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Defining Moments

Loughborough Church - Defining MomentsIt is always fascinating to me to compare a verse from the Bible in the various translations. Such comparisons are a great way to get a handle on the meaning of what God is really saying through a particular passage of His Word. Of course, caution and wisdom should always be applied, but nevertheless with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it can be a most helpful exercise. Each translation offers its own specific emphasis or nuance which serves to throw fresh light and enlightenment on each sentence. Take for example the text found in the book of Esther 4v14. This is what it says in the New American Standard Version…

‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?’

And here is that very verse from a number of other translations.

The New International Version says ‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?

God’s Word translation puts it like this … ‘The fact is, even if you remain silent now, someone else will help and rescue the Jews, but you and your relatives will die. And who knows, you may have gained your royal position for a time like this.’

The Common English Bible says … ‘In fact, if you don’t speak up at this very important time, relief and rescue will appear for the Jews from another place, but you and your family will die. But who knows? Maybe it was for a moment like this that you came to be part of the royal family.’

The New Living Translation says … ‘If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?’

The Wycliffe Bible says … ‘For if thou art silent now, the Jews shall be saved by another way, but thou and thy father’s house shall all perish; and who knoweth, whether thou camest to the kingdom, that is, to thy crown, so that now thou couldest help in such a time of need?’

And lastly, let me share with you the ‘Weaver Amalgamated Paraphrased Version…’

‘If you do nothing today, God will raise someone else up from somewhere else to ensure He accomplishes His purpose. However, don’t think for a second you will get away scot free if you don’t step up to the plate. The bottom line is this -I this is your moment! This is your time! You have been born for this very purpose. God has placed you where you are at this defining moment in time to make a difference – to bring about the purposes of God – to make it happen!’

Do you see what I mean? Comparison of various translations can often help us to get a better understanding.

But returning to that particular verse in the book of Esther, there is no doubt that it was a defining moment, a defining time in the history of the nation of Israel.

And this of course isn’t the only defining moment in history. History is littered with and defined by landmark events or actions that can only be described as ‘defining moments’. Moments that irrevocably changed the course of human civilisation.

Whilst many of us are taught that anonymous social, political and economic forces are the driving factors behind events of the past, acclaimed historian and award-winning Professor, Rufus Fears says, ‘that it is ordinary individuals, acting alone or together, who alter the course of history.’

In other words Professor Fears reports that the one thing he is clear about from all his years of extensive historical research is that it’s ordinary people like you and me who ‘make things happen’ and alter the course of history!

There is no question about it – life is scattered with Defining Moments and it’s you and I who make them with the great help of God.

So what do I mean by a ‘Defining Moment’?

A defining moment is any specific time in your life in which a choice that you make or an incident that happens causes something in your life to change. It is something that from that moment on defines some aspect of your life. It is a moment of transformation – and not only for yourself but more often than not it also brings tangible transformation to the lives of others as well.

I could mention many defining moments that have taken place, but here are just a few defining, critical moments from the pages of history.

– When on June 4, 1940 Winston Churchill stood to his feet to address the Houses of Parliament and the nation and said ‘we will fight them on the beaches …. and will we will never, never, never surrender!’ It was a defining moment in the history of the British Isles and indeed for the whole world. It was primarily Winston Churchill’s indomitable spirit that made victory possible over the tyrant Adolf Hitler and his evil regime.

– Also, on that amazing day in July 1969 when Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped out of Apollo 11 and first walked on the moon … there is no doubt it was a defining moment in world history.

It was indeed a colossal achievement especially when you consider that there is more technological power in the average mobile phone today than there was in the whole of the Apollo 11 rocket back in the 1960s. Armstrong’s words when he took that first step on the moon have been immortalised in the annals of history – ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!’ Behind the scenes it was President JF Kennedy who actually championed the cause of the space race and who was responsible for this incredible defining moment in history!

– And what about when the Berlin Wall was torn down on November 9, 1989 at the Brandenburg Gate. This was undoubtedly another defining moment in history that saw the collapse of communism in Europe. Many argue that it was probably the most important political event of the second half of the 20th century. Now that’s a defining moment!

– Here’s another, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440 it was a monumental defining moment in world history. Many professors and eminent scholars arguably believe it to be the most influential invention ever. Did you know that the first book ever printed was a Latin Bible? Since then an immeasurable, innumerable number of books ranging from highly advanced and complex educational books right through to books dealing with all manner of leisure activities have been printed. Believe it or not, I personally have a library of over 1,000 books in my study at home. All of which were printed as a result of the invention of the Gutenberg press.

– The battle of Waterloo in 1815 was also a defining moment and milestone in European history. It ended over 20 years of conflict in Europe. It involved many nations and heralded over 50 years of peace and stability. The Duke of Wellington’s epic victory over Napoleon Bonaparte was in the end a close run thing and in the end Wellington prevailed and it can only be described as a critical defining moment in history.

– On October 12,1492 the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, weary after months at sea, finally drops anchor at the island of San Salvador and takes Europe’s first steps into the New World. The discovery of the New World ushered in a profound era of exploration and conquest that would revolutionise the economic and political balance of Europe and lead to the creation of the United States of America. Only the ignorant would say that this wasn’t a crucial and defining moment in world history.

