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Oct/12

22

Women of Significance Pt 12

( READ RUTH Ch 1-4)

Point No 2: Your Reputation Goes Before You

As we saw in Point No 1, Ruth gave up everything for Naomi: Her family, her country, her god and her hopes of a future family and children.

Naomi and Ruth return to Naomi’s birthplace in Bethlehem of Judea. Naomi has lost everything, all she has left is her house. They are now poor people. One day, Ruth goes out to the fields to pick some corn to make bread.

The law of the day stated that: When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God. (Lev 19:9,10. NKJV)

As Ruth is picking some corn, the owner of the field, a man called Boaz is visiting his workers to see how they are getting along. He sees Ruth and asks who she is. They reply that she is the Ruth the Moabite who has recently returned to Bethlehem with Naomi (Ru 2:6)

Boaz calls Ruth over and commands her not to go to another field to pick up corn but to stay in his field and work behind his workers as they reap the harvest  and pick up any sheaves that they leave behind . Also he invites her to share their meal, and privately commands his workers to drop some of the sheaves on purpose for Ruth to pick up. (Ruth 2:16)

Ruth asks Boaz why he is showing her such favour. Boaz replies, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.  (Ruth 2:11,12. NKJV)

Can you see how Ruth’s reputation had gone ahead of her and given her favour with Boaz.

This was just the beginning. Boaz eventually married Ruth, and they had a child called Obed. Obed’s grand son was David who became king of Israel. David opened up the kingly line through which came Jesus Christ, and through Him came the Church.

Ruth’s reputation continued to work for her long after she died and is still working today.

Like it was with Ruth, where ever we give of ourselves, our reputation will go ahead of us, giving us favour with man and will open many opportunities for us.

Favour means that the wind is in our back not our face, it means the breaks will go for us not against us.

Meditation Point: Where ever I give, I am storing up favour for myself in future days.


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Oct/12

15

Women of Significance Pt 10

RUTH (READ RUTH Ch’s1-4)

 Ruth is my favourite Bible character. A woman of great sacrifice, meekness, service and faithfulness.

 The book of Ruth is only 4 chapters long and can easily be read at one sitting, therefore I will not go much into it’s background but trust that you have familiarised yourself with it.

 Point 1Asking Nothing In return

                                 All Naomi’s family have died. Her husband and two sons. Ruth was married to one of these sons, therefore she was free to move on and find another husband. Instead she chooses to follow her mother in law who is returning to her native city of Bethlehem.In doing so she has chosen to give up her family, country (Ruth was a Moabite), her god, her hopes of future marriage and children. In short, she gave up everything.

 She said to Naomi: “Entreat me not to leave you,  Or to  turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people  shall be  my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If  anything but  death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16,17. NKJV)

This is the principle of, ‘Asking nothing in return’.

Asking nothing in return is also built into the foundation of grace. Grace, as we have often been taught is the unmerited favour of God. That is, God giving us what we don’t deserve, and giving without asking for anything in return.

 All the major religions of the world are built on the precept of pleasing their God/s. to find acceptance with them, to appease their judgement and anger.

To do so, the people offer sacrifices of animals, prayers, fasting, food, money, whatever their God requires.

Only in Christianity do we find a God who not only asks nothing in return but has done for us what we could not do for ourselves – He sent Jesus to be our substitute sacrifice for our wrongdoings that we might find forgiveness and build a relationship with Him of love, acceptance and intimacy.

 Ruth lives out this embodiment with her mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi deserved nothing. Her bitterness, anger and rebellion were a mask covering a deep hurt. But when Ruth gave Naomi, her all, asking nothing in return, it melted Naomi’s heart, transforming her into a woman of happiness and contentment.

The world says, “If I do something for you, you must do something for me. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch your back. Do me a favour and I’ll owe you.”

 Ruth is a type or prophetic picture of the body of Christ, and God has put the Spirit of Christ within us so we can address the bitter, angry and rebellious people of today, God is calling His followers, those of us who are in Christ, to be Ruth’s to the world’s Naomi’s. To give, asking nothing in return.

Meditate on these scriptures:

 Rom 12:14. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. (NLT)

 Mat 5:44  Love your enemies.Do good to them that hate you. Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (KJV)

 You say, “But I can’t be Ruth to such people, I’ve tried and failed miserably.”

 No – ‘YOU’ can’t. But ‘JESUS’ can and will do it through you if you ask Him. He will change you inwardly so that outwardly you can express the character of Ruth.

But give Him time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Trust your Naomi to Him and He will change you.

Ps 37:7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. (KJV)

 This is His grace working through you to give, asking nothing in return, and you’ll find what were once mountains, road-blocks and walls, removed, and problem people and circumstances turned around.

Meditation Point : Prayer – Lord Jesus, I give my Naomi (name the person – ………………..) to you and ask that you will work your grace in me so that I can love the unlovely and give without asking anything in return. Thank you Lord that you will turn my situation around.

