Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now Pt.1

That phrase rings a special tone in my heart, please allow me to tell you the story…

I was wrapping up another wonderful trip to the orphanage in Carmen Serdan, BC Mexico. A place that we lived and served at for a couple years about 20 years ago. A place that I have visited often since. It holds a special place in my heart, and always will.

The last morning of this particular trip I took the short walk up the little hill behind the bodega. It is a place that virtually everyone who visits the mission finds themselves at some point.

And I stood there, on this little hill looking over the valley – beautiful, green and the mountains surrounding it. Air was fresh: a little mist still falling.

Roosters crowing and cow mooing; the Ejido was waking up; chicken farm was visible in the distance very bucolic!

(I was treated to a scene you don’t see often… here or anywhere for that matter… a man taking his pig for a morning walk, interesting…)

Many of the landmarks around the mission have been given names over the years by workers from the mission who have explored the area. The locals have their names as well, of course, but that never stopped us from coming up with our own.

One of the named landmarks is Sinai, the highest of the peaks on the other side of the valley.

It had rained the night before and the clouds were still hanging low so that the top of Sinai was covered in clouds.

I could not help but consider the passage I had read just minutes before in the book of Deuteronomy:

The LORD spoke these words with a loud voice to all of you from the heart of the fire, surrounded by clouds and deep darkness. This was all he said at that time, and he wrote his words on two stone tablets and gave them to me. But when you heard the voice from the darkness, while the mountain was blazing with fire, all your tribal leaders came to me. They said, ‘the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen God speaking to humans, and yet we live! But now, why should we die? If the LORD our God speaks to us again, we will certainly die and be consumed by this awesome fire. Can any living thing hear the voice of the living God from the heart of the fire and yet survive? You go and listen to what the LORD our God says. Then come and tell us everything he tells you, and we will listen and obey.

“The LORD heard your request and said to me, ‘I have heard what the people have said to you, and they are right. Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever.

Deut. 5.22-29

And I stood there rehearsing the passage over and over in my mind and looking at Sinai covered in “thick darkness” and marveled that the Israelites literally heard the voice of God (don’t know if you realize that – the ten commandment were given first audibly by God). Thunder and lightening accompanying the giving of the law…. Awesome!

Yet, the people of Israel would soon turn their back on the living God and on the law He had given them.

An indisputable demonstration of God’s power and yet the people disregarded it and turned their back.

I stood there a long time and looked at that mountain and pondered these things…

Then I turned around.

And immediately my eyes filled with tears and began to run down my face as I looked at what stands upon the little mountain behind the bodega… It is a 12 foot tall cross.

And I wept as I looked at that cross.

Oh Lord, I prayed, may we never turn our back to the message declared on that mountain. On Mount Calvary! When again in the midst of thunder and lightning and earthquakes you spoke once again.

But this time it was:
· Not of thou shalt not but Father forgive them
· Not of do this, but of IT IS FINISHED
· Not of death, but of life
· Not a message of Law but of GRACE

And the Lord spoke to my heart in the moment… Can you hear me now?

A Trap Set

“Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? “No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the LORD’S people circulating. “If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?”

I Samuel 2.23-25

Eli, who was the priest, had two horrible sons, who were also priests, and they were stealing from the people and from the Lord; they were committing fornication in the temple; they were sinning greatly against the Lord.

Eli “confronts” them with the warning above. Now it may seem like he really gets in their face, really lays down the law to them and what he said was certainly true; but as the story continues we get a better idea about the “tone” the real severity of what Eli said… he whimped out!

The Lord, who wont even speak to Eli directly any more, tells him through a “man of God” asks Eli:

Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?
In addition:
This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die.

Interesting that though we are not told that Eli participated in the travesty concerning the offerings it says, “…making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel.” Either Eli was also participating in this wickedness, or, and I think this is more likely; he is guilty because of his tolerance and enabling of his two “worthless sons.”

One can go a number of different directions with applications here… I will choose just one.

It is one thing to know the truth, or, to be able to identify unrighteousness; in other words, to know what the Lord says about this or that. It is quite another thing to actually apply that truth to our daily lives.

