2nd Samuel is the “rest of the story”, and it is not preached as often as some other books. The stories of Nathan the prophet, Gad the Seer, and the book of Jasher were all part of the collaboration to make it possible. I’ve been around folks that don’t believe in all that “spirit stuff” and it strikes me as odd that we see lots of spiritual things in this  Old Testament book. Prophets and seers are in Gods’ word. Back in the day we were asked how long would the Spirit dwell among men and signs and wonders be in effect. Some said spiritual manifestations ended with the apostles, some said it ceased after Pentecost. I was taught from Ephesians 4:13-15 – “until we ALL attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. If you’ve done any ministry in the church lately you will know that all unity has not taken place and all knowledge has not been dispensed, we have a way to go. We need the Spirit, we need the offices, we need the gifts – some days more than others.  Unity in the church and the city is really important.

When you systematically study a book, you get to see the triumphs and the tragedies. We need to go through the entire book, so we learn all the lessons – not just the super-hero narratives or the victories but the suffering, pressures, etc. This book has a combination of both wins and losses.

This month, I was horrified by some of these stories and for some reason they  seemed so much more violent than I had realized.  I read numerous commentaries that talked about Davids’ dynasty and its place in history. I read about the pressure he was under and how he cracked under that pressure breaking Gods’ heart and the peoples resolve. It is a fine book of leadership. How many sermons have we heard on Davids’ mighty men? I don’t recall  however, ever hearing one about the wise woman in this book. She has challenged me.

There was one phrase that stuck in my heart and pulled me back to the text. I’ll apologize up front because this may seem like a soapbox or perhaps even a political appeal, but I promise you, it’s not– it is more of a passionate plea to step up and to obey God.

Listen to this story in 2 Samuel 22. The context is that Davids military leader Joab has a rebel (Sheba) and his men, cornered in the town of Abel-Beth Maacah. They have chased him inside, with his troops, and they are building a way to go in and capture him and possibly all the fortified cities inhabitants.

Then came the desperate cry of a woman in the city, “Hear, hear, say I pray you, unto Joab, come hither that I may speak with thee”. Wise here does not just mean smart but one who is learned, prudent, crafty, shrewd, and educated. It is also used of sailors who know how to maneuver their ships. She’s been around awhile and understands how things work. She cries out twice HEAR, HEAR. The soldiers let her speak – they made room for her to say what she had to say but first she intreated, beseeched and requested that she be heard. This was her Esther moment.

The word for city in Hebrew is “ir” (pronounced ear). This woman in the city is yelling out Shama! Shama! Which is an imperative and means listen, listen or hear, hear. She is imploring and intreating them to hear her. She pleads and demands that they come near her so she can speak with them.

Her city is besieged. People will die if this continues. She asks the question –”Art thou Joab”? He answered, “I AM”.  David’s right hand man is on the scene.   

Then she said unto him –HEAR- (an imperative), the words of thine handmaid and Joab answers, “I do hear”.He’s defensive but still listening. Then she spoke saying, “They were wont to speak in old times, saying they shall surely ask counsel at Abel; and so, they ended the matter. I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel; thou seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel; why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?”

Hold up now- Joab these are the good guys. He needs to slow his roll because he is about to make a big mistake and she points out to him exactly who they are dealing with. It is a crucial moment in time.

He tells her I AM LISTENING. His response is like that of a child being addressed by his mother which is very interesting. She is thwarting his military advance and does not seem to be what he was expecting.

Joab answers “far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy”.

…”then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the King.”  Note that these relationships would have been fostered and developed before this crucial moment.

Who saved the city? The wise woman and her plan. Salvation came to the city because this woman intervened. Her skills were not known but our hint is that she was a mama, which speaks volumes to me. Her physical muscles may or may not have been large, but her emotional muscles surely were in that moment. Her title was unknown and yet she interceded, negotiated, and won deliverance for the people within the city walls. That’s impressive on many levels.

Yet, she has no name, and we are never told her credentials. We read of David’s men after this story. We are told her attributes- faithful and peaceable.  We are told that she is wise. Gail Wallace from the Junia project tells us about her title, “Wise” in her article on Abel- Beth Maacah:[1]

“Some scholars believe the “Wise Woman” title represented a civic leadership role that existed during the period of the judges and early monarchy. It appears this role was filled by women known for wise judgment, rhetorical skills, and the ability to negotiate difficult situations (see Camp, Frymer-Kensky, and Youngblood²). The story of this wise woman’s approach to a critical situation (and Joab’s response) gives some clues about this wise woman tradition. The decision by English translators to change this title to “a woman who was wise” or a “wise woman” (no caps) obscures this possibility.”

No name lady. If you read the entire book she really stands out. She didn’t cause the fight; she didn’t ask for the fight and yet she steps up and brings salvation to her city through her negotiation and position. It seems she is a mighty prayer woman –but the text does not tell us that. I do not know of any woman who would have the guts to step up and prevent a national disaster that is not a praying woman, just saying. Her credentials are peaceful and faithful. Good qualities –and they give her some serious credibility.  

Mighty or wise? She was pro-David, pro-Israel, and savvy in negotiation. Her appeal was not to seek the diviners or other gods but to declare her Gods character and allegiance to Him – I am peaceable and faithful. Respect. She saved her city by speaking up. She saved David’s integrity by preventing the blood guilt that would have landed on his soldiers. To Joab’s credit, he listened. Did he know about the  woman from Tekoa in chapter 14? The Bible includes these stories, and we would be wise to “hear” them as well. This wise womans’  leadership was essential to Israel. I’m not taking a woman stand or a political stand here, this is the word of God – 2 Samuel. I am saying that these stories need to be added to our repertoire and given for encouragement for both men and women.

How do these passages impact our political landscape? How will these examples inspire the way we pray or vote for our city or national leaders? Are there people using their influence, skills and prayer in our churches and cities today?

David in 2 Samuel 22 goes on to tell us that he was compassed with waves of death and that the floods of ungodly men made him afraid. What did he do? He called upon the Lord, he cried to his God and God heard his voice out of His temple and his cry entered the ears of His God. There is no greater power than to say that you have the very ear of the God who created the Universe. Power and strength.

In the next verses we get to see the “underbelly” of this strong leader. We see his secrets for success:

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me; and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also upright before Him and have kept myself from my iniquity.” He speaks on and then says in vs.29, “For thou art my lamp, o Lord and the Lord will lighten my darkness. He speaks eloquently and passionately letting us know that God is his strength and power, and that God makes his way perfect.

This month as an object lesson, we got the boys lights for their heads so they could explore at night and even ride their bikes. They felt more safe since they could see where they were going. They could go more quickly because they could see anything in their path. It makes the darkness bearable to be able to know what is coming up. In a world full of LED’s we miss the message that in that day, they could not travel, fight or do anything without oil or lamps. They were essential. It meant life or death. In earlier chapters we hear the people saying that David was their lamp. He could have rejoiced in that and taken all the credit but in the end of this book he glorifies God and lets us know the source of his strength. God was David’s avenger. God was David’s shield and salvation. God was David’s lamp.

The lamps of that day were shallow bowls filled with oil and a wick to light. They would hold the bowls in their hand and sometimes put them on the wall to see in the night and darkness. David led the people in victory because he was following after God and his ways. He demonstrated Gods ways for them to follow. They called him a lamp because he was a vessel filled with Gods oil being lit up for Gods purposes. There would be no light if there was no oil or no vessel. David led them to victory because David was following God– until he wasn’t and then he had to choose his own consequence. We can’t understand grace unless we understand the consequences of sin in the Old Testament. In spite of all this, David continued to inquire of the Lord and seek His heart. That is a great sign of good leadership.

He finishes this book by telling us the “Spirit of the Lord spoke by him, and the Spirits word was in my tongue”. The God of Israel said, He that ruleth over men MUST BE JUST, ruling in the FEAR of God. Gods’ requirements for leadership are straightforward. Wait a minute Renae this is just a spiritual blog, are you saying Gods interested in politics? He is interested in the salvation of the city, the nation and whether God uses a learned woman who is wise, a military leader who is listening or 30 rough mighty men, God wants to be our shield and salvation. Those who rule over men MUST BE JUST, ruling in the fear of God. You decide and please let these passages impact how you vote.

David’s dynasty will continue and one day the PERFECT ruler will appear, and He will tell His disciples YOU are the light of the world. You are the ones who will bring salvation. You are the ones who will shine in the darkness. You are the ones who will be filled with my Spirit to show others the way.

The wise woman had spiritual authority because she was first peaceable and faithful. Joab had spiritual authority because he was listening and stopped to hear what was being said. David had spiritual authority because he was representing Gods light instead of his own – filled with the spirit and shining Gods power in the midst of a very cruel and evil world.

Is it dark where you live? Is it dark where you go to school? Is it dark where you go to church?

Call upon the Lord. Let Him be your lamp and power and strength.
Who is worthy to be praised? Who needs salvation from their enemies?

Are we hearing, are we listening?

One city, a resourceful, unified city for God. That comes from leaders in unity, women and mothers praying and leading in the gifts and strength and wisdom God has given them. Mighty men standing on their walls in intercession and faith. Walls of division and suspicion broken down. God almighty lifted up. May we be the lamp of our families, churches, cities, and nation to illuminate Jesus.

For further study, read Proverbs 2. Lord, give us your wisdom and light the path you have placed before us. Eph.2:10.

Standing with you,

Renae Roche 2023







[1] The Junia project: Gail Wallace March 31, 2014


1 Samuel 

Remember when the stores were boarded up, the protests were in full swing, the news was full of riots and such? It seemed like things couldn’t get worse – and then they did. Dark days, violence, crime, etc. have been overshadowed recently by threats of wars and natural disasters. We look back to the darkness of the book of Judges and the chaotic time when “everybody did what was right in their own eyes.” Then, we reflected on a man whose name meant “My God is king – Elimelech” as he moves away from God’s people to obey a calling, we aren’t privy to hear about in the book of Ruth.

Behind the scenes – God was preparing a Messianic line. He was constantly at work. Behind the scenes God was preparing a people for Himself, behind the scenes God was getting ready to reposition the Ark which symbolized His presence but only we, the 2023 people, get to see things full circle. We can trust the God of this story because we have heard it many, many times, right? 

I’m not sure why God allows us to get a glimpse into the life of little Samuel but I’m so very glad we can. Long before the prophet of the hour shows up, we get to see the backdrop. Peninnah (Elkanah’s first wife) has several kids, and she mercilessly persecutes Hannah – Samuel’s mom. It is not just on any day – she ramps things up every time Hannah goes to worship the Lord with her husband. It’s intentional and very painful. Hannah could probably tolerate the jabs but the discouragement right before going to the Lord was just too much. One day, she stood up. Yes, it means rising from a sitting position, but she also stands up and gets some fire in her heart because she cries out to God with such zeal, the priest notices. Have you seen those types of prayers in your church recently?

There are wonderful stories in this book about the prophet who hears God. He pauses to hear, then he obeys. Little Samuel is redirected from the old cleric to the very presence of God to find out what God will say. The God we saw in the previous books is now focused on speaking and the characters in our story are called to hear what God is saying. What is God saying to YOU today? Lift it all up to the Lord, who HEARS you when you pray.

