Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, ‘Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.’”
Judges 5: 1-3
King James Version
“Mount Up Close To God”
“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracles await.”
What have I “willingly offered” to God for all He has done for me?
“Give unlimited credit to our God.”
Robert Murray M’Cheyne
“Eternal God, accept the offering of my life.”
Catherine of Siena
One Christmas, when I was a child, my parents heard about a very needy family who had daughters about the age of my sister and myself. While our parents did not have a lot of money themselves, they wanted all of us to do something to help the family who was desperately struggling.
The idea my parents proposed was that everyone in the family would go without a Christmas gift and money that was to be used for a present for ourselves, would be spent to purchase something for a member of the family we were assisting.
I’ll never forget purchasing a doll I really wanted and then watching what I longed for, be given to another. Evidently, I didn’t seem too happy about this family exercise in sharing and my mother made a comment I still remember today, “It’s not unselfish to give something grudgingly. It’s not really sharing if you do something only because you feel like you are being forced to.”
Today, we begin a three-day study on the “Prayer of Deborah” which is recorded in Judges 5. We will focus on three phrases that give us great insight into God’s victory on behalf of His children, the Israelites. But what’s more, this prayer also gives us a glimpse into the motivation that came from the hearts of Deborah, Barak, and Jael.
First, we find in Judges 5: 2, that God’s triumph was the result of His people “willingly offering” themselves. Second, in Judges 5: 12, we note that God’s daughter Deborah awoke, uttered a song of praise, and arose and led. Finally, in Judges 5: 31, we learn that our love for God, helps us reflect the light of the sun.
For today, I want to look at the phrase in Judges 5: 2, “when the people willingly offered themselves.”
This wasn’t some grudging behavior where God’s children complained that they were forced to do something they didn’t want to do. This, we are told, was a willingness, or as the Hebrew so descriptively describes the word “willingly,” “to volunteer spontaneously.” The people were delighted to give all of themselves. But there’s something else I just love about the word “willingly.” It is the exact same word that is used in Exodus 25: 2 (K.J.V.), when God asked His children to build a tabernacle to worship Him. He told Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man (and woman) that giveth it “willingly” with his (her) heart ye shall take my offering.” God told Moses to take only the gifts given “willingly.” God didn’t force anyone! Then in Judges 5, God’s children sang praises to their Father for the victory He gave them when they willingly gave themselves to Him as an offering.
However, there’s more to the phrase, “willingly offered.” When I spontaneously volunteer my life to God, I am giving Him an offering. So I went to my Hebrew dictionary to see exactly what the word “offered” means. Was I in for a fabulous surprise! This word “offered” means to “mount up.” As I willingly volunteer, my life will mount up – it will ascend higher. In fact, this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah said would happen to God’s children, you and me, when we put all we are into the arms of our Heavenly Father. “But those who look for and hope in the Lord shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings (Yes! We’ll ascend higher!) and mount up close to God as eagles” (Isaiah 40: 31, Amplified Bible).
Clare of Assisi was born in Italy and as a young girl, chose to dedicate her life to the service of God through humble labor for the poor and hours spent in prayer. These are the beautiful words she penned, entitled:
Go Forward Securely
“What you hold, may you always hold. What you do, may you always do, and never abandon. But with swift pace, light step, and unswerving feet, go forward securely, joyfully, and lightly, on wisdom’s path. Believing nothing, agreeing with nothing, which would dissuade you from your resolution. Or which would place a stumbling block for you on the way. So that you may offer your promises to the Most High God, in the pursuit of the sacred goals to which the Spirit has summoned you.”
Clare of Assisi
Jesus, Lover of My Soul
“Jesus, Lover of my soul
Let me to thy bosom fly.
While the billows near me roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide.
Till the storm of life is past!
Safe into the haven guide,
O, receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none.
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, leave me not alone!
Still support and comfort me:
All my trust on Thee is stayed.
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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