Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Friday, August 18, 2017

When the Knife of the Heavenly Surgeon Cuts Deep

There is a brown box stuffed on my bookshelf in the basement that holds squares of paper with words of hope inscribed on them. Three years ago this month, one blistering Sunday afternoon, friends and family gathered together to remember the hope we have in Jesus Christ and to cry out to God for the will of the Lord to be accomplished in my heart.

We prayed that we would decrease and that He would increase. We prayed for God’s glory to be revealed in my body in whatever he had purposed for me.

This box was neatly tied up with a pretty white bow and given to me that day. Four days later, the day before my surgeon cut into my heart, I sat on the edge of a hospital bed and loosened the bow. In the box was a collection of verses that had been lovingly hand-written on blue and white cardstock for me. They were balm for my soul.

They were words of truth that I had to unpack. They spoke of the hope that does not disappoint. I clung to hope like the anchor it is when the storm is raging and the night is dark. 

On one card these words, spoken by David after he was rescued from the hand of Saul, and recorded for us in Psalm 18, were scrawled:
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”
In times of distress, upheaval, turmoil, pain and suffering the Psalmist knew where to go. David knew His God was His refuge and His redeemer.

Even as torrents of destruction charged at him and cords of death confronted him, he knew to whom he could run. David called upon the Lord. He cried out to God for help. And without a doubt he knew his cry had reached the ears of the Lord.

David knew he could trust in God because He knew something of the majesty, the holiness, the justice, the mercy, the loving-kindness, the faithfulness, and the immutability of God.

And in seeing who God is, he gained a right perspective on his situation and on his own self.

On another card in my box, someone else had gracefully copied four more verses from the same Psalm:

“For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?”
David, the Psalmist, again reminded himself of what he knew to be true about God and acted upon it. He held on to the faithfulness of God. He fixed his focus on the God who is faithful to do exactly as He has promised.

When times are turbulent and trials rise up, look to God and His attributes.

Three years ago, as I laid myself down on the operating table the cords of death confronted me. As I woke up from open-heart surgery, torrents of distress assaulted me. My heart had been broken. But, God was near.

Charles Spurgeon wrote:

“The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head . . . The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary.”
Three years ago, I walked through the valley and narrowly escaped death. I walked through upheaval and God set it right. I walked in weakness and God gave strength. I walked through confusion and God brought comfort. I walked through loneliness and God was near. I walked through depression and God heard my cry. I walked through fear and God was with me.
“The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary.”


This summer, I rode up the side of a mountain in a gondola and climbed up to its peak. I sat there on the mountain, with an elevation of nearly 8000 feet, and was immensely aware of my smallness and in awe of the majesty of God.

At that point I could say with David,

“He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.”
God had brought me from a low, low point and had raised me up to see more of His glory.

I knew that day that you can't stay on top of the mountain, but the overwhelming grandeur of God's power and majesty leaves you wanting more. More of God, more of His beauty and mercy and grace.

We came down the mountain singing “Amazing Grace” . . . “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

God's grace leads us up the mountain and back down into the valley where we look up and remember where our strength comes from.

It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength. It is the soul that sings with David at the beginning of this Psalm, “I love you, O Lord, my strength” that will also say, “ . . . I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name.”

Yes, there will be valleys to walk through. There will be trials to face and floods of wickedness will surround us. But, God’s glory shines bright in our dark days. 

There is life to be lived, lessons to be learned, strength to be gained, grace to be received, and glory to be revealed.

And, we will go on our way rejoicing in Him and His goodness for all of our days because He is our Redeemer, our Strength, our Rock and our Shield.

This truth can’t just be boxed in with pretty white bows. It has to be unpacked. It has to be lived out.

When you realize the truth about God and take refuge in Him, when He is your quiet resting place, when you hold on to the faithfulness of God, when you take what you know about God and apply what you know, then your faith is strengthened and God is glorified.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Tragedy When Children Fail to Grow into Maturity

A lovely dove moans outside my window. I hear the whirr of happy children as they race home from the park on bicycles. A trail of voices drift in as neighbors catch up on life.

I look through the window panes speckled with dried-water spots and the brightness of the sun shines down on the white cast iron bench and reflects a blinding glare that stings my eyes. My eyes flit over to the shadow lying on the grass beside the overgrown pine bush.