In Psalm 25 we hear David praying to:

Lead me in Thy truth and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day.” (verse 5), and “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on Thee.” (verse 21)

The rest of 1 Samuel tells us about the tribes uniting as one and God selecting Samuel to be a spiritual leader and then anointing Saul as King to be their national leader. Imagine being an anointed, spiritual leader who does a great job only to be replaced by one that tries to kill you! Samuel must have had some serious questions for God in his prayer life! At one point the god of the Philistines comes into view (Dagon), and we see a hilarious contrast between their god and the living God of Israel. 

I got stuck on the story about Hannah:

10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

Hannah had deep anguish. Her pressures drove her to her prayers. She did not have the ability to change her situation. There was no Facebook, therapy, anti-depressants, support groups, etc. Her plan of action – She wept bitterly. She did not hide her hurt from God so she must have trusted He was a good God. SHE PRAYED and she kept on praying. “See Your servant God, see my misery God, remember me God, give me a son God.”

What Hannah did not do: She did not call her girlfriends to attend her pity party. She did not blame her husband or priest or family. She did not go to a conference. She did not burn her garments, protest, or run through the village telling everyone her opinion. 

She took her heart, her pain, to her Lord. 

She poured out her pain and her requests to her Lord.

This is not a platitude or biblical anecdote or panacea. Hannah received her request – she was blessed with a son. God answered her prayer. It may seem simplistic or even childlike to say it like this but:

We hurt, we pray, we receive our answer, we thank God. 

The world was full of chaos, power struggles, violence, and a huge vacuum of leadership. It was devoid of a prophetic voice. Long before Suzanna Wesley came on the scene, or Ruth Bell Graham or your mama, there was a barren woman who would change the nation with her prayer and spiritual care for her anointed son. That’s huge stuff. Parenting on steroids so to speak. 

But first. . . . She was disgusted with her plot in life, her situation. She had to get tired of the persecution, tired of the opinions and sneers, tired of the carnal thinking and worn-out judgments. When she finally had her fill of the pain and sorrow – Hannah stood UP. Not just physically, she stood up to reach out to God. God saw it. God heard it, Eli witnessed it. God answered.

Where are your tears, modern-day Hannah? Where are your snot-filled Kleenexes by your chair? Where are your dog-eared Bible pages and prayer journal entries? Have you had enough sweet Hannah? Have you had your fill of the way things are yesterday, today, and tomorrow? God’s waiting. . . . Lift it all up to the Lord, who HEARS you when you pray.

“Oh, my people, trust in Him at all times; pour out your hearts to Him; for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8

 Now where does it say in the Bible to turn off the culture, avoid CNN, collect a pile of bricks, join the xyz political party? It does say Pray, beg Him to remember you and your plight. Then receive the answer.

Where are your tears Hannah? Has God heard your anguish, your cries and pain?

Hannah named little Samuel “Heard of God.” She trained him to meet every problem with prayer. Hannah could not see the glory that would fill Samuel in the latter days. She could not see the future where Samuel would prophesy over the nation and leaders. She could not foresee that he would anoint a King named Saul or a ruddy shepherd boy named David who would stand up to Goliath. 

All she had was pain, tears, and anguish. That was enough. 

And she gave them to God. 

Dear Reader, we cannot all be Samuels but we can all be like Hannah. Do not keep bottled up in your heart what belongs to your heavenly father. Those tears are for Him. Those words are stored up for Him. HE’s not shy, or hesitant or afraid to hear. He is listening to every single whisper, whimper or sigh and He loves you. He wants to hear from you – every battle, situation, circumstance that causes you pain.

Samuel would forever be God’s mouthpiece and the answer to prayer for those in the time of trial. He would be the prophet impacting Saul, Jonathon, David, and the Messianic line. But he would not have come, he would not have been birthed or anointed or released if one woman had not made the choice to:

STAND UP, enough, I will not live in the prison of my thoughts and complaints and other’s opinions ANYMORE!  

PRAY – I will not stifle my voice, my heart, my wishes, and dreams or sacrifice them on the altar of convenience or complacency ANYMORE.  Enough is enough.

Lord – we need more Hannahs in our land today! Our families and nations need those prayers and tears.

Space prevents me from writing about all the other wonderful stories, but for you men reading this, the ones who don’t like to blubber like babies or cry in public, there are also male role models in this prophetic book that cover the lifespan of Samuel, the prophet and two Kings. You can be like Hannah, or you can take your cues from the valiant men in the end of the book. The valiant ones who did the right thing even when no one told them to do what was right. These valiant men were distinguished from the rest of the nation because they followed hard after God, they were loyal, and they CRIED OUT to God – with prayer and fasting.

Dear brothers, push that hamburger away. Find yourself wandering around the altar and through the grocery store looking for soup and fruit instead of at home looking through Netflix and ESPN. God waits to HEAR your words. He wants you to HEAR HIS words. Skip some meals and FIND HIM. Your family and nation need you desperately to fast and pray!  Lift it all up to the Lord, who HEARS you when you pray.

Maybe we take a break from crazy news discussions for a while and cry out to a holy God for trans-formation. It’s time for a new identity – one that is like Hannah and these valiant men. Biblically it begins in moments like they had – with great pressure, not pretty, not polite, not PC, but essential and desperately needed in this hour. It starts with fasting and prayer.  God doesn’t need our “read on the culture” as much right now as He wants a “read” on our hearts and for us to hear HIS heartbeat. 

We can leave 1 Samuel and say, “what a nice little book on calling and leadership” or we can stand up and follow Hannah’s and the valiant men’s example and earnestly wait on God to do miracles in our homes, nation, and world. 

Anybody got some pain they want to lift up? He’s listening.

Anybody got some irritation or anguish they want to lift up? That’s the stuff God is looking for.

Anybody want to experience breakthroughs? Fasting prepares us to hear Him.


This month’s post is shorter, and I didn’t include any fancy theological arguments. It is child simple but PhD appropriate. These folks in this book were wise – they cried out to the only One who could change things – God. Cry out, fast – prepare your heart to hear from God. We can apply this book right now, the only question is, are we tired of being barren, tired of being persecuted? Sick and tired of being sick and tired as some would say. Lift it all up to the Lord, who HEARS you when you pray.

You’ll like the results. Please do share them.


                                                                             “The Other Ruth” — Orpah

Along the dusty road of Bethlehem, one ordinary day, Joseph’s parents (Jacob and Rachel) traveled many years ago. God had gifted them with another child, and they more than likely were anticipating this child with great joy. As they traveled along that road, Rachel went into labor and scripture tells us that she succumbed to the pains of labor and on that path, died. Genesis 35 tells the story of the baby first named “son of my sorrow,” then renamed “Benjamin, son of my right hand” by the father, who was left alone to care for this little guy. It was a shocking, jarring story before Joseph’s disappearance.

The road to Bethlehem was traveled by two of the greats—Jacob and Rachel. They and this road were famous. Stories were written, songs were sung that rehearsed their story. The road to Bethlehem was not exactly a place a pregnant woman would want to travel. The story may have even elicited fear. Years later that same path was traversed by another ordinary couple named Elimelech and Naomi—going the opposite direction. Perhaps their hometown thought they were going outside of God’s will or providence. Perhaps they doubted God’s call to Elimelech to go to Moab, creating even more distress as they traveled on. The background to their story is that they were related to a people waiting for Messiah. There was a promise attached to their descendants—but in the darkness of the time of the Judges, a time when a deliverer was needed most, Elimelech went the opposite direction. Naomi had a lot of explaining to do with her women friends. Did this couple somehow miss the prophecies? Did they know of the coming Messiah? When they traveled, they brought their two children named sickly and wasting away. The community was more than likely affected by this change of events. It limited the pool of possibilities. We are not told why their sons were named as they were, but their names were not Messianic type names. Was God worried, upset? Did their departure mean His plan would stop? It all but looked that way to those who did not know God’s  plan. We know on this side of it, that it was providential to seek a young lady whose descendants would bear a future king. An ordinary lady who we will come to learn  was very extraordinary indeed. Only it was not to be in this season of time.

Elimelech’s name means, “My God is King.” This was in the time of the Judges when there was no king and the people continued to rebel against God. It sounded pretentious, his name sounded like his God was higher or better than the ones in Moab. His wife, named pleasant one—Naomi—had accompanied him on this trip with their two sons, but they were only planning to stay for a little while. Days turned into months and soon ten years had gone by. God’s plans are never thwarted.

What greeted them in Moab? A lush, green hill area that provided some food. The culture was led by cultic beliefs and wicked practices. Elimelech and Naomi would have practiced the Jewish festivals and Sabbath. Community Feasts, dancing, fellowship, scripture, worship of the one true God, blessing others with gifts and kindness faded into the sunset as they trudged on to Moab. 

Moabites were known for their wicked deeds and idolatrous worship of the god Chemosh. He was capricious and cruel. His followers practiced human sacrifice, killing of infants, and more. Elimelech’s customs would have been very calm in comparison to the wild parties and celebrations these people engaged in week after week. The two boys grew up and became men. They chose for themselves foreign wives—even though that was forbidden to do so. Considering the prophecies, this may have been heartbreaking for Naomi. Was this part of her life becoming bitter, disillusioned?

We are not told that Naomi continued her worship and festival celebrations, but it would be reasonable to say she did. Somehow the new brides got a flavor for Naomi’s God and His character. We are not told whether Elimelech continued in his faith and traditions or if he became jaded and joined in with the celebrations of Chemosh.

Syncretism quickly kills out what is true, like a cancer.

What we are told, is that two women joined their family system and in a culture that killed infants, God in His sovereignty allowed both women to be barren, thus stopping the blood line of Elimelech’s family while in Moab.

Our family studied each precious word in Ruth and there is more material than would fit into this blog. We hope to share it in a different format in the days ahead. For the blog I wanted to write about something I did not read in any of the commentaries. Many say there are three main characters in this book, but actually there are eight: Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon, Chilion, Orpah, Ruth, the other kinsman and Boaz.

Why is Orpah left out of most commentaries? Her life certainly tells a story worth hearing. We have volumes on every other character except her. The verb endings may suggest Aramaic language or feminine authorship.  It no longer is believed to be Samuel. Some say it is possibly his mom or another author. There is great care to look at things any grandma worth her salt would notice. Hmm?

Orpah lived in two cultures—straddling Jewish festivals and cultic pagan practices led by Chemosh followers. Her husband Chilion was named the “wasting away” one so probably not a big win in the trophy department. She is not as impressed with Naomi, at least not to devote herself for her entire life as Ruth had done. Her husband’s character had not made a big “I must convert” impression on her. This young wife lost her father-in-law, who once knew the God of Israel. She may have heard of the Messianic promises and had a glimmer of hope that through their union (Chilion and Orpah), Messiah would come into the world. Naomi left feeling empty but Orpah, her whole life was empty. Her husband died; she was barren. Her new world was shattered.

