Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforteth as in all our afflictions, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
II Corinthians 1: 3, 4
“Let us note the word in which the Apostle Paul describes the condition of the wayfaring pilgrims. They are passing through ‘affliction’; that is to say, they are in straits, in tight corners. Their way has become narrowed; they are hemmed in by cares or sorrows or temptations, and they are in a tight place. ‘He comforteth us’ in such conditions. The river of mercy and comfort flows our way. Sometimes the comfort comes to us in some secret ministry which we can never describe. We are feeling very ‘down,’ and life has become very tasteless and dreary. We fling ourselves upon our knees, and we expose the dreary waste to the pitying eyes of our God. And suddenly ‘the desert rejoices and blossoms like the rose.’ We cannot give any explanation, but we can exult in the experience. ‘It is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings.’
Sometimes a comfort is mediated to us through the ministry of our fellow travelers. The Apostle Paul never allowed the human messenger to eclipse the Lord who sent him. He had a keen eye for his Lord’s comings, even when He wore some lowly human guise. ‘God comforted me by the coming of Titus!’ Happy Paul! to be able to tell the fragrance of the message that the messenger had come from the King’s garden. I would that we might cultivate this fine discernment in order that we might see through the agent to the real doer, and through the ambassador to the King. How often might we be able to say, ‘God comforted me by the coming of a letter!’ ‘God comforted me by the coming of a kindly service!’ ‘God comforted me by the coming of a friend.’ ‘God comforted me by the coming of…?’ Fill up the blank for yourself, and recognize the goodness and mercy of God. ‘He comforteth us in all our affliction.’”
J. H. Jowett
Today’s Study Text:
“And (Deborah) said; ‘I will surely go with thee (Barak).
Judges 4: 9
“Strength For Each Day”
“Invincible” – incapable of being conquered, over-run, or subjugated.
What do I draw courage from in my life?
Is there a person I look to for help in my life?
Is this a person I can always count on to be there for me?
If not, why not?
“I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
Philippines 4: 13
She is one of my favorite heroines in the Bible. You can find her story in the book of Judges – and believe me, every woman I know would do well to study the life and history of Deborah.
Born thirteen centuries before Jesus, Deborah grew up in a “man’s world.” It was, in Biblical history, the time of the “Judges;” priests and rabbis; military leaders; and foreign kings. Women were obscure figures, rarely seen in public leadership let alone in authoritative roles. However, along comes Deborah!
Married to Lapidoth, this mother and homemaker, according to the rabbis, had the task, a menial one at that, of “keeping” the tabernacle lamps. A lowly occupation, but one fitting for a woman who would later become the spiritual light the children of Israel so desperately needed.
It might be well to point out that Deborah didn’t start at the top. She accepted the work placed before her and excelled at what she was given to do. In fact, at her home, located between Ramah and Bethel, people began to visit and ask for her advice. She became known as a woman with “good judgment” (Judges 4: 4,5 K.J.V.). And where do you think Deborah got her good judgment? She gives the answer, “Hath not the Lord said.” When Deborah needed advice she didn’t run down to get a new self-help book or go along with a theory proposed by the latest guru – she went straight to the Lord!
What happens next in Deborah’s life defies the times in which she lived. While the people of Israel were languishing under the oppressive rule of Jabin, King of Canaan, who destroyed their vineyards, raped their women and killed their children, God was at work in the heart of a woman. And at just the right moment, this courageous woman, who had been content doing the menial jobs she had been given, was called to the front of God’s battle.
When the men of Israel faltered in their leadership, Deborah, at the behest of the people and of the Lord, “arose.” She didn’t sit still, instead she went to Barak, one of Israel’s greatest military men, with a plan of action. This “invincible” woman wasn’t afraid of Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army; nor was she afraid of Sisera’s 900 chariots.
“Go,” she told Barak. “And God will deliver Sisera, his chariots, and multitudes into your hands.
Now here is the real interesting part of the story.
Barak, a man of God, realized that Deborah had great spiritual insight. So he said to her, “If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go” (Judges 4: 8, K.J.V.)
What was Deborah’s answer? At this point in the story there should be no question what an invincible woman of God would do. “Deborah arose and went,” armed with the courage and strength of God.
This story gets even better because the historian Josephus tells that a storm of hail and sleet came upon the armies of Sisera as they fled toward the Kishon River where their 900 powerful chariots got stuck in the mud. And poor old Sisera, running for his life entered the tent of Heber the Kenite.
Sisera thought he would be safe because the Kenites had a peace treaty with the Canaanites, but unfortunately, Sisera didn’t know Heber’s wife, Jael, very well. While the military leader was asleep, Jael took one of the stakes her husband used to hold up their tent and with a hammer in her hand she made quick work of this fierce man. This was just what Deborah had prophesied to Barak would happen, “The Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4: 9, K.J.V.). She could have said two women. (And just think what can happen when women like you and I start praying for one another! What an unbeatable army!)
It’s easy to say this is quite a story, and that Deborah was quite a woman. But when Deborah went home victorious after the defeat of the enemy, her words were very different. She never took credit for anything she had done but gave credit to God. You can read her song in Judges 5. The victory melody starts, “Praise ye the Lord…I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel…O Lord: let them that love Him be as the sun when He goeth forth in His might” (Judges 5: 2-31, K.J.V.).
Deborah was a woman who drew her courage from the One Person who is always there…”from everlasting to everlasting.” Judges 5 ends with these words: “And the land had rest for 40 years.”
I invite you to go back to the beginning of our devotional today, and ask yourself these three questions again. What do I draw courage from in my life? Is there a person I look to for help in my life? Is this a person I can always count on to be there for me?
If you and I want to become invincible, then let’s purpose to go to the “Man” whom Deborah relied on to be at her side whether she was cleaning Temple lamps or leading an army into battle.
Whatever challenges you face today, whatever jobs you encounter, whatever mountain you need to climb – the same “Man” who gave Deborah a courageous heart will do the same for you today. “Strength! Courage!...Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take” (Joshua 1: 7, 9, The Message).
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1: 9
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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