Sometimes it’s hard to understand the traditions from ancient times in comparison to our life today. God teaches in his Word certain principles that hold as true today as it did many years ago in spite of the current accepted practice. We can learn a lesson from Abraham’s wife Sarah when her great desire to have a child overcame her desire to follow the promise of God. She tried to “help God out” and it ended in disaster.
Genesis 16: 1-2 “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.”
According to the Code of Hammurabi, the Nuzi Tablets and old Assyrian marriage contracts:
• A woman could give her maid to her husband to bear children on her behalf, Jewish and Oriental Inheritance Rights also dealt with this issue:
• Children of a servant woman would be considered children of the wife
• Son born of wife rights supersede rights of adopted son
•First born of wife supersede rights of child of a servant woman
In Sarah’s way of thinking and according to the customs of the day, Sarah had every legal right to give Hagar to Abraham in order to produce the heir that God had promised her. Women in that day were scorned, ridiculed and harassed because they were barren. Sarah was in this position most of her life before Isaac was born to her at the age of 90 years old. What happened after Hagar gave birth to Ishmael is known to most of us through God’s account in Genesis. Hagar and her son Ishmael (father of the Arab nation) were forced to leave by Sarah from their home with Abraham because of Ishmael’s ridicule of Isaac. Even today there is animosity between the Arabs and the Jews that dates back to this account. Had Sarah waited for God’s best instead of “helping Him out” our current world might have been different.
Sarah in her attempt to have a child forgot to rely on God’s promises and set in place events that would carry through to this very day. Waiting on the Lord to fulfill what He has promised is not an easy task. We live in a world that gives instant gratification to every want and need. But just as in this case, God expects us to wait on his timing and abide by His principles found in the Holy Bible even if it is acceptable in our culture.
Be very careful as you contemplate decisions that lead you to actions outside of God’s will. Remember:
Just because it’s OK in our society, it may not be OK in God’s eyes.
Waiting for God to answer or act in His timing is difficult, but it is important that you wait for God’s best rather than experience the consequences of your wrong decision
Sarah became a mother to the son through which the covenant of God would continue and bring forth the promised Messiah Jesus Christ. What God did for Sarah was to prove that He alone is God by taking an old woman of 90 years of age and performing a miracle that He had planned before Sarah was born.
What miraculous thing has God planned for your life? Are you waiting on His timing or are you trying to “help” Him out? Avoid taking action. Psalms 46: 10 “Be still and know that I AM God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
My Mother had Alzheimer. She was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s disease in February 2004. My Dad passed away in October 2001. The disease seemed to rapidly progress after his death. I hate this disease. It robs you of memories and all those things that make up who you are. One of the hardest parts of this disease is having a Mother who doesn't remember you.
My Mother and I had a special mother-daughter relationship. We were close and so it hurts all the more. I was the oldest of four daughters and there was five years between the next sister and me. That means I had five years all to my self. And yes, I was spoiled! Mother and I enjoyed many of the same things. She taught me to sew and cook, and her love for arts and crafts and home design transferred to me. She was a social person and enjoyed being involved with church and other social organizations.
Mother and Daddy took me to church and taught me about Jesus. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was twelve years old during a revival. My Mother accepted Christ when she was a teenage girl and my Dad was older when he accepted Jesus as his Savior. I know she loved the Lord because she told me so and she also modeled the love of Christ in her life. She was not perfect and neither am I. She was my Mother and I loved her.
As we dealt with this illness, many thoughts crossed my mind. Why did this happen? How do you handle the emotions that go up and down on a day-to-day basis? And the following question came to my mind:
“When you forget who you are or who your family is, do you remember Jesus?”
The answer to that question according to my way of thinking is yes. I believe you do. As the disease gets progressively worse, you may not be able to express it but perhaps somewhere inside the presence of Jesus is even stronger. Since the Holy Spirit lives within each Christian until the day we die, He is still there because His promise says, “I will never leave you or forsake you."
