The Women of Genesis: Lesson 13- Sarah


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


Read Genesis 17:1-18:15


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lessons 11 and 12 (links above).

2. Read Genesis 16:16 and 17:1. How many years passed between the birth of Ishmael and the appearance of the Lord in 17:1?

3. Compare 17:1-8 with Genesis 15:1-6. Write out the stipulations of the Abrahamic Covenant. Think further ahead into Old Testament history (Exodus-ish). What is God laying the foundation for here with Abraham? How does Abraham serving as the “cornerstone” as it were, of the nation of Israel point ahead to Christ as the cornerstone of Christianity?

4. What was the sign that a person was under the Abrahamic Covenant? (17:9-14) What were the “policies and procedures” regarding circumcision in this passage? Are Christian men today required by Scripture to be circumcised? What is the New Testament sign that a person is in Christ and under the new covenant of grace?

5. Why do you think both the covenant and the sign of the covenant were male-centric? Why didn’t God make the covenant with Abraham and Sarah? Why circumcision, which was specifically male-only, instead of something like ear-piercing which could have also been performed on females?

6. Why did God change Abram’s name to Abraham (17:5), and Sarai’s name to Sarah (17:15)?  What did their former and new names mean? Why didn’t God change Hagar’s name?

7. Compare and contrast Abraham’s reaction to the news of Sarah’s impending pregnancy (17:15-18) to Sarah’s reaction to this news (18:10-12). How were their reactions similar? How were they different? How did God respond to Abraham’s reaction? (17:19-21) To Sarah’s? (18:13-15) From God’s individualized responses to each of them, what can you infer about the differences between Abraham’s and Sarah’s thoughts and concerns about the upcoming pregnancy? Why do you think God picked the name Isaac for their son? (see footnote on 17:9, Genesis 21:5-7)

8. Examine more closely Sarah’s response to the news of her impending pregnancy in 18:11-15. Recall or review (lesson 11) Sarah’s failure to trust God. How does her initial reaction here again demonstrate that she did not believe God’s word, or trust God’s character to keep His promise?

9. Verse 18:12 begins with the word “So”, indicating that the reason Sarah reacted the way she did was because of the information in verse 11. What circumstances (11) were Sarah’s reaction (12) based on? Did she have more faith in the her circumstances and her own personal experience, or in God and His Word? In that moment, was her faith rightly or wrongly placed? Examine Hebrews 11:11. Even though Sarah initially failed to trust God and wrongly placed greater faith in her circumstances and experiences, did her heart, her faith, and her trust remain that way?

10. Carefully examine 18:1-10. What can we learn about the customs of Middle Eastern hospitality at that time? What were some of Sarah’s duties and appropriate behaviors in welcoming guests according to her culture?

11. Review the verses in this passage that specifically talk about Sarah. What else can we learn about her character or her faith that set a good, or bad, example for us as Christian women today?


“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Even though Sarah’s initial reaction to God and His Word was one of unbelief and distrust, God brought her along and grew her into someone who was commended for her faith in Hebrews 11 (often called the “roll call of the faithful” or “the Hall of Faith”).  Think back over your walk with the Lord. Can you think of a Scripture you once rejected in disbelief or rebellion that you now embrace and obey? A life situation in which God grew your faith in Him? What circumstances, Scriptures, or people did God use to bring you along from unbelief to belief, disobedience to obedience, distrust to trust? Spend some time in prayer thanking God for growing you through that situation.

Suggested Memory Verse

Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.
Genesis 18:14


Jesus Loves Me: The “Contending for the Faith” Version


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Every now and then I do a little creative writing. I posted this to Facebook on Sunday, and people seemed to like it, so I thought I’d share it here for those who aren’t on social media.

The Mailbag: Expository or Topical Preaching: Which is better?


, , , , , , , , , , ,


I would like to read your thoughts on expositional vs. topical preaching. I know we can benefit from both but is one superior to the other and why?

Great question! You’re right, both forms of preaching can be beneficial as long as the pastor properly exegetes (rather than eisegetes) Scripture.

For readers who might not be familiar with the terms, expository preaching is basically when a pastor preaches through books of the Bible from beginning to end carefully explaining what each passage means. He might go through only a few verses each week, or maybe a chapter each week, so the time it takes to work through a book will vary from pastor to pastor.

