Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sometimes the Difference is Only 20 seconds

In the movie, We Bought a Zoo, widowed dad Benjamin Mee,  is working to instill a sense of courage and adventure in his children. They are dealing with a great loss and a big transition in their lives, so Benjamin feels the responsibility of equipping his children to tackle life head on. He sums this philosophy up by saying to his son, "All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you, something great will come of it."

I loved that movie and more importantly I loved that quote. Have you taken whatever seconds of crazy courage you have to turn your life in a totally different direction, without knowing what will come of it, but feeling faith in the outcome and hope in your heart that this is the right thing to do? I have and I can tell you that it is an exhilarating feeling.

Recently the Lord led me to this quote by Margaret Nadauld, listen to what she has to say:“

I think the difference between being the woman we are and becoming the woman God designed us to be is 20 seconds. 20 seconds to think before we speak. 20 seconds to choose how we react to a stressful situation. 20 seconds to ask ourselves ‘what would Jesus do?’ . 20 seconds of courage in difficult situations. 20 seconds of unimaginable bravery to stand up and have a voice for those who are oppressed and downtrodden. 20 seconds to walk out of a room where ungodly conversation and gossip is being spoken. 20 seconds to turn the tv off and 20 seconds shut down the computer when you are tempted to go places you know are not pleasing to God.
Just 20 seconds. 20 seconds that can change your life.

What are some characteristics of a woman of God? You can recognize a woman of God by her outward appearance. She doesn’t seek to draw attention to herself by the clothes she wears. She is modest. She understands her stewardship over her body and treats it with dignity. She cares for her body as she would a holy temple or church and she understands the Lord’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

Our outward appearance is a reflection of what we are on the inside. Our lives reflect that for which we seek. And if with all our hearts we truly seek to know the Savior then our outward appearance will reflect that desire.

Women who love God would never abuse or deface the temple of God nor would they throw open the doors of that temple and invite the world to look on. How even more sacred is the body because it was not made by man it was formed by God.
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy for the temple of God is holy which temple ye are.” 1 Cor. 3:17
Daughters of God guard their bodies carefully. They don’t uncover their bodies to find favour with the world. They walk in modesty.

Secondly, you can recognize a woman of God by her attitude. She seeks to bring glory to His name. She seeks to bless others for Him. She does random acts of kindness, not to be recognized for it, but to honor God through it. She seeks out those who are hurt and offers comfort. She gives a cup of cold water in His name.

Thirdly, you can recognize women of God by their abilities. They take their God given gifts and use them to help others. They are strong, capable women who bless families, serve others, and understand that they should use their intelligence for the glory of God. They are women who embrace enduring virtues in order to be all our Father needs them to be.

Fourthly, you can recognize women of God by their reverence for motherhood. Even if a woman has not had children of her own she can still be a righteous influence on children around her. Grateful daughters of God love Him and teach their children to love Him. They teach their children to honor God in all they do and that if they honor God by putting Him first, He will always honor and bless them.

When you see mothers who are true home makers you see mothers of great strength. They create a safe haven for their family. They bring peace and security to their homes by their ability to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Her children are blessed by her wisdom and good judgement. Their husbands and children whom they bless will go out into the world and be blessings to those around them. Make no mistake about it ladies, your young children are a reflection of you and what you have poured into them.

 Daughters of God learn from older spiritual women and they heed their advice so they can become what God intended them to be. Older women are to teach younger women the joyful art of creating a happy home.

I love this quote by Neil. A Maxwell: “When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed will it feature the echos of gunfire or the shaping sounds of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighbourhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?”

Women of God can never be like women of the world. We are called out to be different. We must nurture gentleness in our daughters and teach them a quiet strength. We must teach kindness and compassion. Celebrate the difference between girls and boys in a world that wants to have everyone be gender neutral.

 Celebrate the place that we daughters of our God have in His grand plan. Only after the earth was formed, the sun, moon, and stars placed in the sky, only after the animals were created and man himself, was woman created and only then was the work pronounced complete. We are blessed to be women of God.

But we live in a world where we are bombarded on every side to live life in any way we choose as long as it is not in a godly way. There are temptations that Satan uses to obscure the path to eternal life that are specifically directed at women. He makes modesty and moral purity appear old-fashioned. He has made motherhood seem less important. He has been successful in confusing women about their roles in the Lord’s divine plan. And this is where we can feel like we are ill equipped to know what God expects of His daughters. But let me remind you of the 20 seconds I spoke of at the beginning of this message. Sometimes all it takes is 20 seconds to rethink the way we have been taught and follow what God teaches us in His Word. It is a choice and if you are brave and courageous you will shun the world’s standards and even if you stand alone, you will follow after God.

