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The Transformation of a Princess

As a former Bible Teacher and Youth Pastor, I’ve witnessed students change for the good and bad. One of the most memorable occurred during a Confirmation Retreat for 8th Graders. One of the girls who attended had a reputation for being cruel and mean. At some point, whether it was one of the ice-breakers, small groups discussions or something I said during this weekend, a spiritual transformation began in this girl’s life.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, See here, the Lord has restrained me from bearing [children]. I am asking you to have intercourse with my maid; it may be that I can obtain children by her. And Abram listened to and heeded what Sarai said. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her Egyptian maid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his [secondary] wife. And he had intercourse with Hagar, and she became pregnant; and when she saw that she was with child, she looked with contempt upon her mistress and despised her, Genesis 16:1-4.

Unfortunately, most transformations occur gradually, over an extended period of time. Such was the case for Sarai, who struggled with self-esteem as an adult due to her inability to have a baby with her husband Abram. The label of being barren ate away at her soul, trying to force the issue with Hagar, her maidservant who she gave to Abram as a secondary wife. However, after Hagar got pregnant this only made Sarai more bitter and envious.

And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her, Genesis 17:15-16.

Moments after God gave Abram the new name Abraham, the same thing happens to Sarai in the passage above. Recognizing the broken and crushed spirit of Abraham’s wife, Psalm 34:18, God’s new name Sarah means princess. Using the power of words like the book You Are What You Say, God speaks to Sarah’s future and not her past. The apostle Paul writes about this important principle in Philippians 3:12-14. This is the mentality which led to the transformation of a barren woman into a princess and the mother of Israel.

by Jay Mankus

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The Power of a New Name

One of my favorite parts of the Confirmation Process in the Roman Catholic Church was adopting a name new, symbolic of a spiritual transformation. The confirmation name I selected was John Jay, after the first chief justice of the United States. Jay’s accomplishments include American statesman, patriot, diplomat, and abolitionist. While Revisionist Historians are attempting to rewrite the history and spiritual heritage of our founding fathers, there is power in a name who demonstrates the love of Jesus.

As for Me, behold, My covenant (solemn pledge) is with you, and you shall be the father of many nations. Nor shall your name any longer be Abram [high, exalted father]; but your name shall be Abraham [father of a multitude], for I have made you the father of many nations, Genesis 17:4-5.

While Moses doesn’t go into specifics, God renames Abram Abraham and Sarai Sarah at the beginning of Genesis 17. As a teenager, my cross-country teammates were big on nicknames. Over my four-year running career, I accumulated several. Some of these names I hated, but others were earned throughout the course of a season. In the passage above, Abram’s new name symbolizes the future that God has prepared in advance for Abraham, Philippians 1:6.

And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her, Genesis 17:15-16.

Meanwhile, Moses’ recollections of Sarai wasn’t impressive. Beside becoming a member of Pharaoh’s harem for a short period of time, Sarai became a bitter old woman who wasn’t able to have children. Desperate to have children, Sarai tried to force the issue, granting permission for Hagar to become Abram’s secondary wife. If anyone needed a new name, Sarai was ready for a do-over in life. Just as Abraham was granted a new name, Sarai becomes Sarah, meaning princess and future mother of nations. This is the power of a new name.

by Jay Mankus

When the Fire Inside Flickers Out

If you’re star gazing on a clear night, you might just catch a glimpse of a shooting star.  However, by the time you point in this direction to show others most vanish, flickering out before you can share this special moment.  This dying flame is reminiscent of individuals who lose their spark, joy for life.

And the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale, Revelation 6:13.

Madonna’s song Lucky Star, released in 1983, refers to the old adage of wishing upon a star.  Similar to Disney’s theme, both lyrics paint the picture of a fantasy world where your dreams come true.  Unfortunately, when your prince, princess or pot of gold never arrives, hope is replaced with doubt as stars of promise die out.

And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever, Daniel 12:3.

When I was young, life was filled with great expectations, places to go, people to meet and mountains to climb.  Yet, every adult reaches a point in their lives when its hard to wake up.  Perhaps the life you envisioned hasn’t turned out as you thought.  Or in my case, the road I set out on has changed, leaving me dazed and confused.  Thus, when the fire inside flickers out its time to fall on your knees, open up God’s Word and pray for the Lord to raise you up on eagle’s wings to get you through the tough times.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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