Women of the Bible

 

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Hagar

Her name means: “Fugitive” or “Immigrant”

Her character: A foreigner and slave, Hagar let pride overtake her when she became Abraham’s wife. A lonely woman with few resources, she suffered harsh punishment for her mistake. She obeyed God’s voice as soon as she heard it and was given a promise that her son would become the father of a great nation.
Her sorrow: That she was taken from her homeland to become a slave in a foreign land, where she was mistreated for many years.
Her joy: To know that God cared, that he saw her suffering and heard her cry, and that he helped her when she needed him most.
Key Scriptures: Genesis 16; 21:8-21; Galatians 4:22-31

Her Story

An Egyptian slave and Sarah’s bitter rival, Hagar still had one thing going for her that her mistress never enjoyed: a personal revelation of God, who lovingly intervened on her behalf, not once but twice. It happened when she was alone and afraid, without a shekel to her name—but that’s getting ahead of the story.

You may remember that Abraham, whom we honor as the father of faith, showed little evidence of that faith when he and Sarah first entered Egypt to escape a famine in Canaan. Certain the Egyptians would kill him once they caught sight of his beautiful wife, he advised her to pose as his sister. Soon enough, Pharaoh added Sarah to his harem and rewarded Abraham with an abundance of camels, sheep, cattle, donkeys, and servants. But God punished Pharaoh for his unwitting error so effectively that, when he found out that Sarah was actually Abraham’s wife, he ordered the two of them to leave Egypt with all their belongings. Possibly, Hagar was part of the booty Abraham and Sarah took with them—a gift they later regretted.

Still, of the three parties involved in the scheme to make Hagar a surrogate mother, she was perhaps the only innocent one, a slave with little power to resist. When Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her maid, she opened the door to spiritual catastrophe. As soon as Hagar discovered her pregnancy, she began lording it over her mistress, hardly a smart move for a young foreigner up against a woman entrenched in her husband’s affections.

In fact, Sarah made life so difficult for Hagar that she fled into the desert, a desperate move for a pregnant woman who was so far from home. She hadn’t gotten far before she heard a voice calling, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going? Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” But then, as if to sweeten the order, came a word of assurance: “You will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.”

Remarkably, Hagar didn’t argue but returned to Abraham and Sarah. Like a stream of water in the desert, God’s word had penetrated the wilderness of her heart. Her bondage, her bitterness, her anxiety about the future—God had seen every bit of it. He knew about the child in her womb, naming him Ishmael, meaning “God Hears.” In the years to come, whenever Hagar would hold her son close, watch him play, or worry about his future, she would remember that God was near, listening for the child’s cry. Little wonder that she had responded to the voice in the desert by calling the Lord “the God who sees me.”

Some sixteen years later, Hagar found herself once again in the wilderness, this time by force rather than by choice. In a crescendo of bitterness against her younger rival, Sarah had expelled Hagar and Ishmael from their home. Dying from thirst, Hagar placed her son under a bush and withdrew, unable to witness his agony.

Her weeping was soon broken by an angel’s voice, “Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” With that, the angel of the Lord opened Hagar’s eyes so that she discovered a well of water nearby that would save her son’s life.

The last we see of Hagar, she is living in the Desert of Paran in the Sinai Peninsula, busy securing a wife, and, therefore, a future, for Ishmael. God had made a way in the wilderness for a single woman and her son, without friends, family, or resources to help her. He had seen, he had heard, and he had indeed been faithful.

Her Promise

A thin young woman sits huddled in the front seat of her car. She covers her ears to block out the sound of her little son as he whimpers with cold in the backseat. Her husband abandoned her and the boy two months before. Left without resources, she was soon turned out of her apartment. The car is now their only home. It has long since seen its last drop of gasoline, and its worn interior provides little protection from the winter winds outside.

This modern-day Hagar is no further from God’s promises than was Hagar herself as she poured out her sorrow in the desert. God sees her heartache, just as he saw Hagar’s. Though you may not be as desperate as Hagar or her modern counterpart, you may have experienced times in your life that made you fear for the future. Whether you are living in a wilderness of poverty or loneliness or sorrow, God’s promises, love, and protection are just as available to you now as they were to Hagar.

