Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.
4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’ ”
8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him. (Judges 4:1–10 , NIV)
You have to read all of today’s passage to really get a feel for what is being communicated. Rather than being focused on the fact that a woman gets the glory, look to what it means to follow God and put your faith in his working, regardless of your gender.
Why do you think the Israelites always seem to go so quickly back into the habit of doing evil when their strong leaders pass away?
How can you be sure to lead with faith, versus simply falling back and waiting for someone else to show leadership to you? How does faith in God affect this leadership?
If you have read the entire passage from today, you discover the importance of leaders who follow God and put their trust in him. In what ways do you do that every day, regardless of the challenges you face? How can you do that more?
Judges 21.1-Ruth 1.22; John 4.4-42; Psalm 105.1-15; Proverbs 14.25
“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” What a powerful, yet terrible, statement. These are the people God had selected to be his chosen nation and yet look at them now! You cannot refuse to submit to a king and assume things will go well. What happens when you refuse to see God as your king and choose to do your own thing instead?
If your name was going to be a description of how you see yourself, what would your name be?
What does Jesus mean when he says we need to worship in spirit and in truth?
Tell someone today about God’s wonderful deeds.
Describe a time when someone said false things about you. How did you react and what was the result?
Judges 19.1-20.48; John 3.22-4.3; Psalm 104.24-35; Proverbs 14.22-24
One of the hardest things there is to do is rejoice in the successes of others, especially when their success is the success you may have been striving for. How do you think it felt to be John the Baptist and see his ministry suddenly affected by the coming of Jesus? What does John’s understanding about his role have to say about how we view our own role in sharing the Good News of Jesus?
What sort of reaction do you have when you read through today’s text from the book of Judges? Why is this the case and how do you think this helps you understand God?
What was the importance of the Pharisees knowing Jesus was gaining more followers than John?
How do you praise the Lord with everything that you are? Are they ways you can praise him more or in more areas of your life?
What has been the result of your plans to do good?
Judges 17.1-18.31; John 3.1-21; Psalm 104.1-23; Proverbs 14.20-21
Our world tends to work under the premise of if you want to be good at something, you learn a lot and work really hard and success comes. (If you have worked hard enough, that is.) Jesus tells Nicodemus that it doesn’t work that way in spiritual life. You may work hard at following Jesus, but it is the Holy Spirit that gives spiritual life. The emphasis therefore is: How well are you letting the Spiritual have control of your life in order to grow?
What sort of ending did you expect from the story of Micah, his idol, and his priests? How does this compare to how this story actually ends?
How does God sending his son Jesus to save the world match your thinking about God and his interaction with his people?
When we read a psalm like today’s, we are celebrating the sovereignty of God, who created all things. How does the truth of God being the creator shape how you view him and his love for you?
Have you ever belittled a neighbor?
Judges 15.1-16.31; John 2.1-25; Psalm 103.1-22; Proverbs 14.17-19
Throughout the gospel of John, Jesus is seen performing miraculous signs which reveal his glory to others. Why were these signs so important for Jesus to be known? What signs do we see from God today that help show his power and glory?
Why does Samson seem so bent on seeking vengeance for every wrong committed against him?
What do you think Jesus means when he tells his mother: My time has not yet come?
What does the psalmist say God has done that is worthy of praise? What would you say he has done?
Why is it bad to be short-tempered?
Judges 13.1-14.20; John 1.29-51; Psalm 102.1-28; Proverbs 14.15-16
Samson wants to take a Philistine wife. Everything about this seems like a really, really poor idea, which of course his parents try to point out to Samson. Everything except the fact that God is at work in this situation to bring about an attack on the Philistines. In what ways does this seem like a really odd way to work?
What was the significance of Samson being singled out as a Nazirite (something he does poorly, by the way)?
What does it mean for Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
How does the psalmist contrast his life (and in a sense, our life as well) and the life of God?
The wise are cautious; the foolish plunge ahead. How have you seen this to be true in your life?
Judges 11.1-12.15; John 1.1-28; Psalm 101.1-8; Proverbs 14.13-14
I like to translate John 1.14: “So Jesus became just like us humans and built a house on our block.” We do not have to go searching to find God … he came to us. What does it mean for you that Jesus came and became one of us?
Why are people so prone to reject folks when life is good, but want them back when life goes bad and those rejected may have something offer us?
What do we understand better about God after we read through John 1?
How do you try to live a life of integrity?
Why does laughter conceal grief? What is the point the proverb writer is trying to make here?
Judges 9.22-10.18; Luke 24.13-53; Psalm 100.1-5; Proverbs 14.11-12
Have you ever had your hopes dashed? By “hopes,” I don’t mean things that may or may not have come to pass. I mean things that you put all your dreams into, everything you were about was focused on the possibility of this thing coming true. You absolutely knew it would happen. Only it didn’t. While the comments of the two men on the road to Emmaus were sad, perhaps even sadder was the fact that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, they just had to go through a time of doubting that it was true. When have you thought Jesus was not going to provide salvation for you?
Describe a time when you have spouted off brags and boasts, only to have it come back to haunt you.
Why do you think it was through the breaking of the bread that Jesus’ followers finally recognized him?
What are ways we acknowledge that the Lord is God today?
Why would a seemingly right path lead to death?
Judges 8.18-9.21; Luke 23.44-24.12; Psalm 99.1-9; Proverbs 14.9-10
We often arrive at worship on Easter morning dressed in our finest, big smiles on our faces, ready to celebrate a risen Lord. Don’t forget, however, that first Easter morning was filled with sad disciples making a painful journey to where they were certain their friend and their Lord lay dead. How does the pain of Saturday or early Sunday morning make the joy of Easter Sunday complete?
How can we be people who assume that we are not leading others, but that God is?
How do you think you would have reacted if you had been standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus died?
What does it mean for us today to say that God is our king?
In what ways do we make fun or belittle the idea of guilt? How can we make certain we are not doing this?
Judges 7.1-8.17; Luke 23.13-43; Psalm 97.1-98.9; Proverbs 14.7-8
Jesus is hanging on the cross, slowly dying for the sins of the world. Below him are all of the people shouting insults and derogatory comments to him. The people responsible for his death are watching on with glee. The people who swore they would die with Jesus are nowhere to be found. How would you respond to your enemies if you had been in Jesus’ situation? How does Jesus respond? How can we move to be able to respond in this way to our enemies?
What sort of moments do we have today when our enemy’s armies are huge and ours are tiny, well, tiny plus God? How can we trust God more in these circumstances?
What do you think the early readers of Luke’s gospel would have have thought when they read that Pilate declared Jesus innocent?
What new song do you sing today as a result of God’s wonderful deeds?
How can we love others while still staying away from fools?