A Trap Set

One of the traps we can fall into is to think that just because I know the Word or even agree with the Word, that that means I am doing the Word.

Just because our heads are nodding up and down in agreement with what is taught in church on Sunday doesn’t mean I am walking in that truth on Monday.

Eli knew what was right and what was wrong, he knew his boys were out of order, but it ended there, no action (his sons should have been put to death) was taken, so God stepped in.

The Incarnational Word

My prayer for you and me is that the Word would become flesh to us, that it would be lived out in our live; making that transfer from the head to the heart; from the pages of the bible to the actions of my life.

This is when the Word becomes incarnational; it is being allowed to transform my behavior, my thoughts, my desires, my motives.

Will you join with me in saying/in praying when we hear the Word taught… “Lord, I understand the principal, now help me to live it out practically.

Following is a response to one of the Blog entries that was submitted by Chris Stadler. It is along these line coming from a little different perspective but it blessed my heart...and it is true!

From Chris Stadler

Just something to follow this up: something that's changed the way I handle hearing from the Lord.

It used to be, when I heard a Bible study and was taking notes, I'd write something like "I should see what's possible in faith."Lately, though, I've kinda gotten sick of writing "I should..." Now, I write "I will," or "I can." Then I start thinking about how I will do it.If it's something you know you should do, you may blow it off and say, "Yeah, I really should do that." But if you say, "I will," that's a commitment, and you take it seriously.At least, that's the statement I'm making.

God makes all things possible. We should start believing that. No: We *will* believe that. : )Blessings,Chris

Monday, October 29, 2007

You Can’t Out-Give God

Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD, as a boy wearing a linen ephod. And is mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when he would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the LORD give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the LORD.” And they went to their own home. The LORD visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the LORD.

I Samuel 2.18-21

A simple reminder that the Lord will be a debtor to no man. You simply can not out give God.

Could we dare to follow Hannah's example. To give God the firstfruits, her first son; without guarantee of ever having another. There is a depth of faith being demonstrated here most of us know little about personally.

Bob Swan told me a story recently about a young native boy who had just heard a lesson on giving to God from a missionary that had visited his village. A short time later the boy ran up to the missionary with a large fish in his hands that he had obviously just caught. The boy said, "here is my offering, my firstfruits... just like you told us". "But where are the rest of your fish?" the missionary asked. "Oh, I haven't caught them yet...but I will" said the little boy as he ran off back to the fishing hole.

What a heart of faith that is. I will make my offering to God in absolute confidence that he will take care of what comes next according to His promises.

And what promise did He make relative to Hannah's story (or relative to relatives).

How about this one:

“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. “But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

Mark 10.29-31

Now, you may have some relative you would like to give away... I don't really think that is the idea here :). But we absolutely can trust Him to do far more for us than we can imagine.

How do I know? Because He already has. You see it is not only that God will give back many times over to us for our faithful gifts to him, but he has already given us his very best when He sent His Son Jesus... the greatest Gift, that we might be saved by Him. OUR giving then, becomes a response to what he has already given and He gave it all!

Hannah was given five more children in place of the one she had given to God. Five is the number of grace and grace is what God's gifts are always about.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Meat Hooks

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.

Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.” If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.” Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD.
This is a very disturbing passage to me and, as it turns out, for the Lord as well. These “worthless” sons of the High Priest were ripping off the people; taking the portion of the offering that belonged to them.

And, in a far worse demonstration of greed and selfishness, were taking the portion that belonged to the Lord. The fat, you see was to be burned off, it was the part given to God. Even the people knew that; and protested but it was ignored.

It resulted in people who were confused, frustrated and no longer trusting of the ones who were supposed to be leading them in spiritual things.

As we have been talking about giving last Sunday and this coming Sunday, I am reminded of so many who have mislead and ripped off and cheated the church… pastors and leaders and men of position who have stolen from the people by using the offering for their own agenda, and have, more importantly, stolen from God. As you read further in the chapter you will see what God thinks about this. It is not a pretty picture.