The Lord allowed me to see glimpses of His presence in my Mother on several occasions. One night, I spent the night with Mother. Mother and I had a pleasant evening and I thought she remembered my name although she never called it. When she went to bed, I asked her if she wanted to pray. She said she did and begin to pray, "Dear Father". She prayed a very sweet prayer and even prayed for this "sweet lady that was staying with her tonight". And then she spoke to God in these words as she ended her prayer, "I love you, I love you, I love you. Amen." Mother never forgot how to pray and she remembered all the words to the many hymns she had learned as a girl. Mother died on June 8, 2011 when she simply forgot how to breathe.
Death is hard and tears at your heart. For Christians there is comfort in knowing that our loved ones are in the presence of God. My Mother's mind is whole again and she has been reunited with my Dad, my sister, her Mother, Father and brother and many more that have gone before her. But most of all she is in the presence of the one that never left her or forsook her. The one she loved until death and worships Him now. His name is Jesus and He saved her soul.
Thank you Father for allowing me to see You through her and thank you for your care for your children even when our mind doesn't remember.
In a place that prides itself on freedom, and becomes outraged when those freedoms are compromised, there is a savage and rampantly growing form of slavery that is spreading across the United States like a disease. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the US, and is the second most profitable illegal industry, only slightly behind the drug trade. It is the enslavement of individuals by use of coercion, force, or manipulation, forcing them into the commercial sex trade industry. There are more than 30 million slaves in the world, consisting of men, women and children.
I have so often thought about this as something tragic that happens millions of miles away in impoverished countries, and while it has been heart-breaking for me to think about, I am ashamed to say I didn't think about it often. This year, I have noticed a new movement here in the US, and even in my home state of Arkansas, to bring attention to this dark, violent, and disturbing form of slavery in the 21st century. The Lord has brought these startling statistics to my attention repeatedly over the past few months, and I believe personal freedom is no more tangible than when speaking about this urgent issue. While many think, like I did, that human trafficking only happens in more under-developed countries, we are sadly very wrong. 40,000 to 50,000 people are trafficked in the United States each year. Over half of those trafficked are under the age of 18, with an estimated 100,000 children in the sex trade industry in the United States each year. As a matter of fact, Human Traffickers target twelve to seventeen year old children due to their decreased ability to get help and their increased "shelf-life." 300,000 children in the United States are at risk, especially those in poverty stricken areas or in low income families. These children are often runaways, with a growing number those that simply vanish from their homes or neighborhoods. Women are also at high risk, often being manipulated or coerced using social media or financial debt to an individual preying on them for sexual slavery. Once enslaved, these women are raped, beaten, trapped, threatened, and drugged, and they often have no idea where or how to get to safety.
Under no circumstances should such a violent injustice occur in the United States or anywhere else in the world. We who know the Lord know there is a severe punishment for the individuals using these precious creations of God, whether it is selling their services or receiving them. Jesus says in Mark 9:42 "It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks." (CEV). In the end, God will be their redeemer, but in the meantime, these victims need rescue and restoration. There are many organizations around the US rising up in the fight against Human Trafficking. The Polaris Project has a 24 hour national human trafficking hotline available to victims and the community. It also offers social services to victims trying to escape the sex trade, and is pushing for legislation and policy change regarding Human Trafficking. Information on The Polaris Project can be found here, or at www.polarisproject.org. Not For Sale is a non-profit organization that uses businesses, government organizations, grassroots movements and technology to help marginalized and impoverished communities create jobs in order to reduce their risk of exploitation. They are working worldwide to reduce the occurrence of both work and sexual trade slaves. To find out more about Not for Sale you can click here, or go to www.notforsalecampaign.org. In Arkansas, the PATH Initiative was established in 2011 by a former human trafficking victim. The Partners Against Trafficking Humans initiative is working to provide a residential treatment facility for women and children seeking an escape from this brutal trade. Click here for more information on PATH or go to www.thepathinitiative.com.
As followers of Christ, we are to hate what he hates, and love others because He first loved us. These precious victims are valued by God, whether they know it yet or not. I urge each of us not to hide our eyes from this, but to reach out or pray earnestly for the safety of those who are enslaved. Weren't we all once enslaved to some form of sin until Christ set us free? The word of God speaks to those who are physically and mentally broken by the violence of sexual slavery, "God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear." 1 Peter 1:4. I pray fervently for their rescue, redemption, and restoration. I pray for their freedom.