Category Archives: Bible

Samuel -Asked of God (I Samuel 1- Part 3)

In I Samuel 1:20, we find out that Hannah named her baby Samuel:

Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked (Strongs Hebrew #7592 -sha’al) him of the Lord. I Samuel 1:20

The Hebrew word for ‘asked’ (H7592) is used 40 times in both books of Samuel. Samuel’s name, according to Hannah means asked of God! I think that is pretty significant. Most of these uses are translated as ask, asked,  and enquired. There are several ‘salute and ‘greet’ which involve “asking thee of peace” as asking after one’s welfare and offering peace. Another English translation of sha’al is ‘lent’ which connotes asking to borrow something. The word ‘lent’ doesn’t seem to fit exactlyt here. It may be an error in translation. Does a person ‘lend’ their child to God?

27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked H7592 of him:
28 Therefore also I have lent 
H7592  him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent H7592 to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there. I Samuel 1:27-28

 God had granted Hannah’s petition with a child that would serve God all the days of his life. After Samuel’s birth Hannah was full of joy and thanksgiving to God.  She would raise him up in the weaning period which was longer than what we know of today. She stayed home from the yearly worship trip until she was finished. Elkanah went along with her decision on this.

Hannah was a ‘type’ for Mary. Other great women in the Bible like Deborah and Esther were women who served in saving God’s people. Mary, Hannah, Elizabeth and others served through maternity. Their songs in I Samuel 1:2-10 and Luke 1:46-55 of praise are strikingly similar. The period of time in the early years of a child are precious and these records show the ability of children to understand the love of God:

26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men. I Samuel 1:26
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 1:52

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Hannah and God – (I Samuel 1 – Part 2)

Getting deeper into chapter 1 of I Samuel, we get a glimpse of Hannah’s trust in God as she slipped away from her family to pray alone for her particular challenge in her living situation:

9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. I Samuel 1:9-11

On the surface, this looks like she is trying to influence God in answering her prayer.  It actually shows her trust in God. Whether a vow is right or wrong in God’s eyes is not the what God looks at. It is the heart that God reads, not the vow. People of this culture made vows to God frequently.

To be ‘given unto the Lord’ meant that she would be turning her child over to the religious leader, in this case Eli, to serve God.  This involved another act of trust, as we shall read on in Samuel.   Eli was not the sharpest crayon in the box of spiritual awareness:

12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth.13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. I Samuel 1:12-14

Hannah’s answer exposes her heart. She didn’t go after Eli for his mis-judgment and lack of spiritual perception, she explains simply:

 15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. I Samuel 1:15

Hannah knew who she was and she knew who was her God.  It is not easy being around people who misjudge, especially in the religious category. It happens all the time. Had Hannah not been so secure in her God, she might have either been reactive in self-righteous anger or have maybe even felt cringing shame.  Instead, she responded by enlightening Samuel’s eyes:

 17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:9-17

God answered her prayer not Eli. So often in life we trade the great peace of knowing our God for worrying about what people think.  It is so easy to do. We are affected by a culture today that may be more chaotic and pagan than the culture of Hannah’s day. We, however, have greater options in that we live under a new covenant with the grace of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ and what his life means to us. We have power, love and peace because of the assurance that was his is now ours. It is something we need to remind each other about as we deal with our own challenges of living in this world. Isn’t that what the ministry of reconciliation is all about?

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The Lord of Hosts (I Samuel 1- Part 1)

God is the author  and offerer of love and encouragement, the devil is the pusher of evil and oppression.

Most believe that Elkanah was a levite and lived in Ephraim.  Levites didn’t own land and therefore were found throughout other tribes.  Elkanah went yearly to worship at Shiloh were the Ark of the Covenant was located.  His two wives and children went with him.

3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. I Samuel 1:3

God is the true leader and protector of his people as the ‘Lord of Hosts’  Hannah uses the same name when she prayed to God for a son as recorded in I Samuel 1:11.  A ‘host’ can can be an angelic army or a human army. Regardless, the effect is on protection. Since the events recorded in Genesis 3, another negative force gained access to the people of the earth as it still does today.  Where people chose to ignore God, things became contaminated and opened the door for a world to exist that was not like it was when God made it originally. Polygamy wasn’t God’s idea, it was man’s.

God worked through those he could work through to protect his people. People in the Old Testament were in the dark about the devil and his influence.  Many attributed the evil struggles that existed to God.  People do the same today even though we live in in the New Covenant period of the risen Messiah. Jesus Christ’s purpose (I John 3:8) in bringing in the New Testament Covenant, was to destroy the works of evil. God is all good. There is no darkness in him at all. We limit God when we accept the darkness that the world has to offer as being from God.

Hannah was someone who loved God. It is significant that she was instrumental in helping the dire situation that had developed in the culture of the twelve tribes. She had a baby named Samuel who would grow up, hear from God,  judge Israel, and anoint David who was also well aware of the Lord God of Hosts. David addresses God as the ‘Lord of Hosts several times in the books of Samuel. David relied on the Lord of Hosts.

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We Need More Pilgrims Not Programs

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all, partly because it has not been tampered with as much as the other holidays (notwithstanding Black Friday). There is a lot to be thankful for and thankfulness  is a calm balm that is truly encouraging.

My grandparents were dairy farmers in a small town in Connecticut. Part of the house they lived in dates back more than 300 years ago.  The town and surrounding area still radiates the history of early America. Every time I have traveled to New England, I feel the history of those people who bravely set out to find freedom in order to live the kind of life God intended for them.  Our literature today reflecting back on that time period, along with most of the history books in school, are skewed by the political leanings and ideologies of their authors. The diaries and logs of the men and women who lived back then are the best places to go to truly understand the history of that era in American history.

