Sow & Gather

Women of the Bible

Who Can Fix My Misery?

Women of the BibleMarci AnthonyComment

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Genesis 29:31 

Have you had a season in your life when the only word you could use to describe it is MISERY?  I have had a few of those.  Seasons when my soul was completely fragile, my tears were but a moment away from falling and time seemed to stand still.  If you have ever found yourself in such a place as I have, let this story of a woman in the Bible bring you incredible comfort. 

Let me set the stage:  Once there were two sisters, Rachel and Leah.  A young man named Jacob deeply desired to marry Rachel, the beautiful sister.  Leaving out many details, let me just say that when Jacob asked Rachel’s father, Laban, for her hand in marriage, he was told that he would have to work for 7 years to receive her. (All I can think is that this girl must have been something amazing to look at!).  Jacob worked the 7 years and then was tricked into marrying the “other” sister, Leah.  As I read this account in the book of Genesis, my heart breaks as I read of how incredibly unloved that Leah must have felt.  Jacob did work another 7 years and was allowed to marry Rachel, his dream.  Precious Leah then found herself married to a man that she knew didn’t love her…MISERY! 

We then stumble upon these verses: 

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” 

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. 

Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. 

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. Genesis 29:31-35 

Does this story bring tears to your eyes as it does mine?  Here we have a women right in the middle of a season of misery!  I am so grateful to God that He gave us this ever so small account so that we could learn the following. 

 The Lord sees us in our pain and He has not forsaken us.  God saw Leah.  He saw her misery of being unloved and He gave her a child.  It is interesting to me that He did not speak audibly to her, He did not give a sign across the sky, but He simply moved in her life to encourage her. 

In our misery, we will never find complete happiness in our circumstance.  The saddest sentence in the story is, “Surely my husband will love me now.”  While Leah recognized God’s love for her, she believed that her misery would somehow end if only her husband loved her.  I am convicted by that statement as I reflect back on times of pain.  Our thoughts many times lead us to thinking that acceptance of a person, a change in circumstance or a need met, will be the answer to our pain. 

Only worshiping God will bring complete and total inner contentment and peace. After 4 children, (which had to be at least 3 ½ years) Leah finally utters the words, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She understood, after all of that time, that God was the giver of the gift of her children and that no man would give her the happiness she desired. 

Talk about a beautiful story.  If today is miserable, run FROM desiring others to help you and run TO the God of the universe!

Digging Deeper |

Read the whole chapter of Genesis 29.  As you read, write down all of the circumstances surrounding Leah’s plight in life.  Then, read Ephesians 3:14-19.  God loves you so!

Prayer |

Dear Lord, thank you for the story of Leah.  Thank you for the reminder that you see me in my happiness and my pain.  Lord, show me how and where you are working in my life.  Lord, give me the courage to rely only on you and to resist the urge to desire the approval of others.  Today, Lord give me your peace, your joy and your contentment.  Amen.

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A Life Lived on Mission

Women of the BibleMarci AnthonyComment

The churches of Asia greet you.  Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their home.  1 Corinthians 16: 19  NASB

Have you ever had a sense of sadness knowing that a great book is coming to an end?  When each detail lures you back for more, and causes you to drift off wondering what the people in the story would be like in real life?  There is nothing like a great book to transport you to another time and space.  It is one of the amazing joys of reading.  

This is also true when reading about people in the Bible.  Unlike a fiction story, the Bible shares real people with us, but often not to the detail one might desire.  One person that is intriguing is Priscilla, a woman who lived in the early church.  Her story is captured in Acts 18:1-26, Romans 16:3-4, 1 Corinthians 16:19 

Priscilla is fascinating for many reasons, but primarily because she is a woman with whom the New Testament writers were inspired to include.  We know that in the early church culture women were viewed as inferior to men, but not to Jesus.  Jesus was pretty radical in His time as He spoke to women, He had women who followed Him, and He used women as the first witnesses to His resurrection.   Paul the Apostle also held this high view of women as he writes, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”  Romans 16:3-4.  Priscilla (or Prisca) was known to Paul as a fellow-worker or co-laborer in the faith.  She meets Paul when she and her husband leave Italy to find refuge in Corinth.  It is here that this couple opens their home to Paul and to the believers in Corinth.   

