Her name was Sarah

She had two names: Sarai means “princess, nobility.” After Isaac was born, her name was changed to Sarah, a noble lady or “wife of a king.” She became the mother of the nation of Israel.

Her story: Genesis 17:15-21, 18:6-15, 20:2-18, 21:1-12, 23:1-2; Hebrews 11:11 

Sarah’s life was filled with decisions made by her husband. Some put them in dangerous places, but God always protected Sarah. She had an important role to play in God’s covenant and promise with Abraham. Sarah and Abraham must have loved each other very much. In a time when it was common for men to have more than one wife, Abraham only had Sarah. They shared God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation. But, when the waiting seemed to go on forever, Sarah became impatient and convinced Abraham to make the promise reality in a human way. We previously talked about Hagar and the problems with Sarah’s “short-cut.” When God told Sarah that the promise would be fulfilled within the coming year, she laughed. Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what caused her to laugh, but when her baby was born, she named him “Isaac” – laughter. Sarah made hard decisions to protect the promise God had given to her and Abraham.

Her legacy for us: Waiting patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promises can be hard and we are often tempted to help Him out. When we do, we create problems with consequences for many people. A better plan is to trust The One who promises, because He can be trusted.

Our response to Him: How often do I get impatient with You and try to help You keep Your promises? What can I do to more fully rest in Your plan even when it feels like You have forgotten me?

Her name was Abigail.

Her name means “a source of joy.” She intervened when tempers were flaring and brought about peace, and ultimately joy-filled futures.

Her story: 1 Samuel 25:3-42

Abigail was beautiful, intelligent and resourceful and the wife of a rich, arrogant, drunken, harsh business man named Nabal. She met not-yet-King David as he and his men were evading King Saul. David’s men camped and protected Nabal’s shepherds and sheep during the shearing time, a dangerous time full of hard labor for shepherds. David sent word to Nabal asking for needed provisions for his men as reimbursement for the safety they had provided. Nabal rudely refused to send anything to them. David’s messengers went back to David and reported what had happened. David’s first response was to take up swords against Nabal’s household. At the same time, one of Nabal’s servants went and described the conversation to Abigail and the truth about what David and his men had done for them. Abigail packed up bread, meat, grain, and fruit and sent them ahead of her to David’s men. When she met David and his men on the road to their home, she apologized and took the guilt that was truly Nabal’s. She spoke plainly to David and asked David not harm Nabal’s household. She explained that needless bloodshed or revenge would be something he would carry the rest of his life. David relented and granted her request. When she returned home, she waited for Nabal to sober up and told him how she had intervened. Within two weeks, the Lord struck Nabal dead and David to Abigail as his own wife.

Her legacy for us: Abigail stood between two men who were tempted to allow the worst of themselves to create a bloody situation. Abigail was wise in her actions, providing what was needed, and wise with her words, reminding others of the plans God has for their lives.

Our response to Him: How can I become a woman You can use to courageously and lovingly speak truth into situations that are going awry?

Her name was Tamar.

Her name means “palm-tree.” Palms and palm trees symbolize victory.

Her story: Genesis 38:6-24; Ruth 4:12; 1 Chronicles 2:9; Matthew 1:3

Tamar was chosen by Judah as a wife for his firstborn, but Er was wicked and God took his life. According to birthright law, Judah’s second son was to provide a child for Tamar. Onan also did evil in God’s sight and God took his life. Judah sent Tamar back to her father’s home and promised to send for her when his youngest son, Shelah, was old enough to have a wife. Tamar lived as a widow well past the time when Shelah could fulfill his duty as a brother. It seemed Judah never intended to bring Tamar back. After Judah’s wife died, Tamar received word that Judah planned a trip. She removed her widow’s garments, covered her face and went to a place where Judah would be. Judah didn’t recognize her and thought she was a prostitute. He offered to give her a goat for services, but she negotiated for more personal collateral. Judah gave her his signet ring, his cords and his staff. About three months later, Judah learned Tamar was pregnant. He became angry and threatened to carry out the punishment for prostitution. She sent the signet ring, cords and staff to him and told him she was pregnant by the owner of those things. He recognized them and understood clearly that he hadn’t fulfilled his duty to her and he let her live. Tamar gave birth to twin sons but not without a battle in the birth canal.

