Saturday, September 21, 2013

Faith: Trusting God Through Prayer 1 Samuel 1:7-20

I feel like the story of Hannah is one I connect with. Not because she and I have suffered the exact same situation, but because I feel a connection to her heart, to her longing.  I get this image in my mind that we would have been friends if we lived in the same time and place.
Sooo.... Here's the passage (with Verse 6 included because it reads differently in the NIV than it does in the translation on the app):

6 And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Elkanah her husband would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" 9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD's temple. 10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." 12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine." 15 "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." 17 Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." 18 She said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. 19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."

I think the thing that sticks out to me the most is the attitude change that Hannah underwent after praying.  Before, she was bitter in her soul, filled with anguish and longing,so much so, that she wouldn't even eat the portions her husband gave her. She is so troubled in her spirit that the priest did not consider her behavior normal. :-) But after she poured her heart out to God,  Scripture says that she went away, ate something, and that her face was no longer downcast. 

That's the thing that just stuck out to me best.  Hannah's faith in God changed her attitude toward her circumstances.  She did not continue to dwell on what broke her heart, but instead walked away in good spirits, and she did so without a promise that she would recieve what she asked for. Perhaps there is a link between faith an attitude?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Genesis 22:1-14 Faith: Trusting God with Everything

Okay, This is going to have to be quick (hopefully) because I have to get some sleep before work. But I started this 30 day Bible Reading Plan that has different topics. I chose the topic of Faith, because I started reading a new book yesterday called When You Don't See His Plan: The Nadine Hennesey Story by Nadine Hennesey with Rebecca Baker.  I got through the first chapter while waiting for my clothes to dry and I found myself longing to have a faith like the faith I was reading about, just in that first chapter. 

I imagine that my faith has always been rather small, and I don't want it to be that way anymore.  Lack of faith immobilizes people, not just to do God's work, but in many areas of their life.  Say I never leave my current job because I'm making more money than I've ever made in my life, I'm not struggling to make ends meet. I finally have a savings account, I'm helping my parents out... I'm supporting myself quite well.... But my job is not where I want to be permanently.  Will I ever be able to leave this job?  Not if I don't have the faith that God can and will take care of me no matter where I am. You get the point.  I want to increase my faith.  Through Prayer and Study, It will happen.

So... onto Genesis 22:1-14
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.
I wanted to post the passage for easy reference. :-)  So I was reading through this and there were a few things that stuck out to me.  Since I seem to have a good memory for Scripture... or maybe it is just from my Bible Quizzing days... I recalled a few things from other parts of Scripture that I want to mention.  For Example:

There seems to be a bit of problem with Gods instructions to Abraham because just a chapter earlier, God said this to Abraham:

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. (Genesis 21:12)
Dead men dont give offspring... do they? (Well, maybe with todays technology it might be possible) But the point is: this would have been something that set off an alarm in my mind.  I imagine myself even arguing with God, "But God, You SAID!"  But Abraham doesn't do that.  Actually, Scripture doesn't tell us what Abrahams thoughts were, at least not in this passage (more on that in a moment). It simply says that Abraham left early the next morning to carry out God's request. 

What was Abraham thinking? This was his son!  The same same born to him and Sarah in their old age, whom God had promised that through him would become a great nation. Had God changed his mind? His plans?  Was he incapable? Was he a liar? No. Was Abraham submitting to the idea that God gives and God takes away, and for some reason God had decided to take Isaac away?   No, I don't think that's it either.   We get the bigger picture to know that God was testing Abraham, but what must have been going on in Abrahams mind?

I think we find our answer to this question in the faith hall of fame: Hebrews 11:17-19

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death
 This is a faith beyond the idea that God would raise his son, but a faith that God would still hold true to his previous promises enabled him to believe God would raise his son.

So I've been pondering this faith.  How does someone come to have such faith?   I reasoned it out this way:  Faith comes from trust. Abraham trusted God. We trust because we believe we are loved, and when we believe we are loved we those who love us hold good intentions toward us.  Love comes from knowing God.  Knowing God comes from having a relationship with Him. Our Faith is expressed through obedience.

I'd like to explore this more, and maybe even write out a small group lesson or Bible study guide on it, but, I'll have to ponder this more later, because I'm now looking at 6 hours of sleep.  So that's all for now.