The term topical preaching can have a couple of different meanings depending on who you’re talking to and what she understands the term to mean. Some people understand “topical preaching” to mean a sermon series, usually in a seeker driven church, that centers around something in pop culture. (For example, popular movies or the Olympics.) Normally, these sermons are very shallow, biblically – sometimes nothing more than a pep talk or self-help tips. This type of preaching is unbiblical, and if it makes up the bulk of the preaching at your church, I’d recommend finding a new church.

There is, however, a biblical form of topical preaching that can be very helpful. If a doctrinally sound pastor sees an issue in the church that needs to be addressed, there is nothing wrong with his taking a break from preaching through a certain book (or when he’s between books) to teach on this issue from the pulpit.

For example, pastors in Parkland, Florida, might wish to take a few weeks right now to preach sermons on “Why does God allow tragedies to happen?”, “How can I biblically comfort the families of the victims?”, “Are the victims of the shooting in Heaven?”, and so on. One great topical sermon concept I’ve seen is for the pastor to give the congregation the opportunity to submit biblical questions and then preach sermons answering those questions. Other times a pastor might address a biblical topic for several weeks, such as peace, the gospel, the Fruit of the Spirit, or parenting. As long as these topics are driven by “let’s look at what the Bible says about X” and the pastor handles Scripture correctly and in context, topical preaching is both biblical and beneficial.

My personal opinion (this is not law and there may be plenty of perfectly doctrinally sound pastors who disagree) is that the majority of a pastor’s preaching should be expository with occasional breaks for (biblical) topical preaching as needed. Why?

✢ Expository preaching usually covers a wider spread of Scripture and a wider variety of topics. Topical preaching is, by definition, very narrowly focused on fewer passages and fewer topics.

✢ Expository preaching models for the congregation the proper way they should study the Bible at home. Most of the time, in your daily Bible study, you should be working your way through books of the Bible systematically. (That said, topical preaching done properly is also helpful for demonstrating to the congregation how to correctly find and apply Scripture to various topics and situations which arise in their lives. We need to know how to do both, but the former is primary.)

✢ Expository preaching helps a pastor better preach the whole counsel of God. He doesn’t have to worry that he’s neglecting to teach on a certain issue and wrack his brain trying to think of what that issue might be. With expository teaching, Scripture takes care of that for him.

✢ I have to think that expository preaching is easier than being forced to come up with a new topic or series every week or few weeks. I’m not a pastor, but the Bible studies I post each Wednesday are nearly always expository. The articles I post each Friday are nearly always topical. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t fret over coming up with a topic for the Friday article and struggle against writer’s block. But I know exactly what each week’s Bible study is going to cover: whatever the next passage of Scripture is in the book we’re studying. Exposition eliminates “forced creativity stress” for me, and I’m thinking maybe it’s similar for pastors.

✢ Expository preaching pushes pastors to tackle hard and unfamiliar passages as they come up in the text, making them more biblically knowledgeable and well-rounded, and allowing them the blessing of depending on God in prayer to open their eyes to understand His Word.

✢ Expository preaching should keep the Old Testament and certain books of the Bible from being neglected as much as they usually are. There are only 66 books in the Bible to preach through. Eventually you’re going to have to get to the minor prophets, Leviticus, Jude, Philemon, Song of Solomon, and the really long books of the Old Testament. Ostensibly. I’m sure there are expository pastors out there who have preached through the more neglected books, but I’ve never sat under a pastor who preached through Nahum or Zephaniah or Ezekiel. Just sayin’.

✢ Expository preaching gives the congregation a better grip on the overall story arc of the Bible and the culture of the period being studied. If your pastor preaches a topical sermon on leadership from Nehemiah one Sunday, you’re not going to understand the post-exilic period of Israel’s history or the culture of that time nearly as well as if he preached through the entire book over several weeks or months. That knowledge and insight is something you can stick in your pocket and hang on to for studying other post-exilic Scripture at home or in Sunday School, or listening to other sermons dealing with that period of Israel’s history.

✢ Expository preaching better lends itself to encouraging the congregation to prepare for Sunday worship during the week. If you know what passage your pastor is going to be preaching on this Sunday, you can study, and even memorize verses, ahead of time to prepare your heart to hear your pastor preach it.

I just have a couple of caveats (still just my personal opinions) about expository preaching:

I don’t think it’s wise for a pastor to be so rigidly stuck on expository preaching that he ignores the leading of the Holy Spirit to preach the occasional biblical topical sermon when it would be a benefit and a blessing to his congregation simply because he sees himself as an expository preacher. Preaching a topical sermon or series from time to time doesn’t mean you have to turn in your expository preaching card.