It is hard to blame folks for being skeptical about giving; for being leery of those in authority who are encouraging them to give… I get it.

But is it possible for us to do the same thing? To get our meat hooks into the offering of the Lord, to take what is meant for him and use it ourselves?

In Malachi the Lord says:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. (3.8)
The greed and selfishness demonstrated by the Sons of Eli can be found in our own hearts as well. Many of us have discovered that as we give away our dough we are also giving away stinginess and self-centered-ness. As we give him the Firstfruits, the fat if you will; we are also placing Him first in our lives in a more global sense.

It pleases the Lord when we give. And as we will see Sunday, He sees HOW we give; and an offering given with the right heart gets the attention of Jesus.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tend the Nots

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Heb 2.1a
"Apostasy" or "backsliding"; in our text here the writer of Hebrews uses the word “drift”. I like the nautical image he draws upon as he describes the danger of moving away from Christ, from truth, as a boat floating away from the dock.

It happens that way often, just drifting. It is not that we want to backslide to be sure but the affect of the wind and the waves and, as the writer puts it, “neglect” in making sure we are firmly tied off, we seemingly, all of a sudden find ourselves out of reach.

I say "seemingly" because it really isn’t all of a sudden, it takes place over a period of time. But often the realization can come all at once, which I suppose, “better late than never”.

There is a common condition that allows for that “drifting” experience. It comes from having loose “nots”

For instance:

NOT forsaking the assembling of ourselves together
NOT ceasing to give the Lord thanks
NOT “kicking at the Goads” – resisting what the Lord is asking us to do
NOT neglecting to set aside time for daily nourishment of the Word of God

We need to make sure our “nots” are tight. Tend our walk, pay attention to the daily nature of our relationship with Jesus.

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come s one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
Proverbs 24.33-34

Why not give the rope a yank just to make sure?

Keep your walk fresh and vibrant, be vigilant, and guard it with all diligence; “unsecured dingy” just isn’t the way I want my life with Jesus described.

Tend the NOTS!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Request with Release Brings Joy

Then Hannah prayed: my heart rejoices in the LORD! Oh, how the LORD has blessed me! Now I have an answer for my enemies, as I delight in your deliverance. No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. I Samuel 2.1-2
Hannah had asked God for a son, God gave her a prophet, a man of prayer, an anointer of kings. But Hannah had told the Lord that if God would give her a son, she would give her back… now she has done just that.

May I draw your attention to the fact that though she was undoubtedly happy to receive her promised gift, she is even more full of joy when she released the gift back to God. She is certainly a living example of what Paul says in Acts 20.35; quoting Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Read again her song of thanksgiving, she is enraptured by the goodness of God, by his faith fullness, by his justice, by His salvation, by his ultimate return. In fact, there is only a brief allusion to babies at all in vs. 5, “The barren woman now has seven children”, and she is not even speaking about herself (though she will end up having five more children).

In other words, if you read carefully, the song isn’t about her gift, it is not about her answered prayer, it is a song of thanksgiving concerning the giver.

Her joy came in the release, in the giving away. Boy is that a lesson for us today.

And her joy, her thanksgiving was based on the giver of all good gifts, not on the gift itself.

I think there are some real life lessons there, a real important perspective for us to adopt and grab hold of for our own situation.

Think about your own time in prayer? Can you see the liberty, the joy and the thanksgiving that will come as we make our request and then release the answer into the hands of the Lord? I mean, whatever answer He gives, whenever that answer comes; it does not change who He is, nor how much He care for us, nor His faithfulness.

I wonder, if we could have asked Hannah right at this point in her life, “Hannah, do you now feel more complete, are you more fulfilled as a person now that you have a son. Have the days of “distress” now left you alone?”

I really think she would say, “You know, I found out my “completeness” and “fulfillment” didn’t really have anything to do with having a son or not… he wasn’t the answer; my fulfillment comes from the Lord”, and, “as far as the distress, still have plenty of that, life is full of that, but I know a faithful God and He sees me though”.

