My mom’s name is Deborah, and I’m thankful for her. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I am referring to the relationship between Deborah and Barak in the book of Judges (chapters 4 and 5). Deborah was a prophetess, meaning she spoke God’s word to His people. She was a wise woman, settling disputes under a palm tree. Barak was a military leader who faced the ruthless and technologically-superior Canaanites in order to deliver the Israelites from their oppression. This victory was an act of God’s grace for His people (Israel), and Deborah and Barak were major players.
In Judges 4:6-7, Deborah summoned Barak and said, “Hasn’t the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you: ‘Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites? Then I will lure Sisera commander of Jabin’s army, his chariots, and his infantry at the Wadi Kishon to fight against you, and I will hand him over to you.’”
When I was reading that recently, I noticed something–God had already told Barak what he was to do and had already promised victory. Deborah was admonishing Barak to be faithful to what God had already said.
My point: be thankful for the “Deborahs” in your life who admonish you to be obedient to Scripture.
God has spoken and we have that record in the 66 books the Bible. It can be painful to hear someone say, “Didn’t God say…,” pointing out sin in our lives, but we need to be humble as we’re admonished toward obedience to God’s Word.
Be thankful for the Deborahs in your life.
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By Ryan Strother — 3 months ago
Think about the last time you were in a group prayer time. What kind of needs were prayed for most? I would guess physical needs. The illnesses and financial provision among others.
It is very appropriate and right to pray for these requests, but my fear is that we too often neglect praying for spiritual needs. Recently I wrote about praying specifically, and now I want to focus on the content of those specific prayers.
“If anyone sees a fellow believer committing a sin that doesn’t lead to death, he should ask, and God will give life to him—to those who commit sin that doesn’t lead to death. There is sin that leads to death. I am not saying he should pray about that.” (1 John 5:16, CSB)
This verse is clearly about a spiritual need–a believer sins. We can confidently pray for wayward sinners because God will restore abundant life. John has written much about sin in First John. He is clear that believers will still sin (1:8), but that they will not be characterized by a lifestyle of sin (3:8-9; 5:18). Jesus (he who was born of God) protects his followers and Satan cannot overtake them (5:18).
One of the blessings of being part of the family of God is that when we sin, we have a community of people who should prayerfully encourage us back to righteousness.
“We naturally pray for those who are ill, and we should just as naturally pray for those who are straying away from God. It is just as natural a thing to pray for the cure of the soul as it is to pray for the cure of the body. It may be that there is nothing greater that we can do for the man who is straying away, and who is in peril of making shipwreck of life, than to commit him to the grace of God.” ~William Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 138.
When we see a brother committing a sin, we are to approach God on his account. We are to pray that he would find the fullness of life again. We are pray that whatever is trying to steal, kill, and destroy him would be bound from him and that he would be restored to Christ. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV)
What do you do when you see a brother committing sin?
- Ignore it? Maybe you worry about offending him by pointing it out.
- Gossip? If your first response is to gossip rather than pray, you need to get rid of the log in your eye first (Matt. 7:5).
How can you make a practice of praying for spiritual needs?
- Change your prayer list. In your personal list, add a category called “spiritual requests” or something similar and add these kind of requests: those who need salvation, those who need to turn from active sin, and those who are struggling to keep their eyes on Jesus through difficult times (spiritual needs are almost always present in times of suffering).
- Our church recently changed our weekly prayer list in our Ministry Guide to include these three categories: thanksgiving, mission, intercession. This is a way of teaching people how to pray. The “mission” section is like our spiritual requests (not for specific people usually but more church-wide requests related to our mission of carrying out the Great Commision).
- Actually get to know people. Praying for spiritual needs will probably require you to get beyond the how are you/I’m fine passing conversation that requires no attention to the person. Be interested in him. Get to know his soul. Talk about struggles and real life situations. Be authentic.
