November 6, 2012

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 2:1-11

Hannah’s prayer in the early verses of chapter 2 is a powerful one. As Hannah knows well, there is no reason for any of us to be anything but humble. Yet, the warnings in this prayer were prudent to the prideful character of Peninnah in Chapter 1, and are wise to us as well.

Immediately in her prayer, Hannah places her trust in and contributes her blessings to the right person: the LORD (v. 1). What once were desperate mumbles mistaken for drunkenness became a clear surety in the Rock, to whom no one compares (v. 2).

It is on this foundation that Hannah can offer these cautions against pride. Being once hopeless, she can declare that “those who stumbled are armed with strength… those who were hungry hunger no more” (vv. 4-5). She understands that from the LORD comes blessing and hardship (vv. 6-7).

This is where humility comes in. She could have been frustrated at God. She could have become angry with him. She could have adopted the same attitude as Peninnah. She could have ignored God completely and somehow convinced herself that she deserved to have children.

Isn’t that like us to cry out to God when we’re in need only to ignore him when he answers our prayers? But thankfully, this was not her response. Instead, she focuses on who God is. She praises him (vv.1-2), she rests in his promises (vv. 9-10), and she accepts all situations, knowing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). If we are to take seriously this promise found in Romans and other popular verses such as Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you…”), then the only appropriate response to any situation, good or bad, is humility. Pride can do a lot of things, but it will never lead you to a place where you acknowledge and submit to a God who loves you and knows what is best for you.

What situations are you facing right now that are difficult? How have you shown humility? Maybe right now, life is going really well for you. What is your reaction to the good times? Do you bow before the LORD in praise and delight, or do you talk proudly, forgetting that “the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed” (v. 3)?

Posted by: J. Adam Mabe, Student Ministry Intern, Richmond Campus

November 5, 2012

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 1

Welcome to our next JumpStart book – 1 Samuel. You’ll love it! Its chock full of great stories that we can learn from. We’ll get started with one today.
The books of First and Second Samuel are part of a series of historical books (Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) that make up a theological history of the Israelites and affirm and explain God’s law for Israel under the guidance of the prophets.

The Book of First Samuel begins with a description of Samuel’s birth and of how God called to him as a boy. The story of the Ark that follows tells of Israel’s oppression by the Philistines, which brings about Samuel’s anointing of Saul as Israel’s first king. But Saul proves unworthy and God’s choice turns to David, who defeats Israel’s enemies and brings the Ark to Jerusalem. God then promises David and his successors an eternal dynasty.

The author was Samuel himself, and it was written from about 630-540 BC. – (Source Wikipedia)

Chapter one teaches us three important lessons…

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover.

In two instances, we see Hannah judged unfairly in chapter one. First by Peninnah who poked fun at her for being without children. This was not Hannah’s fault, but by God’s design to bring Him glory. Peninnah brought Hannah often to tears.

Then by Eli the priest, who accused her of being drunk while in fact she was crying out to the Lord. I wonder how many people we judge unfairly?. Often things are not as they appear.

Practice Desperate Prayer.

We pray desperate prayers when we feel desperate feelings. For example, if our child is dying – we’re desperate and we’ll pray that way. But, how often do we neglect to pray desperately for things like revival or for a lost acquaintance to come into a relationship with Jesus?

Hannah prayed desperately in 1 Samuel 1:9-11. This makes me think of a New Testament parable that Jesus told us in Luke 11:5-10:

Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

What are you praying desperately for? Persistently for?

Keep Your Promises.

How many times have you and I made promises to God that we have not kept?

Hannah made a promise to God in 1 Samuel 1:11 and she kept it. Ever thought about how hard that must have been? She probably wanted to forget all about it – but she was a woman of her word. Remember the words in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5:

When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.

Are there any unkept promises to God that you need to honor? Make plans today to be a man or woman of your word.

 

Posted by: Tim Parsons