Also, while verse by verse preaching is an excellent way to teach the text thoroughly, I once heard someone talking about her (very good, doctrinally sound) pastor who had been preaching through a particular book of the Bible for seven years and still had several chapters to go. I don’t think it’s a good idea to take that long on a single book. At that point, several of the aforementioned benefits of expository preaching are gone: the pastor has ceased to preach the whole counsel of God, he’s neglecting bibilical topics not found in that book, he’s neglecting other books of the Bible, he’s not helping his congregation learn the whole storyline of Scripture and the customs of various historic periods and cultures, and he’s not covering as wide a spread of Scripture as he could if he’d limit himself to a year or two, max, to finish one book and move on to the next.

Expository and topical preaching are both helpful in their own ways, but the most important thing is that the pastor is “rightly handling the word of truth.”

Additional Resources

Why topical preaching can never build a healthy church by Mark Dever

The Sheer Weightlessness of So Many Sermons—Why Expository Preaching Matters by Albert Mohler

What is topical preaching? Does it have a place in the church? by John MacArthur

Can Topical Preaching Be Expository? by Timothy Warren

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Equipping Eve Podcast Guest Appearance: The Church


, , , , , , , , ,


Several weeks ago, I had the most fun ever sitting down and talking with my friend Erin Benziger of the Equipping Eve podcast and blog about the church, its joys and challenges, and our roles as church members. 

Click here to listen.

Listen in and let us know what you think, or suggest a topic for a future episode. Subscribe to No Compromise Radio (Equipping Eve’s parent network) on iTunes so you won’t miss future episodes of Equipping Eve. And don’t forget to follow Equipping Eve on Facebook and Twitter!

Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

Throwback Thursday ~ Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It?


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Originally published January 22, 2016

discernment love

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…
Ephesians 4:14-15

Christians who know what discernment is have a variety of perspectives about how it should be practiced. Should we teach about false doctrine at all or just make sure our church is teaching sound doctrine? Should we name the names of false teachers or speak about them anonymously? Should we warn people away from false teachers or just pray for them privately? What’s the biblical precedent for using a stringent tone when speaking of those who teach false doctrine?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “speaking the truth in love” from Ephesians 4:15 as it pertains to speaking and writing about false doctrine and false teachers.

Many Christian women have the mistaken idea that “speaking the truth in love” equates to being “nice.” We’re always smilingly sweet and never say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings or could rock the boat at church.

Are we to be kind? Yes. Are we to do our best not to hurt others? Of course. Should we be making waves over every little thing that rubs us the wrong way? Absolutely not. We are to deny ourselves, setting aside our personal preferences and, in many cases, even our own rights, to the point of laying down our lives for others.

But we need to understand the distinction between personal preferences and biblical doctrine. And that’s where I think a lot of people get confused. We die to personal preferences. We die for the purity of biblical doctrine. The enemy is stealthily infiltrating and conquering church after church with false doctrine. We are at war. And that’s going to mean ruffling feathers, rocking the boat, and hurting feelings sometimes. Because the full armor of God doesn’t come with a white flag or a pen for signing peace treaties.

But how do we war for the truth “in love”?

Well, think about the concept and practice of “love.” Love always has an object. We don’t just say, “I love.” We say, “I love my children,” or “I love peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.” Speaking the truth “in love” is not as much about our demeanor or tone of voice as it is about the object of our love. It’s our love for others that compels us to speak biblical truth. And it’s that same love for others that should drive the manner in which we speak the truth.

So when it comes to speaking the truth about false doctrine, how should we be motivated by love? And love for whom?

We love Christ– As Christians, our love for Christ should motivate everything we do. If we’re speaking truth from fleshly motives such as pride, the desire to make a name for ourselves, or the competitive drive to win an argument, everything we say can be 100% factually right and we can still be spiritually in the wrong because the motive of our heart is wrong. God isn’t a debate judge awarding us points for compelling arguments. God weighs the heart.

We love God’s word– To love Christ is to love the Bible because Scripture is literally God Himself speaking to us. Besides the cleansing of the temple, the passage in which we see Jesus’ righteous anger displayed most clearly is Matthew 23. Here, Jesus delivers a scorching rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees for twisting God’s word and, in doing so, leading people away from the truth of Scripture. It is only natural for those of us who have the mind of Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit to have that same love for God’s word and feel righteous anger over the maligning of it.