- Ask a better question. If you are leading a group time, don’t open prayer time asking does anybody have any prayer requests? Most people will go into default mode of sharing about Grandma’s stubbed toe. Instead, ask: who can we pray for that is struggling spiritually or needs their soul strengthened through difficulty right now? Your responses won’t be so much about that toe now.
Pray for spiritual needs and experience the abundant life that Christ offers.Post Views: 202
By Ryan Strother — 8 months ago
What will you do the day before you die? For Fanny Crosby, it was to write another hymn.
Biographies of faithful believers can inspire us to continue living boldly in our faith and Fanny Crosby’s story will not disappoint. If you have ever looked at a hymnal, you have probably seen her name. Other than the Wesley brothers, Fanny Crosby’s name might appear more than any other composer’s name in hymnals. Her hymns are full of theological richness and joy, like “Draw Me Nearer,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour,” “Near the Cross,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “To God Be the Glory.”
Now let me fill you in on a little of her story.
Frances Jane Crosby was born in Southeast, Putnam County, New York (near Poughkeepsie), on March 24, 1820. She developed an infection in both eyes at just six weeks old, and the doctor’s treatment ended up blinding her for the rest of her life. Toward the end of her first year of life, her father died. Her mother, Mercy, raised her alone and taught Fanny not to turn to self-pity but self-sufficiency.
Crosby enrolled in the New York Institute for the Blind and spent twelve years as a student there and another eleven years as a teacher. She taught a man named Alexander Van Alstyne and eventually married him on March 5, 1858. Alexander was an accomplished organist and composed to the tunes of many of Fanny’s hymns. She collaborated with many great hymnists of her time like William Bradbury and William Doane, and she was published by some popular publishers like Ira Sankey and P.P. Bliss.
Let nothing stop you from serving the Lord in the ways He has gifted you. Fanny certainly overcame adversity. She never let her circumstances paralyze her faith. Crosby died on February 12, 1915, with a total of around 9,000 hymns to her name and her last one written on February 11. I hope we all can have the same kind of faithfulness to the end of our lives!
Post Views: 256
- Nichols, Stephen. http://5minutesinchurchhistory.com/fanny-crosby
- Watkins, Keith. “A Few Kind Words For Fanny Crosby.” Worship 51, no 3 (May
By Ryan Strother — 7 months ago
Not every Christian is called to adopt, but every Christian is mandated to care for orphans (James 1:27). A Child’s Hope Int’l states, “There are approximately 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. It’s estimated that 120,000 are eligible for adoption. With over 400,000 churches in the United States, if one person in every 3rd church would say ‘I’ll take one’ all of the children would have a home.” The church can meet the need.
Now consider this: I heard someone say once that the Church is not ready for Roe v. Wade to be overturned as many would desire. If the children who would have been aborted are not, but are given up for adoption instead, who will raise them? Is the Church ready to meet the need?
Think of the gospel impact the Church could have through adoption. To some degree, adoption is a picture of what Jesus did for us: reaching into a hopeless situation to bring hope and joy and fulfillment of life. Most churches could start by providing foster and adoptive families to their county children’s services. A need always exists there.
If you study soteriology (the study of salvation), you will know that adoption is an incredible part of our salvation. Christians are adopted into the family of God (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7; Romans 8:15-17), and we ought to be grateful! Millard Erickson defines adoption (spiritually) as the “transfer from a status of alienation and hostility to one of acceptance and favor.”
Now think about this: God created physical life and God gives spiritual life (through Jesus Christ, including the process of spiritual adoption). The Bible only advocates two ways of parents raising children: 1) through the physical process of a husband and wife bringing a child into the world, and 2) through adoption or orphan care (James 1:27). Therefore, raising and caring for children mirrors the work that God has already done.
Adoption illustrates and explains the love of Jesus. Is the church ready to meet the need?
How is your church meeting the foster and/or adoption need in your community?
 Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd Edition (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI, 2013), 891.Post Views: 292