This was a speech I recently gave to our women’s ministry. Several people who read the speech encouraged me to post it. So here it is. It was written to be a speech, so it is not grammatically correct in areas. Please read it as if you were hearing a speech, putting the emphasis where they are inserted. Encourage all your women friends to read and just be uplifted and enlightened!
When God started showing me this message, He made it very clear that –my- part in this was to step outside of my comfort zone. Tonight I’m simply going to share with you…my heart.
Thanksgiving. The time of year when we teach our children in this country about how the Indians shared their knowledge with the Pilgrims about hunting and planting. Where we show them pictures of a big feast with laughter and a true friendship formed to help strangers conquer the elements. We talk about the things we are thankful for, such as family and friends. We adorn our houses the day after Halloween with decorations of autumn colors and turkeys scattered throughout. We plan our holiday meals with family and put a lot of careful consideration into what dish we will be cooking for each family. And then we spend hours in the kitchen with loved ones enjoying the presence of one another and pass on the tradition of family memories along with our family recipes. Does anybody recognize that Thanksgiving? That’s what Thanksgiving was like when I was growing up.
Let me try this and see if it sounds more familiar…
Thanksgiving. The time of year where we let the school system teach our children about the Pilgrims and Indians squeezed in between all the language and arithmetic curriculum they are bogged down with daily. Truth is, some of us don’t have the first actual book about Thanksgiving in our homes. We do still talk about the things we are thankful for, but mostly after our children have heard it from somewhere else, and they bring it up to us. It’s definitely not a conversation intentionally started by us during our busy lives. Some of us don’t even bother with the Thanksgiving decorations because, after all, they are only out for a couple of weeks and then it’s Christmas decorating time. IF…If we haven’t already started slowly pulling out the Christmas decorations. Some stores in our society pulled out the Christmas decorations as soon as summer was over. Just this week, my 6 year old son and I went to Wal-Mart to get some Thanksgiving decorations and we had to hunt for them. They were buried behind all the Christmas decorations and even when we found them, it’s only half of an aisle. Then there’s the holiday meals. The ones where some of us don’t even –want- to go because we will be forced to be around people we really would rather not be around. Long gone are the hours spent together in the kitchen making memories and passing on family recipes. Now it’s more of a tornado flying through at the last minute to get things done, with tempers flaring and everyone avoiding each other until it’s time to put on our “happy faces” for all the public to see. Then when we get to the Thanksgiving dinners, there’s a quick prayer over the meal and maybe a minute or two of reflection of a “cookie cutter” list of what we are thankful for before the men go watch football and the women sit down with the sales papers and meticulously plot the route for the onslaught of Black Friday sales they plan to attack. Then…there’s Black Friday. That…is a whole other message for another time.
Sadly, in our country…the MAJORTY of househoulds…look like Thanksgiving #2. We all get so focused on the list of things wrong in our lives, instead of focusing on the blessings we have. I’d like to take a minute and do something. I’m going to list a few words and when it’s something you have experienced this last year, quietly keep that word in mind. Some of you may have only experience one or two. And for some, it may be all five.
First – afflicted (defeated)
Next oppressed (weighted down)
Next is sinful
Next phrase is exposed to hurt and pain
During the event that these words were given, I had all the women raise their hands. After the last phrase was called, nearly every hand in the room was raised. I then had the women open their eyes and look around the room so they could see that they were not alone in their struggles. You are not alone either. The devil gets in our heads and tells us no one will understand or believe us. But you are not alone. We have got to purposefully change things. Just this week I heard Joel Osteen say something I thought was profound. He said, “As long as you are still alive, someone else needs something you have.” (1) That’s our greatest calling isn’t it? The Bible says in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?” If you’re alive today…you have something that someone else needs. We can’t keep focusing on our problems and get so bogged down in our –own- troubles that we forget to do what God calls us to do for others.
“Psalms 68 is an interesting passage. It was intended to be used in worship by Israel as a song of victory and deliverance. It recounts the many difficulties they endured and speaks of them being afflicted, oppressed, helpless, sinful, and exposed to hurt and pain; yet this Psalm recalls that God provided for His people in the tough wilderness wanderings and in the day of bountiful blessing in the Promised Land of Canaan.” (2) Psalms 68:19 (King James Bible) says, “Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” It wasn’t only in the good times that God provided for His people. He provides for His people in the bad times too. The people 1…recognize…and 2….thank. We can’t properly thank Him anymore because we’ve forgotten how to recognize Him. Especially in the bad times.
The Bible also says in Hebrews 13:8 (NIV), “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” So the same God that blessed them in the bad….is the same God that blesses us in the bad. We’ve just got to CHOOSE to recognize it. And then…be thankful.
