We don’t even know all their names. Some are referred to only by their nationality. Some are known only by the place where they lived. Some would become queens, while others would live on the fringes of society. One would give birth to a nation, and one would give birth to the Messiah. Their culture often overlooked or discounted the contributions of women, yet the writers of Scripture found these women and the role they played remarkable to the telling of God's story.
As we study the lives of the women in the Bible, we find important truths that God wants us to grasp. They lived in a different world than our own, but we find ourselves facing the same issues they faced. Yet even more, these women show us there is a God who sees us where we are and loves us for who we are. He is the one who hovers over all the pages of the Bible, shaping lives, rescuing hearts, healing sicknesses, raising what was dead to life, and assigning high callings to those who choose to follow him and have faith in him.
In this 10-session workbook, Max Lucado tells some of his favorite accounts of these ten women—Sarah, Abigail, Esther, the Samaritan Woman, Mary Magdalene, and others—and describes what set them all apart.
EACH SESSION INCLUDES
- 50 in-depth Bible studies to help you navigate the stories in Scripture
- Daily points to remember to help you summarize the key points
- Daily prayers to help you focus your thoughts and move into your quiet time
- Weekly memory verses to help you hide God's word in your heart
- Additional notes to help you lead a group through the study
Ten Women of the Bible is ideal for both individual use and for study in a small-group setting.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Edition description:||Study Guid|
|Product dimensions:||8.30(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, Texas. He currently serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 140 million books in print.
Visit his website at MaxLucado.com
Read an Excerpt
Ten Women of the Bible
One by One they Changed the World
By Jenna Lucado Bishop
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Max Lucado
All rights reserved.
Life in the Kingdom of the Absurd
The kingdom of heaven. Its citizens are drunk on wonder. Consider the case of Sarai. She is in her golden years, but God promises her a son. He says to her husband, Abram, "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you" (Genesis 12:2).
So Sarai gets excited. She visits the maternity shop and buys a few dresses. She plans her shower and remodels her tent ... but no son. She eats a few birthday cakes and blows out a lot of candles ... still no son. She goes through a decade of wall calendars ... still no son.
So Sarai decides to take matters into her own hands. (Maybe God needs me to take care of this one.) She convinces Abram that time is running out. (Face it, Abe, you ain't getting any younger, either.) Sarai then commands her maid, Hagar, to go into Abram's tent and see if he needs anything. (And I mean "anything"!)
Hagar goes in a maid. She comes out a mom. And the problems begin.
Hagar is haughty. Sarai is jealous. Abram is dizzy from the dilemma. And God calls the baby boy a "wild donkey." It's an appropriate name for one born out of stubbornness and destined to kick his way into history. This isn't the cozy family Sarai expected. And it isn't a topic Abram and Sarai bring up very often at dinner.
Finally, fourteen years later, when Abram is pushing a century of years and Sarai ninety ... when Abram has stopped listening to Sarai's advice, and Sarai has stopped giving it ... when the wallpaper in the nursery is faded and the baby furniture is several seasons out of date ... when the topic of the promised child brings sighs and tears and long looks into a silent sky ... God pays them a visit and tells them they had better select a name for their new son. Abram and Sarai have the same response: laughter.
They laugh partly because it is too good to happen and partly because it might. They laugh because they have given up hope, and hope born anew is always funny before it is real. They laugh at the lunacy of it all.
1. Put yourself in Sarai's shoes. It had been fourteen years since God's original promise of a son. Now, she is ninety. Ninety! God must have forgotten his promise, right? Wrong. God does the unthinkable — a son. No wonder she laughed! Have you ever let out a "Sarai laugh" because of God interrupting your familiar life with the unexpected? Describe what happened. _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
2. What blurs your kingdom vision? What is it that gets in the way of your seeing the world with spiritual eyes — with believing God can do the impossible? _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
As citizens of the kingdom of heaven, we are often surprised when God does the "absurd," works miracles, and moves in unimaginable ways. All too often we grow comfortable in a life that we see, touch, and manage on our smartphones. But Jesus said, "Unless you ... become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). A child lives in constant wonder and faith in the unimaginable. Yet Sarah's childless life would test her childlike faith. As you read her story, it is possible that you will relate to her journey. And it's probable that God will grow your childlike faith along the way.
