Devotions for October 10 – 16, 2016
1 Samuel 1:9-11, 19-20, 2:1-10
Monday, October 10, 2016
“Hanna rose and presented herself before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:9).
Hanna faced circumstances that were beyond her abilities. Life was out of control. Things were not right, even though Hanna had the undying love and support of her husband. Hanna was barren. She had never felt a child’s kick in her womb or held her newborn son or daughter in her arms. Hanna did the only thing that she could do—besides give up and suffer in silence. She entered the Lord’s presence in prayer.
In his explanation to the introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father in heaven,” Martin Luther writes, “With these words God wants to attract us, so that we come to believe he is truly our Father and we are truly his children, in order that we may ask him boldly and with complete confidence, just as loving children ask their loving father.” No matter what our situations in life are, God invites us to come to God in prayer. God is not distant nor uncaring. No, indeed! God is near and eager to listen to us with undivided attention.
Lord, we are your children. Hear our prayers. Amen.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
“She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly” (1 Samuel 1:10).
Akihito carried his office possession in a cardboard box and was escorted by two guards to the entrance of the software company where he had worked. He dropped the box in the trunk of his car, collapsed into the driver’s seat, held his head in his hands and repeated the only word his could say, “God, God, God.” Carlota sat by the hospital bed of her teenage daughter. Her daughter slept while IV tubes allowed the chemicals fighting her deadly cancer to flow into her body. Carlota had no words left to pray. She placed her daughter’s hand in hers and sobbed.
There are times when what we face in life is too big for words of prayer, or so confusing we don’t know what to pray. We may be only capable of sitting in stunned silence, shed tears or cry out for help over and over again. These too are prayers. They may not be eloquent prayers, but they are prayers that God hears and feels.
All knowing Lord, there are times when life is beyond words. Hear our silence, our moans, our screams and our tears. Amen.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
“Remember me, and not forget your servant” (1 Samuel 1:11).
After graduating from college, Lamar had moved several states away from family and friends to begin work in his new career. Lamar had made a few casual friends in the four months that he had been working. He missed his family and his old friends, though. Now it was October 3rd his birthday, and as he silenced his alarm clock and started the day, he wondered if anyone would remember the significance of the day. Certainly, his friends at work wouldn’t have a clue.
Lamar didn’t need to worry. While he was munching his toast and drinking his morning coffee, his phone rang and his parents serenaded him with their rendition of “Happy Birthday.” When he opened his mail later in the day, he had several birthday cards from siblings and friends. Arriving home he discovered a package perched on his doorstep. Lamar took the package inside, set it on the counter and then sat on a chair and looked at it. A smile crossed his lips. They had remembered!
There are times when we are scared people might forget about us. Occasionally fear looms up in our hearts and we wonder if God remembers us. Hannah’s story, along with countless others in the Bible, remind us that God has not forgotten us. In fact, God remembers us and knows all about what is happening in our lives. We are always on God’s mind.
Almighty God, thank you that you have not forgotten us. Empower us to live boldly and lovingly knowing that you watch over us and your hand is always upon us. Amen.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
“The Lord remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son” (1 Samuel 1:20).
While reviewing her credit card bill, Lyla noticed a charge that she didn’t think she made. It was with a company she had done business with previously, but she knew she didn’t make a $149.00 purchase. Lyla got nowhere with the company’s customer service when she called them. Her bank was much more responsive. The customer service representative took all the important information and said, “I’ll look into this and get back to you with the results.” Two weeks passed. Lyla began to think that her bank had forgotten about her case. A day later the customer service representative called her. “It’s taken me awhile,” he said, “but I checked through all the paperwork and talked to the people at the company. We have decided to refund the charge.” Lyla ended the call and realized that the silence of the past two weeks had not meant that she was forgotten.
We come before God with our petitions and intercessions. We plead with God to remember us and then there is only silence. We wonder if God has forgotten about us or has ignored our needs. After the situation has been resolved, we look back and realize that we had not been forgotten. Instead God was moving in ways that we could not see nor understand.
Precious Lord, forgive our impatience. While we wait, enable us to steadfastly trust in your love, presence and power. Amen.
Friday, October 14, 2016
“My heart exults in the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:1).
Answered prayers are great! Problems are solved, or at least some movement is taking place on solving them. Our worry is lessened. We feel assured of God’s love and presence and our faith is renewed. When our prayers are answered, our hearts sing and praise to God flows freely from our lips.
Hannah praised the Lord. God had heard her prayers and she had borne a son. God is good! God is great!
How unfortunate, though, if our praise is confined to those occasions when our prayers are answered. Praise is always appropriate. God’s love is steadfast, God’s forgiveness is always unconditional and God’s grace is forever overwhelming. No matter what happens today and the days ahead, God is worthy of our worship and praise.
Praise the Lord! God, you are truly worthy of our praise simply because you are who you are. Amen.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
“Talk no more very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth” (1 Samuel 2:3).
Donald couldn’t stop telling people how great he was. He was the most talented in his eyes. According to Donald he knew the most important people, had the greatest vacations, worked on the most challenging projects and received the highest praise from his bosses and co-workers. When Donald was with people, he put on an impressive front. Alone, Donald was consumed with self-doubt, questions about his ability and worry about whether or not he was good enough.
Pride and arrogance are human temptations. Usually they don’t stem from our competency or our accomplishments. Rather our judgment of ourselves and our fears of our own worth spawn such attitudes. We even attempt to hide our self-doubt from God by our pride. Such exercises are pointless and unnecessary. God know us completely—both the good, the bad and everything in between. God knows us and has chosen to love us without conditions or reservations. When we realize the height, breadth and depth of God’s love, we are humbled.
Loving God, overwhelmed by your love, empower us to love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly before you (Micah 6:8). Amen.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
“He raises up the poor from the dust” (1 Samuel 2:8).
Twenty percent of the children in the United States go hungry, but few people see evidence of this. Forty million Americans live in poverty, yet this is not often discussed. Only a few people are concerned that tens of thousands of veterans receive less than adequate medical care. The fact that thousands upon thousands of elderly people suffer physical and/or verbal abuse is a well-kept secret. Little is reported by the news media. It is the rich and the powerful who grab the headlines, capture the magazine covers and receive the rapt attention of the masses. This is the world in which we live.
Thankfully, this is not the God whom we worship. God’s attention is not based on our net worth or our ability to be in the limelight. The Bible repeatedly claims that God is on the side of the poor. Hannah’s song proclaims this truth. God not only remembers the poor and lowly, but God will also raise them up. Most of the time, God does this through the efforts of God’s followers. When we share God’s love and grace through our words and actions, situations are changed for the better and lives are transformed.
Gracious Lord, use our words and actions to raise up the poor and advance your kingdom in the world today. Amen.