Page 92 was a Sunday and being the first Sunday of the month, I had the privilege of preaching this morning at the North Wayne Mennonite Church. I went to bed early last night, and it seemed like I slept better than I have in a while, so I was awake early enough to spend some time with God in a continual refinement of the sermon before heading to Dowagiac to share it. This morning’s message continued a series I’ve been doing on “Living As the Lord’s Servant”. As we’ve looked a different Bible characters who are described as a servant of the Lord, today we spent time considering the life of Hannah.
God says through the writer of Hebrews, that without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith requires that we believe God exists and that we believe He rewards those who diligently seek Him. There are many characteristics we could examine and learn from in the life of Hannah, but none are as important as the example of living with faith. Here are the key lessons from the message, “Living With FAITH”.
- Living with Focus: When we first meet up with Hannah in the opening chapter of 1 Samuel, we find her in a situation with many distractions. It is in the midst of these distractions that she maintains her focus in believing God exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Because of her focus, she never wavers from her request for a son. I believe that her crying out to God for this request to be granted, shows a belief that God could deliver. Unfortunately, as we set out to live a life of faith, many of us lose our focus as the enemy sends mockers and distractions our way. When we don’t get what we ask for when we ask for it, the enemy begins to plant doubt in our mind and our focus begins to waver. Living with faith means that we use our faith to keep focused on the things of God no matter what.
- Living with Acceptance: Hannah also appears to do something that many of us try — she makes a deal with God. The truth is, however, these deals are generally one-sided — “God, if you do such and such I promise to do this or that.” I’m not so sure that is really what Hannah was doing, but regardless of the cause, she does make a promise to God that the son He would give her would be given back to Him. We have to be very careful what we promise God. I don’t believe He is a party to our bargains, but He does take our promises seriously. Living with faith says that we accept the consequences of keeping our promises to God. When your read about Eli and his sons, and realize these are the people Hannah is leaving her son with, you might be tempted to think she had just cause to go back on her word. Not Hannah. Her life of faith accepted that God would somehow honor the results of her honoring her vow.
- Living with Insight: After Hannah drops her son, Samuel, off to live with the priest and serve the Lord, we find a beautiful prayer of her recorded in the second chapter of 1 Samuel. In this prayer we read of great insight that God has given her through her faithful obedience. Living with faith in a God who exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him, fills us with an insight into the very nature and character of God. If you want to have a greater understanding of God, then ask Him to increase your faith. If you want insight into the nature of God, then choose each day to walk by faith.
- Living with Trust: Woven through this life of faith, is an element of trust. Even when it would appear our course of action makes no sense, when we are pursuing God, faith leads us trust Him. Often times we choose not to live by faith because we don’t trust God to truly care for us. We fail to accept the consequences of our promises because we don’t trust God to work all things together for our good. Hannah had made a promise to God and in spite of circumstances that would cause many of us to say she had reason to change her mind, she continued to trust God to be faithful in response to her faith.
- Living with Hope: Living with faith should always produce an expected outcome that we also live with hope. The Bible says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. When faith is our way of life, we have an assurance of God’s presence that should fill us with an overflowing hope. Hannah’s hope is seen in her request. It is seen in her interaction with Eli when God’s promise is given. It is seen in her willingness to leave Samuel with Eli. And it is seen throughout her prayer that is written down for us to read. As you look at the life of her son, Samuel, I believe that her hope was far greater than cultural validation of being a mom. Her hope, which was fulfilled, was for a son who would be a blessing to a nation. When we live with hope, we would do well to always remember that our hope in Jesus is meant to be for the people around us in the same way that it is for us.
After sharing the sermon and the worship gathering concluded, we headed home with a stop for lunch on the way. Once we had changed clothes, we threw some things in the truck and set off on a little sightseeing adventure. I didn’t have time to do much with photos today, but today’s photo is a sunset scene on a cloudy evening. Like most things in life, balance is the key when it comes to clouds and sunset photos. Too many clouds and the sunset really isn’t visible. No clouds and you miss out on so many of the beautiful colors that can be found in a sunset in a sparsely clouded sky.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Early to bed and early to rise may not make a person healthy, wealthy, and wise but it sure makes me feel better when I need to be up early.
- Preaching is a privilege I don’t take lightly.
- God’s Word is given to us for instruction in the way we should live. The characters in the Bible are real people that we can learn real life lessons from.
- If I want to please God, I must have a growing faith.
- My faith grows when I stay focused on God.
- My faith grows when I accept God’s authority over my promises.
- My faith grows when I listen to the insight I receive from God’s Word.
- My faith grows when my trust in God grows.
- My faith grows when I fully put my hope in Him.
- The greatest treasure that God gives us besides Himself and the salvation that is ours through Jesus, is the people He brings into our life and family should be at the top of that list.