Prayer for the Week
Jesus, nothing is impossible for you. Forgive us for the times we get so wrapped up in the kingdom of earth that we forget about the kingdom of heaven. We want to live expecting the unexpected, trusting in a God whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts and whose ways are higher than our ways (see Isaiah 55:9). In your mighty name, amen.
Day One: Promise Given
Integrity for Security
When we first meet Sarai, she is living in the land of Ur of the Chaldeans, located in modern-day Iraq. In addition to being told she is Abram's wife, we also read she is childless because she was not able to conceive (see Genesis 11:30). When Sarai's father-in-law, Terah, takes the family on the move, she and Abram end up in the city of Haran. It is there the Lord appears to Abram, tells him to go to Canaan, and promises to make him into a great nation.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, "It was by faith Abraham obeyed God's call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go" (11:8 NCV). Yet in spite of this faithfulness, we wouldn't exactly expect to see either his or Sarai's names listed in "Who's Who in Purity and Sainthood."
Why? Well, for Abram's part, he has a fibbing tongue that won't stop!
Shortly after the first visit from God, a famine in the land of Canaan sends the couple and their family down to Egypt. It is here we read an interesting detail about Sarai: she was exceptionally beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that Abram fears the Egyptians will kill him to get to her. So, in order to save his neck, he lets the word get out that Sarah isn't his wife but his sister ... which is only half true.
And then, not long after, he does it again! "Abraham moved south to the Negev and lived for a while between Kadesh and Shur, and then he moved on to Gerar. While living there as a foreigner, Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, 'She is my sister.' So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace" (20:1–2 NLT).
Twice Abram and Sarai trade integrity for security. Is that what you call confidence in God's promises? Can you build a nation on that kind of faith? As it turns out, God can. God took what was good, forgave what was bad, and used Abram and Sarai to change history.
1. Read Genesis 12:1–9. Sarai was sixty-five, and Abram seventy-five, when God asked them to journey approximately 400 miles from their home to a strange land called Canaan. Not exactly an easy move to the suburbs. How do they respond to the call? When was a time God called you into the unfamiliar? How did you respond? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
2. Check out Hebrews 11:8–12. How did Sarai and Abram demonstrate their faith (see verse 8)? What is the spiritual implication of dwelling in tents (see verse 10)? How can we be modern-day "tent dwellers" in the way we trust and follow God? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
3. The story of Sarai and Abram is one of phenomenal faith, but this doesn't mean they didn't stumble at times. Read Genesis 12:10–20. What takes Abram from a place of faith in God's promise to forgetting God's promise? What circumstances cause your own heart to forget God's promises? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
4. The idea of "God's promises" is tossed around a lot in Christian circles, but what does it mean? What are God's promises? What do these verses say about the promises of God?
Numbers 23:19: "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (NKJV). ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
1 Kings 8:56: "Blessed be the lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant" (NASB). ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
2 Corinthians 1:20: "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right" (NCV). ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
Tough to Swallow
By the time the Lord again appears to Abram, he and Sarai are finding God's promises about as easy to swallow as a chicken bone. "Master," he says, "what use are your gifts as long as I'm childless ... ? You've given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all" (Genesis 15:2–3 MSG).
God's response? "No problem."
Abram must have looked over at Sarai at that point as she shuffled by in her gown and slippers with the aid of a walker. The chicken bone stuck for a few minutes but eventually slid down his throat. Just as he was turning away to invite Sarah to a candlelight dinner, he heard promise number two.
"All this land will be yours."
Imagine God telling you that your children will someday own Fifth Avenue, and you will understand Abram's hesitation.