The sounds I heard a moment ago have faded. The dove is silent and sparrows chirp to each other now. A gentle breeze slips in my open window and I feel it cool on my bare arms. A white puffy cloud sailed across the blue skies, swallowed the sun, chased the shadows away and dimmed the glare. 
The children have now clambered around the kitchen table and childish chatter fills the room as they gulp cold water and wait for grilled cheese.

It’s the dog days of summer, when days are savoured, not spent. When children hunt for toads and stare at insects and when times of boredom make way for creativity and inspiration. When we can linger longer in the afternoon shade or under bright stars blinking in the inky blackness.

We watched a cicada crawl across the grass after it burst out of its old shell last week. Sadness hung in the air as we witnessed the struggle it endured to unfurl its wings and when the wings failed to stretch open we knew there was no way it could live without those wings taking flight.

“Mom?”, my girl queried, “can I take this old skin and put it on the nature table?” And she ran in and cupped it like it was costly treasure, with great care, she set it with other little marvels we have found in this great world God has made: shells, fossils, bark, big-leaf maple leaves and fungi, nests, and feathers.

As children, the world is full of wonder to be discovered. When the time and opportunity is given, children will explore the wonders all around them. They will grow in knowledge and in appreciation of the living things that are in their own backyard.

Children have a natural curiosity about their world. They want to dig, search, discover, climb, reach for the next level, and soar. Children want to grow and learn. They want to know they are loved and love in return. Spread before them a banqueting table and they will come and joyously feast.

Jesus’ disciples asked him:
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And Jesus called and put a child in the centre of them. He turned their focus to a child. It was humility to which he drew their attention. To be a follower of Christ is to humble self and trust Christ. A child is willing to come and trust.

However, as Don Carson explains in volume two of For the Love of God:
“ . . . childlikeness is not childishness; simplicity is not simple-mindedness; humility is not servility.”
If the child failed to grow, like the cicada that couldn’t unfurl his wings and fly away, it would be a tragedy, a travesty. When we are given faith to believe, that is simply the beginning. Our faith is to grow and be strengthened.

Yes, we are to come to Christ as children, but we are to grow up into maturity in grace, knowledge, faith, love, hope.

Paul warned in his letter he wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:
“ . . . that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ . . . ”
And the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
And later in his letter, the writer urged:
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity . . . ”
These are the days we must dig deeper, look longingly, search diligently, rightly handling the Word of God.

Come child-like in humility and in wonder and grow up into maturity by growing in knowledge of God who is Creator and Lord of all.

We have a great feast to spread before us. We know we don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Read His word. Meditate on His Word. Memorize it, chew it, savour it. Study it. Dig deeper and move on from elementary doctrine.

You will grow in love and in faith as you grow in knowledge of the Lord God. Let His Word be a lamp to guide your feet and light to your path in the midst of a dark world.

As it has been said, “Your heart can’t love what your mind doesn’t know.”

Know God. Come in humility, grow in grace. And your heart will want more of God and all His shining glory.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Resist Beginnings: Stay Steadfast in the Middle of the Story

“Resist beginnings.”

I read those two words in a book last week and I stopped short. It was the little book, “Follow the Lamb” that the poet, Horatius Bonar, wrote sometime in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. Back when the world was on a quest for radical change.

I think about these words now, when the world is again striving for radical advancement. A world that is full of proud, arrogant, heartless, and reckless people who are lovers of self, seeking individual freedom.

It is old advice and I’m not sure if that opinion would gain much popularity today. 

We love beginnings. We love to start new things. We want the next thing. We want it to be better, bigger. Beginnings are exciting and excitement is contagious. We think it is brave to begin. We think is it brilliant to begin. We want to build our Tower of Babel to reach the heavens.

We grow weary of the ordinary, day in and day out, modest routines of our lives and we want something brighter, more enticing, more thrilling.

We are willing to invest time, energy and resources into anything that will make life more captivating, more meaningful, more enticing.

But, in reaching for the next new thing, have we traded in something more valuable.

What if we were a people who shrewdly resist beginnings and simply remain faithful?

There is a way to move forward and progress has been good . . . in part. History has been a march of progress. But, it has cost us.