“Grief is the loudest silence I have ever heard” P. Ryters once wrote. Silence would be Orpah’s world as she did not have a relationship with El Shaddai. She had not known Him to be mighty as Naomi had known. Orpah was still grieving, away from her husband’s family and her family was  wicked to some degree. Any inspiration from the men from Bethlehem in her life died with them, and Naomi, the pleasant one, had now lost hope. Where did her God go? Why isn’t He rescuing her? Just when Orpah may have started to believe, Naomi falls into discouragement and depression on some level.

When we cannot see God, when we cannot feel God, we must speak and stand on what we remember. Those moments are critical for others who are watching. We may be their only lifeline. We cannot let the enemy of our souls use us to do his bidding in times like these. The storm may not be about us; it may be about those watching on the sidelines.

Proverbs 26:11 tells us “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.” Orpah did not have the wisdom of Proverbs as it had not yet been written. She could use that excuse, but we cannot.

Orpah follows alongside Ruth down the road. Was it then, on that familiar road, that perhaps the story of Rachel is shared? Was it then the reality of robbers and criminals hiding in the shadows became a reality to eclipse her high hopes? Did she question if she could really live in the religious world of Bethlehem where they were going? Was she more afraid of that or missing a carnal life back in Moab? She could go either way on that road. Weary, grief-stricken Naomi implores her to go back. Insists even. She addresses her possible false hope that Messiah will come through their family line because Naomi absolutely cannot have children any longer, and remember Rachel? Orpah (name meaning gazelle), kisses her and bolts.

Relieved she no longer has to comfort the two women in their grief, or face a new culture with all its difficulties, Orpah will go home, alone, to deal with her unbearable grief over the loss of her entire family system. She chose isolation and what was familiar rather than fellowship and what was unknown. The road home may have been shorter—but it was not better. Nor was it holy. Her two friends faded in the distant sunset and her moral compass was still set to the cruel, perverse god Chemosh.

I write about her in this short story because not all stories end in a baby being born into a Messianic line with grand reveal parties and celebration. Orpah could be any one of us. Ordinary, but with options. This was a barren woman, overcome by grief not once but three times over. I would suggest five times over as her closest women friends Naomi and Ruth walked away from her and stepped into their new destinies. The Sabbath candle would now be her only representation of the God of Israel in her life—IF she continued to light it.

What are your choices today? Have you come to a fork in the road with who you will serve? Who will you follow? What will you do with your grief or new set of circumstances? We can learn from this woman. She obeyed her mother-in-law, but she did not obey her mother-in-law’s God. She had hope—but it was in what she wanted and willed, rather than in trusting a Sovereign God and HIS will.

In our Sunday school class, we have been talking about conditional clauses. In 1 Kings 3 God tells Solomon, “If you do this, then I will do that.” In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God tells them “If my people, who are called by my name humble themselves (follow my voice), seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will. . . .” If you read on to verse twenty-two the story takes a dark turn. It reflects the period of the Judges when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Consequences are heavy when one turns from God. IF Orpah had followed Naomi and her God, Orpah’s outcome would have been far better.

We spend much time talking about the beauty of the Ruth story, but there is a strong case for looking at the two women’s lives and the contrast of choices they made on that ordinary road on that ordinary day. At the crossroads, we see two decisions that were vastly different.

Today—you can choose Christ and follow Him, worshipping, seeking fellowship and asking Him to be your God—or—you can go back to serving idols and living in wild, wicked debauchery. I’m going to spell this out, even though that might not make some comfortable. Debauchery means getting drunk, high, living in open fornication, adultery, stealing, lying or any violation of the Ten Commandments. You are either living holy or living a lie.  There’s not a side road or detour. It’s a narrow road. We all choose life or death. Walking away doesn’t end our story, it just determines the finale. Choose better.

Orpah will eventually get remarried and live in a land that is not God fearing. Other writings from that time and possibly a verse in Samuel suggest that she is given four sons who become warriors. One of them you might recognize—Goliath. The reach to exterminate the birth line of the soon-coming King of Israel continued even up to that battlefield. One moves toward victory and the other moves toward defeat.  Our decisions affect our lives, our children, our communities and more. Choose better.

Is there a place in this story about God’s loving kindness for Orpah? Yes, and it was offered. She had free will and a choice. It is understandable that she was disappointed. It is understandable that she had much grief and made a hasty decision in that grief. Who would fault her for wanting to stay where it was safe, familiar? Her parents still lived there; her traditions may have called her back. What must be remembered in this short story, with long impact, is that we are ALL given choices. Hear the call of “whosoever will.” We can follow and go forward despite much fear and anguish, trusting God has a plan we may not see, or we can run back to our idols and our own ways. Choose better.

Ruth converted when she said, “Your God will be my God too.” Ruth dared to trust. Ruth had a glimpse of a loving, sovereign God and left everything to find Him, to seek that God. Naomi did so out of sheer desperation and memory power. How you return is not as important as IF you return. Ruth and Naomi chose to go for God, will you?

“Jesus, I give you my life. I repent for my sins and idols. I turn away from my past. I want to follow you. I want your people to be my people. I want you to be my God for life. I surrender to you and trust in Your sovereign plan. Make me born from above into Your heavenly family today I pray.

Please let me know if you said that prayer. I want to introduce you to something called the Roman Road, which will help as you walk in a new direction. Great things can be ahead. IF you turn to Him and follow, THEN . . . He will lead and bless you. Choose Best.

Walking with you,

Renae Roche ©2023



Our family loves studying the word of God together, but this month was a bit intense. It made for some odd morning devotions. I am not sure if the nightly news was more heinous or the book of Judges. Violence, treachery, cruelty, and horrendous acts of murder were daily reminders that we need more than a leader, we need a Savior. The beauty of going through the Bible systematically is that you cannot erase the bad parts or pick and choose what you want to read—or obey. It works itself into your body, soul, and mind when it becomes central to your life. After doing this for many years, I was surprised how many new things jumped out in the text. It is possible that we are in new territory in this generation so things make sense now that we could not appreciate in the past. My big takeaway was this:

Instead of looking at the violence, crime, and bloodshed in the text, I looked for God. The gruesome stories when I had read this in the past seemed to overshadow Him. They even caused me to wonder where He was in the midst of them. Then I looked in my own life and saw how trials were eclipsing what He was doing in our lives. Sometimes we want to have great faith, but challenges dim our hope. Many are speaking about the “end of the age.” The prevailing thought is that things are going to continually get worse. Conspiracies, prophecies, opinions may be right to some extent but there seems to be those who are also adding to the script in this fear-mongering culture.

Judges, in the very first chapter, gives us an intro for the rest of the book. Hear it afresh today: “After the death of Joshua, the Israelites (no mediator mentioned) asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?” This implied a collective prayer meeting. Good start. . . .

Looking back at Israel’s journeys, we realize that again and again and again, God’s people ignored His voice and word. Here, at the outset there is a people pausing to find God’s wisdom for who is to be their leader and how they are to proceed. That is significant once we realize the answer came before the darkness. Timely? I believe so. Do we need to choose a leader, to ask God who is to go in first? Do we need collectively, as a family, church, or nation to seek God? Do we need His wisdom? Are we wise enough to pause and listen to what He has to say? It does not take a scholar to realize that if we do not do that—a period of time worse than the Judges, will soon be upon us. In this present darkness, that is clear. When I recalled reading this book, this first promise was not even on the list in times past.

Here is my favorite verse in the book: “The Lord answered, ‘Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.’” Remember Judah? They marched and they worshipped but most of all—they obeyed.

We can read that and immediately see a promise. Israel was in the age of the Judges, enduring suffering for over four hundred years. Moses, in comparison, looks like a track star at this point with his forty-year journey! Come on guys, how long are we going to go around this same mountain? Now, it stretched out into four hundred years—murder, mayhem, hopelessness, cruelty, darkness, violence, rape, and just pure evil. Pure evil? In spite of the atrocities, beams of light can still be seen of God’s movement.

The key: the Lord answered. He heard; he heard what they asked. He was listening, He was present, and He ANSWERED! This God is unlike any other God. He is not dumb, deaf, or weary. He showed Himself to be an active listener, active responder. He HEARD their prayers. The next twenty chapters will look like proof after proof that God had forsaken them, left them. Like a parent who gives a command and then sits back to wait and see if it will be followed, God continued to watch. If ONE person would have paused, if ONE person would have looked back, if ONE person would have remembered that at the beginning of this very dark period, God sent them and gave them direction, things might have gone very different. If someone dared to ask God what His opinion was, what HIS will was for them, they could refocus. Where were the people recounting the promise of victory? Where were memorial stones to mark this word of the Lord? Had they forgotten how to remember? God made them a promise—“I have given (past tense) the land into their hands.” They transitioned from one leader Joshua to Judah and his crew. God gave the order, they just had to walk it out.

We think we are way different than these folks but the crime rates and situations in our land say otherwise. So, how do we remember? Psalm 2:1 says, “he delights in the Law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.” Meditate means to study, examine, ponder, and reflect—to speak and mutter. If someone had done that regarding this first prayer and response, it may have served to remind them that God had spoken—that He answered them and gave them the truth they needed to stand on. We pray—He answers. We do what He says, He speaks more. I think that may be the part they (and we) forget. When in doubt, go back to square one and find out what you missed. Can you repeat that please? What did you say? Seeking God should not be a one-time event but an ongoing process.

If you want a double dose of this verse play Elevation’s new song “Trust in God.” I heard it after reflecting on this chapter and it refreshed my heart greatly. The friend who introduced it has lived its words during a season of suffering and her light continues to shine. Amid darkness and trials, it is AMAZING to realize God hears us and answers. I have been soaking in the song line “I sought the Lord and He heard, and He answered.” Maybe the hero leaders, these Judges, held on to God’s original word? Some of them were even blessed with visitations and reminders. God is faithful and hears our prayers.

Instead of rehearsing all the hardships of this book this time around, I wanted to know where God was and His expectations of His people before, during, and after these dark days. I spent some time meditating on these verses: “The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, ‘Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you, into yours.” So, the Simeonites went with them. This reads like a narrative, and I am sure my Bible teachers will appreciate a recommendation to understand it as such, but I am also a parent and a minister. Let me share the practical lesson written here that you may not get from just reading it as history. This battle plan—seek God, listen, for His response is wonderful but when you add—gather the troops and let us do this together—it puts meat on those bones. You succeed when you join with others.  Not with great ideas but with Jesus and His kingdom plan. This means first God and then sold-out folks who have your back and are willing to go into the fray with you. More than just a journal entry, this is their formula for winning. Come with us and we will fight for you also. Teamwork makes the dream work may have started long before John Maxwell! Go team Judah! Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Although this next verse is not considered a main point, at least not in most commentaries, I do believe it was placed in this chapter to show us a different version of “taking the land” and God’s reward system. And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.”13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” What a businessperson and leader. She was not timid in her request. Come on somebody! Faith wells up into bold actions. So, Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. In that day and age this was amazing! Consider the livestock that needed water as well as the military crew. What a beautiful inheritance—The father choosing to bless the daughter—directly. She asked for what she needed, and she received it. This is the backdrop for all the other Judges. What is possible, when we go to the Father and ASK!