"On that one, Father, I need a little help." And a little help was given.
God told Abram to take three animals, cut them in half, and arrange the halves facing each other. To us, the command is mysterious. To Abram and Sarai, it wouldn't have been at all. They'd seen the ceremony before. Abram had participated in it. He'd sealed many covenants by walking between the divided carcasses and stating, "May what has happened to these animals happen also to me if I fail to uphold my word" (see Jeremiah 34:18).
Abram's heart must have skipped a beat when he saw the lights in the darkness passing between the carcasses. The soft golden glow from the coals in the firepot and the courageous flames from the torch. What did they mean? The invisible God had drawn near to make his immovable promise. "To your descendants I have given this land" (Genesis 15:18 NKJV).
And though God's people would often forget their God, he didn't forget them. He kept his word. The land became Abram and Sarai's.
5. Take a look at the conversation between God and Abram in Genesis 15. The Hebrew name that Abram calls God in verse 2 is Adonai, which means "Lord, Master."1 What does this tell you about how Abram viewed God? How do you view God when the waiting is long and his promises seem bleak? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
6. Abram assumes God's promise will be fulfilled through Eliezer, the head of his household. But then God instructs Abram to "look up at the sky" (verse 5). God not only tells Abram that his lineage will be as numerous as the stars, but also, in this, he draws Abram's gaze upward. What do you think gazing at the stars did for Abram's perspective? How can you "look up at the sky" in your daily life? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
7. Reread Genesis 15:6 and compare it to Romans 4:18–25. What is God's promise to us as Abram and Sarai's descendants? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
8. God commanded Abram to cut in half a heifer, ram, and goat — a pretty graphic mental picture! Yet it was common in Abram's day for two parties to walk between animal halves while making a treaty. It was as if to say, "May I become like these animals if I don't keep my part of the deal."2 But in this vision, who passes between the animals — one party or two? What does this gesture say about God's promises? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________\ ________________________________________________________________
At the beginning of Genesis 15, God says, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward" (verse 1 NKJV). This is where we start. We start with "I am." We start with remembering our "shield" and our "great reward." Before looking at the promises, we look at the Promise Maker. If we focus on trusting in his promises before trusting in him, or receiving his promises more than receiving him, then we have missed it. Missed what? That the same God who spoke with, met with, and walked with Abraham wants to speak with, meet with, and walk with us. This is the ultimate promise–the greatest gift. And as we grow in relationship with God, we grow in our trust of his promises burgeoning in our lives.
Points to Remember
* Our imperfect, doubting faith cannot prevent God from keeping his promises.
* God may call us to move outside of our comfort zone, but being "tent dwellers" will prepare us to be ready when God calls.
* God never forgets his promises, and our confidence in those promises is rooted in our relationship with him.
Prayer for the Day
Lord, thank you for grafting us into your promise of salvation. Thank you for the example of Sarai and Abram. Give us the confidence they had to call you "Adonai," Master, Lord, no matter the circumstances. And help us to remember that above all, the ultimate promise is fulfilled in relationship with you. In Jesus's name, amen.
Day Two: "Helping" God
Racking Up Charges
Wouldn't it be nice if someone credited your charge card account? All month long you rrack-rrack up the bills, dreading the day the statement comes in the mail. When it comes, you leave it on your desk for a few days, not wanting to see how much you owe. Finally, you force yourself to open the envelope. With one eye closed and the other open, you peek at the number. What you read causes the other eye to pop open. "A zero balance!"
There must be a mistake, so you call the bank that issued the card.
"Yes," the manager explains, "your account is paid in full. A Mr. Max Lucado sent us a check to cover your debt."
You can't believe your ears. "How do you know his check is good?"
"Oh, there is no doubt. Mr. Lucado has been paying off people's debts for years."