A wise man once said, there is nothing new under the sun, but we keep looking for something new. And then we are surprised when history repeats itself.

No new thing, no matter how great, is going to bring greater happiness. The created can’t bring eternal joy.

Change is necessary. Time and time again we need to make an about face and turn back and head in the right direction. Revolution means “a turn around”. Repentance means to have a change of mind and to turn from sin and return to God.

But, do we get so carried away with our cravings for new beginnings, we neglect to stay steadfast in the middle of the story?

Can’t you see it spread all over our lives? In our diets, our health kicks, our new years resolutions, our churches, our relationships, our politics, our social media. We are stuffing ourselves on beginnings and failing to thrive to the end.

How many things have we begun that now hang limp or are tucked away or have been destroyed by the lust of a new beginning?

Remaining faithful lacks the flare that a beginning delivers, but it is the soil where roots grow deep, grace is poured out, faith is strengthened, and where love will flourish. 

God had a plan before time began, before creation. Before the foundation of the world: God knew, God purposed, God loved us, God chose us.

God, who has no beginning, set all things in place. God, who has no end, sees that all things will happen according to His plan. God, who remains faithful, set His plan in motion and will bring is to pass to the praise of His glory.

God doesn’t need men and women to dream up exciting beginnings. He wants us to remain faithful. To continue, to press on, to persevere.

Straight after Paul told Timothy to “Fight the good fight of the faith”, he urged him to “. . . take hold of the eternal life to which you were called . . .

With our eyes fixed on the eternal, strength and courage come so we can rise above the struggles of this world. Hold tightly to the prize of eternal life: that is how you will remain faithful in this life to which you were called.

We need to remain faithful in the unseen things.

Splashy beginnings draw much excitement at the outset, but these embers burn out. It is the steady stoking of the fire that keeps the blaze burning.

Remaining faithful may never be popular. This world will go on looking or bigger and better beginnings to draw crowds, to reach new heights, to make progress, to go beyond our dreams, to find happiness and health and wisdom, and discover the unknown.

Remaining faithful may never be comfortable. This world looks out for self. It tells us, if it doesn’t feel good, get out, give up, do whatever you need to find your own self. Well, referring back to the little book I read last week, Bonar wrote:
“Denying self is the beginning, the middle, and the end of our course here, as followers of Christ.”
Remaining faithful may never be easy. It is a fight. A fight that needs determination, endurance, and every ounce of perseverance a soul could hope for.

And that is exactly what we have. Hope . . . Eternal hope.

We have been made to know God. We have been made to be in communion with God. Since the fall we have fallen short of His glory. God had a plan before creation to climb down into the world He spoke into existence to redeem us back to Himself.

He has not left us alone. He has remained faithful.

He has loved us and given us hope for a future.

With hope like that, we can say, 
Quiet down, soul.

Resist beginnings.

Remain faithful.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The One Way To Get What Your Heart Desires

It was my grandma’s. It hung in her house for as long as I can remember. I carried it home with me from the nursing home, held it close to my heart, after her breath had rattled and hers days had ended and I said good-bye.

It’s a piece of antique wall art, carved wood with gilded letters and pink roses, and in the midst of fresh grief, without much thought, I hung it on an empty nail in our ensuite. It hangs not so much for decor but more as a daily reminder. It has lost it’s lustre with old dust that needs to be scrubbed from the crevices, but the truth of those ancient words will never fade.

You can pass down truth like that. You can cling to truth that steers your life into a life that is worth living.

That old wall hanging, it won’t last. This life here, as we know it, it will pass. But, truth . . .truth is eternal. And the truth is, intimacy with God is what makes living most satisfying, most real, most true.

The old-fashioned letters etched in the wood and covered in gold paint that decorate my wall are words quoted from a hymn, a psalm, a poem that King David wrote. They are words that come from an old man who has the advantage of looking back over many years and speaking wisdom to countless restless souls longing to find rest and peace.

They are words for souls that need to be exhorted to “Fret not yourself” and instructed to: “Trust in the Lord”.

These words are truth that nourishes souls that, all through the ages, must be reminded that the Lord upholds and will not forsake the righteous.

We not only need these words as reminders, we need this truth that urges the faithful to patiently, earnestly seek the Lord with all your heart.

