Women of the Bible – Sarah

Posted on

Sarah – her name means”Princess”

You can read about Sarai in Genesis 11, 12, 16, 17, and you can read about Sarah in: Genesis 18, 20, 21, 23, 24. 25 and 49:31; Isaiah 51:2, Romans 4:19, 9:9; Galatians 4:19-31; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:6

Beautiful, wealthy woman spoiled by her doting husband, manipulates him into getting what she’s been promised. After she achieves her goal, her way, she finds out she doesn’t really like the result – so she blames her husband, abuses a woman who just went along with the plan and causes a permanent rift in her family.

Today’s headline?  Nope.  The story comes from the 7th century BC.

Frankly, Sarah is not one of my favorite Bible characters. I find her scheming when she should be trusting, silent when she should speak up about her husband’s harebrained schemes, and pretty doggone mean to the help. Her name means Princess and I’m not in to the whole “princess” thing. You’re more likely to find me fishing on a river in cutoffs smeared with salmon eggs than dressing up in some frothy confection like a Grace Kelly – wannabe. (Although I did love Princess Di.)

And to stump me even more, in spite of the fact that Sarah does so many un-faith-full things, she is still listed in the Bible’s Hall of Faith. This means I have to set feelings aside and pay attention to her story. Hebrews 11 says Sarah “received power” and “considered God faithful.” These are two things I would like to have: power and faith. So, I gave myself the task of sifting through the considerable amount written about Sarah in order to share three things I learned/liked about her.

#1 – “Listen to your wife!”

Eve plunges the whole world into sin when her husband follows her lead. Sarah creates two nations that are at war to this very day when Abraham gives in to her suggestion. After reading about the first two women of the Bible, you might begin to think that women can’t make good decisions and men should never take their advice. Then I read this verse:

“But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed…whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you,
for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you.” Genesis 21:12

God tells Abraham to listen to his wife. I think I need to repeat that.  God tells Abraham to listen to his wife.

As you read their story, it is obvious that Abraham and Sarah loved each other. She leaves her home country and heads out on an adventure with him – not knowing where she is going.  She leaves a city to live in tents the rest of her life. Author Gien Karssen describes Sarah as not only beautiful but faithful; Abraham’s friend as well as his lover. Together they discuss matters of mutual, daily concern. Abraham listened to Sarah. Her words had influence on her husband.

Herbert Lockyer shared a portion of The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the Sarah section of his book “All The Women of the Bible.” I thought it perfectly described the relationship between Abraham and Sarah.

“As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman,
Though she bends him,
she obeys him,
Though she draws him,
yet she follows,
Useless each without the other!”

 

Hiawatha ends up marrying Laughing Water – which brings me to my next favorite thing about Sarah…

#2 – Sarah Laughs

I love to laugh. Growing up in the Lutheran church I remember looking at all those somber faces around me and resolving that when I got old my lips wouldn’t turn down into a frown but would go up into a smile. (I don’t think I quite grasped the concept of gravity at the time:) I wanted my joy at knowing Jesus to radiate out to those around me. Even at that young age I understood people wouldn’t be attracted to Jesus by an unhappy Christian.

Laughter is all throughout Sarah’s story. Abraham laughs when God tells him he and Sarah will have a child. When Sarah overhears some of Abraham’s guests reiterating that she will have a child “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Will I have this joy after my husband and I have grown old?”” And finally when the child of promise is born Sarah says: “Laugh with me. God has made me laugh with joy.” She even names her son Isaac – which means “to laugh.”

Jesus said:
Your father Abraham was pleased to see that my day was coming. He saw it and was happy.
The Jews said to Jesus “You’re not even fifty years old. How could you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus told them, “I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am.”
John 8:56-58

#3 Sarah’s Encouragement

Sarah’s was a flawed, imperfect pursuit of God. This gives me a shot of hope. Ann Spangler says, “God accomplishes His purposes despite our frailties, our little faith, our entrenched self-reliance.” Isaiah 30:18 says: “Blessed are all who wait for Him.”

God’s promises are on His timetable. Scripture says Sarah had Isaac at the “appointed time.”  She had to wait 25 years after she got the promise. She had to wait until it was impossible for her to conceive. But faith and patience go together. In Genesis 18:14 God says about Sarah: “Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.” So, sister, do not fear!

“…like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters
if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:6 NIV

How does Sarah’s Story point to Jesus?

Matthew 1:1 starts with “The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Jesus is called the Son of Abraham. Eve was on the lookout for The Seed, the coming of a Savior. God had a plan. Sarah was part of His plan. He used Abraham’s family line to accomplish the plan of salvation.