Loving God has so little to do with the ‘ought to’ mentality.  The people of early Plymouth didn’t do the things they did out any duty they felt they needed to perform. Their actions speak of a firm acknowledgement of knowing a loving God in much the same way as men like Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Isaiah, Deborah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, David and many others of the Bible. The fruit of their labors and beliefs are easily recognized today, even with the confusion and chaos that is constantly stirring things up.

God tells us to pray for those who are in authority:

2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

It is a relief!!! to pray and  not an obligation! We can all excel in prayer and be so much the more blessed.  The pilgrims knew the value and love of humble prayer. Their government was simple. They knew the God who loved them.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and we got to talking about respect and the current culture. He made a statement to me that it was important to respect people’s beliefs. I had to think about that for a moment. In my own mind, I think it is important to respect others as people but not necessarily to respect their beliefs. We respect people’s right to choose what they believe as long as it doesn’t violate the welfare and freedom of another person.

The word ‘respect’ is composed of two sub-words ‘re’ and ‘spect’ or ‘to look back on’. ‘Giving consideration’ can be another shade of meaning. In relationships and in our conversations, we are never alone or ever without effect on one another. Wonderful loving conversations are thoughtful and respectful and hopefully not selfish.  We are all too human at times,   but that doesn’t mean that that we never stand up for what we believe in and speak truthfully and openly. Often that can be the most loving (love is the key) thing to do for another person. Words have power and we should use them wisely.

The Corinthian culture at the time of the New Testament had a lot of similarities to our culture today especially in philosophy of life and social issues. Paul, in writing to them about the beautiful concept of grace, was clear in enlightening his readers on the love of God and true freedom.

12 All things are lawful (allowed, permitted) unto me, but all things are not expedient (beneficial, profitable): all things are lawful for me, but (emphatic ‘but’) I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 6:12

We can become slaves to the culture and the philosophies of the day.  We can even be enslaved by our own appetites, emotions and thinking.  The point Paul is making is that God’s heart is that we are free from things unprofitable and that do not benefit us if we so choose. He cannot control those things that are set in our path to enslave us. He does however gives us a lot of resources to help us and then he leaves the choice up to us.

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Strong In The Grace

Grace is not such a difficult concept when one looks at how it is used in the Gospels, Acts and the New Testament. In Luke 1:30, it is translated as ‘favor’ in regards to Mary when an angel tells her to ‘fear not’ about the task God was asking of her in bringing forth and raising his son. Having a normal child involves much work and is sometimes tough, but this was the son of God! I’m sure she was blessed to know God had her back. How else could any human handle that!

Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 12 men were sitting in the temple when the gift of holy spirit was given first to the apostles. Peter rose up and shared what had happened. He encouraged the community of believers that were  there also to receive the gift.

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:38

Three thousand people standing by received the gift. As they all celebrated this great event of God’s divine favor, they were:

47 Praising God, and having (sharing) favour (grace) with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:47

They all shared in the grace. God had their backs too. In the epistles, that is written to these believers and ‘all that were afar off’, the apostle Paul further further illuminated about the gift of holy spirit. This is for us today! The grace of God is available to all who choose to believe and our reception of favor from God is dependent on our humility towards God and in utilization of what he has given us. (James 4:6). 

In II Timothy 2:1-2 the understanding of what we are to do with this grace is spelled out to Timothy:

2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Timothy was a servant of Jesus Christ and God encouraged him be strong in the favor of the risen Christ as the receipt of salvation and to teach ‘others’ so that they can teach ‘others’.  Those ‘others’ will teach ‘others’, and those ‘others’ will teach ‘others’………….

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Jesus Christ and The Gift of Holy Spirit

Jesus Christ was/is an amazing man.  He was/is the son of God. In I John 3:8b, the Word of God says:

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

As recorded in Genesis, evil got a foothold in this world. It grew, influenced and expanded into people’s lives. God’s original creation suffered for its intrusion. The devil has influenced where ever he could get a foothold. The manifestations of his handiwork are everywhere. He moves with ideas, thinking, confusion and chaos. Often evil is very obvious, but in order for it to really succeed, it must mask itself and hide behind facades that will deceive unwary targets.

Specifically, the adversary nips away at the word of God in people’s lives. Religion is one of evil’s greatest disguises. The devil knows God’s word and he knows how to misuse it.  That is how people get turned off to the truth. The truth gets twisted and people get confused. Then they blame God. If they don’t blame God, they sometimes water down the truth to make it palatable with today’s trends. The beauty of the word is that it is relevant throughout time.

Other disguises and twists center on marriage and family, finances and economy, government, idols in our culture, health and nutrition and many more categories. God-inspired people have contributed immensely to our culture in godly ways. Evil inspiration does just the opposite.

It was God’s plan in his son that was to save those that are affected by the tentacles of darkness. Jesus Christ came and his purpose was/is to expose light on the dreadful works of the adversary. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone in the foundation of the living church. He is alive and well. He directs and guides to build up the church in the right direction.

When Jesus Christ walked this earth with the 12 apostles, he gave them power and authority to use that power:

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. Luke 9:1

He then did the same to seventy others as recorded in Luke 10:17. On the day of Pentecost, the power of God was poured out to an even larger group composed of some 3000 souls ( Acts 2:38-41) as promised by Jesus Christ just before he ascended:

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the holy spirit not many days hence. Acts 1:4-5

If you continue to read the book of Acts, more people, including the Gentiles, were brought into an access to the power of God. This is spelled out to us in the Romans through Thessalonians so that we too may walk in the same power.

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