraimites realised that Gideon valued them and rated them highly, their criticism subsided.

    Sometimes, I forget the wisdom of this example. I respond to criticism in the wrong way. But I have been struck by how often, if we go to people and say, ‘I need your help’ (in effect, ‘what have I accomplished compared to you?’), their criticism subsides.

  2. Determination when exhausted
    ‘Gideon and his 300 men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit…’ (v.4). There are times in life when we feel exhausted. Most often it is wise to stop, rest and get refreshed. But there are some occasions when you just have to keep going. Presumably, Gideon’s strength came from the fact that the Spirit of the Lord had come upon him (6:34).

    The life of Gideon is an inspiration. But there is also a warning. After his great victory, he became overconfident and failed to consult God. He thought of a nice idea and went ahead. It turned out to be a disaster. He made a golden ephod that became ‘a snare to Gideon and his family’ (8:27).

    Although Gideon, like us all, was a fallible human being, he is listed in Hebrews as one of the great people of faith. Yet, you are better off than Gideon: ‘God had planned something better for us…’ (Hebrews 11:40). You can enjoy an even better life than Gideon. You can enjoy full, abundant, spacious, high-definition living by faith in Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that I can enjoy ‘high-definition living’, life in all its fullness, through faith in Jesus. Please give me, today, wisdom and energy through the power of your Holy Spirit within me.

Pippa adds

Judges 8:24–35

It is not a good idea to ask for a reward for doing God’s work. This ended up being a snare to Gideon and his family. Also, I’m not sure that all his wives and his concubine did him much good either. It is sad that, after all he did for God, Gideon did not pass on the ways of God to his children and the next generation. We need to finish well.

Verse of the Day

Proverbs 11:25

‘A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed’.
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References

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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