Satan saw God’s plan and did everything he could to stop it.  Throughout the Old Testament we can see that wily devil trying to corrupt the line of Christ. He used the sinful actions of Abraham (letting Sarah be taken into foreign king’s harems – twice!) to try and accomplish his goal of preventing Christ’s birth but God intervened personally on both occasions to protect Sarah’s purity and the line of Christ.

I’m so grateful. That same power and protection is available to those who follow Christ.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Sarah had a name change at the age of 99. Do you know what your name means?  If you could change your name, what name would you choose?
  2. Sarah dealt very harshly with Hagar. But Isaac was the child of promise. Was Sarah justified in her behavior to protect her son?  Why or why not? What brings out your inner mama-bear?
  3. Is your child being called to step out in faith, leave home, go on a path that seems unsafe? Are you trusting that the Lord is in control of their lives or are you trying to manipulate the circumstances to keep them “safe”?

Prayer:

Let’s pray Ann Spangler prayer from the book “Women of the Bible:”

Father, thank you for loving me despite the fact that my soul still contains shadows that sometimes block the light of your Spirit. As I grow older, may I trust you more completely for the dreams you’ve implanted in my soul (and my children’s souls), the promises you’ve made to me (and to my children). Like Sarah, may I be surrounded by laughter at the wonderful way you accomplish your purpose (in Your time) despite my weakness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Sarah: My words have power. I need to use them wisely when speaking with my husband.

First published January 23, 2016.


Women of the Bible – Eve

Posted on

Eve Slide (2)

Eve – “Mother of All the Living”

Please Read: Genesis 2 and 3, 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:13

“Beloved, these dear women (of the Bible) are God’s gift to you and me. Whether or not you have a mother or a friend or a mentor who is available, you have the remarkable women of the Bible. And God has given us their lives in His Word so we can learn from their life-changing messages!”  Elizabeth George

Adam and Eve. The apple. Sin entering Paradise.  I was looking beyond the Sunday School version when I re-read Eve’s story during the first week of 2016. I tried to read it like I was reading it for the first time – searching for what I could apply to my life right here, right now.

There was a lot to consider. It was a good reminder to hear that my top priority in life is being a helper and complement to my husband. A husband will often follow his wife’s lead. Where am I leading my man? Good question.

“A woman has the power for bane or blessing over a man’s life. If she falls, man falls with her.” Herbert Lockyer

But the thing I found myself meditating on was…

Eve talks to the Serpent

Satan is called the Serpent in Genesis and Revelation. I always wondered why a talking snake didn’t clue Eve in to the fact that something was wrong with this scenario. But, who knows, maybe all the animals talked before the Fall? Scripture says the snake was more crafty than any other of the wild animals so they obviously had distinctions in personality.

I used to pray with women who would, right in the middle of our prayer to God, start addressing Satan – rebuking him and the like. It always made me extremely uncomfortable – this talking to the devil. Then the movie War Room came out. Zoom in on its climactic scene. The main character moves from praying scripture in her closet to standing on her front porch telling Satan he can’t have her family.  It makes for high drama but is it scriptural? I decided to do some homework.

Who else talks to Satan?

Here’s what I found in the Bible about conversations with the Serpent/Satan/Lucifer/the Devil:

  1. God talks to Satan in the book of Job. Result: God wins the cosmic bet He places with Satan.
  2. Jesus converses with the devil when He’s tempted in the wilderness. Result: He withstands the wiles of the devil by quoting the Word of God accurately. Eve misquotes God – adding and subtracting from what He originally said – emphasizing what she was forbidden to do instead of emphasizing her freedom to eat from all the other trees of the garden.
  3. The archangel Michael had a dispute with the devil (Jude 9) about the body of Moses – but he didn’t rely on himself instead saying “The Lord rebuke you.”  There was also an episode in Zechariah 3 – in a vision Zechariah sees Satan accusing the high priest, Joshua, and the LORD says, ” The LORD rebuke you, Satan!” Result: It appears from these verses that only the LORD is allowed to rebuke Satan.
  4. The only human being I could find in the Bible who actually talks with Satan himself (this is not including encounters with demons) is Eve. Result: Eve falls for a lie and passes on a death sentence to every person ever born after her. Gien Karssen says: “Each person born would sin not only by choice, but also because of an inner urging.  Everyone would face an unending battle between good and evil.”

As I read these encounters with Satan, I couldn’t find of a single place in the Bible that directed me to talk to him. Yes, I’m ordered to resist the devil and he will flee, but I’m never directed to engage in conversation with him, to hang out with evil and answer it back. I’m supposed to flee. I’m supposed to pray. If I’m talking to God without ceasing, I’ll have no spare time to talk with the Serpent.

