Daring to Be Different

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Model Your Life on the Great Women of the Bible Who Trusted God and Found Him Faithful.

Studies of 6 women from the Bible—each with 6 sessions—for personal reflection or group study.

Through intriguing stories of biblical women, the Women of the Bible study series helps readers see how God wants to work in their lives. Questions and activities are designed to encourage personal application, understanding, and ...

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Overview

Model Your Life on the Great Women of the Bible Who Trusted God and Found Him Faithful.

Studies of 6 women from the Bible—each with 6 sessions—for personal reflection or group study.

Through intriguing stories of biblical women, the Women of the Bible study series helps readers see how God wants to work in their lives. Questions and activities are designed to encourage personal application, understanding, and prayer, and to foster interaction within study groups.

Each chapter includes 8 sections: Opening Narrative, Discussing the Story, Sharing Your Story, After Hours, Setting the Stage, Behind the Scenes, Prayer Meetings, and Words to Remember. The leader's guide makes it easy to facilitate weekly Bible studies to nurture knowledge of Scripture and a sense of God's presence in life.

Esther: a Jewish orphan who became queen of Persia and saved her people—Choose to be a woman God delights to use no matter what the circumstances

Mary: a young woman who said yes to God's incredible plan for her life—Obedience can be a joyous choice that is blessed by God

Deborah: a leader of Israel when God's people were in a period of great decline—Faith, courage, and devotion toward God have a powerful impact in a woman's life

Hannah: a woman who poured out her heart to God and received a miracle—Understand the wisdom and importance of committing dreams to God

Sarah: a woman of faith whose insecurities sometimes got the better of her—Face life's uncertainties, move beyond fear, and enjoy a faith-filled relationship with God

Ruth: a daughter-in-law who left her own people out of loyalty to Naomi—Trust the Lord through faith and action in difficult times

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Judith Couchman is the owner of Judith and Company, a business devoted to writing, speaking, and editing. The author/compiler of numerous books, including Shaping a Woman's Soul, Designing a Woman's Life, and several other Women of Faith Bible studies, she makes her home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Read an Excerpt

Daring to Be Different

A Study on Deborah
By Judith Couchman

Zondervan Publishing Company

Copyright © 2002 Judith Couchman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780310247814

Chapter One

One of a Kind

Daring to be different for God.

As the sun rose, a shaft of light fell across the reclining figure. Deborah turned over and tried to sleep, but it was useless. Finally she gave up, rolled up her mat, and lit the charcoal brazier in a corner of the room.

She thought about the news she'd heard the day before. There had been another kidnapping-a young girl and her brother. The Canaanite oppression was becoming unbearable. Anyone who ventured to the watering places feared the sudden thundering of iron chariots, bringing the archers who killed for sport.

When Deborah was a girl, many of her people had lived in unwalled hamlets. The children had spent summer afternoons playing at the wells. But Sisera and his chariots had changed all that.

Now the hamlets looked like ghost towns. Cooking pots lay broken and covered with dust. The wind blew children's toys across empty game squares. Families had left their homes to live in fortressed cities.

Deborah hated to think what might happen to the boy and girl who had been captured. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She gave in to crying for a few minutes, then drew her sleeve across herface. This is no way for a judge to behave, she thought. You have work to do.

As she pinned up graying hair under her head covering, she wondered why God hadn't made her like other women, content with grandchildren, embroidery, and gossip with friends. Instead, she had unusual ideas and insights. She had learned to act on intuition-the gleam of light that sometimes flashed across her mind. And now she was a judge of Israel. She was different-different for God. She liked that, though at times some people wanted to "put her in her place."

Deborah ate a few bites of the cake of ground dates she'd made the day before and broke off a piece to take with her. She was ready to begin the day's work.

The moment she walked outside, she caught the morning sky's splendor. The colors! Mauve, peach, almost yellow. She felt a sudden awe, a hush, and bowed her head to whisper words of praise. Calmed now and joyful, she began climbing the hill toward the palm tree. Clusters of golden dates hung from it like huge bells. Underneath this palm tree, she listened to her people's grievances and judged their cases according to Jehovah's laws.

When Deborah reached the top of the hill, she settled under the tree and waited. Soon she spotted a small group of people on the road below. Voices traveled on the wind, loud and sharp. Two men gestured angrily as they climbed the hill. A woman and child walked behind them holding hands.

"Please, Lord," prayed Deborah. "Give me wisdom."

Setting the Stage

WHAT DOES DIFFERENT MEAN?

In the next weeks your group will study Deborah, a woman who dared to be different. Different from the "normal role" for women in her culture; different in values from the pagan beliefs surrounding her; different in the way she handled her success. But the most important difference was that she committed her life to God. Deborah was different not for herself, but for him.

How does someone become different-and make a difference-for God? Author and theologian C. S. Lewis explained it this way:

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, "Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked-the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; my own will shall become yours."

Before attending the first group session, think about what "being different for God" means to you. Jot down your thoughts about these questions:

To you, what does it mean to be different for God in your daily life?