David knew this truth and sang these words in his poem, recorded in Psalm 37:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
I look upon these ancient words day after day. There is much to take our eyes away from the beauty of the Lord. My heart needs to heed this message that is as true today as the day David sang it. There are fears, evil, injustice, and wickedness. But, the Psalmist presses in to deal with all those fears because He knows nothing can frustrate God’s plan. God doesn’t change. His truth does not change.

It is the soul that delights in God that is fully satisfied. It is the heart that delights in God that finds true happiness.

It is the heart that is soft and tender toward God that discovers that the ultimate desire is to delight in God and His glory. God will not forsake the righteous and will shape your heart to desire exactly what He desires you to have: more of Him.

Charles Spurgeon wrote:

“Make God’s glory your object in life; live in His sight; dwell close to him; seek for fellowship with Him; and thou has ‘godliness’”.
A life that makes God’s glory the object in life is a life that will know the joy of the Lord and that joy is our strength in the face of whatever trial or difficultly may arise.

To delight in the Lord is not to live a life of ease or full of prosperity or free from challenging circumstances. But, God shapes your heart to desire the right things: to live a life that “trusts in the Lord”, “commits your way to the Lord”, to “be still before the Lord” and “wait patiently for the Lord”.

In the shaping, the Potter takes the clay and forms it with his hands to be fit for that which He has purposed.

Look to the Lord. Make God’s glory the object of your life. Delight in the Lord. Make God be what your heart desires.

Make your living worth living.

Horatius Bonar, a poet and hymn writer from Scotland in the 19th century, wrote a little book called “Follow the Lamb”. In it he encourages the young Christian:

“Your life is a Book; it may be a volume of larger or smaller size; and conversion is but the title-page or the preface. The Book itself remains to be written; and your years and weeks and days are its chapters and leaves and lines. It is a Book written for eternity; see that it be written well.”
A life written well is a life that can say my absolute delight is the Lord. A life that is truly living is one that my heart’s desires are met in God alone. God perfectly sets in place the desires of my heart and I find I am fully satisfied in Him.

He gives us the desires of our hearts when the deepest beat of our heart is for Him alone.

In the “Valley of Vision”, we have a prayer of a Puritan who prayed this prayer with this heartbeat:


Thy throne of grace
is the pleasure ground of my soul.
Here I obtain mercy in time of need,
here see the smile of thy reconciled face,
here joy pleads the name of Jesus,
here I sharpen the sword of the Spirit,
anoint the shield of faith,
put on the helmet of salvation,
gather manna from thy Word,
am strengthened for each conflict,
nerved for the upward race,
empowered to conquer every foe;
Help me to come to Christ
as the fountain head of descending blessings,
as a wide open flood-gate of mercy . . . 

Quicken me, stir me, fill me with holy zeal.
Strengthen me that I may cling to thee
and not let thee go.
May thy Spirit within me draw all blessings
from thy hand. . . . 

Impress on my mind the shortness of time,
the work to be engaged in,
the account to be rendered,
the nearness of eternity,
the fearful sin of despising thy Spirit.
May I never forget that
thy eye always sees,
thy ear always hears,
thy recording hand always writes.
May I never give thee rest until Christ is
the pulse of my heart . . . ”

Friday, July 21, 2017

When You Pass Through the Impassable

Have you ever come to the edge of an impassable situation?

When the circumstances that lie before you bring life to a frightful halt?

Somehow you must go forward, but there is no foreseeable way to get to the other side of the obstacle surging ahead.

To do so requires more strength and courage than your weak body and weary soul could muster.

Have you ever stood on the brink of rushing waters with a longing to get to the other side, but with absolutely no sensible way to cross?

It’s easier to turn around and give up, give in to the cowardice that creeps in the corners of every heart.

But, there is hope. There is a sure way. There is obedience. There is trust.

There is this way that quiets the cowardice and builds strength and brings forth courage. It is the way of obedience. It is the way of faith. It is the way one walks when the Lord your God is with you.

When you are sure of the presence of the Lord you will pass though the impassible.

When you trust in the Lord God you will walk across your Jordon River on dry ground.

After Moses died, the Lord exalted Joshua to lead His people to the Promised Land. They had to cross the Jordon River to get to their place of rest. God had promised that He would give them this land to possess and He had shown Himself faithful to them over and over.

