Lord of hosts

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 1:1-20 (day seven)
“This man used to go up year by year . . .to worship. . .the Lord of hosts at Shiloh.”  (v 3)  It is the first time we ever see it in Scripture.  God’s name.  Lord of hosts.  It means “God of ARMIES of angels” and (after this reference) appears in the Bible over 300 times. How did Elkanah and/or Hannah retain such a clear vision of God’s power in a day as spiritually defeated as theirs?  Does life ever get you down?  Do you allow daily disappointments to cloud your confidence that God has enormous power at His disposal?  Even facing barrenness, this couple never lost perspective on God’s character and strength.  “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” said Jesus on the night of His arrest. (Matthew 26: 53)  We will not fear.  We worship the Lord of hosts.

The power of prayer

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 1:1-20 (day six)
“Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.”  (v 18)  It is a strange power that prayer has.  “A peace that passes understanding” is the way the Bible describes it.  Nothing has changed for Hannah.  Not materially.  She is still barren.  Still trapped in a dysfunctional family.  But her countenance reveals a deep inner transformation.  Her face is no longer sad because her heart is no longer defeated.  People who pray report this positive result.  The problems remain but somehow we are different!  “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. . .while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18)

Broken world, broken hearts

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 1:1-20 (day five)
“Hannah had no children” (v 2)  “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord.” (v 10)  Her journey is not unlike our own.  Eventually we all discover, as Hannah did, that this world is incapable of meeting our deepest needs, fulfilling our highest hopes.  It is a hostile place.  And empty.  Sometimes we experience this brokenness in marriage.  Sometimes in parenthood or infertility or singleness or career loss,  but eventually everyone discovers the same truth.  And God can use a broken heart.  Only as our hearts break free from our dependence on/addiction to the things of this world do we  discover the power and peace to be found in “unseen things”.  Hannah may have prayed before this night but she never prayed with equal power.  Heart break?  Yes.  Break through?  Yes again.  Hannah’s experience is something that God desires to teach us all.  A broken heart may be the beginning of a new life.

In Faith

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 1:1-20 (day four)
When Hannah was in distress, she brought her needs to the Lord in prayer.  Hannah’s prayer was that God would remember her.  Had God forgotten her?  Or was Hannah a part of a larger plan that God had for the nation of Israel?  To believe that God is sovereign is to believe that He has a plan for the circumstances of our life…that He will receive glory through them.  Hannah responded to her distress by praying and accepting God’s plan by faith.  Even before Hannah prayed, God had already answered her prayer.  Not only would she have a son, but God would have a faithful prophet and servant in Samuel.  ‘Samuel’ means ‘Asked of the Lord’…Hannah asked according to God’s plan.  Her faith rose from God’s plan in her life.  We too can pray in faith.  To pray in faith is the result of a relationship with God that precedes the desires of our heart.


RE Verse reading–1 Samuel 1:1-20 (day three)
“I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life.” Reading this story through present-dayeyes will invite us to interpret Hannah’s grief through our current sensibilities: Babies give us the status of mommy-hood and daddy-hood that we highly value; babies give us an opportunity to breathe into them our own sense of how the world ought to be; the way we raise babies establishes our “brand identity” among our peer group. Such values, though, are part of a shift in modern thinking about families in our society—a shift that sees children as a statement we make to the world about ourselves.  We would do well to learn from Hannah: She desired that her son live as the Lord’s statement to the world about the Lord himself.

Desperate Prayer

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 1:1-20 (day two)
“Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears…” (1 Samuel 1:10). What prayer surfaces the deep longing in your soul? It’s a faithful prayer that believes one is being heard by One who is powerful enough to respond. It’s a hopeful prayer that trusts that the One who hears is good and will respond favorably. It’s a desperate prayer from one who has realized that there is no other One to whom the request can be brought. Prayer that surfaces the longing of the soul results in rest well before the answer is realized (1 Samuel 1:18). Haven’t experienced this? Perhaps your soul longs for too small a thing? Try longing for spiritual birth in someone you love, and you’ll find that faithful, hopeful and desperate prayer is the only way forward. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “if sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

Losing Control

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 1:1-20 (day one)
“No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.”  (v 15)  The Bible often compares spiritual life to being drunk.  “Do not get drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:”But others were saying, ‘They are full of sweet wine’ ” (Acts 2:13–at Pentecost)  Even Hannah is accused.  Perhaps it is because drunkenness and spiritual life both displace or short-circuit the ego.  In one case, we “lose control” to a negative influence. (alchohol).  In the other, we “surrender control and choice” to a higher/better mind.  (Spirit)  In both cases, someone or something else takes over. One thing is clear, so long as my ego is in charge, the Lord cannot be.  Something has to break my heart so that my soul pours out, my defenses leave and the Lord comes in to reign.

Answered prayer answered

RE Verse reading–Genesis 24:34-67  (day seven)  “Then I bowed my head and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord. . .who had led me by the right way”  (v 48)  It is a 3 step process.  Ideally.  We call on God.  He answers.  We worship.  Sadly, the third step is frequently omitted.  Anyone else ever seek God in crisis, receive an answer and then rush right back into life without worshipping?  I am sorry to admit but I often play the part of spoiled child.  Ungrateful.  Taking His kindness for granted.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul. . .forget none of His benefits”  (Psalm 103:2)  “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness. . .knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.”  (Romans 2:4)  God’s gifts are freely given.  We cannot repay Him.  However, every answered prayer waits for a response of praise from a receptive and grateful heart.  May we gather in a few hours and bow and worship this generous God!

The wisdom of Abraham

Re: Verse reading–Genesis 24:34-67 (day six)
Know anyone wise?  Abraham was.  Walking with God for years will do it for you.  It is the only way.  Sometimes the wisest decisions are things that we don’t do/don’t think.  So, Abraham doesn’t say, “Well, let’s just blur the lines on who Isaac should marry.”  “God will cut us some slack on this issue.”  Friendship with God was never a pass for moral (or marital) compromise for Abraham.  He also didn’t say, “If something is going to get done, I have to do it.”  He believed that God works through many people, not just one.  (Belief  in Christ is belief in the body of Christ)  But he also didn’t believe that old age (was he 140 by this time?) allows a person to be passive or uninvolved with the outworking purposes of God.  He takes initiative.  He leads his family forward.  Let’s see. . .no moral compromise, the ability to delegate, no retirement. . .How wise!

Say Ten Days

RE Verse Reading–Genesis 24:34-67  (day four)
Ten days didn’t seem too long…but what if they were ten days late?  One day does not seem much; but one day more may be one day too late, and one day too late may be too late forever!  Obedience is doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right heart attitude!  Even one second on the clock could mean missing Christ forever…either for you or for someone else.  Satan plays the same game over and over.  He doesn’t oppose religion openly, but ‘everything in its proper place’…”this is just not the time for it; wait a little longer…say, ten days!”

Satan desires that no one come to Christ, but if he cannot keep us from Christ, he wants to have us just a little longer.  Not only can he get more service out of our lives, but he can often pile on shameful baggage that can cripple our service to God.  He seeks to sow tares into our wheat field!