We love the church– To love Christ is also to love His bride, the church. Christ gave his life to cleanse the church “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Seeing Christ’s bride blemished and corrupted by false doctrine should grieve us deeply and motivate us to call the church to be cleansed “by the washing of water with the word.”

We love the captives– Paul speaks of false teachers “who creep into households and capture weak women.” Often, the women who follow false teachers simply don’t know any better. They are casualties and prisoners of war held hostage by the enemy. We are to love them enough to show them the truth of God’s word so that “they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

We love the enemyEvery Christian was at one time an enemy of the cross. Every last one of us. Until someone loved us enough to intervene with the truth of the gospel. False teachers – those who, despite biblical correction, unrepentantly teach doctrine which is plainly refuted by Scripture – have made themselves enemies of the cross, even if they call themselves “Christian,” even if they wear the title of “pastor,” even if they’re holding a Bible in their hands and refer to it occasionally as they “teach” us.

In the same way a loving sister would not turn a blind eye and hope for the best if her sibling began using drugs and became increasingly addicted, it is not loving to stand idly by and allow false teachers to continue to sink deeper and deeper into Satan’s clutches by doing his bidding without making every effort to stop them in order to rescue them.

Sometimes – just as with the drug abuser – this can be accomplished early on with a private word of correction. And sometimes – as with the addict – more extreme measures of “tough love” and intervention must be employed. But we always love them enough to desire that they come to repentance and embrace the truth.


Our love for these also drives the manner in which we speak truth to them. A good soldier would never deal with a civilian casualty in the same way he would fight off an enemy bent on waging war. Likewise, part of discernment is knowing who the enemy is (and is not) and dealing with people in a biblically appropriate way. This requires humility, wisdom, thorough proficiency with our tools and weapons, unceasing prayer, and complete dependence on and self-crucifying love for our King. We trust in Him and His word to guide us in the wise and loving way to humbly speak His truth.

Discernment. Speaking truth. What’s love got to do with it?


The Women of Genesis ~ Catch Up Week


I’m traveling this week, so no new lesson in our Women of Genesis study today. Use this week to “ketchup” on any lessons you haven’t finished yet, review anything from previous lessons you’d like to give more attention to, or work on those memory verses. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll have a new lesson next week!


Favorite Finds


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

Sheologians posted a great episode: Almost: Our Encouragement & Concern with the IF:Gathering. They explained some of the things that attract women to this conference as well as the theological problems with it. They have also published a follow up blog post, Almost: an addendum since releasing this episode. I’ve added both to my resources on IF at the Popular False Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Tim Challies simply and handily explains 2 Timothy 3:6-7 in this 2016 article, Capturing Weak Women.



Women’s Hope Project recently started a new Bible study on Galatians on their podcast. A free study guide is available.




All main sessions, breakout sessions, and Spanish sessions of the 2018 G3 Conference: Knowing God- A Biblical Understanding of Discipleship have been uploaded to the G3 app, so download the app to access some awesome teaching. All of the sessions were phenomenal, but if you only have time for a few, I’d recommend starting with the (three) Martha Peace and (two) Justin Peters breakout sessions. You can also register for next year’s conference on missions and get the early registration rate.


Do you enjoy writing? Even if you don’t, I think you’ll like these 7 Writing Tips from Charles Spurgeon.


The Mailbag’s Top 5


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


While I’m out of town this week, let’s recap The Mailbag’s greatest hits. Here are the five most popular Mailbag articles:

Should Churches Use Praise Teams?

It’s a decision each individual pastor has to prayerfully make as he seeks to do what is
best, wisest, and most godly for his particular church.

What is Calvinism? Semi-Reformed?

It’s OK to hold those things in tension while we’re here on earth. We believe what Scripture says God does, but, where the Bible is silent as to how He does it, His reasons for doing it, etc.,
well, we trust God and believe Scripture there, too.

Should Christians Do Yoga?

The reason the question “Should Christians do yoga?” is even being asked is because there’s doubt in the minds of the Christians asking the question that yoga is kosher with God.
That’s a healthy doubt because yoga is a Hindu worship practice.

False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Are there any CCM groups, artists, or songs I should avoid?
Can you recommend any specific doctrinally sound artists or groups?