David put it this way,
"The Lord is my portion" Psalm 119.57
It is you Lord that I crave, that I need, that I desire:
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. Psalm 40.5

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Strong Way or the Long Way

I just want to invite you to read Hannah's song of thanksgiving and praise:

The bows of the mighty are shattered,
but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full hire themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry cease to hunger.
Even the barren gives birth to seven,
but she who has many children languishes.
The LORD kills and makes alive;
He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and rich;
He brings low, He also exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor;

For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S,
And He set the world on them.

God is so "other" than the world, so unlike what man has designed and devised. Hannah just itemizes them for us; if you are seeking strength, fullness, fruitfulness, life, riches or honor, you will find them in the Lord and in Him only.

Hannah continues:

He keeps the feet of His godly ones,
But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness;
For not by might shall a man prevail.

Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered;
Against them He will thunder in the heavens

The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
And He will give strength to His king,
And will exalt the horn of His anointed.
I Samuel 2.4-10

I mean, these things are true or they are not; God is indeed The Almighty, or He is not.

"He keeps the feet of His godly ones"
- how comforting and encouraging is that!
"For not by might shall a man prevail"
- I get it, I agree, I have proved that myself!
"Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered"
- so I yield!
"The LORD will judge the ends of the earth"
- I really believe that!

Listen saint...
So I can keep trying it on my own until I finally let go and let God - that is the long way!
Or, I can go in the strength of the Lord, lean on him, depend on him, rely upon Him; that is the strong way...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hannah’s Song

Then Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is no one holy like the LORD, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. I Samuel 2.1-2

Sound familiar?
Listen to the opening verse of Mary’s song, “The Magnificat”
My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. for He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. Luke 1.46-56

Two women on whose behalf the Lord acted miraculously. In fact, they both experienced miracle babies!

Just a quick thought for this morning:
I believe the Lord wants to birth something new in you too, me as well; a fresh revelation, a new glimpse of Himself. Being betrothed to Jesus is a never ending voyage of discovery.

I have been married to Beckie for over 28 years now, and I tell you, I am more in love with her now than ever. Now, if you know my wife, that would come as no big surprise, but here is the thing; I am still finding out things about her that just makes me love her more and more.

Now if that can be said about relationships with those we love here on earth just think of the possibilities when it comes to the infinite One, the lover of our souls, Jesus Christ.

The Lord desires to reveal himself to us, he is just waiting for us to ask. Jeremiah 33.3 is referred to as Gods telephone number. It says:
Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own. Jeremiah 33.3 (get it? Call me)

The Lord makes the offer over and over to us…
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Luke 11.9-10
I am convinced that the Lord wants us to enjoy the overwhelming joy and wonder that Hannah and Mary experienced, the kind of revelation that makes your heart sing, the awe and amazement that comes from a new vision of Him.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shake your Tambourine

Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD I Samuel 1.19
What a wonderful example we have here.

Hannah had been praying for a son for who knows how long and now, there in the temple Eli the priest tells her, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.”

The next morning she and her husband leave for home rejoicing.

Why is that significant? Because she had a little boy now cradled in her arm, no; because she had conceived and was now pregnant finally, no. She was rejoicing because she had hope in a promise of a child that would soon come. She rejoiced simply because of the promise.

That is really a key to life. To be able to rejoice not in what we have already received, but in the hope of what he has promised to deliver. And let us not limit that to our heavenly home coming, this is a daily appropriation. The lord has given me promise after promise concerning daily life… the Word is full of them. Am I rejoicing because I believe He will do that which He has promised? This is a transforming adjustment in life.

Now, listen to this…

It doesn’t matter if I believe he will do it or not. He is faithful even when I am faithless (II Timothy 2.13), why, because, “He cannot deny Himself”. That means, He promised it so He will keep His promise, His reputation rests on His faithfulness, not on mine. That is good news!

So what does that mean? It means He is going to do what He said He is going to do even if I don’t believe it. So a day will come, when I will see Him come through, when He will do the things He said He would do and I will rejoice!


