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Posts Tagged ‘comfort’

Real Solutions

May 11th, 2011

1 Samuel 7:2-14

  • This is a story of dramatic heart change of a community – Israel decided to pursue God wholeheartedly.
  • Israel had wandered so far from God that they had lost their most sacred object – the Ark of the Covenant. It was like a symbol of the covenant between them and God – but even though they had kept the Ark, they hadn’t kept their commitment and promise.
  • Something happened in Israel – heart change and repentance back to God. This was not only unusual but it was impossible, a miracle. The human heart doesn’t choose God in and of its own accord.
  • This was a different sorrow to mere outward, religious sorrow. 2 Corinthians 7 – godly grief vs. worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is selfish grief – being sorry about the consequences vs. sorry about grieving God. Psalm 51 – David acknowledged he sinned against God and God alone.
  • We may not have murdered or committed adultery like David did, but our hearts are still the same. God wants an inner purity at the deepest level – our desires and the way we function deep down should line up with God – we need to rediscover the holiness and purity of God. And we need to realise this is not for misery but for our joy – it is the way to true joy.
  • Samuel exhorts Israel to turn their hearts to the Lord. We don’t turn to outward religion or rules, but direct our hearts to the love of God in repentance. Not trying to do god things or negotiate a deal but trusting in the promise of God that He will receive us by turning to Him. Not a burdensome thing.
  • God is the only one who can truly love us and make us truly happy – we come back to Him in order to return to joy and happiness. Psalm 16:11. We sin because we’re not enjoying God enough!
  • We go further than a mere feeling of sorrow & repentance – we also come under the instruction, input and help of people who are godly and wise, and get them involved. We come to God but also to God’s people – we walk in the light by being transparent with people in our life (not everyone obviously) or healing won’t truly happen. You won’t win fighting sin on your own.
  • Don’t let pride get in the way, or even a false sense of humility (i.e. not wanting to burden others).
  • Conviction of sin can fade if left alone.
  • “Sin” is not a popular term in our day and age. Don’t dress it up guilt and push it away – call it what it is and you will probably end up finding the relief you need.
  • The repentance of Israel started off so well, but then the Philistines decided to come against them. Often the steps of obedience and repentance we take lead to trouble! When you start to take God seriously, trials often come. What’s being tested is who you trust.
  • Israel got scared – but it is an improvement as at least their fear drove them to God (v.8). Who/what do you turn to in times of trouble? Where do you go for comfort? Drink, girlfriend/boyfriend, movies, food, sex?
  • Israel didn’t turn back to their idols in trouble, but God – shows true repentance. And they found peace, deliverance and victory. They found it in the place of prayer – Philippians 4:6-7.

Hannah’s Husband

January 12th, 2011

1 Samuel 1:1-8

  • The nature of the human heart is that we love stories and want to be apart of them.
  • God is the great Storyteller and He involves people – we get to play a part.
  • The Bible is about the Great Story – and it is true!
  • God created the world to be a place of His shalom – wholeness, things being as they should be. But we rejected God and replaced Him with ourselves, and consequently shalom has been broken.
  • But God’s plan is to restore His shalom – He will not quit until it is complete.
  • In the book of Samuel, God is establishing the idea of a righteous King; King David stands out the most, but even he is not the true King. He points to the King who will come and rule over the whole world forever.
  • This story begins in a dysfunctional domestic situation – we see Hannah, and her situation is a sad one. She is barren – which in that day brought not only grief but also shame on her – and she is in a bigamous marriage, where the other wife Penninah constantly provokes her.
  • Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, has not done a good job and has made brought pain into her life by marrying another woman, departing from God’s design for marriage.
  • Bigamy is not promoted in the Bible – it is merely describing the situation. Not everything in the Bible is prescriptive – the Bible is full of people’s sin, errors and wrongdoing, so we can learn from their mistakes.
  • Throughout the ages we have fled from God’s plan for marriage – from polygamy to co-habitation in our present day. People just go along with the way everyone else in society does it. And women are usually always the ones who suffer because of it.
  • Another of Elkanah’s errors is the way he responded to Hannah’s grief – he effectively tells her just to stop crying being sad, because he can’t cope. He fails to really listen or to sympathise or to enter into her grief with her. He just wants it to be solved and to go away.
  • It is demanding to enter into somebody’s else’s pain, especially when we have our own issues going on.
  • Often husbands will take their wife’s sadness to mean they’ve failed and that they’re not respected – but husbands are called to love their wife above themselves. How can they do this? Ephesians 5:25-35 – Jesus, the perfect Husband, is the role model – He sacrificially gave Himself for His Bride, the Church. He knows more than anyone what it is like to lack respect from His Bride.
  • We need to receive God’s love in order to love other people. God gives us the emotional resources we need to love others – even the unlovely.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 – God comforts us so that we can comfort others with the same comfort He gives to us.