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The Self-controlled Child

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

“But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control.” Galatians 5:22–23

Many parents take a passive approach to guiding and disciplining their children because they want their kids to learn self-control. But since young people lack the maturity to generate self-discipline, the good intentions of these parents usually fail. Their kids enter adulthood without ever having learned how to manage their own lives or control their own impulses.

Consider the example of Doug, a young man who has never learned to curb his temper or his tongue. His parents consistently ignored their son’s angry outbursts during childhood, assuming he would eventually learn to control this problem on his own. Years later, Doug lands his first full-time job, but quickly gets into a heated dispute with his boss and is fired. It is only the first of many disappointments ahead.

Your children need help in developing self-discipline and self-control. Allow them, within reason, to suffer the unpleasant consequences of their mistakes, such as walking to school when they miss the bus or paying for the repairs when they put a dent in the family car. Most important, encourage them to spend time in the Word of God and to invite Jesus into their hearts. When they give their lives to Him, they will begin to enjoy the fruits of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22)—including self-control.

Before you say good night…

  • Are you allowing your kids to experience the consequences of their actions?
  • In what new ways could you help your children develop self-control?

Father, help us to stand firm when we feel weak, to remain steady when we’d rather shrug our shoulders, and to lead our children with patience and wisdom. Let us be good examples ourselves as we seek to develop self-control in our kids. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Deny Yourself

NIGHT LIKE FOR COUPLES

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Television advertisers are experts at “rattling the cages” of viewers. They understand the philosophy of today’s audience: Look out for number one. That’s why we’re bombarded with slogans such as “Have it your way”; “You deserve a break today”; and “Because I’m worth it.” Their goal is to appeal to our self‐centered nature and manipulate us into buying a product. Frequently, they succeed.

The “I’m Third” approach to life is in direct contradiction to the message of these ads. And well it should be! Jesus tells us that our first obligation in following Him must be to deny ourselves—to let go of the steering wheel, so to speak, and let the Lord drive. Secondly, we are to love and care for others. Try implementing these priorities. They will lead to a better marriage in this life and eternal rewards in the next.

God first, others second, myself third. A simple phrase, but it contains far more wisdom for living life to the fullest than anything you’ll see or hear on a television ad.

Just between us…

  • Do we have an “I’m Third” kind of marriage?
  • Do we know a couple who model this philosophy?
  • How do you feel about putting my desires ahead of your own?
  • What, if anything, do we need to change to create an “I’m Third” marriage?
  • How can we specifically ask God to help us make this happen?

Dear Jesus, we hear Your invitation to follow You in a life of self-denial. Tonight we make You Lord of our marriage. Help us to live every day by Your example— in obedience to the Father and in loving service to each other. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

A Daily Word – January 13

Daily thoughts from God’s Word that will help you find strength, resolve, peace and comfort

ACCEPTABLE LOSS?

“Acceptable loss” is a military term many are familiar with. The idea is that there are some losses in any military endeavor, but that every mission has a level of loss that is acceptable, based on the risk undertaken and the goal to be achieved. Luke chapter 15 contains a trio of stories about people who have lost things. If you are a mathematician, you might hear these stories and consider the percentages. A man has a hundred sheep, he loses one. That’s a one percent loss! That seems quite acceptable. A woman has ten coins and loses one—still only a ten percent loss, and really quite acceptable. A man has two sons, and loses one. A fifty percent loss, granted, but one that might be overcome in time.

But Jesus was not a mathematician or an accountant. He never considered percentages of “lost-ness.” He considered people. And in these stories about searching for lost things, Jesus was saying that sinners are very, very valuable to Him. Sinners count with Jesus. There is no acceptable percentage of loss when it comes to the Son of God and sinners. He is not willing that even one “lost sheep” should perish. I wonder how different our world would be if you and I adopted Jesus’ view of “acceptable loss?”

MEMORY VERSE

LUKE 15:8
Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not…search carefully until she finds it?

READ THROUGH THE BIBLE
Exodus 39Romans 15