If that is the first time I rejoice I will have robed myself of days, weeks, months, even years of worship and praise and anticipation as I waited for the, guaranteed to come, fulfillment of the promise.

God told Moses to take the people across the Red Sea, the people were freaking out, rebelling against Moses, full of fear and sure they would die. But sure enough, wouldn’t you know it, the sea parted miraculously and the people went across on dry land just as God said they would.

When they reached the other shore they got out the musical instruments and began to sing and dance,
“Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. Miriam answered them, “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”

But you see, here’s the deal, they could have shaken their tambourine on this side of the sea, when the promise and provision was given. They could have spared themselves all the fear and trembling and murmuring if they had only rejoiced in the promise of God. Oh they were going through one way or the other but the rejoicing in the promise would have led to a transformation in their hearts.

Hannah was one who experienced that kind of transformation, you could be one too!

Monday, October 15, 2007

For Peace, Pray

“I have poured out my soul before the lord”…“Go in peace”…
“She went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad”… I Samuel 1.15-18

Lets just walk through this moment with Hannah, it may sound familiar to your own experience at some time.

First we see her deep in prayer her spirit oppressed which means hard pressed, severe; it is a picture of a woman who is at her end.

She then says to Eli the priest, “I have poured my soul” She has held nothing back, she has laid it all out on the table before the Lord. She goes on to tell Eli she is just very sad, very heartbroken over her situation.

David says this in Psalm 62.7-8
On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

In those times when our hearts are heavy, hard-pressed go ahead and let God know, He can handle it. If you can’t tell him where else can we go to, He is our refuge!

Eli tells her, “Go in peace”. This connection between prayer and peace is clearly seen in Philippians 4.6-7:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Then Hannah does something that is important, she “went her way”. It is one thing to pour out our heart before the Lord, its another to get a mop out afterwards and pick it all back up and carry it home in a bucket.

Peter encourages us to “(Cast) all your care upon him; for He cares for you.” But our cares are not to be attached to a bungee cord. Cast them… and let them go. If they come back, and they may, cast them again (the word “cast” means "keep on casting").

Should we ever doubt about the ability or the desire of the Lord to tend our deepest needs we need look no further than the nail-scarred hands in which we place our cares.

Should we ever be concerned about his heart toward us when we pour out our heart to Him remember what Isaiah said:

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53.12
And the peace comes form entrusting our lives to the Prince of Peace, the one who loved you so much, He willingly laid His life down so you could live. I think it is save to assume that He continues to care about that life of your that He has saved.

Go in Peace!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Snap judgments, bad idea

So Eli thought she was drunk. I Samuel 1.13b
The story goes like this:

Now it came about, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the LORD. “Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.”

That is quite a conclusion to jump to! How a praying woman could look like a drunken woman, I don’t know? Perhaps, considering the state of the nation, it was as normal to see someone drunk in the temple as it was abnormal to see someone praying there.

Whichever the case it was a quickly compiled conclusion and a harshly delivered judgment that Eli pronounced on Hannah. But he had assumed the worst about Hannah and he was wrong.

I can be to! The Bible teaches, and Jesus certainly models that we are to think the best of each other. And even if there are flaws and shortcomings, and who doesn’t have those; we are to focus on the good… assume the best.

Philippians gives us such instruction in 1.10

“approve the things that are excellent” and in 4.8 “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Dwell on “these things”. It is not that the flaws don’t exist, we are just focus on other parts.

I am challenged by this story to be careful about coming to conclusions about people by the way they look or act or “seem”. There is always much more going on in them and in their lives than what is apparent on the surface.

What I do know is that the One who did know exactly where people were and who could have judged people perfectly, did not. I think of Jesus with the woman at the well, or the woman caught in adultery. Jesus was “a friend of publicans and sinners.”

Lord help us to give people the benefit of the doubt, help us to "believe all things" about one another, that is what love does.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Mothers’ Gift, a Mothers’ Love

…then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” I Samuel 1.11b
It is phenomenal really, if a person takes a minute to really allow what Hannah did to sink in; that a mother could give away her child, her first child at that, a miracle baby to boot. Abraham is honored for his great act of obedience and faith in offering Isaac, as well he should; is this any less an act of faith, of devotion, a sacrifice on par with what took place on Mount Moriah?

