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 — 9 months ago
If the pressure of the world is mounting, remember that if you are in Christ, you are staring at a defeated foe. You are no longer under the control of the world’s ways. Don’t give up!
3For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, 4because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. (1 John 5:3–4, CSB)
God’s commandments are not burdensome, contrary to what some might think. God’s commands not being burdensome is connected to the fact that those who have been born again have overcome the world. Do you see the first word of v.4— “because”?
Think about how the world impacts us. When the bible talks about the world in the figurative sense, it is talking about the ways associated with a sinful fallen world.
24The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24–26, CSB)
Do you realize that we are born into sin, and therefore, are slaves to the will of Satan? We are in bondage to sin. If you think God’s commands are burdensome, then you don’t understand the futility of the world’s ways.
It’s burdensome to pursue greed; lust; anger; wealth in order to find satisfaction because they will never bring lasting, eternal fulfillment.
Yet, while being in bondage to sin and burdened by the world’s ways, some ironically look at the way of freedom that Christ offers as being burdensome!
Here’s what John says: His commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. The burden has been released by Christ! His ways free us from the world’s futile ways and lead us into the way of righteousness. We have overcome the world, so the way of freedom is not a burden!
In fact, our slavery has been flipped around in a sense:
17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over, 18 and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. (Romans 6:17-19, CSB)Post Views: 512
By Ryan Strother — 5 months ago
Last week we looked at Jepthah’s example in Judges 11 of how to lead with faith by being empowered by God’s work in the past. This week, let’s finish that conversation by knowing that leading with faith means we are persuaded by God’s promises for the future.
Jepthah seemed like a rational guy when negotiating with the king of the Ammonites. But when the King of the Ammonites would not listen war couldn’t be avoided, Jepthah moves into battle with the Spirit of the Lord upon him.
It is important to note that God empowered Jephthah for the battle that is coming, and Jephthah had already declared that the king of the Ammonites was really messing with God, not him. You would think that Jephthah knew that he was being used by the Lord to bring about justice on the Ammonites. But then you read the crazy account of verses 30-40, which centers on Jepthah’s vow to the Lord in Judges 11:30-31:
And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
The first thing out of his door when he returned home was his only child–his daughter.
Why did Jephthah feel like he has to make a vow to the Lord when he clearly knew God’s work and power in the past?
He sounds like a desperate, scared person at the end of his rope—if you do this, then I’ll do that.
Jephthah is not persuaded by God’s promises for the future. The Spirit of the Lord was already upon Him. Instead, he reverts back to negotiating, but this time he tries to negotiate with God and not men. Negotiation has its place among people, but don’t negotiate with God–you really do not have anything that He needs.
Negotiation can be masked as making a commitment. If this, then that. Lord, I’ll do anything if you just help me… But it’s a form of bribery. Lord, I really want a certain outcome, so I’ll offer up my services to you.
You’re basically saying God, you really need what I have to offer, so why don’t you do this, and then I’ll let you have what I have to offer.
What a flippant statement to make to the Creator and Almighty of the Universe! Negotiation is the antithesis of faith because we aren’t trusting God to do what we know he can do; we’re trying to bribe God to do what we think he should do.
When you lead, you need to be persuaded by God’s promises for the future. In other words, leading with faith based upon the promises you find in God’s Word. You need to submit your decisions and actions to the Word of God.
We need to lead with faith, powered by God’s work in the past and persuaded by His promises for the future.Post Views: 279
By Ryan Strother — 2 months ago
Maybe one of the most asked questions by Christians is: how do I know I am saved?
We all want a good guarantee with important parts of our lives.
• You want insurance on your home to guarantee the replacement of your belongings.
• You buy that extra protection on that electronic device or appliance so you are guaranteed that it will be fixed or replaced.
• You make sure there is a good warranty on that vehicle so you are guaranteed that it will run like its supposed to.
• You want your bank to be insured so your money is guaranteed to be there.
In very simplistic terms, then, how do you know that your salvation will have its effect on your life? How do I know I am saved?
One area of Scripture that answers this question (not the only one) is 1 John 4:13-15, so we will look deeper into this passage.
Verse 13 says ”By this…” John uses this phrase to introduce a concept he really wants to make sure his listeners grasp. In fact, it appears 11 times in this letter.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us. So, what is this? The guarantee of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will be encouraged and gain confidence through this post. this message.
I want to point out a natural movement we see in the text, which consists of three parts. Let’s start at verse 14 first. We see apostolic authority here– John was one of many who saw and testifies about Jesus. So, understand here that it’s not just someone talking without experience. You can trust what you’re reading because it is written by someone who is speaking out of what he has seen.
1st Part of the Movement: v.14
The movements follow a pattern: this happened, then this happened. The first movement: He saw and testified that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)
Apart from Jesus Christ, you are perishing and will perish eternally under the wrath of God. But God has made redemption possible for you. The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
2nd Part of the Movement: beginning of v.15
That happened. Then this: whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus came to this world and finished the work that is necessary for you to be redeemed. But Romans 10:9 tells us, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The second part of the movement is that you have to confess Jesus. It’s not enough just to know that Jesus came into the world. Many people are smart enough to know that Jesus was a real man on the earth, but there must be a belief behind this confession, like Romans 10:9 says.
So, the 1st part is that the Father sent his Son into the world. That happened.
Then, what is to happen is that every person has to decide to confess Jesus Christ. To believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead and that he has paid the penalty for sin and brings victory in this life.
That happens. Then, the 3rd movement.
3rd Part of the Movement: end of v.15
When you confess your belief in Christ, you will be saved. So this happens: God abides in you and you abide in God. Theologically this is called our union with Christ. Wayne Grudem summarizes it: “We are in Christ, Christ is in us, we are like Christ, and we are with Christ” (Systematic Theology, p. 1256).
Millard Erickson gives 4 implications of our union with Christ (Christian Theology, 3rd Edition, p. 882-883):
• We are counted righteous.
• We now live in Christ’ strength.
• We will suffer.
• We have the prospect of reigning with Christ.
Now, even with these three events being true in your life, some might wonder, how do I know this has all happened?
This is where the guarantee of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance.
Let me ask:
• Do you feel the conviction of sin?
• Are you conforming to the image of Christ?
• Are you learning and discovering biblical truth?
• Are you finding liberty/freedom over sinful thoughts, words, actions?
• Are you experiencing the guidance of the Holy Spirit, often evidenced by peace you will feel?
• Are you telling others about Jesus, being his witness?
• Are you loving others?
This is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. That is evidence of the salvation inside of you.
Look at the similarities to what Paul wrote:
13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)
Specifically, the Holy Spirit seals the believer and guarantees the believer’s inheritance.
“Seal” generally means to put a mark upon something as a sign of its authenticity. Believers are sealed. And the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee” of the inheritance we have in Christ. The Holy Spirit is valuable enough to give the believer a sense of security by which to live faithfully until that great inheritance comes.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go. You are sealed, which is the link to the secure eternity we have in Christ (inheritance). This should give you confidence.
photo courtesy of Xavier Mouton PhotographiePost Views: 189