Priscilla and her husband seem like a couple one would be drawn too.  While they opened their home to the church, they also spent their time making tents.  They follow Paul when he leaves Corinth to find themselves in Ephesus where they would again use their home to share the love of Christ.  Priscilla’s life can be described as a life lived on mission for the faith.  She was the equivalent of a missionary in today’s world.   While this reader wishes there were more details about her life, the one thing that stands out is that she lived her life for the faith.  There is no detail more important than the fact that she lived her whole life for Christ.

Dig Deeper |

Acts 18:1–26; Romans 16:3-4; 1 Corinthians 16:19

Action Item |

If someone were to write a story about your life, how would they describe your life on mission?

Prayer |

Dear Father, give me the desire to live my life on mission every day for You and Your glory. Amen

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How Do We Demonstrate A Life Of Sincere Faith?

Women of the BibleMarci AnthonyComment

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7 

For years I thought my job as a mother was to make sure my son accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I was wrong. You see, I had my job description and God's job description all wrong. 

God has called each of us -- mothers, aunts, grandmothers, step-mothers, family friends, teachers, leaders – to teach our children about God, about his son, Jesus Christ, and demonstrate for the child how to grow in their own personal faith. 

The Bible sets out my job description when it comes to my child. It's really very simple. Jesus summed up the life we should be modeling and teaching to our children: 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  

Love your neighbor as yourself.  

Mark 12:28-31 

We find a mother-daughter duo in the New Testament of the Bible named Lois and Eunice that were recognized as fulfilling this God-given job description. In the book of 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes to a man named Timothy and says, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." 2 Timothy 1:5.   

Eunice could have had every excuse for not demonstrating and teaching her children the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament or the two commandments Christ gave in the New Testament. You see, Eunice was a Jewish woman married to a Greek man. This was an inter-faith relationship. Eunice may have been treated differently by other Jews because of her husband. She lived in a town where many of the people worshiped in the temple built for the Greek god Zeus. Everyday, in her home and her community, she had forces working against her ability to demonstrate her love and obedience to the Jewish law of the Old Testament and eventually the teachings of Jesus Christ.  

Paul makes a point to comment that "sincere faith" lived in Eunice. Eunice's lifestyle must have demonstrated her love for God and her love for her neighbor. Eunice got it that her job was not to make sure her children "found Jesus." Rather, her job was living a life that reflected Christ's love.  

We have to live so that others see our love for Jesus and our love for your neighbor. How are you demonstrating sincere faith today? 

Dig Deeper |

Acts 16:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:1-18 

Action Item |

Pray that God will show you one action you can take this week that visibly demonstrates love and kindness for someone. Now, do that action. 

Prayer |

Dear Loving Father, modeling love and kindness toward you and toward others can sometimes be tough. We feel like the world is pushing in on us and removing our options. Help me today to know that my source of strength comes from you. Guide me in living a life demonstrating love and kindness daily. 

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Got Skills? Use Them!

Women of the BibleMarci AnthonyComment

Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah in Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. Judges 4:4-5 NIV

Have you ever wondered what your name means? Well, I was curious about mine so I decided to google it and discovered that it means “youth.” I’m not quite sure it fits me, but it is definitely an interesting fact and a potential conversation-starter. 

There was a woman, Deborah, whose name meant “bee, like a honey bee” who was a wife, prophetess and judge over Israel.  God would speak to her and reveal Himself and His will; Deborah would then relay His judgments and commands to the people. One such command was given to Barak, the military commander. He was told to destroy the enemy who had oppressed Israel for 20 years. However, Barak would not go without Deborah to engage in battle. After some thought, she consented to go and Barak was able to obliterate the enemy. 

What an amazing story.  

God used a woman whose name means “bee” and gave her the perfect skills and talents for this situation. She was able to discern God and His ways, be a judge who held court under a palm and go to battle to support the commander. Wow! 

And we are just like Deborah. God has given each of us skills and talents as well. True, we might not be a judge or a leader but we are commanded to use those gifts God has given us. You might be skilled in singing, writing letters of encouragement, visiting shut-ins, preparing a meal, leading a study or just babysitting children. 

Whatever skills God has given you, use them just as Deborah, the bee, did! 

Digging Deeper |

Judges 4-5 

Action Item |

Use your talents and skills. 

Prayer |

Dear Skill and Talent Giver, Thank You for those gifts You have given me. Help me to use them to serve others. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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Go Tell!

