The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” How often have we read these words? The Israelites repeatedly worship other gods, receive punishment, call upon God for help, and wait for God to send a rescuer. And God always responds.
The Israelites have been in bondage to King Jabin of Canaan, suffering oppression for twenty years. He and his commander have a distinct advantage over the Israelites with a mighty army of nine hundred chariots. It would be tempting to accept a life of oppression. But the Israelites summon the courage and find the faith to request help. God responds by calling Deborah who calls for Barak who calls for ten thousand fighters from the tribes of Napthali and Zebulon. They help pave the path to deliverance.
Faith leads to prayer. Prayer leads to possibility. Possibility leads to action. Action leads to deliverance. Deborah knows the enemy. But Deborah also knows that something extraordinary happens when people listen for instruction and unite what they have with the power of God.
We may not know what it’s like to be enslaved or have an army marching toward us, but we can seek to understand what it is like for God always to be on our side. The Israelites fail time and again, but they never let go of their belief in God who is always with them, on their side, ready to lead them through whatever opposition they face.
What challenges that you face make you feel hopeless? How might your circumstances change if you believed God is always with you, never leaving your side?
Mighty God, we do not always understand our circumstances, and we acknowledge our wayward actions. We believe you are with us. Increase our faith. Give us the capacity to follow your leading. We are ready for deliverance. Amen.
In the book of Judges, we find a woman confidently leading a patriarchal nation as though it were an everyday occurrence. The psalm reminds us that the need for mercy reduces each and every one to a posture of outstretched hands and upturned eyes. To sing such a song on the way to worship, as was traditionally done, is to prepare the mind and heart for the possibility of whatever blessing may be given upon arrival. In First Thessalonians we overhear an apostle’s exhortation to live openly and expectantly regarding God’s future revelation—alert to the coming of Christ but also aware that Christ may come in sudden and unanticipated ways. Finally, a parable in Matthew runs counter to our instincts to safeguard that which we treasure, challenging us to consider the ways in which faithfulness involves a strange coupling of risk and reward.
• Read Judges 4:1-7. Reread the last paragraph of Monday’s meditation and reflect on the writer’s two questions.
• Read Psalm 123. How do you address God? Is God more “enthroned above” for you, or “right here in [your] midst”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. The writer states, “We stay awake each time we practice acts of love and mercy.” When have you felt divinely awakened by an act of love?
• Read Matthew 25:14-30. Identify ways you take risks in your life presently. Do any of these risks relate to living out your faith?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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