Judah himself had a history filled with bad choices and bad friends. He was the brother who suggested selling Joseph to the slave traders going to Egypt. He left his family and married a Cannannite and his sons were wild. After this incident with Rahab, Scripture reflects a wiser, more righteous man. He took care of his family and became a son his father, Jacob, could trust to do the right thing. While we have no Scriptural evidence, perhaps Tamar had a positive influence on Judah himself.

Her legacy for us: Her actions (although ones we would not take) not only corrected a wrong, but they seem to have influenced a man who had forsaken his family and God.

Our response to Him: When You direct me, how often do I act to correct wrongs according to Your plan? Am I setting a godly example and encouraging others to follow You?

Her name was Eve.

She was first called “woman” because she was built from Adam’s rib. Later, Adam named her Eve, “living, life-giver, the mother of all living.”

Her story: Genesis 2:22-23, 3:1-16, 3:20, 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13

Eve was created by God’s own hands after Adam realized that there wasn’t another creature like him. She was created to be his helper, equal and different, and a resource of great help. Together, they had the capacity to fill the earth with all kinds of goodness. One ordinary day, Eve had a conversation with the enemy about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and God’s instructions. Eve made a decision that changed everything. Adam followed her example and shame, blame, deception and death entered the world. Eve and her husband tried to make things right, but they couldn’t. When God came for His daily visit with them, they hid. The loving and healthy respect they had for God has been tainted and became overwhelming fear because they knew His power. But, God loved them so much He gave them what they needed to cover their shame. He moved them from Paradise into the wild part of the earth, creating space so they wouldn’t make matters worse. Then, He placed a boundary at the Garden gate as extra precaution. From that day forward, what had been easy became hard. Her relationship with her husband was now strained. She had been created as a helper to co-labor with him, but there was a leadership problem in this family. When her first son was born, she remembered God’s promise of a man to correct things. She later suffered as this son killed another, knowing the root cause of these actions.

When asked by God what happened, Eve was truthful when she said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” Truthful communication with God reflects a heart that recognized her error and leaned into His lovingkindness, even when it was scary.

Her legacy for us: Those who can bring great help can also bring great ruin. Best choices align with God’s warnings and rest in His provisions. And, truthful and faith-filled responses to His correction are His desire. Eve’s decision to listen to and act the enemy’s voice and his deceptive promises unleashed things she could not imagine.

Our response to Him: How do I keep You and Your Word center in my life so I give life and nurture the things You want? How can I walk with You daily so that I am not deceived by the voice of the enemy?

Her name was Hagar.

Her name means “flight,” to run away. She ran away and met God.

Her story: Genesis 16:1-16, 21:9-17, 25:12; Galatians 4:24-25

Hagar was an Egyptian servant/slave Sarah gained while she and Abraham were in Egypt. At that time, women could claim children that their female slaves conceived, carried and birthed as their own children. So, Sarah talked Abraham into using Hagar to help gain her a son, fulfilling God’s promise of children to Abraham. During the pregnancy, a problem arose between Sarah and Hagar and Hagar ran away. She was visited by an angel of the Lord by a spring where she was resting and he asked two questions: Where did you come from? Where are you going? When she explained her situation, the angel told her to go back and submit to Sarah’s authority. He then shared God’s promise for her and her own son. God promised to make him a great nation. She was told what to name him and what kind of man he would be. Hagar responds by acknowledging that God is a God who sees. She returned to Sarah and Abraham. About 14 years later, Hagar is in the desert again. This time her son is with her and they are out of water. She puts him under a bush to die. An angel visited her again and asked, “What is the matter with you, Hagar?” She explains and he tells her not to be afraid. The God who sees also keeps His promises. Scripture records that she found a wife for Ismael and that the Lord indeed kept His promise to her, because Ismael has many sons!

