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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Spoiled Children- Consequences, First Samuel Chapter 4

Eli's family's doom was prophesied in chapter 3, following earlier details of his sons' poor behavior that Eli did not adequately address, and they were ADULTS.  The children were adults, serving (though dishonorably) in the temple of the Lord.  Read 1 Samuel chapter 2-3 if you want details about that.

WOW!  These chapters are a strong message to parents and adult children alike.  Parents better not ignore and make excuses for irresponsible, dishonorable behavior.  Period, plain and clear.

Oh I well understand it is not easy.  Being the parent of adult children is not easy, and being the adult child is not easy.  None of us are perfect, and listening to someone point out where we are wrong or sinful, is not fun.  Neither is seeing flaw or weakness or sin in a child or loved one fun.  

Still, may we seek to be humble and obedient, and RESPECTFUL of those relationships; God with man, man with God above all, and parent to child, child to parent no matter what the ages.  May we handle with prayer and humility.

Chapter 4 of 1 Samuel is the prophesied doom and gloom coming down on the Israelites. The Philistines defeat the Israelites (kill 4,000) v.2, so in v.3 the Israelites get the bright idea to bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle with them thinking it will provide safety and power for their victory.

I suspect that Eli did not agree because later in the chapter we see indication that Eli had been concerned and was looking on anxiously.  He could not see well, but he could hear....

v.4 Men went to Shiloh to get the "Ark of the Covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cheruim."

Eli's two sons attended with the Ark of the Lord's covenant. The people rejoiced loudly v.5 and 6, at the reality of having the Ark to take into battle with them, and the loudness that shook the earth scared the Philistines, who still were victorious.  30,000 foot soldiers of Israel were killed, and Eli's sons Hophni and Phinehas too, and the Ark of the Covenant was captured!!

Imagine the disgrace and horror that the Ark of the Covenant of the Almighty, where the Lord is enthroned between the cherubim, has been taken into battle rather than in place of peace and reverence, and it has been taken into battle upon whims of man.

v.12 When a Benjamite went back to Eli and told him the grave news, Eli v.17-18 fell backwards, broke his neck, and died.

v.19-22 Eli's daughter-in-law went into labor. v.20 states that "she was dying."  She did name her son Ichabod, saying, "The Glory has departed from Israel."

I don't want to start a family feud, but seems to me that this is an appropriate passage to refer to when/if mother/father has concern before God, about the way his/her adult child is living.

It is my opinion that this responsibility is upon all older generation for how we live before and give counsel to younger generation.  We are responsible before God for how we influence others, and God does not look favorably on us SPOILING one another rather than honoring His word, His ways.

Never the less, may we LOVE above all.
Oh dear God the responsibility seems intimidating, difficult and scary.  Please, your Holy Spirit live in us and enable us to be loving but also wise and upright before you.  May we be a good influence on all people and souls in our lives, especially family and friends.

Please forgive us where we fail You.  In Jesus's name we pray, AMEN

Sunday, April 28, 2019

First Samuel Chapter 3

In context for this chapter, remember that the boy Samuel has been placed with Eli the prophet, for service and training for God, as soon as he was weaned!  That is a WOW in itself.  In chapter one and two we read about Hannah's journey to do so, and Eli's sons' disobedience and sins against the Lord.

In verse one of chapter 3 we are told that God is not communicating much with his people. 

"In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions." NIV

Now I find it further amazing that already, Samuel has grown into a speaking, listening, son in the temple under the tutelage of Eli, so that when he hears the Lord call his name, he thinks it is Eli calling him, and he obediently goes to Eli.  This happens three times (v. 2-9) until Eli realized that likely it was the Lord calling Samuel, so he instructed Samuel to say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."

The fourth time that the Lord called unto Samuel, Samuel did as Eli had instructed.  Then the Lord spoke.  It was not a fun or pleasant message.  It was about impending dismal upon Eli's house and it can be read about (v. 11-14).

Samuel did not want to speak of this impending demise, but upon Eli's urging, he did. (v.15-17) When Eli heard the fate of his family prophesied about, he responded in humility, and respect, with

 "He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes." (v. 18)

v. 19-21 tell us of Samuel's continued growth in reputation and God's continued revelation to men through Samuel.
How much are we like Samuel, to hear God call us and not recognize His voice, and not respond ready to listen further to His voice?

How often are we like Eli, to fail in the flesh (like he did in leading his sons)?

May we be ready to be listening, like Eli and Samuel tried to do.
May we be ready to encourage with wise counsel like Eli did when he advised Samuel on how to respond to that voice that He was hearing. 

May we be of tender heart the way Samuel was- not wanting to bring bad news to his friend and mentor Eli.  

May we be like Eli and be humble and God honoring even when things do not go the way of our heart's desire.
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for Your word preserved for us.  Thank you for Your mercy and grace.  Thank you for giving us each a path, a journey, where we may learn and grow in obedience and to be used by You, in circumstances fun and not fun, in our successes and our failures.