– When in the early years of the 20th Century a young lady by the name of Emily Pankhurst set up the Suffragette Movement and campaigned for political equality for women and for their right to vote … It was a defining time, it was a defining moment! In 1999 ‘Time’ magazine named Pankhurst as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century, stating: ‘she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back. Her work is recognised as a crucial element in achieving women’s suffrage in Britain.’ Emily Pankhurst was a defining lady who seized the day and stepped into her defining moment! She made it happen!

– When Dr Martin Luther King Junior made his now famous ‘I have a dream speech’ on August 28, 1963, there is no doubt it was a defining moment that challenged a great divide and a moment that literally transformed history.

– And leading up to this there was another defining moment. This was when on December 1, 1955 when an apparent obscure black lady by the name of Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man on a bus in Montgomery Alabama – an action which resulted in her arrest, conviction and with her being subsequently fined.

But more to the point it was an action that ushered in the Civil Rights Movement. And who could argue that this wasn’t a key defining moment in history. I say three cheers for Rosa Parks!!

– And then what about the dropping of the first Atomic Bomb on August 6,1945, which brought World War II to a swift conclusion but also signalled the start of the atomic age. This was surely a defining moment in world history. Whether it was a good thing or not is another question altogether, but no one can deny it proved to be a defining moment in the history of the world.

And what about when great Christian movements were birthed, for example…

– It was in the East End of London in 1850 that an unknown young man and his wife, William and Catherine Booth, reached out to minister to the poor and vulnerable in both spiritual and practical ways, and in doing so, brought into being an amazing organisation and ministry. Since then that organisation known as the Salvation Army has gone worldwide and reached out to literally billions of lives with the love of Christ. When Booth set up the Salvation Army all those years ago it was unquestionably a defining moment in Christendom and the legacy of that lives on.

– It was in July 1780 that a Christian newspaper publisher by the name of Robert Raikes started educating young delinquent children on Sundays – that was the only day the kids didn’t work in the factories. They were taught to read and were also introduced to Jesus. The first such group met in a home in Gloucester. Sadly there were many objections and believe it or not most of them were from the established church!

As more Sunday School groups were formed – this became the forerunner and model of our State School education. The Sunday School movement was born and by 1831 over 1,250,000 children had received a basic education and had been taught the Bible and introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ through the vision of Robert Raikes.

Today Sunday Schools still play a vital role in teaching children the Bible and the ways of Christ. When Robert Raikes began this amazing work there are no two ways about it – it can only be classed as a defining, critical moment in world history.

– When John Wesley was born he was the 15th child of his parents. It was more than thirty years later when John along with his brother Charles and a small band of other evangelical men including George Whitefield, founded the Methodist movement. The beginning of Methodism began in 1738 as a result of these men undertaking evangelistic preaching with an emphasis on conversion and holiness.

Though both Wesley brothers were ordained ministers of the Church of England, they were barred from speaking in most of its pulpits because of their evangelistic fervour. So they preached in homes, farmhouses, barns, open fields, the market place and on the streets, in fact, wherever they found an audience. The result was thousands of people were converted to Christ all over the UK and thousands of churches were established. There is no doubt God used the Wesley brothers in a lasting and powerful way. Their spiritual legacy lives on even today in the 21st century. Without doubt it was a defining moment when the Methodist Movement began … John and Charles Wesley along with George Whitefield under God’s anointing were the men who made this happen!

– Talking of defining moments, there were defining moments when certain men were born. William Franklyn Graham was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 7, 1918.

Billy Graham grew up and became the most famous and effective evangelist in the modern history. He has preached to more people than anyone else on planet earth today. He, through his Billy Graham Evangelistic Organisation has, without doubt, seen literally countless men, women, young people and children come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact more than anyone else who has ever lived.

The altar calls he would make inviting people to come to Christ, after preaching his uncompromisingly biblical ‘you must be born again’ message have proved to be a defining moment in untold numbers of people’s lives as they have gone forward to receive Jesus Christ making Him their personal Lord and Saviour.

– And lastly what about the Elim Pentecostal Church Movement that is celebrating its centenary this very year. Our church, New Springs City Church, Loughborough, whilst not a full Elim church – is proud to be affiliated to Elim through their National Incorporated Church Programme.

The Elim story is an unprecedented story of God’s miraculous power and what God has done through Elim over the last 100 years is almost impossible to state and put into words. It all began with two brothers, George and Stephen Jeffreys on January 7, 1915. There is no doubt when the Jeffreys brothers founded Elim it was a clear decisive and defining moment in the modern world not only for Britain but for the whole world!

And so, when you consider any or all of the defining moments that I have mentioned above I wonder if we can really grasp the full extent of just how influential these and other moments in history were in shaping who we are and how we live today? Such events indeed prove how a single event can forever change the tides of history.

They all talk about men and women who have ‘stepped up to the plate’ and who have ‘seized the day’ and left an important legacy. These men and women were human just like you and I and they made a lasting difference. So can we!

In the words from the book of Esther 4 v 14, ‘who knows why you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this?’

This is your defining time – this is your defining moment – so seize it!!