June 22, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Susanna Lee, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 2:1-11

What are some recurring themes about who God is in Hannah’s prayer?

The recurring themes are as follows:

–        No one can match up to who God is:

  • No one holy like God the Lord

No one besides You

  • No Rock like our God
  • The foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; upon them he has set the world

–        God the Judge:

  • God who knows
  • Weighs our deeds
  • Judges the ends of the earth

–        God the Provider, Protector & Deliverer

  • Lord brings death and makes alive
  • Lord brings down to the grave and raises up
  • Lord sends poverty and wealth
  • Lord humbles and exalts
  • Lord raises the poor from the dust & lifts the needy form the ash heap
  • Lord seats them (poor & needy) with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor
  • Guards the feet of his saints
  • Gives strength to his king

How much have I personally experienced these themes in my life? I am pretty amazed by the depth and breadth of Hannah’s prayer especially in the context of how she came to give her young Samuel, her beloved firstborn, to God.  She came to present her toddler to God via Eli.  As a mom of two children, I deeply appreciate the level of her sacrifice and surrender.  Hannah’s understanding and appreciation of who God is something I must learn and emulate.  I believe such depth of understanding came only through her suffering and her intense prayer life as she cried out to the Lord due to her barrenness.  Her barrenness, once a source of despair and shame, became the avenue through which she personally met God and God met her needs.  This prayer of Hannah is a proclamation of how God took notice of her and provided for her and her deep gratitude for God taking notice of her needs.

As I reflect on my life, I have personally experienced all of these themes of God from Hannah’s prayer in my life abundantly as God spoke the choice words through daily devotions and all the messages I have heard and was challenged  by and encouraged through  the years.  The Word of God has the power to renew the mind, to create a new heart, and to transform one’s life.  God especially used the body of Christ to be His mouthpiece, hands and feet for me to tangibly experience His goodness and provision.

One particular theme that I have been deeply appreciating is how God “guards the feet of his saints.”  Yesterday during prayer meeting, Kelly led us through Psalm 23 highlighting our Lord as our Good Shepherd who restores our soul.  From the excerpt of Phillip Keller’s book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 which we read at the beginning of the prayer meeting, I was reminded of God’s tender mercy and unconditional love towards me, especially when I am cast down.  God’s ultimate goal is to protect me from the evil one and to restore me back to health.  God is committed to protect and guard me from Satan and sin’s destructive power.  God will do whatever it takes to protect me, even to take certain things away– if He needs to–for the purpose of guarding my feet from slipping.  He has placed guardrails of protection around me through the godly values that He expects me to uphold as a child of a Holy God and as a leader of God’s people.  God guards my feet through His constant care and diligent attention as He leads me to green pastures and quiet waters to feed my soul with words of truth and eternal life.  When I was a young Christian, I used to think that “guarding” was restrictive as I sought personal freedom especially in terms of my schedule and personal preferences.  As I am maturing as a follower of Christ, I am seeing so clearly how such guarding keeps me protected from sins’ enslaving and destructive power.

One of the ways God has been guarding my steps is by placing so many people over me, around me, and under my care at our church.  I know very acutely that my words, actions, and decisions matter to God and to these very precious people.  My life is intertwined with theirs.  I have forfeited my personal freedom to do what pleases me or what I prefer when I became a disciple of Jesus and as a committed member of this church.  And such forfeiting has guarded my life from living a selfish, materialistic and self-destructive life that would grieve and displease God.  It if weren’t for this kind of guarding, I would be pursuing various idols of life, especially the idol of materialism and luxury.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you for guarding my life all these years through Your personal care and attention on my life.  Who am I that you are mindful of me?  I am like a speck of dust in this vast universe.  But out of Your Mercy, You delivered me out of my sins and adopted me into Your family.  Thank you for placing Your words of truth in my heart  to guard my thought process as well as to purify my heart.  Thank you for placing so many precious people in my life that guards me from living a life of self-centeredness.  Thank you for guarding me from the lures and temptations of sin by giving me the Holy Spirit who indwells in me to counsel me and remind me of Your truth to overcome the lies of Satan.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Submitted by Steve Kim, Gracepoint Riverside

1 Samuel 2:1-11

What are some recurring themes about who God is in Hannah’s prayer? How much have I personally experienced these themes in my life? One of the recurring themes in her prayer is how God has the power to change everything, including reversing the situation of each person.  He can make the rich poor and the poor rich.  He is able to give children to a barren woman and cause the woman with many sons to pine away.  He is able to humble the proud  and exalt the weak and poor.  He is able to bring death or make alive.

HE is the God who can make something out of nothing and can cause a grand reversal to occur in each of our lives.

Because God is God and there is none like Him, HE is the one we ought to fear and have regard for.  It is folly to think that one can prevail by his own strength, or that he boasts in what he has and can do.  God is the judge, and as the judge over our lives He will exercise His power to make right all that is wrong and twisted in this world.   He will humble the proud and raise up the poor and humble.  In the end He will make known that the only firm foundation to stand upon is a life that trusts and relies on Him like Hannah did.

I’ve experienced God causing reversals in my life throughout my spiritual journey.

The times when I’ve experienced God as my Rock and wanted to praise him like Hannah are the times when I too underwent struggles and felt like there was no one else I can turn to.

I remember the days of my youth when I felt so lost and helpless.  Those were days when I felt the pain and disappointment by my parents fighting all the time.  They were also times when I felt anxious about the financial struggles in our family and had such low self-worth and felt that life was really meaningless.  I tried to find ways to escape all that felt so oppressive and bitter about my life through friends, sports and entertainment, but none of that was sufficient to deliver me from my grief and feeling trapped by the sins of others and the sins I discovered within my own heart.  Those were times that drove me to God and I experienced His great deliverance.  I experienced Him bringing to life what was dead in me.  God turned the things that I was ashamed of and felt bitter about to bring about my salvation.  I was once dead in my transgressions without hope and purpose in life.  I was once just so full of myself, sulking in self-pity.  There was no love in me for anyone, and thus no life.  But through God’s mercy and power at work in me I find my life so full of life…so full of love for others and also the recipient of so much love.   I find in me clarity of identity and purpose for which I press on passionately.

I see that again and again the times of great blessings from God came through times of weakness, struggle, hardships, pain and even regretful events.  Those were times I had once said to myself, “Why me Lord?  Why did such things have to happen to me?”  I had wished such times never happened and wanted to run away from all of it, but now I look upon such times with deep gratitude towards God and ‘delight in his deliverance’.   I rejoice in my God who is able to work through ‘all things’ to bring about great blessings and the good He envisioned for my life.

I’m reminded of what Paul says in 2 Corinth 12:9-10…

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I pray that I will continue to cultivate a life of ‘weakness’ as Pastor Ed said in a message a couple of weeks ago.  I pray that I will always be living the sort of life that will drive me to my knees to seek and rely on God as Hannah did, so I may never cease to rejoice in the sufficiency of His grace and His power being made perfect in my weakness.

 

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