May 30, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be a bright as day.”
Isaiah 58: 10
“How am I to respond to such darkness around me? Will I recoil from it? Will I withdraw from those unfortunate ones who walk in such darkness? Or will I go out into it eagerly seeking to lead (others) to my Master? If I do, the outcome will startle me. Even that darkness will be transformed into light and life…one of the tremendous personal thrills, known only to a child of God, is the delight of introducing a soul in darkness to their heavenly Father and Christ Jesus their Savior, the light of the world. Such an experience energizes and vitalizes a Christian’s entire life beyond the power of words to describe. It makes (our) inner life a bright adventure despite the darkness around (us).”
W. Phillip Keller
Today’s Study Text:
“Hannah prayed, and said, ‘My heart exults and triumphs in the Lord.’”
I Samuel 2: 1
What Our Prayers Reveal About Us
“Jumping For Joy: -- Part I
“There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself are. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this is it, and there is no other.”
Has there been an experience in my life when God has taken my weeping and turned it into joy?
What did this experience teach me about my heavenly Father and His concern and care for me?
“Joy is the flag that is flown from the citadel of the heart when the King is in residence.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”(N.I.V.)
Philippians 4: 4
Many times in our hurry to get to the “good parts” of the Bible, which I often find are the dramatic stories or miraculous events, it becomes easy to miss some of the most profound and instructional portions of the Scripture.
For the next few days we are going to mine for treasure about prayer in the first few verses of I Samuel 2 which contains a prayer by Hannah. While it’s easy to focus on the Hannah who was praying and weeping so despairingly that the priest Eli accused her of being drunk, we shouldn’t ignore the Hannah who prayed one of the most beautiful prayers recorded in the Bible. I certainly have missed the depth of the words Hannah spoke when reading my Bible, but I can assure you – not anymore!
In fact, the reason we are stopping to spend time on this prayer is because our prayers reveal a great deal about our spiritual lives and about our relationship with our heavenly Father. And as we reflect on Hannah’s words, we will gain insight into the way God’s daughter was able to maintain a trusting and faithful daily walk with her Father. It’s the same way Jesus kept in touch with His Father when He lived on earth.
Hannah’s prayer begins with these words: “My heart exults and triumphs in the Lord”
(I Samuel 2:1). In the Hebrew translation, this phrase literally means, “My heart is jumping for joy.” However, I wanted to dig even deeper so I checked out the word “heart” in the Hebrew as it is used in this particular text. I found that this form of the word is used widely to include the feelings, the will and even the intellect. In fact, it can mean “the centre of anything,” or as we might say in English, “the core.” What Hannah said as she began her prayer was, “At the core of my being, from the center of my life, it is God who gives me the joy to triumph. The heart of my exaltation is my Father.” Interestingly enough, thousands of years later, St. Augustine basically said the very same thing when he wrote that the happy life, the joyful life, is based on “rejoicing in Thee.” I find this so instructional in our world where material possessions are lauded as the solution to our unhappiness. Advertisements constantly tell us that if we had a fancy car or beautiful home, if we had a new ring on our finger or suit on our back – we’d be happy, finally! And yet, many people who have so much, are still chasing after the illusive “happiness solution.” In fact, noted theologian C.S. Lewis said, “I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.” I think he has a point.
When Hannah worshipped at Shiloh, knowing full-well she was leaving her young son Samuel, who she loved so dearly in the hands of her Father, she prayed, “My heart triumphs in the Lord.” The exultation and joy at the core of her being came from the place of self-surrender. As Ladislaus Boros wrote, “We experience joy, quite simply, in self-surrender.”
“Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him,
the help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
so good and kind.”
Bubbling Over With Joy
“My heart is bubbling over with joy;
With God it is good to be a woman.
From now on let all peoples proclaim:
it is a wonderful gift to be.
The one in whom power truly
rests has lifted us up to praise;
God’s goodness shall fall like a
shower on the trusting of every age.
The disregarded have been raised up:
The pompous and powerful shall fall.
God has feasted the empty-bellied,
and the rich have discovered their void.
God has made good the Word
given at the dawn of time.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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