What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

Since there’s no official NAR creed or statement of faith, beliefs and practices can vary from church to church, but, loosely speaking, the NAR takes the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy and kicks it up a notch with outlandish “supernatural” manifestations, blasphemously attributed to the Holy Spirit.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

A Word Fitly Spoken: 11 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor


, , , , , , , ,

I hope you have the blessing of sitting under good, biblical preaching at your church. I do. I’m always so thankful to hear God’s word beautifully preached in my own church, and I’m thankful for the all of the other godly men out there laboring faithfully each week to proclaim the truth of the gospel to the sheep God has entrusted to them.

Are you thankful for your pastor and a church that rightly handles God’s word? Are you telling anybody you’re thankful? Are you telling your pastor?

The ministry is a tough job, and pastors need all the encouragement they can get. Sometimes it’s the little things you say and do that can be a blessing to your pastor and make his job easier and more joyful. Proverbs 25:11 says:

Here are eleven ways you can encourage your pastor (and don’t forget your associate pastor, minister of music, youth pastor, etc.!)


Pray for your pastor

Some specifics you can pray for:

💭 His wife and children

💭 His stress level, and for peace

💭 His finances and provision

💭 His marriage, and that he will be a good father

💭 That God will grow him in his understanding and handling of Scripture

💭 That God will grow him in discernment, and guard him from being influenced by false teachers/doctrine

💭 That God will protect him from temptation and lead him to repentance when he sins

💭 And here are even more ways to pray for your pastor.

Remember to tell your pastor you’re praying for him, and ask him if there’s anything in particular you can pray for him about.

Show Up

First of all, Scripture says you’re supposed to be a faithful, active member of your local church. Second, it’s very discouraging to pastors when church members who are perfectly able to attend faithfully simply choose to let other, non-essential things take precedence.

Be Present

Pay attention, be engaged, and have a pleasant look on your face during the sermon. If you’ve ever stood in front of a group of people, you know how easy it is to tell who’s “with you” and who’s not. And the more “with yous” there are out there, the more encouraging it is.

A Word of Thanks

Just say thank you. Thank you for being my pastor, for being faithful to the Word, for encouraging me, for working so hard, for studying well…

Submit to His Leadership

Take Hebrews 13:17-18 seriously:

Yes, there are abusive pastors out there. Yes, there are pastors who are flagrantly disobedient to Scripture in their leadership. If that’s your pastor, leave that church and find a pastor you can trust (yes, I know it’s hard), and whose leadership you can submit to. Don’t be the constantly complaining, argumentative, nit picky thorn in your pastor’s side.

Don’t Major on the Minors

If you do need to speak to your pastor about something you disagree with him about, whenever possible, try to make sure it’s a biblical issue rather than an issue of preference, and make sure you do it in love and kindness, not in an attacking way.

Wait, Mr. Postman…

Isn’t it nice to open your mail or e-mail and find something besides bills and bad news? Send your pastor a note, card, or e-mail of encouragement.

C is for Cookie (and Calories)

Think before you bake. When I want to send someone a little token of encouragement, my first instinct is always to bake something. But a lot of pastors, like everyone else these days, are dieting, so use wisdom. Maybe a gift card to his favorite store or restaurant, a book by his favorite author, or a service he needs performed would be better. Here are some more ideas if you want to give your pastor a token of appreciation.

A Word Fitly Spoken

Tell your pastor something you learned from the sermon or how God has been growing you through his preaching. Let him know how your Sunday school class is maturing. Tell him about the good progress that’s being made in the committee you serve on or the ministry you serve in.

Perfect Timing

Do not pull your pastor aside right before the service to discuss anything that could wait until later. He needs to be focused on preaching and worship. And don’t detain him for long after the service, either. He’s probably hungry, tired, has to go to the bathroom, and wants to get home to his family. Make an appointment during the week.

Nobody’s Perfect

Remember that your pastor is human. He’s going to sin. He’s going to get things wrong. Don’t assume he knows why you’re upset with him. Don’t hold a grudge. Extend the same grace you would to anyone else, and forgive.

What are some other ways we can encourage our pastors?

Road Trip!

I’m on the road with my family today, traveling to speak at a women’s conference in the Memphis area tomorrow, and then on to visit loved ones. Your prayers are much appreciated.

Lots of great content coming your way over the next several days, so stick around. Lord willing, I’ll be back late next week.