Her legacy for us: Even though Hagar was far from her own home, powerless in the family where she lived, a single mom betrayed by her son’s father and his wife, she received her own promises and miracles from God’s hand. She reminds us that God sees our pain and hardships and He provides what we need. The One who sees is the One keeps His word.

Our response to Him: Even when I am betrayed and feel alone, do I listen for Your voice and talk to You about my situation? What will help me remember You see and You have a plan and You keep Your word?

Her name was Ruth.

Ruth means “friend.”

Her story: Ruth 1:1-4:22 and Matthew 1:5

Ruth’s beautiful story starts with Naomi, her mother-in-law. Naomi, her husband, and their sons moved from Bethlehem to Moab during a terrible famine. Ruth, a Moabite woman, married one of Naomi’s sons. Then Naomi’s husband and the sons died, leaving three widows. When Naomi decided to move back to Judah, Ruth insisted on going with her. In Bethlehem, Ruth worked the fields and Naomi realized Ruth had been working in fields owned by a distant relative, Boaz. When it was evident Boaz was aware of their situation, Naomi explained to Ruth how to ask for protection and sent her to Boaz. Boaz responded by invoking Jewish law to “redeem” Ruth so he could marry her. They married and had a son (Obed). Naomi became a doting grandmother and Ruth, a Moabite, a foreigner, became an important part of the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

The most famous words in the Book of Ruth are often heard at weddings: “Don’t press me to leave you and stop following you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die; and there I will be buried. May the Lord bring terrible curses on me, and worse ones as well, if anything but death separates you and me.” When we find female friends like this, we find a friend who cares for us and intercedes for us and who will always point us to our Redeemer. (Ruth 1:16-17)

Her legacy for us: Ruth’s beautiful story reflects our own Christian walk. We start out like Ruth, outside the family of God. Someone tells us about Him and how to become part of His family. When we ask Him, He gladly redeems us and makes us one of His own.

Our response to Him: What would help me become a more helpful, merciful, compassionate friend – one who reflects You to others and encourages them to join Your family?

Her name was Naomi.

Her name means “my delight, pleasant.” It comes from a Hebrew word meaning “agreeable.” However, she didn’t always see herself as a delight. For a time, she took the name Mara, “bitter, bitterness”.

Her story: Ruth 1:1 – 4:22

Naomi left Bethlehem, in Judah, with her husband and two sons during a famine. They moved to the land of Moab. Her husband died, her sons married, and then her sons both died. She was left alone with her two daughters-in-law. To be a widow without family meant a life without support or protection. Naomi stayed in Moab for ten years and then decided to return to Judah. When she came back, she reluctantly brought one daughter-in-law with her.

When Naomi and her daughter-in-law arrived home, the city was excited to see them, but Naomi felt that God had ripped a family and a wonderful future from her while she was gone. She came back bitter and asked her friends to call her Mara instead.

Barley harvesting was going on when they returned and Naomi’s daughter-in-law went to work in the fields. When her daughter-in-law returned with food and told her about her experience in the fields, Naomi recognized the owner of the field. She instructed her daughter-in-law about Jewish redeemer-kinsman laws and taught her how to ask this relative for protection. Boaz secured the right to marry Naomi’s daughter-in-law and protection was provided. Ruth’s husband’s inheritance was returned to Ruth and her heirs.

At the end of the book of Ruth, Naomi’s friends rejoice with her over her grandson and prophesy about the coming Messiah (her Redeemer and ours) this way: “Blessed be the LORD who has not left you this day without a close relative (a redeemer); and may His name be famous in Israel! And may He be a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” (Ruth 4:14-15)

Her legacy for us: Even when things aren’t going the way we think they should, our Heavenly Father has provided a Redeemer who can redeem anything and His results far exceed what we ourselves can ever imagine.

Our response to Him: When things seem to be hopeless, am I tempted to become overwhelmed with disappointment? How can I learn to anticipate Your work in my life without letting my expectations create chaos in my heart and mind?

Her name was Deborah.

Her name means “bee” and alludes to how organized bees are and their purposeful movements. It comes from a verb meaning to arrange or subdue. Deborah organized men in Israel and together they subdued their enemy.