 

 

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Sep/12

24

Women of Significance Pt 9

(READ 1 SAM 25:2-42  {NKJV} )

Point 4: Timing Is Crucial – When Abigail returns from intercepting David, she finds her husband Nabal is celebrating a feast day and is drunk with wine. She knew she had to tell him about her actions regarding David and how she prevented David from destroying the whole household.

To tell Nabal while he is drunk and in high spirits would be the wrong time, so she waits until the following morning when Nabal is sober and can take in the seriousness of the situation.

Do we need to challenge someone’s behavior? Let’s look at a ‘Checklist’ to help us in such situations:

A) Do not challenge a person when either your or there emotions are still raw. Stirred emotions such as anger, resentment or rejection, cloud our thinking and we will invariably say and do the wrong thing. This will exacerbate and further inflame the situation.

Prov 15:18 Hot tempers start fights; a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.   (TM)

Wait until you know emotions have calmed down. You can then think and act impartially in the situation.

B) Carefully appraise the situation. Have any of our actions contributed to the breakdown in the relationship. This takes humility and a willingness to be real with ourselves.

If so, we must be willing to acknowledge this to the other person, say sorry for our actions and ask for their forgiveness. God’s grace will always flow and bring healing when we humble ourselves. (1Pet 5:5,6.)

C) Put your trust in God and rest in Him. Learn and speak out the following confession:

When I rest – God works   – When I work – God rests!

When we give our situation to God in prayer and rest in Him. He goes to work on our behalf. But if we take the situation back and start worrying and fretting and trying to work it out ourselves – God rests and leaves us to it!

Ps 62:5-6  Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. (HCSB)

Meditation Point: When I am resting in God, I can claim the promise that says, ‘If God be for me, who can be against me’! (Rom 8:31)

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Sep/12

10

Women of Significance Pt 8

(READ 1 SAM 25:2-42.  {NKJV})

Point No3: We now move to the part of this story where Abigail intercepts David and through great wisdom saves not only Nabal and his house, but also David and his future Kingship.

a) Abigail’s first action is to load up donkeys with food:1 Sam 25:18 Abigail lost no time. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. (NIV)

She knew the value of how much a gift can take the heat and emotion out of anger:

Prov 21:14 An angry man is silenced by giving him a gift! (TLB).

Prov 21:14  A heartfelt present cools a hot temper. (THE MESSAGE).

b) When she meets David she humbles herself and falls on her face before him (1 Sam 25:23) Abigail then proceeds to tell him that Nabal is a fool and his actions have brought death upon the household. She tells David she knew nothing about the incident and to let the blame and it’s consequences fall upon her.

When we humble ourselves we will always find grace,  1 Peter 5:5-7 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.   (NKJV

c) Abigail then speaks with great wisdom.  In a gracious way she explains that killing someone except in a time of war is unlawful and constitutes murder and would leave David with blood on his hands (a guilty conscience). Thus when David became King his actions would taint his Kingship.
Pro 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.  (NKJV)

Prov 25:15 By long forbearance and calmness of spirit a judge or ruler is persuaded, and soft speech breaks down the most bonelike resistance.  (AMP)

David immediately realizes his wrong attitude and murderous intent. He repents (changes his mind), thanks Abigail for her wisdom and grants her request not to destroy Nabal’s Household.

Do we need to address a wrongdoing in our husband, wife, friend, neighbour or collegue. If so, Scripture plainly states the correct behaviour we must adopt.

Gal 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  (NIV)

Let me repeat again, as the verse states, that if we will humble ourselves and speak gently to correct a person, God’s grace will flow into the situation and bring resolve and a win win situation for both sides. Scripture teaches that in correcting a brother or sister we are to seek to win them back to righteousness and restoration.

Matt 18:15  “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (NASU)

Gal 6:1 Also states that in correcting a person, we are to be mindful not to fall into the same sin as they have committed. What Paul means here is that if we sin and need correcting, we would not want to be corrected with harsh, angry, condemning words, but would want to be dealt with gently and humbly. Therefore let us treat others as we ourselves expect to be treated.

So remember, next time you go to correct a person, prepare yourself. Make sure you are going with a loving humble attitude, with an intention of healing and restoration.

Medidtation Point: Gal 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  (NIV)

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(READ 1 SAM 25:2-42. {NKJV})

In Point No 1 in my last Blog, we saw how approachable  Abigail was and how approachability is one of the key characteristics of wisdom.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield (approachable), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  (NKJV)

Point No 2: When Abigail receives the news that David and his men are on their way to kill Nabal, herself and all their household, she orders her servants to load food and drink onto donkeys. Her intention was to take them to David,  intercept him and persuade him not to carry out his threat. But she did not tell Nabal what she was about to do! (1 Sam 25:18,19)

Question – why did Abigail not first discuss her actions with Nabal. Doesn’t Scripture say that the wife is to be submissive to her husband?

The answer to this question is in two parts:

A) Scripture teaches that trying to reason with a fool is impossible.

Prov 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (NIV)

Prov 23:9 Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words. (NIV)

Abigail knew from past experience that trying to reason with Nabal was a futile exercise, and that time was of the essence!