How do you feel about C. S. Lewis's definition of the "Christian way" being different? What would be hard about it? What would be easy?

If you dared to be different for God, how might your life change?

How would you like to make a difference for him?

Close this time with an honest prayer to God about how you feel about being different for him.

Discussing Deborah's Story

THE FIRST AND ONLY

Deborah was the first and only female judge in ancient Israel. That's quite an accomplishment by itself. Judges led the people, interpreted national laws, and commanded military forces. But Deborah also was fair, trustworthy, and God-fearing. These were hard-to-find attributes during the chaotic times recorded in the Old Testament book of Judges. Still, Deborah held firm, and dared to be different for God.

Before you begin the discussion, read the Bible text, Judges 4:1-5.

1. In verses 1-2, read about Israel's plight after the judge Ehud died. What kind of new leader did Israel need?

2. During this time, what roles did Deborah serve in her personal and professional life? See verses 4-5.

3. Read the Behind the Scenes section, "The Role of Judges," on page 24. What characteristics did Deborah need to be an effective and honorable judge of Israel?

4. What challenges did Deborah face leading the Israelites during this era?

5. As a judge, Deborah fulfilled an unusual position for a woman in her culture. How might she have garnered such universal respect from her people? Consider at least three possibilities.

Sharing Your Story

TAKING THE DARE

Even though Deborah lived thousands of years ago, her difficulties and victories represent the path of women who pursue God and his will. No matter the era, no matter the calling, the Lord asks us to "come out from them and be separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17). When we do, it's a distinctive journey.

1. Reread the Setting the Stage section "What Does Different Mean?" on pages 20-21, through the quote by C. S. Lewis. As a group, complete this sentence, writing it on a whiteboard or easel pad so everyone can see it. "Being different for God means ..."

2. How can you distinguish between "being different for God" and being rebellious? For example, if you decide to "go against the crowd," how do you know whether you're following God's desire or your own?

3. In our culture, what challenges face a woman who dares to be different for God? How can you overcome these challenges? Write both lists on a whiteboard or easel pad.

4. What could be the benefits of being different for God? Divide into pairs and discuss this question. Then share your answers with the whole group, listing them on the board or easel pad. As a group, choose the top three benefits of being different for God.

In the next weeks you'll discover that for Deborah, following Jehovah was challenging and surprising, exciting and satisfying. God wants the same for you. So get ready. Take the dare. Become different for God.

Prayer Matters

LORD, I AM THINE

Finish today's session with a group prayer of dedication to God, expressing your desire to follow him. Begin by reading aloud in unison this prayer from a Methodist covenant service. Then each woman can add a short statement about how she desires to be different for God. Your leader can close with a brief prayer.

Dear Lord, I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt: Put me to doing: put me to suffering: Let me be employed for thee, or laid aside for thee: Exalted for thee, or brought low for thee: Let me be full, let me be empty: Let me have all things: let me have nothing: I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Thou art mine and I am thine. So be it. Amen.

Behind the Scenes

THE ROLE OF JUDGES

Judges were military heroes or deliverers who led the nation of Israel against their enemies during the period between the death of Joshua and the establishment of kingship. The stories of their exploits are found in the book of Judges.

During the period of the judges, from about 1380-1050 B.C., the government of Israel was a loose confederation of tribes gathered about their central shrine, the ark of the covenant. Without a human king to guide them, the people tended to rebel and fall into worship of false gods time and time again. "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6; 21:25) is how the book of Judges describes these chaotic times. To punish the people, God himself would send foreign nations or tribes to oppress the Israelites.

These judges or charismatic leaders would rally the people to defeat the enemy. As God's agents for justice and deliverance, they would act decisively to free the nation from oppression. But the judges themselves were often weak, and their work was short-lived. The people would enter another state of rebellion and idolatry, only to see the cycle of oppression and deliverance repeated all over again.

The judges themselves were a diverse lot. Some of them received only a brief mention in the book of Judges.... The careers of the other judges are explored in greater detail in the book of Judges. Othniel, a nephew of Caleb (3:7-11), was a warrior-deliverer who led the Israelites against the king of Mesopotamia. Ehud (3:12-30) was distinguished by left-handedness and his deftness with a dagger. Jephthah (11:1-12:7) was a harlot's son whose devotion to God was matched only by his rashness. Gideon (6:11-8:35) needed many encouragements to act upon God's call. But he finally led 300 Israelites to defeat the entire army of the Midianites. The most interesting of the judges, perhaps, was Samson (13:1-16:31), whose frailties of the flesh led to his capture by the hated Philistines. The most courageous of the judges was Deborah, a woman who prevailed upon Barak to attack the mighty army of the Canaanites (4:1-5:31).

The stories of the judges make interesting reading because of their rugged personalities and the nature of the times in which they lived. The openness with which they are portrayed in all their weaknesses is one mark of the integrity of the Bible. -Ronald F. Youngblood, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary



Continues...


Excerpted from Daring to Be Different by Judith Couchman Copyright © 2002 by Judith Couchman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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