Her story: Judges 4:4-5:15

Deborah was a prophet in Israel and a judge – a rare combination, especially for a woman. She loved God and was righteous in her dealings with people. During her time, Israel was overrun by the Canaanites. God told Deborah to call Barak, the commander of Israel’s army, and tell him to gather warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun and march to the Kishon River. God promised victory over the Canaanite army there. Barak refused to go unless Deborah went with him. She told Barak that because he doubted God would give him the victory, a woman would bring victory. An army of 10,000 foot soldiers set out to meet Sisera, captain of the Canaanite army, and his 900 iron chariots and all his warriors. When Barak attacked, God threw all the Canaanite chariots and warriors into a panic. Sisera escaped on foot and ran to a nearby tent. Jael, the woman at the tent, offered him milk to drink and a place to hide. When he went to sleep, she put a tent peg through his temple. Barak searched for Sisera and met Jael. She showed him what she had done. In Judges 15, Deborah and Barak sang a beautiful song praising the warriors of Nephtali and Zebulun who came to fight and giving the Lord and Jael praise for the victory. The result? Forty years of peace in Israel.

Her legacy for us:

Deborah reminds us that God uses women in mighty ways to rouse out the enemies’ armies. He also uses women to bring complete victory. Victory against the enemy and peace for our families, communities, and nation comes when we hear His voice and bravely obey.

Our response to Him: When I hear Your voice, how often do I courageously trust Your words and obey? How often do I give You the glory for things You accomplish and the peace You bring?

Just thinking . . .

Regretting: Experiencing a sorrowful feeling focused on past behavior

Regret lingers forever and is remedied with repentance.

His lovingkindness draws us to repentance.

Repenting: Taking an action focused on correcting this moment forward

Repenting: Laying down the bad and ugly to pick up and use the good

Repentance can make Him Savior.

His sacrifice for our eternal souls draws us to surrender.

Surrendering: Laying down my whole self – the good, bad, and ugly, and my heart, mind, soul, strength and resources – for His use and His glory.

Surrender makes Him my Lord.

Dearest Jesus, Help me continually surrender all I am and all I have to You. Nothing I have or can do is good. If there is any good that comes from me, it is because You have put it there. Help me be what You want me to be.

Her name was Rahab.

Her name means “wide, roomy (in any or every direction)” and comes from a verb meaning “to broaden or enlarge.” Rahab’s faith saved her family from destruction and opened up a brand new trajectory for her life and family.

Her story: Joshua 2:1-3, 6:17-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25

When the Isrealites returned to the edge of the Promised Land after wandering 40 years, Joshua sent two spies into the countryside. They stayed at Rahab’s house in Jericho’s city wall. When the king ordered Rahab to turn over the spies, she hid them in flax stalks on her roof and reported they had left the city. Then Rahab had a long conversation with the spies. She told them she knew the Lord had given Jericho to the Israeiites, what she knew happened at the Red Sea, and how Israel had destroyed the kingdoms on the other side of the Jordan River. She begged them to spare her and her family. The spies gave Rahab a scarlet thread to tie in her window and told her to gather her family into the house and shut the doors. If she wouldn’t reveal their activity, she would be safe. Then, Rahab lowered them down the outer wall by rope after dark and they safely returned to Joshua. When the Israelites marched around Jericho, the scarlet thread marked Rahab’s house and her promise. Her portion of the wall didn’t fall when the rest of the walls of Jericho fell. Joshua sent the two spies to get her and her family and remove them from the city before it was set on fire. In Matthew, we find her in the genealogy of Jesus: She married Salmon, an Isrealite, and had a son named Boaz.

The writer of Hebrews includes Rahab in chapter 11, along with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Moses and others. She heard what God did for Israel and she believed He was the “God in heaven above and on earth below.” She recognized safety and salvation only comes through Him.

Her legacy for us: God’s goodness and His ability to change our life and legacy rely on three things: recognizing His sovereignty, accepting His gift of salvation, and following His instructions. His love will spare us, but there’s so much more for us than just being saved from destruction.

Our response to Him: How can I learn to recognize Your work and trust Your promises in times of trouble?