One way we can withstand the pressures of the world is to stand in the grace of God and be not moved. In the Bible, Abigail is one of my heroes. Abigail is a woman to emulate. We can follow her example and receive the blessings of the Lord for our obedience to His teachings.
Abigail was a woman of beauty and brains. We first meet her in 1 Samuel chapter 25. Abigail is not only described like other women of the Bible as being beautiful but she is described as intelligent or of good understanding. What made her so smart? I believe it was her obedience to God.
Abigail’s parents arranged for her to be married to a wealthy man named Nabal. Arranged marriages were the norm back then and daughters were expected to obey their parents and marry the man they chose for her. No doubt this arranged marriage was the envy of many young girls. Abigail would have servants. She would have wealth and prestige.  Yes, she lived an affluent lifestyle. She had an enormous estate to oversee and money was no object. The problem with her life was her husband. He was an idiot. Well, that’s my word for him. The Bible calls him foolish, intemperate and mean.
Abigail’s name means “my father’s happiness”. I’m sure Abigail made her father happy by agreeing to such a match. And I’m sure she made her heavenly Father happy by being obedient to her parents. But I’m also sure that her marriage wasn’t a happy one. Abigail, the intelligent, was permanently yoked to Nabal whose name means “foolish or senseless”.

This is how the story goes:
Nabal did not realise that David and his men had been protecting his shepherds.  When David sends ten messengers to Nabal, who tell him of how they have protected his shepherds, he refuses to provide the food that the messengers have asked for.  He even screams at them (1 Sam 25:14 NLT).  Nabal has deeply insulted David, and David responds by preparing for a slaughter (1 Sam 25:1322).

Abigail had many servants who trusted her and followed her lead.  A servant tells Abigail how Nabal has insulted David, and informs her of the danger they now face. Abigail had seconds to decide what to do. She comes up with a plan and  her servants, who are no doubt glad to have such an intelligent mistress jump into action.

She orders her servants to put together enough food to feed David and his four hundred men and then this brave woman decides to go out and face David herself. She could have sent a trusted servant but she knew that she alone had to face this danger. She meets David and his men on the road. They have their swords drawn and they are ready to avenge their king for the insult which Nabal gave to him.

She prostrates herself on the ground in front of David and begs him for mercy for her household. Her quick actions saved her and her household and kept David and his men from unnecessary bloodshed. Abigail didn’t think of her own safety. There was a wrong that needed to be righted and in just a few seconds she jumped into action. But now she had to face her foolish husband.

The next day, Abigail tells Nabal everything that she had done.  Thankfully God spared her from Nabal’s wrath.  Nabal immediately has a heart attack and dies ten days later from heart failure.

Nabal did not know who David was, but Abigail knew.  She knew that David was an outlaw on the run from King Saul, but she spoke eloquently and prophetically about David and his future reign as king of Israel.  Her speech is one of the longest speeches of a woman recorded in the Old Testament.

 Here is an excerpt:
“The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself.  And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.” 1 Samuel 25:28-31 (NIV)

After Nabal’s death, David loses no time in asking Abigail to become his wife.  He remembered her, as she had asked (1 Sam 25:31). David admired her bravery and her intelligence. The Word tells us that when David sent a message to her asking her to be his wife that she and her handmaids went with David’s servant. This was another pivotal point in Abigail’s life. She didn’t say, let me think about it. No, she thought about it and made the decision. 20 seconds, ladies. Sometimes your life will change completely by taking 20 seconds to think before you act or speak.

Abigail teaches us to always speak the truth. She didn’t make excuses for her husband’s behaviour. She didn’t lie. She told David:

 “My lord should not pay attention to this wicked man Nabal. He simply lives up to his name! His name means ‘fool,’ and he is indeed foolish!” 1 Samuel 25:25 (NIV)
Despite defying her husband and saying negative things about him, Abigail is commended for her actions.  Moreover, David recognises that Abigail was sent by God. David said to Abigail,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day . . .” 1 Samuel 25:32-33 (NIV)

 Abigail is an excellent example of a godly wife.  She doesn’t submit to her husband’s stupidity, but she is submissive by protecting him and his interests. She could have said ‘well it serves him right if David kills him.” And she could have escaped before the attack happened. But instead she takes the initiative when he is unable or unwilling to act, and she even apologizes for his rude behaviour. 

Abigail was a loyal wife. She was considerate and brave. She was a smart, strong young woman who helped her husband by going against his wishes.  She initiates a potentially dangerous meeting with David, and speaks with great diplomacy and insight.  God used Abigail to help David and encourage him with her prophetic words.  Abigail was a remarkable woman. Abigail was a woman of God.

Every day we are faced with opportunities to be women of the world or women of God. How we react and think and speak will all reflect if we are truly women of God or if we are still allowing our sinful nature to have rule over our life. All it takes is 20 seconds, sometimes even less, to think before we speak, act or react. 20 seconds to change our life, to defeat the enemy, to shine a light for all to see that we are a daughter of the Most High and we will stand for Him.

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