DARE TO BE A DEBORAH
Mother's Day, May 14, 2017
INTRO: I was raised in churches with women preachers… Many times in history the church would have ceased to exist were it not for courageous women… women were some of the most important supporters of Jesus…
We are in an era where we need both men and women to rise up and take on the mantle of ministry and leadership!
Today, I want to share the story of one of God’s greatest leaders: Deborah.
Let me give you some background…
The Children of Israel were living in the promised land, but not possessing it. They had not conquered it. Many of their enemies were still in the land, harassing them endlessly. The theme of the book is expressed in this verse:
Judges 17:6 (NKJV) In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This is exactly where we are today. In this post-modern culture, absolutes have been set aside in favor of personal morality. Right and wrong is now a matter of subjective, personal choice!
TEXT Judges 4:1–3 (NKJV) When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan…. The commander of his army was Sisera… 3And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord…
This is the pattern of the book of Judges, a cycle: sin - suffering - supplication - salvation... The people would sin; they would then suffer under an oppressor. They would pray for deliverance and God would raise up a judge, a leader, to save them from their enemies.
Judges 4:4–5 (NKJV) Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging (leading) Israel at that time. 5And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
Deborah was an amazing woman!
First, Deborah was a prophet.
A prophet is someone who "speaks to men about God and speaks to God about men!" There is a notion that a prophet is someone who foretells the future. I see advertisements all the time for services with prophet so and so, a new book by prophet so and so, send an offering to prophet so and so and you will get back your own personal prophecy! I have seen so-called prophets preach from their own book of prophecies instead of the Word of God! If you are not nauseated right now, be sure that God is!
There is a true gift of prophecy. We have had prophets minister here in this church on numerous occasions. Some of them were fore-tellers, giving predictive words. Others have been forth-tellers, exposing sin and preaching righteousness. The truth is that most prophesy is forth-telling, or preaching the truth! We are all encouraged by the Apostle Paul to prophesy. I don't think he was telling us to go around and predict the future, but to preach the truth of the Gospel to a lost and dying world!
There are many gifted women in the Bible. Deborah is one of five women to be called a prophetess in the Old Testament. The others are Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Huldah (2 Kin. 22:14; 2 Chr. 34:22), Isaiah’s wife (Is. 8:3), and Noadiah, a false prophetess (Neh. 6:14).
There are gifted women in the church today. In fact, all you ladies are gifted by God for ministry in the body! Your gifts are needed!
Now I'm not just taking about keeping the nursery or cooking the pot luck lunch or setting up for different things. These things are necessary, but men need to do these things too!
We need your motivational gifts…
Romans 12:5-8 (NKJV) so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
We need your ministry gifts…
1 Corinthians 12:28 (NKJV) And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
We need your manifestation gifts…
1 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues!
Whatever your gifts are, stir them up!
Second, Deborah was a leader…
If you are chosen by God to lead, then lead!
A judge was someone raised up by God to speak for God and lead the people of God. I don't know how she became a judge; God called her. She is married, but we know nothing of her husband. This is the only time he is mentioned in the Bible.
The lesson here is that you don't have to wait on your husband to minster before you do! I'm not talking about being in rebellion or going over your husband, but responding to God’s call with your husband’s (or parents’) blessing. Your husband may not be called; he may not be willing. Move on out!
We need you to fill all the offices in the church.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (NKJV) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
We also need women serving as bishops, elders and deacons.
Now this is a change for me. Some of the best teachers in the church today are women: Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Lisa Bevere, Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, Marilyn Hickey, Victoria Osteen, Paula White, Juanita Bynum, and many others. Can I be honest? I don't really like any of them, except maybe Christine Caine or Danielle Strickland. In fact, the only woman preacher I really like is Alba!
I confess I have been wrong. I have rejected the idea of women being leaders in the church. I still believe that the Kingdom of God moves on the shoulders of anointed and appointed men, I must now agree with what a church leader from India told me one day, “Shall we keep women out of the Kingdom of God?”
I believe this so strongly that I believe we need to change our church bylaws to allow the ordination of women as pastors, elders, and deacons!
Third, Deborah was an encourager...
Judges 4:6–7 (NKJV) Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; 7and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”
Here Deborah is operating in her prophetic gifting, but she was empowering someone else. This is what the church needs: we need to raise up and train other leaders for the harvest that is to come!
Judges 4:8 (NKJV) And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!”
Now before we treat Barak too harshly, remember he is called a hero of faith in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:32-33 (NIV) And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised…
Judges 4:9 (NKJV) So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.
The battle commences…
Judges 4:14–17 (NKJV) Then Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. 15And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left. However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite;
Jael wins the victory…
Because of Deborah's leadership, other women also rose up to take their place in the battle! There may be many who want to move out, but they need examples!
1. Find and use your gifts.
a. What breaks your heart?
b. Your misery is your ministry!
c. Get involved with people.
2. Take leadership when called.
a. Serve first.
b. Seek the lowest place.
c. Anticipate the opportunity!
3. Train others to do what you do.
a. Do it.
b. Do it while others watch.
c. They do it while you watch.
d. They do it.
e. Repeat the process.
Who will take the challenge? Who will dare to be a Deborah ?