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Archive for July, 2015

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

The story of Abigail shows us how the quality of wisdom can walk us successfully forward in our moments of decision, both little and big. Abigail was a woman with a firm grasp of her reality and of purpose. She made herself available to those around her, and she carefully listened to what others said to her. Abigail was willing to step forward with confident action when the time was right.  And today, we will observe how Abigail was a peacemaker, wisely diffusing a particularly delicate situation and bringing about the result of peace.

To read about Abigail from the pages of Scripture, click on this link:   https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+25

In Abigail’s moment of truth, when lives literally hung in the balance, Abigail chose to embrace the gift of peace.  She didn’t get mad.  She didn’t panic. She didn’t get defensive.  She didn’t get aggressive.  With great discernment, she chose the path of the peacemaker.  And in so doing, she proves to us that the path of the peacemaker is not lazy, or pathetic, or ineffective.  Her quick and decisive actions and words to David were wisdom, and were specifically intended to lead directly to a successful and peaceful resolution for all concerned.

The physical gifts Abigail presented to David were a peace offering, representative of the payment David was owed for guarding her husband’s flocks and herdsman. Her request for David’s forgiveness were the wise words of a leader who humbly stepped in to take the responsibility for wrong-doing to protect the entire household. Her words of future hope to David were spoken with deep respect for God and for the anointed future leader, and this caused David to remember the Lord’s greater purposes for him, encouraging him to re-evaluate his hard line pursuit of justice in this situation.

Today, whether in our home or out in the community, we will be presented with opportunities to walk with wisdom along the path of the peacemaker.  May the following verses encourage us to step carefully and embrace wisdom and peace in our actions and our words with all those whose paths we will cross:

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace…” Proverbs 3:13-18

“The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.” Ecclesiastes 10:12

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

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As we learn more about Abigail, we can put together some of the clues to her success, one of which is the air of confidence that surrounds her story. This woman had loads of confidence and it paid off with good results!

To read about Abigail from the pages of Scripture, click on this link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+25

Confidence can be a hard concept for us to own. Perhaps we think confidence is only pride at work and we push against it. Or perhaps we feel we are somehow “less than” and somehow not up to standard; the idea of us moving forward in confidence, acting with strength of purpose, is a foreign concept. But Abigail was more than just confident. She was wise! The key to her successfully living out her purposes is found in pursuing the quality of wisdom. And this is something we all have the ability to chase after successfully…regardless of our age, or how long we have been a Christian, or our level of education, or our marital status, or where we land on the organizational chart at work, or our bank account balance. We can all choose the path of wisdom, laying the foundation for true success and God’s kind of good results. God makes it clear that He is the source of wisdom and loves to show us the path of wisdom, giving us wisdom freely when we ask. (James 1:5)

Abigail’s husband possessed confidence, but linked with his foolishness, revealed in his refusal to listen to others and honor his debts, he was a dismal failure.  In pride, Nabal had no use for anyone else and only looked out for himself. But Abigail’s confidence was born from a foundation of wisdom. Abigail chose to listen! With wisdom, Abigail was available to help those around her and had a working knowledge of God’s character. Wisdom spoke to Abigail in the midst of her day-to-day reality and helped her have a solid sense of purpose. By choosing to pursue the path of wisdom, Abigail had a firm foundation for success…she was able to act with appropriate confidence when the moment of decision was upon her.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

 

Our friend Abigail, of Old Testament times, exemplifies the meaning of this New Testament verse written hundreds of years after her death. Read that verse again and look closely at how Abigail’s story lends a face and a name to this verse for us.

As we walk through this week, we want to step forward with confidence. May we choose to be like our friend, Abigail, careful to live our life in a way that is wise, and making good use of our time. May we seek to understand what the will of the Lord is through humbly asking Him for His guidance as we face this day and the days ahead with confidence.

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Abigail, the lovely and bright wife of Nabal, was probably both envied and pitied by those around her. Nabal’s great wealth would have provided her with ease of living, but he was also a man known for having a wicked mean streak that dominated his character and personal dealings. God help her, riches would never have made up for the daily trauma of being married to a surly, drunken, wicked fool. And perhaps, in this lies an insight on how Abigail thrived in the greatest moment of decision of her life: Abigail knew God and He did indeed help her thrive in the midst of adversity!