This is Joshua’s buddy Caleb—the one who spied out the land. A spy certainly knows who is most likely to win his contest, right? I bet Aksah had amazing stories of grapes and wars and winning. They stand as a shining example, amid much despair and heartbreak. It is at the forefront, in the beginning of this desperately ugly and bloody book. What a contrast. It was her father’s good pleasure to give her of his kingdom. She asked, He answered and gave the land. We miss a lot if we doubt God’s character or stare at the enemy wreaking havoc instead of the goodness of the Father.

What are you staring at in your world today? Is it the Delight of God? The eyes of Jesus? The movement of the precious Holy Spirit? What you look for—you see. What you pray for will be answered but you first must turn from the violence and drama and go where real answers are given. See Psalm 16:11—take a minute and put that on a 3×5 card or a mirror. Get it deep down in your soul and share it with others. Actively shine this week. Memorize it, sing it, text it. It comes after a very dark verse.

God set the leaders (Judges) in place to help the people take the land. He set up women and men to lead. Theological Point—God does not change—no matter what denomination you are in. They failed time after time after time because they forgot what He said and did not do exactly what He told them. Leaving out instructions is just as costly as ignoring them. That is serious—then and now. It is risky. It proved tragic. The people in the book of Judges often ignored His warnings. The last verse in this tragedy says, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

While focusing on tragedy and failure in Judges we got caught up in watching the underwater sub tragedy. It was so sad. Some called it an epic failure. They ignored every heart check, scientific warning, and protocol, just to view a past shipwreck. The Titanic was a textbook case of stubborn hearts and self-will. Sound familiar? My Navy husband gave us a play by play as it was taking place. He commented, “the deep ocean is very unforgiving” and in his eyes I realized they would not be returning home. Those in charge stated they did not “need” fifty-plus-year-old white, ex-military guys and planned to do their own thing. It was short-sighted and arrogant to not connect with the Coast Guard or Navy. Innovation does not need to cancel out education. Sound advice was not only refused but mocked. It was more than ironic, it was chilling. We also may have similar stories on lesser scales. Stories of past sins, mistakes, failures. Or maybe refusing support and help? If we learn from our and other’s mistakes, they can teach us, but if we keep going back to view or forcing ahead without caution—it is to our detriment. Judges helps us understand each of these dynamics and their outcomes.

God will never fail. He is constant, merciful, and unlimited.

I also want to point out that one of the people who came alongside them was a source of joy we may not recognize at first glance, but the people of that day certainly would. “The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.”  We may be tempted to gloss over it to get to the deeper stories of Jael, Deborah, and Sampson. If we were visited by a great leader, a hero who encouraged us, we would be strengthened to possess our promised lands as well. Gather around those on the frontlines and stand with them. Oh, the value of praying and fellowshipping saints!

When I was in seminary a solid, godly mentor of mine came to visit me. She heard my heart, visited my house, and prayed with me. I learned things that weekend that still impact me in powerful ways to this day. It made my dark days brighter and helped me to shine on. Yes, I want visits like that, but I also want to mature and be that for other people, especially as the days grow darker. Find someone older and someone younger. Do not wait 403 years to obey—make some calls today.

We are not all that different from the Israelites. The God that listened to them, is waiting to listen, in this dark age with horrific events unfolding—to the weary, heart-heavy likes of you and me. What will He say? Who will listen and obey? His directive then and to us today is that we are to do what He has given us to do, today. Who will partner with His plan to brighten the landscape of His will, as He plays out His Kingdom plan in this generation?

When you go to prayer—remember confident Aksah—who boldly trusted that her good father would give her what she asked of him. She stated her request. Not to another person or through another person but directly to her father. I believe our good Father is more than willing to give us what we request. We must turn away from evil and remind ourselves that God is sovereign and goes with us to accomplish His purposes in the earth. That brings victory. He promises.

Anne Graham Lotz wrote in Worship Makes a Difference:

In the storm, You are our Anchor.
In the face of terrorism, You are our Shield.
In time of war, You are our Peace.
In our weakness, You are our Strength.
In our grief, You are our Comfort.
In our despair, You are our Hope.
In our confusion, You are our Wisdom.

No matter the trial, we look for God to send us and help us possess the land. Keep meditating, worshipping, praying—God is listening, and His track record is that He will answer and respond with instruction. Let us know about your journey, so we can stand with you.


*Special thanks to editor Virginia Bridges

It is difficult for a nation when one president leaves and another steps in. Even when it goes smoothly. Whether it be a king or any change of leader. It can be clean and swift, a coup d’état or a nightmare. Power will shift in the rank and file, not just in the top leadership. This book is reflective of that. There are land assignments and military conquests and genealogy notes. Who would have ever thought Rahab would become part of the victory crew? Or her children the future relatives of Jesus?

In our generation we can see all these things with a front seat view. We have the republicanites and the democratites and the monarchites, with great variation. Our hearts get swayed through emotion, shared history and the possibility of financial changes. In modern times we have dueling tribes and family clans also, not safe enough to mention here. Back in the day the old- time saints would sing, “whose side are you leaning on?” New to this song, I was not sure if it meant a theological issue or battle over new carpet in the sanctuary.

I remember as a child reading Dr. Seuss’ book The Sneetches and getting a clear understanding of most of life. It was good preparation for current culture. Now there are so many options for sides there is no majority, not even for those who are blue or red. So how can this help us today? Joshua, and all those being human at any time—are all subject to jealousy, sides, power mongering and pride. It is literally in our DNA.

One of my favorite leaders recently shared a sermon contrasting disobedient Eve with obedient Mary. My sanctified imagination wondered all week–what was her excuse? Eve, I mean. There was no peer pressure, no culture war, no nightly news to sway her. No, even her amazing garden savvy, nature-loving husband could not be blamed. Her internal pressure or “level” was set correctly. So was his. Truthfully, she could not even blame the slithering enemy in the garden because she was forewarned.

As tempting as it is, I will leave politics aside and get to the core of my point. She talked with the enemy and her husband threw her under the bus, but God lets her know that she disobeyed Him. In contrast, Mary said, “Be it unto me according to Your word” and then birthed the second Adam–the Christ. Powerful comparison. Instead of taking sides, both were cast out of paradise. God’s side counts.

In Joshua’s day, Moses, the “Make Israel great again” guy has failed, then he died. The people are in a new location, they have a new set of rules, a promise and most everyone has forgotten the trip and its meaning coming out of Egypt. Then, a new guy shows up. Even though Joshua gets this book named after him, he is not the hero. Spoiler alert. This “warrior” is the one who saves the day.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as Commander of the Army of the Lord, I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” Joshua 5:14

Even though Joshua tried to side with this warrior, a ploy, the warrior does not yield but continues to pull Joshua out of the side mentality and directs him to look up where the real battle is being fought and the real Commander is in control. Whose side was this warrior on? Neither.

The Canaanites were blocking the plans and progress of the people of Israel. They were supposed to rid them from the land. To receive the promise of land they had to deal with each of these groups. We see that the ites and the people of God are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes the ites are them and sometimes the “ites” are us. Sadly, the church at large often looks like the world and sometimes the people in the streets look more like Jesus. God does not play favorites or take sides. He commands that we take His side.

No individual has  a corner on God’s market. While He favors and loves those who delight in Him, He still sent His son, only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Why? For God so loved the whole world. That person down the street we disagree with could believe in the next five minutes and now you have a brother. That machete-wielding woman who ticked you off could, right in this millisecond turn to Him and you would have a new sister. We do not know where anyone is on the spectrum of God’s grace. We need to tread lightly on why we are righteous, and “they” are not. They will come in at various levels of faith and we do not get to determine that. God is not our special circus monkey or interest group delegate–He is sovereign and He’s God and thank heavens not on any group’s side. The name Sovereign makes that clear.

Does that mean all these “others” are o.k. with God? Poor, rich, educated, not educated? Android or iPhone user? Even the ones who wear tie-dye shirts or voted for so and so? Humility is not milk -toast people being quiet, it is people who know God is in control and the Boss. God’s criteria has always been different than those in organized religion. Before people start writing me, let me emphasize that God draws, saves and cleans each individual. They are His workmanship, created for His glory. Even the ones that do not look like us or look like someone we would disagree with in our community. If the believers of the last generation had taken this stance, perhaps our world would not be vying for place or identity. This is our Father’s world.

When He does draw someone close, this is what that looks like:

The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is HOLY.” And Joshua did so.

Note there is no debate here. God’s warrior lets Joshua experience what Moses had with God. He is holy. Yes, its true God is Sovereign and does not take sides, but His kingdom is preeminent and will not cater or sway to anyone’s personal belief or opinion. God’s presence makes everything holy. That is God’s criteria, not any specific churches. The disciples’ prayer “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” reminds me of the warrior in this story. Military people understand the importance of walking in cadence with the Commander. The warrior today has left us the Holy Spirit to walk alongside us and represent the Kingdom.

Victory outside of looking to God and obeying Him, does not end well as the Israelites found out in this book. They had to take a beat, remember the instructions, then get back on track. The things God wanted to root out of the “ites,” and our lives as well, were immorality and murder–specifically child sacrifice. See Lev. 18 and Deut. 12 for more information.[1]

My son was on the football team last fall. I was nervous and not sure how to navigate in this arena. It was literally “new territory.” Uniforms, schedules, grass stains, new smells, equipment, and passionate parents jolted me into a whole new world. I accidentally cheered for the other side, sat on the wrong bleachers. Ugh! Clearly, football was not my forte–but I meant well. There were some grumpy students that made a couple of the games tense. One day after other attempts at peace had failed, a seasoned gospel- type grandma came to the bleachers and when the kids started heckling people, she got her tough face on and let them know Jesus would not be o.k. with that and much to my surprise everyone simmered on down. It was beautiful. Nonsense was not tolerated for either side and she made it clear who was boss. I was able to see boldness in action! Oh my and oh yes! No one misunderstood what she said. A warrior stood up inside that precious saint.

Whose side are you on this political season? What pastor are you for in this revival? Oops. . . . It stings when the lesson comes off the page and into our hearts, doesn’t it? What neighbor or parent is right? Whose side are you leaning on? Be like Joshua’s warrior friend–neither. I am leaning on the Lord’s side. His response? Worship. Wise man. The NIV calls it reverence but both would fit this passage nicely.

The throne is not empty today. The office has not been evacuated. God is clearly, still ON HIS THRONE, active, unchanging, limitless, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, ruling, reigning, guiding, sovereign, holy, active, merciful, compassionate. THAT commander is the leader of not just my and your battles but ALL battles and the Final battle. His word says God WINS.

We know that but how do we live that day to day? Do those words still apply now? Just because one leader does great like Moses getting them out of Egypt, how do they trust the new guy, Joshua? What if Moses was a one-time anomaly? The Red Sea was cool, right? Joshua comes along and God does a “redo” of sorts for the children of those who saw but failed to remember or repeat. Now we are talking pattern. The theology of these two were the same–same God. It begs the question–so is this repeatable? We follow, we ask, we obey, God moves and shows up. It is more than a leader doing well– it is an eternal promise. Well, that is a whole different playing field. If He did it once, God is capable of doing it again. Remember, repeat.  Whole heart, whole devotion.