B) Part of Abigail’s role as a wife was to submit to her husband Nabal.

Eph 5:22 Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord. (AMP)

But Scripture also says that a husband is to love his wife and lay his life down for her.

Eph 5:25,28,29.  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church. (AMP)

Scripture describes Nabal as ‘harsh and evil in his doings’ (1 Sam 25:3) and as the head of the home he was not taking responsibility for his wife and family. He was excercising selfish unrighteous authority, whereas, when the Bible talks about submission it is always in the context of righteous authority.

Therefore, Abigail was justified in taking independent action without first consulting with Nabal.

There are those who teach that a wife must submit to her husband at all times, and there are husbands who have taken full advantage of this by treating their wives as doormats, abusing and bullying them.

If the husband loves his wife and is laying down his life for her, not only will he treat her with respect but will respect her right to have equal input into family issues. Thus if her input is respectful, wise and right, he will submit himself to her.

Eph 5:21  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV)

Marriage is two people pulling together: loving, supporting, serving and helping each other.

Eccl 4:9-12 Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better.  If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble. Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone?  And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.  (TLB)

Not only do husband and wife have each other, they also have Christ, and the Scripture above declares that a triple braided cord is not easily broken.

Wherever this model is lived out, both parties will naturally respect the roles that Scripture ascribes to them and harmony will reign!

When we view Abigail’s actions in the light of this story, we can see just how wise she was. Truly, any man would would count it an honour to be married to such a beautiful and wise woman. Everyone, that is, except  Nabal!

Meditation Prayer: Father, help me take responsibility for my actions. Give me your wisdom to see the big picture of my life.


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Aug/12

22

Women of Significance Pt 6

(READ 1 Sam 25:2-42)

BACKGROUND STORY

David and his men who are living in the wilderness, have been protecting Nabal’s sheep and cattle ‘gratis’, free of charge. When a feast day comes around David sends his men to Nabal requesting a few sheep to roast and eat during the feast.

Nabal refuses the request by saying that David is a run away slave and sends his men away empty handed. Upon hearing Nabal’s refusal David becomes very angry and gathers his men to return and kill Nabal and all his house.

One of Nabal’s servants hears about David’s intent and tells Abigail, Nabal’s wife. Abigail takes prompt action and by great wisdom saves Nabal and all his house.

Let’s take a closer look at how the story pans out -

Nabal & Abigail: Nabal’s name means foolish, stupid and senseless, and as his name, so was his behavior (1 Sam 25:3,25), whereas Abigail was a woman of wisdom (1 Sam 25:3,33). Foolishness and wisdom are opposites, and their story is a picture of the Book of Proverbs which so often portrays the difference between the two.

Prov 10:23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom. (NIV)

Prov 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.  (NIV)

Prov 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  (NIV)

Let’s look at some points in this story that reveal these two words of foolishness and wisdom:

Point 1: One of the servants of the household came and told Abigail about Nabal’s rejection of David and how David was on his way to destroy them all, and asked Abigail to do something because they couldn’t reason with Nabal (1 Sam 25:17).

Here we have one man (the servant), who can approach Abigail but can’t approach Nabal. He says that Nabal is a man that can’t be reasoned with

We have a tendency to think that wisdom is having knowledge, and the ability to put that knowledge into action. It is. But it is much more than that. In Jam 3:17 we see that true wisdom has at least 8 characteristics, one of which is, ‘easy to be intreated’ or ‘willing to yield to reason’. This is what being approachable means.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (KJV)

Abigail allowed the servant to speak to her, she was approachable. Nabal was unapproachable, he wasn’t willing to yield to reason.

Question: Which one are you? Reasonable or Unreasonable?

When you are spoken to, challenged or questioned, how do you respond. Are you defensive, stubborn, evasive. Do you blame-shift, become angry, make excuses, tell lies. Any one of these characteristics makes us unreasonable, and like Nabal, people will ignore or work around us.

if any of the above applies to you and you’ve sought to change your behaviour but it always ends in defeat, hopelessness, shame, guilt and condemnation. Be encouraged! There is a way to victory and freedom from your weakness, and His name is Jesus Christ.

He is, ‘the wisdom from above’ (Jam 3:17). He is Christ, ‘in us’ (Col 1:27). Only Jesus can change our behaviour, turn our failure into victory and our weakness to strength.

Question: How is this possible? The answer is to give our weakness to Jesus and leave it with Him (Mt 11:28-30). After giving it to Him, we must then rest in Him until He brings the inward change we are looking for.

Question: What happens if i take back my problem and start worrying about it. The answer is to give it back to Jesus and keep giving it back to Him until you can leave it with Him.

Question :What happens if I repeat my behaviour. The answer is to receive His forgiveness, throw off all guilt and condemnation and return to the place of peace and rest. Remind yourself that only Jesus can change you and He is in the process of doing just that. Thank and praise him for the changes He is making in your life.

He will make good on His promise, but we must give Him time!

Meditation Point: Seeking to change ourselves by our own strength and will power only results in ‘behaviour modification’.True change is inward change from within. Only Jesus by His grace can make such changes.









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