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+25

Abigail’s marriage to a fool did not turn her into a fool. Her husband was such a wicked man that no one could talk to him but wise Abigail refused to walk down that same path. When Nabal insulted and refused to pay the future King David for his services, the household knew exactly who to approach about the impending disaster. In this moment of truth, Abigail shows us the great value of listening. She was available to her servant. She didn’t interrupt him, or blame him, or question the motives and veracity of his claims. Abigail listened, heard the issue clearly, and “lost no time” in moving forward with a responsible plan to save her household.

When problems surface, are we listening to the right people? Can others count on us to be “safe” with their communication?  Let’s ask ourselves:

  • Do I listen to God, first and above all else?

“Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

  • Am I available to listen to others?   Do others know they can come to me?

“… let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…” (James 1:19)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lovely, intelligent, wise, a woman of action… Hire her immediately! She is the woman we all want to be! She is the woman we are in our finer moments!  She kind of makes us feel defeated in our low moments! But keep reading, because Abigail’s Real Life was certainly not a picnic and she has good advice for Real Women like us, Real Truth worth hearing.

Abigail is introduced to us in the Bible in I Samuel 25. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+25  This is the story of a strong woman, her weak husband, and the future King of Israel.

On each Monday this month, we will look closer at four qualities found in Abigail that we can apply to our own personal challenges. Because we don’t want to just survive, we want to be a part of something that is great! So let’s get started!

Each of us has a very real purpose for waking up today and walking through it. Whether our day will include challenge or whether it is “just more of the same”, we can rest assured that God has a reason for us to be alive and engaged with today! Abigail had a firm grasp of reality and purpose, and this allowed her to do great things in the midst of adversity.

We sometimes think truly great things are only designed for others. We believe our life is not special enough to bring about great things. We think we are destined to be on the sidelines of great, not actually in the game.

But Abigail’s daily life certainly doesn’t appear to qualify as special or great. This woman’s daily reality was a mockery of marriage to a man who was beyond difficult. Nabal exhibited anger, harshness, and unpredictable behavior…this was not a good situation. Abigail might have wondered, what is the purpose in my presence in this household. What difference can I possibly make? I feel trapped and worthless!

How did Abigail find purpose? She knew her reality, and she also knew her God! In her dramatic interaction with King David, she mentions God at least 10 times. Her words point to an understanding of God’s character and His presence. Abigail’s daily reality, dismal as it was, actually moved her toward her God-given purpose. And it was in her daily life that she established the framework for greatness. In her daily life, she had proved herself as someone others could come to for help. So in the time of crisis, a foundation of trust was already in place. Her household believed in her and followed her direction as she put forward a plan to save them all from disaster.

We each are called to walk carefully within our own unique day-to-day lives, faithfully living with a grasp of reality and the living out our God-given purposes. With God’s help, we will be ready to do great things when the moment for action arrives! This was Abigail’s experience. By faith, this can also be our experience!

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

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July the 4th is often about family tradition, barbecue, fireworks, laughter and fun.  And in the midst of the relaxation and celebrations today, it is good to reflect on the sacrifices paid that we might enjoy the freedoms we still experience:  Radio commentator, Paul Harvey’s essay, Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor is worth listening to as it reminds us of the 56 heroes who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to defend freedom as they signed the Declaration of Independence we celebrate today.  Many gave the full measure of sacrifice, as did their families.  Just like men and women who defend our freedom around the world today, the families at home sacrifice too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kX-APfe3i8Q The testimonies and stories of the women who bravely stood by these heroes is also insightful:   http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/women-behind-the-signers/

 

The Declaration of Independence makes 27 references to Biblical principles that today seem to have been lost or forgotten in a culture rapidly advancing toward the minefield of secularism.  In the midst of it all, we still have the privilege and freedom to remind us that real freedom only comes through Jesus Christ.  II Cor 3:17 reminds us, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

The writer of a great patriotic song often sung in celebration today was actually beseeching God in prayer for His mercy and grace to pour out on this nation. The depth of Ms. Bates prayer is clearly reflected in each line of America the Beautiful:

America, America, God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

May this song be our prayer for our nation today as well:

America, America, God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.

America, America, may God Thy gold refine,

Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine.

Take the time for laughter, fun, barbecue, and fireworks today.  And may we also pause to enjoy the true internal freedom we have in Jesus Christ and thank God for our blessings as we pray for our families and our nation.

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