Samuel was a gift from God to Hannah, given back to God by Hannah.

There will not be many of us, if any who will be asked to make such a sacrifice, but I believe each parent is asked to make the offering; to truly give our children to God, dedicating them individually to the Lord for His purposes. We entrust them into the hands of their heavenly Father, acknowledging that we are mere stewards of these precious treasures.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127.3-5

Samuel had a specific purpose

God had a design for Samuels life; we can read it in I Samuel. Hannah had a part to play too in preparing him for what lay ahead. We are told that Hannah made a vow to hold Samuel to the standards of the Nazarite vow. The vow had three elements generally: No touching anything dead, no eating or drinking anything from the vine, no cutting of the hair.

Samuel was obviously too young at the beginning to know what that meant or to be disciplined to keep the vow, it would be up to her parents to assure this. This is a real key element of parenting; God has a plan for your child, you have dedicated him to the Lord, but your little guy or darling can’t process that, this is where you come in mom and dad.

It is our privilege as parents to teach and instruct our children and keep them from evil. It is our job to encourage them in the direction of God, to model godliness before them, to be sure that at the earliest age they are learning the stories, hearing of God’s love, beginning to assimilate the truth’s of the Word of God.

Hannah couldn’t take Samuel the whole way

In her case, once he was weaned Samuel was turned over to Eli at Shiloh. We will have to turn our kids over too; we can’t take them all the way, they have to come to faith on their own. But Hannah had a lot to say about whether on the day of the transfer Samuel had been brought as far as he could be. So do we.

We can’t do it all as parents, sometimes it seems like we can barely accomplish the minimum. But may I encourage you to keep up the fight, don’t give up! The Lord is there every step of the way. And, by the way, he cares for and loves your children even more than you do.

May that reality give us all confidence to place our children in His tender care.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Double Portion

When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah

I Samuel 1.4-5a

Isaiah 61

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners;

2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,

3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.

5 Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.

6 But you will be called the priests of the LORD; you will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs.

8 For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; and I will faithfully give them their recompense and make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Then their offspring will be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed.

10 I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

We too have been robed as a bride; we have been seated at His banquet table to feast with him with great joy.

Ephesians 1.3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”

John 10.10 says, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (TMSG)

That sounds like a double portion to me. A blessed, purpose filled, abundant life now and eternal life with our Lord then.

This is what our bridegroom has placed before us.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When I pray, why the delay? Pt. II

It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the LORD.” I Samuel 1.20

Why the delay indeed!

Lets look at the story working backwards.

The story of I Samuel follows right on the heels of one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history. The time of the Judges was at an end; the people, we are told, “did what was right in their own sight”.

God was about to change things. The nation was soon going to be asking for a king. God would begin to speak through the prophets giving direction and counsel and, at times, outright commands to these kings.

Israel’s first king would be a man by the name of Saul and the prophet that the Lord would use to speak into his life was about to become the answer to a humble woman’s prayer.

What I want you to consider is that there was a huge plan in motion, plans that would affect a nation. It was a significant turning point in the history of God’s chosen people.

Samuel was at the center of it all.

Samuel would anoint Israel’s first king. Not long after he would remove the scepter from his hand and place it in the hands of a shepherd boy with a sling.
  • Samuel whom the Psalmist and the great prophet Jeremiah would both esteem alongside of Moses.
  • Samuel, a man of prayer and passion and vision who stood in stark contrast to a compromising generation.
  • That… is the boy the Lord was planning on sending. The one whose name means “asked of God”

So now back to Hannah.

For so long she longed for a child, year after year she yearned but no answer came. “Did I do something wrong Lord?”, “am I out of favor?”, “have I missed the blessing?”, “Is it that God doesn’t answer the prayers of a person like me?”, “how long Lord will You be silent, don’t You care?”