Joshua tells the people in 1:8-9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” I used to think this was a “go guys” type cheer. It is so much more. Let’s break it down.

Have I not commanded you–This is the Lord speaking to Moses. It is authoritative. When God speaks–worlds are formed, light, stars, oceans. His word carries the most weight in our lives. It is not a suggestion or self-help tip. It is one of the strongest verbs commanding the people then and the people now.

Strong and courageous. Both are imperatives. Imperatives are orders given directly to a person that absolutely must be carried out–it’s essential. Strong means to prevail, to be firm, secure, and be resolute. Courageous is to be bold, alert, and brave. These words are printed in the book of Joshua. They have been there a long time. It is the word of God. Even in our own strength and courage, if we are not following the Commander’s orders we can get in trouble, if we are posturing for our side, our party, our family, or our church. We must posture ourselves under this commander–the Host of the Lord’s army. If we doubt this word is for us or for today, read the verse before it:

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. Joshua 9:8

Here we see that God describes to Joshua how to have success. To their demise, they ignore it and must be pulled back to repeat and remember it and then go forward again. Many Christians today are only halfback or quarter Christians. We read a fourth of a chapter one time a day or week. The battle plan, the soldier’s due diligence, according to the Lord through Joshua is to meditate (Ponder, imagine, mutter, study, talk) on the word day AND night.

“Fill my cup three quarters full Lord, I lift it barely up Lord, come and partially quench this thirsting of my soul.” This cracks me up, but I fully believe that when Joshua worshipped, he was fully engaged. His theology just needed to be refocused on the Lord instead of his plans and loyalty. Before we find ten other people that do this and leave ourselves out of the equation, are we that much different?

As misguided as we may believe Joshua was in his response to the warrior–he is still one of the top leaders in the Bible and history. Faith came in somewhere because we see God answering a big prayer in Joshua 10. It is an incredible praise report–there are also scientific studies that have seemed to confirm the events.[2] Though fallible, Joshua 10:14 tells us, “There was not a day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.”[3]  

Joshua tells the Israelites and us today to not “passively be caused by others to become discouraged, (broken, beaten down, terrified or dismayed).”  One morning I woke up and needed a “word” from God. It was before coffee and my new workout had caused much muscle pain. I opened my Bible and read Joshua thirteen, verse one: “Now Joshua was old and stricken and the Lord said to him—thou art old and stricken.” True word but not necessarily one you would want to hear. The end of that verse however is encouraging. God has already used Joshua, given him commands, honored his prayers and promised to be with him. He tells him the unvarnished, straight up truth. Hear this in your spirit, “yes you may be old and stricken but THERE REMAINS VERY MUCH LAND TO BE POSSESSED!” His weakness, lack, limitations did not limit the all-powerful God. Why? Because He goes with us in HIS strength, courage, and power. That is a sure victory. The battle belongs to the Lord. Thy Kingdom come Lord, Thy will be done.

Dear reader–The Commander of the Lord of Hosts and His warrior Jesus will lead you. Follow Him. There are no sides–we follow, obey the Lord. He will lead us into battle and holiness and whatever else HE requires of us. If we all work from that perspective, maybe more unity, grace and progress would happen in the Kingdom? May we all get and stay on the Lords’ side.

Renae Roche 2023

P.S. Go to “contact us” to give your input on this months blog. We’ve added internal captcha so please leave only comments related to the post.  Also fill in your email if you would like blog updates. Also see the Life Coaching page for a special we are running on Strength Quest and stress management for the month of June. Ads from those in ministry or related fields can be sent to that email as well. Donations are much appreciated. You are welcome to use the post for Bible studies.


[1] Book of Joshua summary: Bible Project Animated, accessed 5/25/23

[2] David Sedley. Royal Astronomical of Astronomy and Geophysics Journal, quoted by the “Times of Israel” article. October 2017.


[3] Note: Joshua did not command this, he spoke to the Lord and made his request to the Lord first–see verse 12. The verb there suggests that it was not a small ask but an intense request

When we lived in the woods, my husband and I would sit out in the backyard in the mornings and listen to hundreds of birds. It was quite the symphony. When we moved, I missed those familiar sounds. This morning, our cat meandered out onto our porch, leaving the door ajar. My ears were delighted to hear brand new sounds, unlike any I had heard before. I drew closer so I could hear each distinct sound. As they sang, the cat sat nearby making chattering noises. Before the sun rose, silence had been awakened with sounds unique to this area. I commented to the family that perhaps our cat meditated more than we had this week! It was a crazy, busy week.

Our culture has been characterized as not only hard of hearing but “not being willing to listen” to one another. Partisan politics, special interest groups, and a new generation of youngsters who have forgotten the “war stories” of their grandparents has all culminated in this characterization. The loud protesters who line our streets with deafening demands to “be heard” come from all kinds of lifestyles. The writer of Deuteronomy yells out through history: Hear! Listen up! Hear this now—the Lord thy God is One. He is priority, worthy of attention, and an audience. He is greater than all our individual needs and demonstrations. More than anyone, God wants to be “heard” in this hour.

Unlike a waffling parent, God speaks truth and delivers consequences. You can count on it. While there is grace, He is still a jealous, holy, and angry God. To know Him is to know these aspects also. In His mercy, He waits, warns, and strives but as Genesis 6:3 tells us—there is a limit, and only God knows when that limit will be. Check out 2 Peter 3:9 also.

The message of Deuteronomy was God’s second attempt at helping the nation of Israel know and follow Him. He wanted them to go into the Promised Land, yet only Caleb and Joshua seemed to have received the message. All those who left in the Exodus had aged (or rebelled) out and this new group would need a refresher on what was essential for this next phase of the journey. God had sort of pulled over on the side of the road until the kids in the backseat got the message, and they would not continue if the behavior did not change.

Step One: HEAR.

As I write this, my cell phone ringer is turned to silent and all I can “hear” is the steady rhythm of a dishwasher and washing machine gloriously drowning out the sounds of the city.  Also vying for my attention is a smart TV, Alexa, a tablet, and traffic noise. It is imperative to get away to “hear” God and one’s own heart, soul, and mind. If we don’t intentionally set that time aside, the loudest voice will win. Many times, that loudest voice is the enemy. God’s signature is usually a whisper or nudge.

Sometimes the absence of a voice can be loud as well. This week we no longer hear the thoughts of Tucker Carlson on Fox News or the pontifications of Don Lemon on the morning show—at least not for now. It was reported that 60 million people were searching for Tucker’s voice Thursday night. The financial loss for the news program was in the millions—imagine the absence of your voice costing that much!

What is the absence of God’s voice costing us in this generation?

No search report was done for Mr. Lemon that I am aware of.  Some are relieved, some angered, and some were not listening in the first place. Life will go on; parents will travel to work; teens will trudge into school, and countless others will proceed with their routines. While they do, in courtrooms around the country, the law (nomos) will be tested as righteous (and unrighteous) lawsuits will be brought—trying not only the constitution but our hearts as well. We will question what was said, done, and heard—and then go back to our routines. While this swirls daily, the focus on God, the priority of communion, the story of God’s Covenant will fade further, further into the past. . . . 

Currently, news about the Nashville families has been muffled more than previous similar tragedies. I remember the tears though and they still speak to me. It is noteworthy that the school in Nashville is named Covenant. I was just studying about Covenant in Leviticus and Deuteronomy when this took place. Morality, love for life, and dignity/honor of each human is a necessary topic in today’s world. Maybe we have lost something when we replaced God’s word with people’s opinions and polls? While children and teens will watch the Avengers on television, how many know who the first blood Avenger was and how he impacted the Israelite cities? Our very laws were founded on passages like Deuteronomy 19 and speak much louder than any news sound bite, yet we spend most of our time glued to the smart, but not wise, television screens, dooming the next generation to miss their God- given destinies.  It’s not too late to remember, to remind, to hear.

Then, like now, we will face the choice of turning a deaf ear or asking questions. George is no longer curious because he has been playing video games for hours. Deuteronomy still calls us to “Pay attention, focus, hear”—what the Lord is saying in this hour. To us, to the Church, to the Nation. God laid out a plan for His people as they traveled out of Exodus, through the Red Sea, past Mount Sinai, and into the Promised land. They, like us, are concerned that this next generation will not be equipped for the trials, will not know where to turn in moments of darkness. God’s “redo” of Deuteronomy included more heart, but they still missed it. They were instructed to really hear what God wanted so He focused on one word—“SHEMA.”  It means to really focus. It means to listen with the intent to understand and DO what is said. It means to not just physically listen with your ears or mind but to embrace with your whole life. It means to HEAR—obey the One speaking—the One True God. These corrections and invitations of divine love were imperative to follow. It will mean life or death—not a small matter.

Today—we must hear also.  The choice is ours—rehearse the Covenant and obey it or miss God’s rewards. Choose life or choose death, neutrality is not an option. God’s voice is not just another opinion it is authoritative. Romans 8:14 tells us that “Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.” If only there were 60 million people missing GOD’S voice tonight, longing to hear His instructions and willing to follow His heart!

Jesus, the master Teacher still says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt. 22

Remember, they had heard the commandments already in Exodus—but blew them off. They knew the letter of the law but not the “guts” behind it or the spiritual application for their hearts, families, or neighbors. You can take a guy out of Egypt, but it takes a lot longer to take Egypt out of the guy. They might have had Pharoah syndrome—we’ll obey “tomorrow.” Let’s look at some of these instructions:

Love the Lord with your whole heart.

What we prioritize, what our checkbooks and calendars detail—is what we truly love. My youngest son is currently studying anatomy in school and shared the importance of a healthy physical heart. Perhaps living long enough to love others should be included in our dialogue. Do we plan to love God in a year while tempting fate with high cholesterol, blood pressure, or A1C counts? Is loving with our whole heart impacted by our choices and decisions to love? If we let sin run rampant (or bitterness, lust, anger) can we still have room in our hearts to love God and others? Lesser loves take a toll on our spiritual pulse.

Love the Lord with your whole mind.

Feelings are fickle. My husband shared with us that “Having the mind of Christ greatly affects our walk and living out Philippians 4:8 influences how we love and serve God.” I agree and feel convicted that I spend more time on Facebook than I do on scripture memorization.  Opening the floodgate to news daily could be advantageous if we are informed intercessors, but what if we just focus on the enemy’s spoils or chaos? Can we freely love God if our minds are inundated with crime? Fearing tragedy, the unknown, or countless other things keeps our minds so full it’s hard to keep our minds stayed on Jesus (Isaiah 26:3-6). What if our minds instead became seed beds for ideas, creativity, and intelligence just waiting to be used by the Father? How are we stewarding our thoughts? In Deuteronomy 31:8, God commands us to not fear or be discouraged. Not suggests—He commands. Do we heed that instruction and guard our minds?

Love the Lord with your whole soul.