By the way, I'd love to do that for you, but don't get your hopes up. I have a few bills of my own. But Jesus would love to, and he can! He has no personal debt at all. And, what's more, he has been doing it for years. For proof, Paul reaches into the two-thousand-year-old file marked "Abram of Ur" and pulls out a statement.
Abram and Sarai certainly had their share of charges on this statement. They were far from perfect. As we have seen, there were times when Abram trusted the Egyptians before he trusted God. He even lied, telling Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister. But Sarai had her failings as well. One of the most memorable occurred just after God made his covenant with Abram — when Sarai decided to take matters into her own hands.
"Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai" (Genesis 16:2–3 NKJV). The result? Disaster.
1. Read Genesis 16 and write down the "charges" Abram and Sarai rack up. Why do you think Sarai decides to "help" God's plan in this passage? Based on Abram's response, what desires did he have to "help" God's plan as well? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
2. Think about a time when you took control of a situation instead of entrusting it to God. What were some of the results of that decision? Sarai believed taking over would fix the problem (see Genesis 16:2), and this gave her a false comfort. What false "comforts" tag along with control? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
3. It had been ten years since Abram and Sarai had picked up and left all they knew to follow this promise of God. Sarai's hope and patience were wearing thin, and she was beginning to cast blame. Who do you see her blame in Genesis 16? Who do you tend to blame when your dreams or plans don't unfold as you had hoped? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
4. Read Proverbs 3:5–7 and James 1:6–8. Which passage best describes Sarai in Genesis 16, and why? In Isaiah 26:3, how does the prophet encourage us to avoid doubt and control and have a heart of peace and trust? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
In Need of a Little Grace
"So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived" (Genesis 16:3–4). Abram and Sarai now have an heir, but it isn't the heir God intended. They have gone outside of God's plan, and soon things begin to unravel.
Hagar starts to despise Sarai. Sarai starts to despise Hagar. Abram is caught in the middle. The situation gets so bad that Abram finally gives up trying to work it out. "Indeed your maid is in your hand," he says to his wife. "Do to her as you please" (verse 6 NKJV).
In many ways, strange as it may seem, Sarai's humanness is refreshing. Should you ever need a reminder of God's tolerance, you'd find it in her story. If you ever wonder how in the world God could use you to change the world, just look at this couple. They made a lot of bad decisions. But Abram also made one for his family that changed everything: "He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own" (Romans 4:3 MSG). Because of this, God offered grace to both Sarai and Abram in spite of their faults and missteps. He credited their charge account and covered their debts.
My father had a simple rule about charge cards: own as few as possible and pay them off as soon as possible. So you can imagine my surprise when he put one in my hand the day I left for college. I looked at the name on the plastic. It wasn't mine; it was his. His only instructions to me were, "Be careful how you use it."
I went several months without needing that card. But when I needed it, I really needed it. On an impulse, I skipped class one Friday morning and headed out to visit a girl in another city, six hours away. Everything went fine until I rear-ended a car on the return trip. I can still envision the phone where I stood in the autumn chill to call my father. My story wasn't much to boast about. I'd made a trip without his knowledge, without any money, and wrecked his car.
Excerpted from Ten Women of the Bible by Jenna Lucado Bishop. Copyright © 2016 Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Lesson l SARAH Life in the Kingdom of the Absurd, 1,
Lesson 2 RAHAB When a Checkered Past Meets God's Grace, 25,
Lesson 3 ABIGAIL Beauty in the Midst of the Beasts, 49,
Lesson 4 ESTHER Touching the King's Heart, 73,
Lesson 5 MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS More Than a Christmas Story, 99,
Lesson 6 THE SAMARITAN WOMAN From Outcast to Evangelist, 123,
Lesson 7 THE CANAANITE WOMAN When Great Faith Meets Great Action, 145,
Lesson 8 MARY OF BETHANY Risky Acts of Love, 171,
Lesson 9 MARY MAGDALENE Encountering the God of Suprises, 197,
Lesson 10 SAPPHIRA Do Good ... Quietly, 221,
Leader's Guide, 245,