“Let’s not sit around the family table harping about the election, complaining about our job status, or whining about the injustices from friends. Let’s instead reset out gratitude meters and offer genuine, heartfelt thanks to God. For salvation in Christ. For His daily care. And for friends and family He graciously provides.” (3)
I’d like to challenge you all tonight. I’m sure there isn’t a woman in this country that hasn’t heard the phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Right? We all know that one and most of us can testify personally to its’ truth. We, as women living in this day and time, have a greater influence in our family’s daily lives than in any other time in all of history. We have a voice. We are heard. It wasn’t that long ago that our fellow women had to fight for most of the freedoms we enjoy today. In 1955, in –this- country, in Montgomery, AL…one small African American woman named Rosa Parks, “famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott which was led by Martin Luther King, Jr- which was a monumental turning point in the civil rights movement. Her life exemplified commitment and courage.” (4)
Ladies listen….this one little woman…took a stand. She took a stand by sitting still. Sometimes God wants us to sit still. “Be still and know that I am God.” This one woman sat still on a bus one day and was arrested. And 53 years later, because of Rosa Parks and other brave people like her, Michelle Obama became the first African American First Lady ever. (Republican or Democrat. Like and support her husband or not…let’s not get lost in that tonight. Tonight…let’s recognize the strong woman that –she –is and the journey of women before her) Not only is she this country’s first African American First Lady…but she’s also a very successful lawyer, campaigner against childhood obesity and a Mom to two daughters in the center of the public eye daily. Some of us just pray our kids don’t act up in Wal-Mart. Her kids act up and it’s on the World News in a matter of minutes.
Helen Keller is another influential woman. “She was rendered blind and deaf by a childhood illness yet became the 1st deaf-blind person to earn a college degree, and forever changed our ideas about what disabled people could accomplish.” (4)
“Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic ocean. Although she tragically disappeared in 1937 on what was meant to be a globe-circling flight….she accomplished a much larger mission, dramatically expanding the world’s notions of just how high a woman can soar.” (4) Both literally…and figuratively.
Those are some modern day women that each took individual stands for something and today we benefit from the stands they took. Let’s look at a few Biblical women that did the same thing.
Esther was an orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai and was chosen by King Xerxes to become the Queen of Persia. She went on to confront the King of a plot to massacre all the Jews in the Persian Empire and acknowledged her own Jewish ethnicity. The King not only stopped their massacre but gave the Jews the right to defend themselves against any enemy.
So, here is 1 woman….being –chosen- not asked if she even wants to be Queen, but –chosen like property- yet she was brave enough to speak up and save all of her people.
In 1 Samuel 25, we meet another brave woman named Abigail. And Abigail’s husband, Nabal, has insulted and upset David (little David who took down Goliath with a stone is going to end up being the King). So Nabal has upset David so much so that David and his men are riding out to destroy Nabal and all his house. One of Nabal’s young men tells Abigail what has happened and she immediately snaps into action. She gathers a whole bunch of things like loaves of bread and wine, sheep, raisins and grain. And she prepares it all as an offering to David. She then sends all this out and rides out to meet David before he gets to them. When she gets to him, she falls on her face, and did everything she knew to do to keep her husband and her people alive. (Abigail is a whole other teaching for another day of the things she did right and the things she did wrong….but the fact is….she –did- it). She knew David was mad and coming to kill. Yet she bravely stepped up and went and confronted him herself.
And lastly, let’s look at Luke 8 for the last woman.
New International Version (NIV)
43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her,“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Now this woman had been ill for 12 long years. Most of us are sick for a week and we can barely function. Yet this woman had been ill for 12 years. But she knew what she wanted. And she knew what she needed. She fought her way through a crowd of people and she –knew- that all she had to do was touch the fringe of His garment and she would be healed. No physician had been able to cure her or help her. But the second she touched His robe, she was instantly cured. The more I read and studied this woman preparing for this, the more I just fell in love with her courage….and her wisdom. See, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. And Jesus healed the man sitting beside the pool. But for this woman…Jesus didn’t intentionally go –into- this miracle knowingly. He didn’t speak and she was healed. He didn’t lay hands on her and she was healed. Most of those people then….and most of us today…..wait….We wait for Jesus to touch us. She didn’t wait to be touched by the King….she reached out and touched the King of Kings. And when she touched him physically….she touched HIM…spiritually. Because –he- felt –her-. Jesus said in verse 46 (AMP), ”Someone did touch me; for I perceived that [healing] power has gone forth from me.” We wait for Jesus to do the miracle. When Jesus IS the miracle.
Esther boldly confronted a King and saved all of the Jews in Persia. Abigail boldly confronted a future king and saved her family. The woman with the bleeding disorder, humbly touched the King of Kings and was told “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go into peace.” All 3 ordinary women, like you and me, all took a stand.
So I leave you tonight with this challenge. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” When you all leave here tonight…you all have someone that needs something you have. You all have an opportunity to influence a household, or a work place, or a church. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Now a lot of us are not just over joyed about that statement. So I’d like to point out what God revealed to me during this process. The Bible goes on to say in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The church was Jesus’ heart. He loved the church so much that He died for it. You see, God calls the men to be the “head of the household”. And since they are supposed to love the wives like Christ loved the church. The church was what Jesus’ heart was for. So, let the men be the head….it’s time for us to start –being- the heart. And teach those around you how to be the heart. Encourage those around you to be the heart. “As the woman goes, so goes her household.” Be the heart of your household. Be the heart at your job. Be the heart at your church. Look at how all those women INDIVIDUALLY changed a society. Can you imagine what all of us could do if we all became like minded? Someone needs what you have. This Thanksgiving, be the heart.
1. Osteen, Joel. Life Lessons. OWN, Houston.
2. Shorb, Ann. A Light For My Path. CCES Online. [Online] http://ccesonline.com/devotionals/uncategorized/thanksgiving/.
3. Darling, Daniel. Reset Your Gratitude Meter-Thanksgiving Devotional. [Online] November 9, 2012. http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/thanksgiving-devotionals/reset-your-gratitude-meter-thanksgiving-devo-nov-2.html.
4. 125 Women Who Changed Our World. [Online] http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/inspirational-people/women-who-changed-our-world#slide-4.