Posts Tagged ‘faithful’

1 Samuel 2:12-25 (Part 3 of 6)
Eli’s Wicked Sons

“…And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters…” The Lord blessed Hannah far beyond what should could have imagined those years back when she cried out to the Lord in anguish at the altar at the Tabernacle. She cried out in such anguish that Eli, the high priest, thought she was drunk. Now, look at her, she’s got five kids at home at one kid that serves the Lord full-time at the Tabernacle. She got her blessing in full from the Lord. She asked for one child and promised that she would give him to the Lord and then God gave her that plus five other kids. Wow! How God blesses us sometimes. However, it is in His timing and not ours. He blesses those who are faithful and obedient to Him.

We sometimes pray to the Lord and expect immediate results. We treat God like a vending machine. We push the button for the product that we desire and then it is served up to us immediately. I know I have been like that here lately with what’s going on with my calling to full-time ministry. I am pushing the button on the vending machine and nothing is happening. Sometimes the worst thing with a vending machine is when you can see the snack that you want. You push “D4” or some combination thereof. The slot that contains you selection starts moving but right before machinery drops the package to the bottom where you can reach in and grab, it get hung up. Kind of dangling there. You would think a small snack like that would be easily shaken loose. But nooooo! You beat on the vending machine glass. You shake the entire vending machine. Nothing the package is just stuck there. You spent good money on it and you’re left empty. After we bang on the machine. Shake it. And repeat that process several times. We walk away angry and we swear we will never buy anything out of that vending machine again. Sometimes, too, we push the button that we think is what we want and then for some reason a different slot than what we ordered begins spinning and drops something other than what we thought we ordered. But I ordered Welch’s Fruit Snacks! But the machine gave me Peanut M&M’s! Arrrrrghhhh!

Is it not that way with our prayer life over the things in life that we desire – even the God-ordained things. I know that God has called me to the ministry. I know that he has given me great passion for His Word. I know that He has given me passion to teach believers about His Word. I know that He has given me a shepherd’s heart when it comes to caring for the people in the flock. I love to watch people grow in the faith and maybe have just a little tiny hand in that growth. I love to see the light bulb come on in a person’s mind when it comes to financial stewardship. I love to help people understand the beauty of salvation especially after we have been a Christian for awhile (sometimes we forget the wondrous joy of grace). However, I am still at the altar praying like Hannah. I get angry at times because God has not dispensed my desired product out of His vending machine. Every time a rejection letter comes from a executive pastor position search committee, I kick the vending machine. The product is there dangling but just won’t fall. Why is the vending machine not vending!!! I can see what I want but nothing’s happening.

That’s the thing that struck me this morning as I read this passage again – how God rewards those who are faithful and obedient and how sometimes that is the hardest thing to do in the world. With that in mind, let us read 1 Samuel 2:12-26 for the third of six reads of this loaded passage today:

12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord 13 or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, 14 the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. 15 Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

16 The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” 17 So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt.

18 But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.[a] 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.[b]” 21 And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[c] 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God[d] can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.

26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people.

In this passage, we see that God honored the desires of faithful Hannah. We never hear about Peninnah or her children again, but Samuel was used mightily by God. God also gave Hannah five other children in addition to Samuel. God often blesses us in ways we do not expect. Hannah never expected to have a child at her age, much less six of them! We must learn not to resent God’s timing. His blessings might not be immediate but they will come if we are faithful and obedient to what God teaches us in His Word.

Hannah was human. She wailed and cried at the altar. She was having a hard time with God’s timing. She may have even wondered if God was ever going to grant her a child. She probably had some dry times in her prayer life. She may have even questioned why she was praying at all. However, even if she had times of doubt, she never lost her faith in God. Sometimes, during dry seasons, that’s when it is hardest to keep the faith – when there is absolutely no evidence that God is hearing your prayers (at least as far as we can see on this side of eternity). That’s real faith – when you keep on believing God to do a miracle but it has not happened yet and it seems to everyone around you that God is not going to answer. That’s when it gets down to real faith. Hebrews 11:1 tell us, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Sometimes, we have to just keep on keeping on and believe fully that God will answer our prayers. What about those stories of mothers who pray for 20 something years for the salvation of her children. What about Joseph in prison in Egypt for 12 years. What about those who survived the Holocaust in death camps in World War II under Nazi domination. These are stories of people who kept their faith in God despite all evidence to the contrary. Sometimes, we may have to wait a while by our standards for God to answer our prayers. Sometimes, we must trust that God is preparing us for what He has prepared for us. Sometimes, He may wait to see how faithful we will be when there is no “push the button, out pops the product” response. We must learn to trust God and love Him for just being God rather than loving Him to get what we want and desire. Do you love God for granting your heart’s desire or do you just love God and as a result He has blessed you?