Disobedience began with Eve being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why was she even near this tempting tree? She came. She saw. She conversed. She desired. She ate. Eve listened as the devil twisted God’s Word – tempting her towards independence. Her talk with the devil caused her to question God and to doubt His love.

Satan’s Lie:  

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:5 (NIV)

I always thought Eve had nothing to gain but evil. Why eat the fruit? Ann Spangler suggests a reason why Eve may have taken that bite: “To know what is good in every situation, to see the end from the beginning and everything in between. To be able to achieve a goal with flawless precision and absolute certainty…” Ah, this I understand. This IS a temptation. To make no mistakes. To be like God.

How does Eve’s Story point us to Jesus?

When Eve sins, God doles out both punishment and a promise. The punishment for the woman is pain in childbirth but the promise is The Seed. One day a woman would give birth to a Savior who would crush the Serpent’s head. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He provides the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the lies of Satan that still live on today. We may never have a face to face conversation with the devil like Eve did, but we’re all still in a daily battle with our own set of temptations. We can have victory the same way Jesus did; by knowing, living out and trusting the Word of God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Did I miss a story from the Old Testament or New Testament where someone else talks face to face with the devil himself?
  • If you come from a religious tradition where you rebuke the devil out loud, can you show me in the Bible where we are directed to speak to the devil?
  • Eve had a choice to sin or not to sin. So do you.  Eve’s sin brought death for every future person who would ever live.  Who does your sin effect?

Prayer:

Lord, I confess my own tendency to make You in my own image by preferring my will over Yours. I confess that sometimes I don’t believe you have my best interest in mind, so I doubt you and take matters into my own hands. Lord, help me not to listen to Satan’s lies but saturate myself in the truth of your Word so I know a lie when I hear one.  Help me to be obedient even when it doesn’t seem “logical.”  Thanks for seeking me out as you sought out Adam and Eve in the garden. Thank you for asking me the same question you asked them, “Where are you?” I pray that I would always be found in You. Amen.

The Bottom Line:

Things I learned from Eve: to be my husband’s helper and to talk to God, not to the devil.

First published January 14, 2016



Pier #8 – Ventura County Pier

Posted on

Piers of Southern California

ventura-pier

Pier #8 – Ventura County Pier – a wooden pier with steel pilings (1996) –  it is 1620 feet long (originally 1958 feet long.)

Continuing my quest to walk on all the piers of Southern California, my hubbie and I limped out to the end of the Ventura Pier a few weeks after he had a partial knee replacement done in Atascadero.  We sat and smooched and watched the sun go down. It was beyond beautiful. And that’s really all I know about the Ventura Pier.

As we set out to accomplish my Bucket List, I’ve been trying to write helpful articles about each of the piers to accompany the pictures I post (proof that we actually made it to each pier). I read up on blogging and they say you’ve got to “provide value” and “meet a need” but I’ve gotten bogged down, frustrated and backlogged (I should’ve published this three years ago:(  Sometimes I don’t know anything about the pier I just walked on. I just enjoyed it. Period.

So I’m moving forward. Sometimes I may link to interesting sites about the pier like Fun Facts about the Ventura Pier but I’m not going to try to come up with some trite exposition. That would be fatuous (silly AND pointless). It’s been done before and done better.

Instead I’ll just share my memories of the Ventura area:

  • One time we drove down the road from the pier and took Island Packers ferry out of Ventura harbor to one of the Channel Islands: Santa Cruz. We followed a guide and took a hike inland. We laid on the beach. Saw common dolphins, bottle nose dolphins, seals, the island fox, island blue jays (just as loud as our mountain jays), pelicans and whales! All I can say is WOW!
  • This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • I have stayed at a giant beach house just up the road from the Ventura Pier for the past ten years. I go in the spring with a group of dedicated quilters. We sit and quilt all week long. Our view? Waves, dolphins, sand and sea. It’s crazy fun. I go back in the fall with my church’s women’s group and we eat and laugh and learn. It is a time of spiritual refreshment. Check out Saylor’s Sandcastle.  My husband and I also have a favorite place in Carpinteria (just up the road) that we like to stay but I ain’t sharing that one!
  • We used to like Joe’s Crab Shack but it shut down rather suddenly. Which leads me to one last pier memory…we ate out on Ventura Pier and the waiter dropped my husband’s shrimp on the floor!
  • I’m not much for shopping but my friends love the thrift shops on Main Street in Ventura. There’s a couple good quilt and fabric stores in Ventura, too.

How to get there

On Highway 101 (heading north) in Ventura take exit 69 to merge onto Vista Del Mar Dr. toward Sanjon Rd. Turn right onto E Harbor Blvd. There’s a parking structure right by the pier and other parking available.