It has been said that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Each of us is driven either by the Lord or our passions, desires, and appetites. These and the whole range of emotions are common to the most sinful and most saintly person. We ALL will encounter anger, joy, sadness, etc., throughout the course of our lives and on any given day. Are our feelings and motives surrendered to His Lordship? Do the intents of our souls line up with His Kingdom? Is His will supreme or merely an afterthought? While Jesus tells us that he “sits with us in Heavenly places,” are we more content to leave him in the pew as we exit church on Sunday? What would it look like if we did life, and soul care from His perspective, in the spiritual realm? “Come up higher” would change some of the ways we do business, wouldn’t it?

Love the Lord with all your strength.

I included this one because the New Testament does. My oldest son added “We need to use our strength to serve not only the Lord but others for Him.” That really stirred my heart! What if how we serve Him is also how we serve others? Do we use our strength—first thing in the morning, to kneel and pray? To loudly worship? To dance with abandon at the altar? To bring food to the poor and water to the weak? Is our strength reserved for baseball games and shopping and housecleaning or—to be ready in a moment’s notice for the service of the King? How exactly do we love the Lord with all our strength? Are we surrendering our best hours to fasting, to outreach?

Each of these categories can also be influenced by psychological, biological, and environmental factors. One author stated that over 90% of all our behaviors are influenced by our subconscious. I believe our upbringing and spiritual walk impacts these as well.  God in His sovereignty gave the solution for empowering each of these—Hear oh Israel, Listen to ME. He called them to love Him in each of these areas. The Master of the Universe knows exactly what we need and when. He knows how we can run at optimum speed and high performance and desires to help us complete our journey. He doesn’t just bring us out (Egypt), His greatest desire is to bring us in (Promised land, Heaven).  He is the ONLY one who has the map. Maybe that’s why Jesus tells us that he is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

While studying this I put on the top of my notebook page the letters A.D.  It stands for absolute devotion. I used to think Christians were just people who wore WWJD bracelets and put fish logos on their cars. After years of serving Him, I think it looks more like AD—absolute devotion. That’s what Deuteronomy is prescribing for us. It’s what Jesus had for the Father.  Devotion—to His heart.

Years ago, as a spiritual training discipline, I offered five people $100 to read and reflect on Deuteronomy 28. Two that took the challenge are still walking in blessings and continual overflow. They not only accepted the challenge but followed the instructions written therein. The other three who scoffed at the suggestion, have lost everything. One died. Their excuses ranged from “I’m too busy” to not being “very religious.” We are guaranteed so many blessings by doing things God’s way, in covenant with Him. He knows all, He sees all, He sustains all, and the will of God will prevail.

We will never know how much impact we would have had, if we had lived “full throttle.”  I think God in His wisdom can reign us in, if needed—but will we ever really, fully know Him or ourselves if we don’t hear (Shema) and listen? Not just tomorrow or on the journey, but today. Hear oh Israel. Hear oh America. Hear oh (insert your nation . . . and family).

How can we love God? By giving Him our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. That’s His desire. How we wholly love God and ourselves will determine how, when, and why we love our neighbor.

Shhh. . . .  He’s speaking now. Please share how you follow. . . .


Ps. Shout out to our friends in Deaf ministry. This month is national deaf awareness month. So glad that the God who calls us to hear Him, also promises, to hear us!



The Journal of Numbers

What a beautiful time of year! Flowers blooming, birds singing, the smell of freshly cut lawns. . ..  We are headed into the Spring season (to some this means Lent, Easter, Resurrection, Passover).  To others, there is an anticipation of baseball season or school soon coming to a close.  Some memories of this season are Biblical, and some are emotional. I will fondly remember my Aunt Beverly’s cherries- in-the- snow dessert, my Uncle Kenny’s grilled smoked ham, and my mom’s five-cup salad. Whether you number guests or recipes or are struggling with fears of world Superpower conflicts this holiday, I pray you are blessed and at peace.

Numbers is more of an obscure book in the Old Testament, and I wondered what we would learn from it while reading it during this season. It is rarely quoted except for the blessing. More than giving someone “things,” the true blessing is God’s closeness and favor. Placing His name on someone was the mark of His presence and asking for God to “keep them” was essential and praiseworthy.  Hear the blessing in chapter 6, verses 24 to 26.

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. So, they will put My Name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.’”

The walk through the desert is not as memorable as say, Palm Sunday. We more easily remember the story of Jesus riding in on a Donkey and her colt, triumphantly bringing victory to the city of Jerusalem. We remember the Passion story also but like to relive the moments leading up to it that are more celebratory. The best day, Good Friday, when we are pardoned, freed, and forgiven is not typically “fun” with no decorations or fanfare, yet it is sacrificially of utmost importance. Without understanding the cost, it is hard to apply the benefit or receive the grace. On Good Friday, there is no big feast, but humble repentance and thankfulness serve up well.

I’ve been pondering on the logistics of this book.  It would take quite the organized army to move a million people. The leaders would need to have rules and regulations in place for safety and for everything to flow smoothly. Did you know when the United States president comes into a city it takes almost three months to prepare for it? Thousands of individuals will accompany him, and every inch of his trip will be mapped out. Blocks will need to be cleared, background checks done, criminals notified, hospitals and highways readied, and much more. Alternate routes are meticulously planned. When Jesus went to the cross, his path was set before him. He did not make a plan B, or an escape plan, in case he changed his mind or got a better offer. The ragtag group that accompanied him on his trip into Jerusalem were hoping to have a prime spot in his kingdom. They were part of his entourage after all.  Later, at Calvary, the stragglers who anxiously followed, were afraid of the opposite—guilt by association. Death has a way of thinning the crowds. Only those who really believed came near.

Today, when cities want a president to visit, they have to pony up for some of the expenses. If they cannot provide supplies and staff, then the POTUS will decline coming to their city. It is a royal hassle. Food has to be watched; hotels have to be secured. It is imperative to meet these requirements if they expect the honored guest to dwell with them. The book of Numbers details some elaborate and laborious instructions. It seems excessive to our 21st-century mindset—but it is a condition to live in the sacred place with the King. It will also be impossible without a Savior! To live God’s way, for His glory, daily enjoying His presence, came with regulations so they could understand His character. He was training them to be His people. Living in constant fellowship centered around His presence was something that needed to be explained in great detail. His presence, then and now, is treasured above all. Numbers is not just a history lesson; it is instructions on how to host the Almighty God in your heart and city. Fulfilled with a New Testament understanding of course. What was obvious to them, we don’t even understand because we haven’t seen firsthand the cloud or pillar of fire. (Read Hebrews for how this is fulfilled in Christ.)  

Have you ever read someone else’s journal? It contains dates and events but also some juicy stuff. Numbers is a God-ordained journal that was written by Moses and Aaron to remind the people then and throughout history of God’s will. In the first couple of chapters the leaders and players are all selected. They first established who was going to lead and in what companies. The next instructions given were to let the people know that the God who led them out of Egypt and delivered them from Pharoah would be the same God living, dwelling right in their midst! That’s pretty powerful. The only thing is that He wanted to lead more than just the tent they tried to keep Him in—He wanted to guide and direct every area of their lives because they were going to be His special people—holy and treasured. It wasn’t a demand—but it was a requirement if they were going to have Him, as their leader. His presence still comes with conditions. Holiness is part of that, but we can’t attain that without Christ. The “system” was made so we would reach to something, someone greater than ourselves.

The Israelites are going to go from Egypt to Mount Sinai, then onward to the Promised Land. Its focus includes preparing them for not only worship but military conquest. Their journey went from being faithless to fearless. That is impressive! A nation just coming out of a shut-down and facing battles all around could use these instructions, right?

How do you get more faith when your journey has been stamped with discouragement and death? Can you recover from seasons of grumbling and failure? Does the journey wipe out your trust or build perseverance and tenacity?  The reality that not everyone is coming with you or that you might not make it at all, is very sobering. God said obedience brings promises, sin brings death. Pretty simple formula. The Israelites had many fears, complaints, and worries. We stoically observe that they were whiny murmurers, but a quick reckoning of our last month or year, may look very similar. Would we have lasted under those conditions? Thank God for Grace!

Lately I’ve had trials that stretched my faith and caused some discouragement. My “believer muscle” was a little bent. This inspired me—I read about the “law of Tassels” and what it meant to the Israelites:

38 “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. 39 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, 40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. 41 am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”

Whenever they doubted, they could hold the tassels and recount God’s goodness to them. It was not a magic rabbit’s foot, it was a spiritual discipline, a reminder ritual. I was thankful we don’t have to look for tassels and wear them on our outfits today. Seriously, how would you accessorize that with suits, shoes, and purses? After reading that one morning I went to a Bible study. In the middle of that study, I looked over and the leader had a nice blouse on that had—blue tassels on the front. Trendy and theological! I smiled as she did a lesson on God’s goodness, suddenly aware that God was bringing this lesson to life in that moment. His faithfulness brings hope. His goodness brings trust and peace. Because we are finite—we forget. These tassels are not magical like a rabbit’s foot or idol—they are for a memorial, a reminder that what you see is NOT the end of the story.  That may sound a little quirky, but how does worry look on you? Fear? Discouragement? What is the price of your fear? A tassel may be just the ticket—not to give you faith—but to remind you that you can call on the Faithful One.  A reminder to praise Him. Keep remembering, keep in scripture, keep memorizing and worshiping, not because your actions will earn anything but that any moment you will get the message engrained in your soul that GOD IS FAITHFUL. A FB post this week said, “Noah, don’t you dare get tired, the Heavens are about to give way.” It encouraged me. That ark was a visual reminder for Noah and his neighborhood. Tassels are much smaller—much easier to lug around. Not forever, just until your Heart beats to His word, until your mind catches His message, until every fiber of your being is convinced that He is Lord and trustworthy and soon to return! “Counting Every Blessing—You’ve Been Good to Me” by Rend Collective or “Fearless” by Jasmine Murray could be sung during the reading of this whole book. Is this book still appropriate for us today? We can ask—as a nation are we discouraged? Do we need to stand strong to remember our roots and keep hope alive? It’s time to recount His Great faithfulness.

The call to be faithful is necessary now more than ever. My military dad taught me, “your word is your bond.” I’ve tried to live by that, though I’ve failed many times. I’ve seen God’s faithfulness in family, finances, health, and so much more. When my faithfulness wears out—God is still faithful. Consider the season we now approach. The term “Easter” can easily hide its full meaning. The day we celebrate—when the Savior hung on a bloody cross, is a day when God’s promises came to pass. The day a crucified Savior, CAME ALIVE, resurrected, when ALL hope was lost—that’s a good day to remember. All the journal entries from Moses point, not to bunnies and eggs, but to THAT day. It wasn’t decorated with pastels but dark skies, earthquakes, bloodied sacrificial animals, and the reality that when God says something—it’s going to happen! Just as He promised. Why do churches not market it like that? “Bloody man who saved-my-life day” does not fit on a marquee. “Resurrected Lord who is coming again in the clouds because He said so” is much harder to fit on a bulletin than “Easter.” In spite of the recycled marketing—those who know God is faithful, are eagerly waiting with open eyes and open hearts.

Throughout Numbers we see the words, “they did as the Lord commanded.” Some may be annoyed with the repetitiveness but if we apply it to our lives today, we will do much better if we follow God’s blueprints. Listen to what Jesus said about this, “I have not spoken on My own, but the Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it,” John 12:49.