But, you see, it had nothing to do with any of that! God’s plan was in motion and the time would soon be right. What must have seemed like forever to Hannah was right on time to God.


Though Hannah in her simplicity and humility was simply asking for a son, the Lord had far more in mind for her. A son Hannah? I am going to give you Samuel… Samuel Hannah! A mighty man, an anointer of kings, a spokesman for the Almighty. Oh Hannah, not just any little boy but a special one.

Why does God delay at times?

Did you notince in our verse above that is says, "in due time"? Could it be that His plan and our part in it that plan have not yet intersected? When it is time for God’s plan to unfold nothing… nothing can stop it from taking place.

Could it be that the Lord wants to do far more than we are asking for? He loves us too much to allow us to settle for less than His best. And sometimes the best means we will have to wait a little longer.

Monday, October 8, 2007

When I pray, why the delay? Pt. I

She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” I Samuel 1.11

Hannah was a woman in need, a woman who had a barren womb, how she longed for a child.

Not only was there a cultural stigma attached to a childless woman but she was hearing it in her own home. Peninnah, the other wife of Hannah’s husband Elkanah, was making life miserable for Hannah as she “provoked her bitterly to irritate her”.

I think it is safe to assume that Hannah had prayed many times over many years that the Lord would grant her the desire of her heart and give her a child.

Her prayer was about to be answered, but why now, why after so long is this the day the Lord answers?

Vs 11 is the prayer that got answered. Was there something different in it than in previous prayers? Well, we can’t say for certain if it was different but we can see some distinctions:

  • Once she had received the gift, she would give it back
  • She made a commitment to dedicate her new son, from birth, to the service of the Lord (Nazarite vow)

Whatever you ask in My name

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do”; the “in My name” means “according to my will”. You see prayer isn’t only about God filing out my grocery list; it is about moving my heart into alignment with His purposes.

Have you ever noticed that as you tarry in prayer over days or weeks… even months or longer, that your prayer has a way of changing over time. This is the work of the Holy Spirit directing our prayers (Romans 8.26-27) until they are in alignment with His perfect plan.

Is it possible that what made this prayer of Hannah’s different than the ones before? Was this the time she was finally at the place the Lord wanted her to be in order to receive the answer she so desperately sought.

Do you have a long longed for request that remains unanswered?

May I suggest you ask the Lord to reveal His heart to you, His desire, ask Him to search out your motives; see if it might be possible that you are not yet truly centered in His will.

And watch and see what will happen when we truly pray, "in His name."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Good Brothers, Good Time!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren (or sisteren - my addition) to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133.1

We just had our Friday morning S.T.A.N.D. study and man was it a great time.

Just a few guys getting together to share what the Lord has shown them in the word. "Tag-teaming" off of one anothers' observations, making applications from our own lives; it was rich.

There really is no substitute for fellowship. It is imperative that we get together, on Sundays and Wednesday night for sure... but anytime, as often as possible to just speak with one another about the Lord.

There is a really cool verse in Malchi that says:

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. Mal 3.16 (ever notice how many great verses are "3.16's"... but that is for another time)

He gave attention, or paid attention... "quiet, my kids are talking", he heard it, and he wrote it down. In my minds eye I can see the Lord with a writing tablet... "oh. that was a good one, man that's great, way to go Bob, good application Rob", just thrilled with what He is seeing and hearing.

Do you have a friend or two that you get with during the week, do you take time with your spouse in the Word, do you make an effort to spend time in the week with a brother or sister and just talk about the Lord.

I can't encourage you enough to find a partner or two, or join one of the small groups that are meeting almost every day somewhere, it will bless your heart.

And, oh by the way, He is listening, it blesses the Lord's heart too.

Monday, October 1, 2007

God Has Set Things Right

What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and (the Gentiles) in this.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.

So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.

And where does that leave our proud Jewish claim of having a corner on God? Also canceled. God is the God of outsider non-Jews as well as insider Jews. How could it be otherwise since there is only one God? God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it, both those who follow our religious system and those who have never heard of our religion.

Romans 3.21-30