Help us Father, to respond to life in harmony with the Holy Spirit, to represent kindness, thoughtfulness, and truth and wisdom from You.  Your will be done, in our hearts, in our lives, in our family's life, in our community, and in all the world.  Your will be done, Father, and thank you for Jesus, that through Him we may have forgiveness.

Thank you for preparing a place for us in Heaven.  In Jesus's name I pray. AMEN

Sunday, April 14, 2019

First Samuel Chapter 2

Wow again!
Hannah offers this prayer to the Lord, that is truly awe inspiring.  The passion, love, gratitude is palatable.  I encourage you to read it in different versions, to appreciate, though I read NIV, and it really spoke to me.   (1st Samuel 2:1-11)

How could I even hone in on a favorite part? I think v.6-9 are my favorite part:
The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.  The Lord sends poverty and wealth;  he humbles and he exalts.  He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.  For the foundations of the earth are the Lord's  on them he has set the world.  He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.  It is not by strength that one prevails...
Then the chapter turns to Eli the head priest and his sons who are supposed to be in honorable service with him.  The chapter tells us that his sons are wicked and they treat the Lord's servants and their offerings with disregard, selfishness, greed to obtain raw meat for themselves from vile coercion, plus they "lay with," women from the front gate.

In contrast to Eli's biological sons, Samuel, the Lord's servant grows in stature and character to serve well.  His mother brings him a new robe to wear each year, and Samuel's mother and her husband and family grow.  Hannah has three more sons and two daughters.

When Eli hears of the evil behavior of his sons, he takes no action and climax builds........ Something big is going to happen.

(v.27-35) A man with prophet knowledge came and warned Eli that because of the behavior of him and his sons (Eli allowing the misbehavior with out actively treating it), that all of his descendants would die in the prime of their life and their sight and energy would be sapped.  Further more he was warned that his sons Hophni and Phinehas would die on the same day. 

So this chapter goes from glorious and heart-warming because of our faith, to scary and intimidating because of our faith.  A different kind of awe inspiring.

Dear Father in Heaven,
I thank you for the faithfulness, care and goodness that we see reflected in Hannah's prayer.  I know that is you.  I give my life to you.  I trust in You.  I want to serve you and bring glory and honor to You.  I trust You to fulfill all of my needs, and to lead me, guide, me, and to be my rock!

Oh Lord, I also know that you see all, and you are all wise, and you do have a temper.  Well, that is to say that no one can put anything over on You and You will address those that scorn you, or abuse you, or your people.  Lord I pray that by your wisdom, I will make wise decisions and where I am in a position to influence or address behavior issues even in others, I pray that I would do so according to YOUR WILL. 

Your will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.  In Jesus's name I pray, AMEN

Hannah in First Samuel Chapter 1

Wow!  Isn't it exciting and wonderful when you read a story again, and see so much more than before?

Here are my recent observations and thoughts from this chapter:

1) Hannah's husband Elkanah, must have been a reasonably devout man of some leadership in his home.  He had two wives (Hannah being one) and he went annually as was expected, to make sacrificial offerings to the Almighty God that he believed in. (v. 1-4)

2) He was smitten by his wife, Hannah, though she thought it dreadful, disgraceful, and painful, that she had been unable to bear him a child. (v.5,6)

3) v.6-8  Why did Elkanah not know what troubled Hannah, (that she had not a baby from her womb, and someone provoked her because of it)?  Seriously, did Hannah keep it to herself because of cultural conditioning?  Why would the husband not know of such dysfunction in the tribe or family?  Why would he not stop it?  I am assuming that he did not know details.  Hannah dealt with her pain with out full disclosure to him?

4) She poured her heart out before the Lord, and promised that if He would remember her and grant her a son, that she would give the child back to Him for service to Him.  (v.9-11)

5) When the priest Eli observed her in prayer to the Lord, he presumed her to be drunk and confronted her on it.  She stated the simple truth, and he blessed her, "Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." (v.12-17)

6) She went away cheerfully.  She did conceive, and she did deliver and raise a baby boy, whom she named Samuel. (v. 18-20)

7) Next I find it interesting that Hannah's husband gave her complete autonomy to make the critical (of vital importance) decision about Samuel's future.  With her husband's support, Hannah was true to her promise to the Lord, and when he was "weaned," she took her son to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, along with various physical offerings, and she turned him over to the priesthood to finish raising and training him.  Wow, just wow. (v. 21-27)


Lord, when faced with hurts, disappointments, or family dysfunction, I pray your will be done.  Help us to make decisions that will honor you.  Help us to not be selfish or afraid, but to do what is RIGHT in YOUR eyes. You are above all, and your will is right.

Thank you for Jesus that we can come to You and rest in You.  In Jesus's name I pray, AMEN

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