Those who profess to be His, must live as HIS. Depending, obeying, trusting are the action words we need to know. That comes over a lifetime through study, worship, wise counsel, and most importantly having a relationship with God. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “without faith it is impossible to please the Lord.” Having faith comes from knowing the person, character, mind, and actions of the One you are trusting in. Then and now.

If you have sin in your life—please read the other pages of the blog on how to reconcile (or come) to Jesus. Numbers tells us clearly, “Your sin will find you out.” You don’t have to live with shame and regret. If you have sat on the fence, ask God to renew your faith and stir your fire. Wholehearted devotion, according to the book of Numbers—will guarantee blessings and success. His promises—He never breaks them; you can count on it. If you are wholehearted, don’t stop there. Ask for more! Pray for more! Receive more as you worship!  Let God lead and guide you on the journey He planned for you since the very beginning.  The Commander in Chief still reigns. Ephesians 2:6-10 explains it like this:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

For the students studying this book, be sure to deeply dive into the section on the blood avenger.  It is relevant for our cities today and will help your understanding of the importance of the blood. Also note the promise of the Messiah to come: “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). God is not caught off guard by circumstances, news stories, indictments, slander, isms, power struggles or politics. He has always had a plan. Sovereign means He has NOT relinquished His control—no matter what things look like today.  If you go back further in Genesis 49:10 you will get a little surprise Easter treat that is much sweeter than any Easter egg. It will give you strategy for today also. Tis the season—to get happy and realize that the Sovereign Lord who reigns over the nations is also a military warrior, fully in control and victorious. All day, every day, 365.

The King’s journey started way back in this precious journal with the promise of His faithfulness that to those who were obedient, holy, and set apart, He would dwell with them. His path to make them holy came through His son Jesus. This same God will make a path to send the King once again to bring His people home to His dwelling where He will reign forevermore. We must learn in this hour how to journey with Jesus, to follow His commands, and walk in His spirit.

Jesus, make us faithful and fearless. We choose to follow you by faith—now.






Years ago I was privileged to know a professor and his wife who hosted young adults in their home. I remember one young lady that lived there because of this story. She was a blessing to this couple.  Over the course of time a young man fell in love with her and made plans to ask her to marry him. The preparations were made, the requests of the parents were done, and much prayer went into the momentous occasion. We were all so excited for this special day to draw near. Well, the girl caught some virus and had a severe sore throat, headache, chills and fever. After several days of violently throwing up, she was in no shape to go out for a romantic dinner. We expected the event to be delayed at least for a few weeks. The young man, however, was not to be deterred. He had meticulously planned every detail. On the exact day that he planned, he came to the house, walked up the stairs and into her room with a bouquet of flowers. She was a wreck, wrinkly pajamas, hair glued to her forehead from sweat, surrounded by smelly blankets and just in case, there was a bucket nearby.  She listened intently to his kind voice, then he got down on one knee. This beautiful, lovely songbird was not diminished in his eyes in any way.  I don’t think he even saw the snot filled tissues on the floor or empty cough drop wrappers on her nightstand. The conditions necessary had been met and his unconditional love saw past her imperfections. All the hard work– he had done, while she rested, all she had to do was accept it. This was his perfect bride.

I’ve seen a lot of couples get together over the years. Some, you pray they make it; others, you cringe in anticipation of the troubles they will endure. This couple was a perfect picture of Gods love for His Bride. Leviticus is a book about covenant, worship and the stipulations for being Gods chosen people. His requirements, laws, and instructions detail what He expected from His chosen. They were to be HIS- alone. There are twenty-seven chapters of specific instructions. Each of these seemingly excessive regulations, give us a new picture of Gods character and the duties of His priests.  R. Laird Harris points out in his Expositors Bible commentary on Leviticus, that the sacrifices all point to Christs ultimate sacrifice. He recommends reading Hebrews 5-10, in order to see the fulfillment of this book. Christ – is the High Priest and Gods full expression of true sacrifice. “No one offering however, can typify Christs many sided works, which includes propitiation, atonement, communion, consecration, worship and so much more.”

While the content may seem intense, this is the God of the Universe, retraining the slaves of Egypt, the refugees from Pharaohs world, how to start again in a world where the King lives in their midst. These are  protocols for living with Royalty. It would describe His ways and heart for generations to come. Many skip over these books because they seem outdated or legalistic, but each one gives us a fuller picture of just how much God went through. They allow us to see His love.  He is sacred and holy and in these difficult passages we can find out what that means in our lives. Somehow, attending an hour-long church service is our idea of “sacrificing” for the Lord or maybe missing one meal as we fast but the people called priests back in Leviticus – they had to jump through all kinds of hoops– just to be able to come to the altar. When we praise God today and it costs us, it becomes a sacrifice of praise that displays Jesus’ love.

One morning we were getting ready to have devotions, and just to be honest– I was not looking forward to reading about more rules and regulations. Some of this stuff is really gross. How could these verses impact my teens going to school? How could these words refresh my heart as I went throughout my day? Yes, sometimes we have devotions looking to receive rather than just learning Gods nature. Devotions are usually spiritual, clean, sterile. Even reading the story above is odd as we “church folks” focus on pretty and positive stuff, right? Excellent, beautiful and perfect is the norm for our likes. On that particular day I read that dwarves, the wounded, those with flat noses, the broken, blind, lame, those with oozy sores or scabs were not allowed behind the veil. They could come to God but were restricted, prohibited from drawing closer. Nothing but perfection was allowed in. Old Testament. The perfect, the pure, the flawless had hope to draw near –but not the maimed or scabby.

If you are disabled, have psoriasis, shingles, warts, herpes, acne, a bad haircut etc. these verses may discourage you.  Jesus, however, identified  with the “less than perfect”. He made a way that ALL could enter in.  In Jesus day, He redefined perfection– telling  us there is only One who is Holy. He let the people know that nothing they eat, or take in will make them unclean – only what flows out of their hearts will defile them. That is the main thing that blocks holiness. In Leviticus we are clearly told that we need to “BE HOLY, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45).  There’s also  chapters about sexual sins, bad treatment of neighbors, unjust scales, slander, etc.

Hear the words of Hebrews 10:19 ” Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living Way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…”


Ephesians 3:12, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

              And also: Ephesians 1:6 tells us “He hath made us ACCEPTED in the beloved.”

There is no way that we can fully comprehend and understand Christs great sacrifice unless we understand all that went into that arrangement! The preparations of the groom were off the charts! Since the beginning of time, He planned them. He didn’t just get us a one-way ticket to Heaven. He didn’t just give a mental nod or ascent to us becoming His children. He did not seek a special election and get us in on a majority vote. He revealed himself to us through time and made provision thru the death on the cross so we could come, not just near –but face to face. That’s incredible. Note that the burnt offering – lit on fire, consumed, completely burned is the start of the offerings. A life for a life. Wait, …fully burned, charred, down to ashes, consumed?         Sin costs and kills, it separates.

This system is not one of Hierarchy, its based on true love and doing what is right, pure. Holy is protection, its nature is set-apart and not common. It shines and it defines.

So, who can be holy? None of us. Not a single one. Not mother Theresa, not your favorite teacher, not the preacher, not a special grandma. None of us can earn it, buy it or substitute for it. There’s only one way that we can be holy and that is through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. He alone makes us holy. Huang Sabin in his commentary, The OT made simple states, “A holy life must never be attained by holy living, but a holy life must always be maintained by holy living.

What does that mean? It means that positionally we are made right with God through the person and passion of Jesus Christ. We live out that holiness not by our good deeds but by relying on His. We are set apart as priests for HIS calling and purpose – to honor God with our whole being and to thank Him for His grace. If we realize the great cost, we can live no other way but in total devotion. Truly holy made people– live holy— in honor of the One who made them holy. There’s no self-righteous stench, just a fragrant offering.

Holiness doesn’t mean going to church, reading your Bible, abstaining from smoking. Holiness comes from trading our filthy rags in for Christs righteousness. We forsake ALL other loves. 

It has been interesting listening to the many opinions on the latest revivals. It refreshes our hearts – until someone compares their thoughts on “real” revival or judges the church down the street as “not quite as holy”. The gong sounds and the music fades. The enemy knows just how to trip us up. Our gaze slides down to the ground. We  easily smudge our righteousness by works of the flesh – gossip, judgement of unbelievers, lying, playing favorites or partiality, stealing, etc. While God does love everyone, His standard is holiness.  Thankfully, we no longer have to offer bulls, lambs. God sees the blood, the red stained blood of His son, instead of our sin. Without the blood – relationship would be impossible. We could never meet the conditions. We would be utterly rejected for being less than perfect, marred, flawed. We failed our part, yet Jesus still makes us whole.

My husband preached a sermon awhile back and said, “God has not called us to be someone else’s fruit inspector – that’s Gods’ job.” It seems when holiness comes into the conversation that many like to point to the “other guy or gal” as having flaws or faults. If our assessment is skewed or not Gods opinion– it not only harms that other person but blocks our communion with God. We are called to be short on opinions and long on love. If God went through generations of creating this pattern to save us, we would be short sighted to change it!  Leviticus shows us that God has expectations so weighty we will never measure up- that’s why we need Jesus. 

When Jesus comes, the broken will be received, the unaccepted become acceptable, the dwarfs will dance, the disabled will come near, the scabbed ones will become clean and ALL – ALL,  can come running into His presence, accepted and beloved at His invitation, His beautiful Bride. He set the standard. That holiness cost Christ his very life. It was not cheap, for him it was deadly and painful. Let’s run to Father, fall into grace, be done with the hiding, no reason to wait… Cody Carnes sings “my heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend—so I run to the Father again and again and again .”

The Lord almighty– He requires, REQUIRES that we live righteous, holy, close to God, free of sin and defilement. It’s the core of our relationship with Him. Someone once said, “fear not perfection– because no one can attain it.” Only One reached the Fathers’ opinion of perfect – the rest of us — need grace.

For those who want to be Gods royal kingdom of priests, the bar is high – rugged cross high. We must Lay down our lives and pick up (our) His cross and follow Him. That’s the only standard, opinion that matters. ALL the rules were replaced –by one longing Bridegroom, searching for His Bride. Leviticus is an outline of the Grooms vows – knowing our fragile, broken state, He fulfills the requirements FOR US. Wow. Why this law Lord? Why this offering? What should we understand of You through it?

Note that the Fellowship offerings were about relationship, meals together, communion and relationship. Community delights God. If we look at what and how He planned for His Bride— Leviticus becomes one of the sweetest books in the Bible.

Lord, we lay aside all other loves, idols, plans, opinions, judgements… clean us inside and outside. Show us your character, your nature and the great cost to secure that Love in our lives. Make us holy as you are holy. You want us for yourself- not mixed religion, not syncretistic worship, not impure love.