The Lord said to Joshua:

The assurance that the Lord is with you is the strength you need to walk in obedience and the courage to pass the impassible and come to the place of rest.

I had come to an impassable place. I looked ahead and could not see a way forward. My body was frail. It had let me down. My mind was troubled. My soul was weary.

It was then that I longed to go clear across Canada to stand at the Pacific Ocean: the mighty ocean that means, “the peaceful sea”. Lying in the hospital in great turmoil, I wanted to feel the sand between my toes and breathe in the salt air and take our children across a beautiful land to show them all the mighty things God has done.

But, I couldn’t even walk to the end of a hospital bed. I could not breathe on my own and no one knew if I ever would again.

My heart had to heal from surgery. And bones had to regrow and nerves had to repair. My mind had to be restored.

I had to be strong and courageous. I had to stop the grumbling and see the good things God had done. I had to trust the Lord and know that He is with me.

He brings us to the brink of the Jordon to trust Him; to lead us to find our rest in Him.

Once the people of Israel crossed the Jordon, the Lord told Joshua to take twelve men—one man from each tribe--to take twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordon River and lay them down as a memorial. So that, in time, when their children would ask, “What do these stones mean?” they would say:
“‘Israel passed over the Jordon on dry ground. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordon for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.’”
When we pass through the impassible, others see the mighty hand of God and we know without a doubt that it was God--and God alone--that brought us through. We are not to cower in fear at our circumstances, but we are to stand in awe of God’s majesty and acknowledge His goodness and worship Him forever.

Whatever is looming ahead, God is with you.

Whatever may seem impassible, God will make the way to pass through.

You must trust Him and obediently follow. It is a laying down of self. It’s the way of surrender. It’s the walk of faith.

That’s what I knew when I dipped my feet in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Vancouver Island on the last day of June this year--the year Canada turned 150. The icy water at Long Beach stabbed at my toes and the soles of my feet turned numb as the sea-water splashed at my shins. My family plunged into the salty cold ocean, tried to ride a few waves on their bellies and shrieked with stunned laughter as every inch of their bodies tingled from being alive.

The wind whipped sand and strings of hair into my face as I turned out toward the vast ocean and knew that God, in His mercy, had brought me to this place. I can sing along with Horatio Gates Spafford:

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul. 

My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
my sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more;
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 

O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
even so, it is well with my soul.”

By the work of Christ, He has brought us to rest in Him. We were without hope. We were without a way to pass through. But Christ has brought us back to Himself and gives us life, fills us with hope.

See what the Lord has done? He brings us to the impassible and leads us to the place of rest.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Learning From the Life of Hannah: A Woman with Serious Problems {Part 5}

{This is Part 5 in a series on the Life of Hannah.

For the last four weeks we have been examining the life of Hannah as told in 1 Samuel. As we come to the end of Hannah’s story today, we know God will be Eternally Glorified and we see that Hannah Erupts in Praise to the Supreme Ruler.

The God who Sovereignly Governs over all, Providentially Guides all circumstances, Graciously Gives all things is Eternally Glorified and “we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

I consider that the sufferings of this present time”, Paul said to the Romans, “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Oh, He is worthy of our praise.

In Romans, Paul said: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Hannah knows the goodness of God in her life and understood that there is no one like our God who will graciously give us all things.

Hannah’s heart erupts in praise to the Lord. She takes what has happened in her life and she breaks forth in magnificent descriptions of the character and goodness of God.

Her joy is in the Giver, not the gift.

In 1 Samuel chapter two, we read Hannah’s prayer.

In her prayer, Hannah meditates on the extraordinary goodness of God to her with all of who she is, she rejoices in the strength His gives. Her heart leaps for joy at his salvation; his deliverance.

She proclaims his absolute holiness, and acknowledges there is none like Him. He is above all.

Hannah uses the metaphor of the “rock” and speaks of his majesty and might. She knows He is the safe dwelling place for his people.

She speaks of His omniscience, His sovereignty, His omnipotence and His power over life and death. Hannah declares He is Creator and Sustainer of all. That He upholds all things and directs all things.

He knows all things: He knows our heart, our thoughts, our actions.

He is the Supreme Ruler. His plans will come to pass.