Let us be a people that simply loves God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Let us simply love Him as our heavenly Father. Let us live lives to please Him first and ourselves second. Let us trust Him with our wishes and desires and how He sees fit to meet our needs and wishes. Let us love our Father because He is our Father. Sometimes with our own children, we wonder whether they love us or they just love us for what we can do for them. I am sure that God feels that way about us at times. Let us be His children that simply love Him because He is our Daddy, our Abba Father.

Amen and Amen.

Romans 15:1-13 — To give God glory and to understand God’s glory. Giving God glory is our aim or should be in everything we do. Knowing Scripture helps us understand God’s glory.

Giving God glory is the dominating theme of this passage. First, our actions should be to give God glory in everything we do. Paul is telling us that we give God glory through how we treat one another. For Paul, it was the Jew vs. non-Jew, slave vs. free, rich vs. poor. By implication, we must be majoring on our similarities as Christians not on our differences. Satan wants us to be fractured. Satan wants us to be pointing fingers at one another. The fractures within the church as whole, all the different ways we have split ourselves up (Catholic vs. Protestant, and within Protestantism — Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.) makes us less effective as a whole. Fractures within our local bodies make us less effective. Satan loves discord in the church. Discord within our local bodies and the church at large gets us focused on ourselves and not our primary mission. Our primary mission is to give God glory.

How to we give God glory within our body of Christ, by remembering that Christ did not come to earth to simply please Himself. He came to give God glory by His words, actions, and deeds. He gave God glory by teaching of God’s love. He gave God glory by encouraging all who were seeking God. Jesus gave God glory by offering God’s love to all who would listen to Him. He gave God glory by being obedient to the Father to the point of dying on the cross for our sins. He did not seek His own glory but rather to give glory to the Father.

How then do we put this into practice in our local church body? We seek not to glorify ourselves or those who are just like us. We give God glory by our own humility. We give God glory by not being territorial over our functions within the church. What does it matter who gets credit for something positive the church does as long as the job gets done? What does it matter as long as God is glorified? When our motivation is to glorify God, then, our egos do not need to be stroked. When ego comes into play, we find division and divisiveness within the body. Is this the kind of glory to God that we want to present to the lost soul. Do we want to present to them a group of petty people who are more concerned about the trees we have marked as our territory than we sharing the love of Christ? When we get it, that it is not about us, but rather about giving God glory by drawing all nations and all tongues unto Christ, then, and only then can we be effective tools. Let us seek unity with one another. Let us recognize and respect each other’s differences but let us seek unity in that we all are forgiven sinners. That is our common bond. Jesus is the source of our unity. Our unity comes from knowing that and expressing that and living that. Jesus is my Jesus and He is yours. We are both sinners covered in grace no matter if I am white guy and you are black, no matter if I am a man and you are a woman, not matter if I am educated and you are not, no matter if I am rich and you are poor, no matter if I am young and you are old. We are God’s kids. Our unity in that fact, that we are all kids of the King. That’s what people should see in us — that despite our differences we have unity in Christ. Our unity gives God glory and draws others to Him through our unity in a world of discord.

Paul tells us to that God is a God to be glorified because He has been faithful to His people. We can have confidence in that. How do we have confidence in that? By knowing Scripture. The more we know about what God did in the past, the greater the confidence we have about what He will do in the days ahead. The Bible gives us confidence in God’s glory. We have example after example in the Bible that God is faithful to those who seek Him and give Him glory. Knowing Scripture helps us to be less likely to see our own glory. Knowing Scripture helps us to not try to control things ourselves. Knowing Scripture is to know God’s glory. We don’t have to worry when we place our faith and control of our lives into God’s hand. We know from Scripture that He is faithful. When we live in this confidence, it helps us let go of our ego, our need to be in control. We know from Scripture that God’s got this. In our bold confidence in the Lord, we can more easily seek unity among our brethren. We are not scared for our future because we know what God has done in the past. Therefore, we seek God’s way and not our own because we know Scripture. When we all are trying to align ourselves with God’s unity results. In our unity, God is glorified. Without knowledge of Scripture, we give our opinions and our values greater rein and discord results. Each of us together reading Scripture daily under the influence of the Holy Spirit leads to unity. It is through Scripture that we are led to be more Christ-like. By being more Christ-like, we give God glory. By being more Christ-like we become unified.

Father, help us as Christians to encourage one another because we are all children of God. Help us to seek to build each other up. Help us to see what we have in common in Christ rather than majoring on our differences. Help us in so doing bring others to knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Through our unity and love for one another despite the ways that we are different, help us to draw people unto you because our unity makes us so different from the world of discord in which we live. Help us to be confident in all these things through understanding Scripture. Help us to see how faithful that you are so that we have great confidence in your faithfulness. Help us to have faith that you are the God of Scripture. In this confidence, we no longer have to worry. Without worry, we can be unified in giving you glory and demonstrating your faithfulness to your people in a world where anarchy and lies reign. Amen.