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Lessons From Deborah

I’m Debby, 39, a Christian, the wife of John Hunt and a staff member and leader at Renewal.  I am living my life for Jesus, serving my family and my church with all my heart. Failing frequently, but not letting it knock me down, and daily receiving God’s forgiveness and discipline, moving forward one day at a time – which I believe is what God asks us to do. I am very passionate about encouraging people to grow into the potential God has placed within them.

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Deborah, not least because she is my namesake.  Her awe-inspiring story is found in the book of Judges, chapters 4 and 5, and she is the first and only woman leader of the nation of Israel.  A heroine no less!  I believe Deborah’s example and her character are totally applicable to us today, particularly as we lead in our lives both professionally and privately.  “But, I’m not a leader!”, you may say.  Let me assure you that God has called and will enable each of us to be heroines in our own lives, taking control of our relationship with God and how we interact with others in our circles of influence.

Every single woman who reads this blog is in a position of influence (leadership) with someone, beginning with herself. I believe there are valuable lessons to learn in Deborah’s life that can speak into each of us and our personal situations.

Deborah’s Story

To give you an overview, Deborah was leading Israel during a time that the nation was being cruelly oppressed by the Canaanites under King Jabin and Sisera, the commander of his army.  The people had cried out to God to save them!  Deborah, a prophet, clearly heard from God and she summoned a military leader called Barak to give him the message that God would enable him to beat Sisera and all his scary armoured chariots in battle. For Deborah to have heard from God so clearly, she must have had a close walk with Him. She obviously had wisdom and charisma and carried authority with her people, since they brought their disputes to be settled by her as leader – under the Palm of Deborah (I mean, she must have been important to have had a tree named after her!).
Anyway, Barak would only go to battle if Deborah would go with him, which she did willingly. This is also very telling of her close relationship with God – she clearly fully believed in the prophecy she’d given Barak and knew that God would come through for them, despite Sisera commanding over 900 chariots fitted with iron. She had faith and courage to lead by example in order to show her people what God could and would do for them.
Deborah gave an ace ‘team talk’ to Barak before the battle, encouraging him that God had gone before him and this was the day that He had given Sisera into his hands!  She made sure Barak was pumped to go to battle and emboldened him with her presence. This enabled him to lead the Israelites to victory against the bigger and better prepared army of Sisera and the Canaanites.
The Lord routed Sisera and all his army and Sisera fled to the tent of Jael, where he was lulled into a false sense of security and killed as he slept by Jael pounding a tent peg into his skull. Gruesome, ey?  And another example of a woman having the courage to do what needed to be done in a pretty scary situation. Needless to say, from that moment on, the Israelites were able to destroy Jabin, king of the Canaanites and live in peace for forty years.
There are so many lessons to draw out from Deborah’s life that there isn’t space to go into here.  Suffice to say, she was a prophet, a wife to Lapidoth, and a leader. She was obedient to God’s will and able to direct others into God’s will. She had total belief in God and therefore had great bravery.  She stepped up to the plate, led from the front and achieved great things by walking into battle with Barak when Israel’s army was heavily outnumbered. Deborah was a worshipper and gave all the glory for the victory to God, seen in the song she wrote in Judges 5 – she had her priorities right, putting God first in all things. However, the one thing that I want us to be most encouraged by in Deborah’s story is that we too can tell others about what God says. She was a prophet who spoke the truth of God’s word to others, just as we can too.

Speaking Words of Life – The Power of Prophesy

You don’t have to be a Prophet with a capital ‘P’ to be able to tell someone that they are “God’s masterpiece. [That] He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10) when they are feeling weighed down by confusion or not knowing where God is in a situation they are facing.
Or, to tell someone at the right time that “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5) when they feel unsure of their place in the family of God.
Or even to remind someone that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) – when they are unsure if they are forgiven, or they are still feeling guilty, even after confessing their sins.
I could go on. There are literally hundreds of ‘words’ we can give people at the right time. If we know the scriptures, we can pass these promises on to those in need, at just the right moment for them.  You probably won’t even feel particularly spiritual, but trust me – this is the Holy Spirit working and revealing Christ and His love to others through your sensitivity to situations and willingness to speak up.
The very first time I was in church after giving my life to Jesus amidst heartbreak and sorrow, someone who didn’t know me at all had the courage to tell me that God was saying to me, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). That encouraged me more than I was able to express at the time. I have written that moment down and am still talking about it today.
So who can you encourage?  What word will God give you for someone in your circle?  I truly believe that as we get closer to God and spend time in his word, He will use us to show himself to others and give you an even greater love for the people around you. Just as God used Deborah to reveal his greatness and glory in routing the Canaanites in battle. Just as he used Deborah to encourage and build up his people. Just as God said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy…”(Joel 2:28).
And if you’re a daughter (or a son), that means you!
If you are passionate about seeing people grow into their God given calling and purpose, then prophesy over them! Speak God’s word. Give people scriptures that will help them keep their spiritual eyes fixed on Jesus and not on their own circumstances or limitations.
My passion is to encourage people, to help them to see their potential; to explore it and live in it. I believe that by getting deep into the Word and into a relationship with Jesus, I am able to encourage people by prophesying over them in the right moments. This is not super-spiritual. To prophesy is to be prompted by God to speak the right word at the right time in the right way. If you love people, you can prophesy over them.

Women, are we prepared to lead – in this ‘spiritual battle’- by encouraging others at every opportunity?

Debby Hunt