She knows He is Just and merciful, gracious and faithful in His promises.

She tells of the promised Messiah.

These are the things Hannah’s heart knows. Do you know God like this? Does your heart leap for joy the way Hannah’s did?

Hannah’s tune changes from weeping over her problems with sorrow to rejoicing in the Lord with this song of praise.

The book of Samuel begins with Hannah praying for the son that God would use to lead the nation of Israel from the time of the judges to establish the Davidic monarchy. God promised a Messiah through the line of David and to establish David’s throne forever. Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, our Redeemer will reign forever.

Nothing can frustrate God’s plan.

Jesus Christ is the perfect substitutionary sacrifice and He bore the wrath of God for our sin that He might bring us to God.

The Supreme Ruler who Sovereignly Governs, Providentially Guides, and Graciously Gives, provides Hannah with three more sons and two daughters. Her future is secure.

In every way His will must prevail.

You may be women with serious problems, but we have a God who is Supreme over all. Because of His love He will graciously give you all things to conform you into the likeness of His Son to the praise of His glory.

With all your afflictions, sorrows, and anxieties find your joy in the Lord.

God Sovereignly Governs, Providentially Guides, Graciously Gives, and is Eternally Glorified.

Like Hannah, will you endure your problems, earnestly pour out your soul, entrust your Provider with all that He gives you and erupt in praise to your Saviour?

We have looked to the life of a woman with serious problems whose joy was ultimately in the Lord. We will conclude with these words Joseph Addison wrote in his hymn:

“Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.

Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.

Through all eternity to Thee
A joyful song I’ll raise;
For, oh, eternity’s too short
To utter all Thy praise!”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Learning From the Life of Hannah: A Woman with Serious Problems {Part 4}

{This is Part 4 in a series on the Life of Hannah.

For the past three weeks we have been gleaning truth about God from the life of a woman with serious problems.

Hannah is a woman with serious problems whose joy was ultimately in the Lord.

Hannah knew the Lord sovereignly governs over all and providentially guides all circumstances. She also knew God graciously gives all things and we see that Hannah entrusted her son to her Provider.

God desires our hearts to be fully devoted to Him.

Hannah has earnestly poured out her soul and promised her son. Eli, first misunderstanding her, stands corrected, and tells her “Go in peace, and let the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”

Hannah, the woman of grace, replies, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.”

Hannah knows God will pour out His grace. Her circumstances have not yet changed, but she went her way and ate and her face was no longer sad.

They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord. They return to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife and the Lord remembered her: she conceived and bore a son and called his name Samuel. She said, “I have asked for Him from the LORD

She sees how God graciously provides and she trusts in His faithfulness to be able to keep her vow.

For all these years she wanted a son. He granted her petition and she would give him back to the Lord. He had given her a son; she could trust Him to secure her future.

Hannah doesn’t hold too tightly to what the Lord gives her. She enjoys the Provider more than the provision.

In the joy of the Lord, Hannah finds strength to move forward in what God had purposed for her: to give her son back to God.

Taking her focus off her problems and fixing her gaze on the Lord, Hannah trusts in the God who pours out His grace.

Do you remember these words?
“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun. 
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure;
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.”
Hannah knows God’s grace.

Hannah takes her son to minister to the Lord in a place where the priests—the two sons of Eli--were worthless men that did not know the Lord, doing evil things and their sin was very great in the sight of the Lord: they treated the offering of the Lord with contempt and they “lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting”.

And this was where her boy Samuel would grow in the presence of the Lord.

Although this was the vow Hannah had made to the Lord, Elkanah went along with it telling her “to do what seems best to you.”

So after Samuel was weaned, Hannah brings him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh and presents him there along with her offering. She has come back with an apparent peace offering and she presents the offering. She, who has known the peace—the wholeness of the Lord—, partakes of the feast now with praise and thanksgiving.

Hannah, a woman with serious problems, loves the Lord, surrenders herself to Him and He pours out His grace in her life and she finds peace and joy in Him.

God continually and graciously gives us all things to demonstrate that He is good and only in Him will our hearts truly find rest.

Take time this week and consider God’s grace in your life and come back next when we will conclude looking at the life of Hannah—a woman with serious problems.

{Continue to Part 5 here.}
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