Women of the BibleMarci AnthonyComment

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the risen Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.  John 20:18 NIV

Isn’t it fun to share great news with your family and friends? I get all excited and feel like I am about to explode with joy. The news may be about a new job, an engagement, a baby, an excellent score on a test, a new car or even an encouraging word received from a teacher or boss. I want to share the news with everyone so they can experience it with me. 

Mary Magdalene had a similar experience. Mary was from the town of Magdala, which means tower or castle. She was a lady of means and encountered Jesus when He healed her of seven demons. After being healed, she followed Jesus, listening to His teachings and even supporting Him with her wealth. She watched when He was hung on a cross for our wrongdoings and followed Jesus to His own grave. Her grief was unthinkable!! 

But after three days, she went to His tomb and found it empty. And suddenly Mary came face to face with Jesus, the risen Savior. He was alive and appeared to her first, a woman. He comforted Mary and told her to go tell the good news of His resurrection to His followers. Jesus, her friend and God, was alive!!! 

Well, guess what? 

Just like Mary, we have the privilege of telling others about Jesus’ death, the forgiving of our wrong-doings, and His resurrection, the victory over death and the ability to reside with Him in heaven. This message is for everyone! 

My part is to recognize that Jesus did die and rise for me personally. Upon this realization I can place my faith in Jesus and also experience Him as my God and friend. 

Digging Deeper |

John 20:10-18 

Action Item |

Place faith in Jesus and go tell others!! 

Prayer |

Dear resurrected Jesus, You are God and You died and rose for me. I recognize You as my Savior and place my faith in You. Help me to share Your life with everyone. Amen. 

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Are You Honey or Bug Repellent?

Women of the BibleMarci AnthonyComment

His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings. 1 Samuel 25:3 

I love spring. I love to watch the plants and flowers on my back porch that have been dormant during winter as they break through the soil with new growth. Their stems reach like arms towards the sun as if in a race. Bees and butterflies are attracted to new spring blooms taking in nourishment and spreading new growth through pollination. I love to watch the transformation of the yard as the grass changes from a brown hue to a rich vibrant green. Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. In Texas Spring is the beginning of “bug season.” If you are new to Texas, you may be lulled by the beautiful sunsets and crisp spring winds that usher in the start of spring. But those of us who have been around awhile know that when spring comes, it’s only a matter of time before you need to break out the bug repellent.  

In the Old Testament there was an evil man named Nabal. He was relentless and mean. He repaid kindness with arrogance, greed, and selfishness. As you can guess, Nabal was the epitome of “bug repellent.” Before David became king, he was in the wilderness. He sent servants to Nabal asking for provisions as repayment for the kindness he had shown to Nabal’s servants while they came to the wilderness to shear sheep.  

Nabal spewed forth insults and refused to do anything for David’s servants. Fortunately, Nabal was not a complete fool and in his one smart move married an intelligent, generous, and beautiful wife named Abigail. She was the complete opposite of her husband. You could say she was the “honey” in the relationship. When Abigail found out about what Nabal had done, she quickly summoned servants and put together an amazing meal for David and his men. She bravely set out to reconcile the trouble Nabal had caused by insulting David’s men and sending them away empty handed. 

As fate would have it, Abigail found favor in David’s eyes for her kindness and courage. He spared her life and saved everyone including Nabal. David allowed Abigail to return home where she found Nabal celebrating his good fortune. The next morning she told Nabal what had transpired between her and David. As soon as he heard the news, his heart failed and ten days later he died. Abigail’s kindness was repaid as David heard the news of Nabal’s passing and asked her to be his wife.  

Sometimes we can be like a Nabal and repel others with our words or actions. This can happen when we’ve been wronged by someone. Or maybe we don’t completely understand someone’s intentions before casting judgment. God desires us to be more like Abigail, thinking through our situation and acting out of kindness and love. God wants us to be honey. It’s Springtime! This means it’s time to stretch our arms to the sky and ask God how you can be the honey to someone this week and spread God’s message of kindness and love to others. 

Dig Deeper |

Read the full story of Abigail and Nabal this week. 1 Samuel 25

Action Item |

Look for opportunities to be the honey to others this week!  

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Abigail and her willingness to step out and show kindness by doing the right thing. Help me to bring this example to life in my daily walk this week. 

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.