“Holy, there is no one like you, there is none beside you, open up our eyes in wonder and show us who you are and fill me with your heart and lead me in your love to those around me ….   We look to you.” (Housefires- Build my life 2016)

Dancing in His grace,

Renae Roche 2023


My hubby and I recently went to two  prayer meetings.  Both stirred our hearts. We are thankful we can still publicly gather to do so. It is not possible in many countries around the world. In the evening meeting, people gathered and  one woman came in with a cell phone and Bluetooth speaker. It was a small crowd and there were many pressing, overwhelming needs and  requests. This woman (Nicole) had prayer concerns also, but before mentioning any of that, she quietly set up her phone, complete with playlist and speaker. The songs she played directed our minds to Gods past miracles and His character. Her simple act of obedience accomplished more than she probably realized. Not a band, just a little speaker– but it was powerful. Simple, anointed. We praised God for answers because we believed they would come– and they did. In the background of our requests, fueling our faith,  were songs of deliverance, and praise. We are free to worship, but do we? God says to The Israelites and also to us today, “Let my people go—so they can worship!”  All that effort in Egypt  and we  sometimes still think of worship as “song service”  one hour on Sunday.  The events in Exodus were reminders that God (even in a wicked culture with a wicked Pharaoh) is POWERFUL and ABLE. 

Four hundred years had passed since the people of God had come into Egypt, and they started to be perceived by the people around them as too much and too many.  The locals forgot that these “unwanted interrupters” were the reason they had been blessed. Where were the altars of remembrance? Who forgot to recount the stories of Gods faithfulness to Josephs family? Seriously, how could anyone forget all that the Israelites had added to this now very ungodly system? The foreigners were outnumbering the locals and fear spread in the camp. Someone had not carefully watched the new brothers or the borders and most of the locals had not remembered this Joseph guy with his colorful threads. Salvation stories had become a thing of the past. Oh the importance of passing God stories down to our children and grandchildren!  Recounting His provision, miracles and encounters  builds our faith. Pour some coffee and get your “Share” on!

Pharaoh, the revered power broker “disregarded humanity”  one commentator says and even worse, had killed babies. His priorities were skewed. God was not any part of his leadership agenda. Even Pharaoh’s closest advisors began to worry about the violence and started  leaving his side. Things were dark politically and spiritually. Sometimes we think God turns a blind eye to our circumstances, but we will see in this book that there is no such thing as any occurrence happening –without God noticing.  God sees and hears  it all.

So, Moses becomes the new leader. He wasn’t known for his theology at that point, he was known for murdering a local. No wonder they couldn’t believe God had sent him. A most unlikely first pick, yet God knew exactly who He needed in that position, and despite his human failings, God used Moses.

Gods purpose in choosing Moses is seen throughout the entire book. We remember that as a baby his parents trusted God so much that they put him in a basket and placed him in the river. Imagine that parental conversation. It was not exactly covered under “what to expect when your child is a under a year”. Under threat of death, they sent him down the river.  Such a picture of salvation. First rescued we see is by midwives but here we see Moses rescued by Gods oversight.  Wild animals, Crocodiles, snakes, hot sun, and a number of other factors could have taken him out – but didn’t. The Sovereign God that protected Moses at an early age, continued to protect and lead him in his old age. Is it possible, that the same God, can protect and lead us? Our children? It seems to be Gods’ trademark. The end game is the same – called out to worship  the living God.

The injustices that were experienced by the Israelites at the hand of Pharaoh increased. This is where the story gets wild – civil unrest erupts and there is violence in the streets. Servants became slaves as more work was required with less straw. We’ve all read the story. But maybe in this distant hour or year, we have forgotten Gods response? He was angry – very angry at injustice.  God wasn’t upset just by the  hard work expected without resources in the hot sun, but that some slaves were getting mercilessly beaten. It’s not just a Bible story, it was their news in that day. Evil appeared to prevail. So God, in His powerful, majestic way, —shows them all His divine justice.  Then step by step God carries out a plan to bring His precious people to Himself.

Salvation is not just about a John 3:16 sign held at a football game or pesky Bible thumper at your door. Salvation is also when a holy God shows up and says, “ENOUGH”. He gave them a warning – ten actually. Without CNN, FOX or MSNBC, God makes a statement and then waits for someone, anyone to understand that He is the all-powerful LORD.

Maybe today we need to read, repeat, and remember this? When praying about our circumstances or watching the news, we can easily forget how God moves. God doesn’t sit back and scratch his ol beard and worry like some forgotten grandpa too weak to intervene. He doesn’t look away and insist on sacrifices of gold or food like some deaf and  dumb idol. The God who saw the injustice, heard the injustice, felt the injustice –planned HIS justice and then slowly, methodically moved so ALL could see His power. It’s so memorable, that generations later– we still tell the story. TEN PLAGUES. Each one more impressive than the one before it. There was no Super bowl –but the plagues would have been the biggest event in their lifetime! It was a tug of war, Until the death angel touched down….

For space sake, I won’t write about each plague, but I cringed when reading about the locusts.  It reminding me of swimming in a lake.  You can feel the weeds, a few bugs, under the water.  I don’t like dead (or living) insect bodies bumping into me no matter where I am. Reading Exodus this year, I realized that the locusts (hundreds of thousands) didn’t just disappear in thin air. They somehow were blown into the Red Sea! Yes, that sea where all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots later get captured.  Imagine sinking deep in the water, trying to swim out and then  waves of hardened bug parts float past your eyes, lips, and teeth. It somehow makes the victory of the Israelites sweeter. No wonder they danced and sang! Complete annihilation with a twist. The horse and rider, thrown into the sea– That crunchy, bug filled, thick sea. Death by water and insect juices and parts. Yuck. God has a way of making His point and taking care of our enemies. He wants nothing to hinder our worship and did everything to set them free.  

The commentator Huang Sabin tells us that the book of Exodus can be summarized by this:

“Exit to exalt.”

We see the plagues, –God sees justice and the promised land. God did not just want to stop injustice, or violence by the  officers of Egypt. He did not just want to do some light and frog show for His peeps. It was part of a larger plan to bring them to Himself.  That is still His plan today. What beauty to realize we are taken from being  just “workers” to being a special treasured people (see Ex.19:5) as they (and we) obey Gods voice and commands.  New identity, new journey, new song.

The blood was the last sign to show us Gods thoughts on Divine Justice. These visual lessons led the people then and us today to Gods sacrificial love and the reason for why we worship. We have been bought with a price, a hefty price.

Bethel, Maverick city, Elevation, Hillsong are awesome, but they cannot worship for us. They cannot tell our individual stories of healing and deliverance. Our worship leader recently paused to stare at the cross, then continued to sing. It was powerful and caused us to remember the focus of our worship. Exodus shows us the actions and requirements of the Covenant God who brought us out and gives us His presence. Doug Stuart in Reading the Bible for All Its Worth said Gods presence is what distinguished them from all other people of the earth as well as Gods protection (miraculous deliverance). We live by worshipping Him for past deliverance, present relationship, and future victory.

Grab an index card and write down a praise report, or grab a Bluetooth speaker  and praise Him in all sorts of places—church, streets, homes. Gather with others and share your stories of  why you put your trust in God. Whether you use a harp, or a playlist – let’s share Gods incredible story and heart. We can remind those around us  that He still hates injustice. We can follow the Israelites example and worship Him. He still promises to be with us. We no longer need a tent for God to show up. May the music rise in our hearts and nation as God brings His people out to worship HIM.









Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me. “John 5:30

When my family moved to North Carolina we lived in a wooded area and were blessed to experience nature in all its beauty. As a spiritual discipline we engaged in the Lord’s prayer and for that season focused on “Gods’ will.”  It was transforming. Seeking Gods will, should be a habit or focus of every believer’s life yet the more we sought to do Gods will the more we wondered what we had been doing up to that point. Gods will is His intention for a believer and is formed through prayer and study. It cannot be discerned from a book or another’s life. It is not a one size fits all kind of thing. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that giving thanks is the will of God for our lives and that is the crux of it – not so much specifics but living in relationship with the God who calls us.

Doing a month-to-month study is time consuming. It requires over 3 years of intense word by word study. The first time I did it, I focused on each character in the Bible and what I could learn from their lives and mistakes. The second time I went through, I concentrated on Gods character and getting to know about Him through the narratives and books of scripture. It was my teenage sons who requested we continue the book-by-book study over the next three years. I was leaning toward doing a year plan, but they want to deep dive and understand it. Getting “through it” was not their goal. This is having an effect we did not realize.

The scripture that comes up as I pray over this year is this:

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to COME to me to have life.” John 5:39-40.

More than doing a ritual, we need to hear the heart of God. More than “achieving” yet another badge of Christian accomplishment we need to become familiar with His ways. More than proving our scholarly skill, we need to know the Author of this book. It is a heart posture. In the scriptures we find God, we find life but if we do not moor our study to John 5:30 – doing Gods’ will, then our efforts are mere lists of checked off things to do. If the word does not bridge our hearts to Jesus, if the word does not oil the ligaments of our steps into a darkened culture, then it is just an exercise in reading literature.

In Genesis – what if we considered Adam and Eve attending our school? What insights could they bring? What if Noah visited our church with his family? Would he bring pets, and would we allow that? How do these characters impact our outreach? Our prayer?

One of the marvelous things we adapted from the Covenants in Genesis is this: The Lord longs for fellowship with us and His preference is to celebrate with us on a full 24-hour cycle. When we slow down and pause to thank Him and hear His voice it lets Him know we are still interested, still wanting to be in covenant.

My husband said he loved me on our wedding day and when we recently renewed our vows. I wear a wedding ring. I am in covenant with Joseph Roche. Our weekly dates let me know he is still interested, and his heart is still wanting to be with me. Covenant is a big concept in Genesis. We get to investigate many great men and women of the Bible and their covenants with God. But if we only study them, their strengths and weaknesses and never covenant with God for ourselves, it becomes a wasted lesson.

The God of the universe that made everything in it beckons us to not only come near, not only come close in relationship and delight, but He also invites us to be in covenant with Him. See the personal rest page on this website if you would like information on how to begin that covenant with God. He also invites us weekly to push out the world and come near in friendship. He gave us a world to live in, a son to love and see Him and gives us a way to covenant with Him through that son. Weekly we can renew that covenant through spiritual sabbath. We can renew that covenant through communion. We can refresh that covenant through prayer, but we cannot let it remain dormant – we must walk out that covenant with this living God.

This year – put aside the desire to get a “I read through my Bible” sticker, reject the notion that we are somehow more spiritual because we followed a reading plan. This year and for the next three, lets cognitively get to know this covenant maker and practically, experientially get to know this covenant keeper in every day, real life situations. Oh, His preference is that you let Him know somehow weekly or even daily that you love Him and desire to stay in covenant with Him.

He created it all and called it good, very good. (That includes you which is incredible). The One who flung the stars in the sky, thinks we are amazing and desires relationship (covenant) with us. What is He creating in your life, your sphere of influence, family, and neighborhood today? Be fruitful and multiply. John 15 reminds us of the way we do that is to stay connected (in covenant) with God.

Ask Him – what are you creating in my life Lord and how do I get in line with that? What do I need to take dominion over? His plan, purpose and power are in the beginning, a very good place to start. Covenant – its at the heart of Genesis.

Seeking with you, Renae Roche 2023