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Posts Tagged ‘gift’

Hannah’s Song

March 1st, 2011

1 Samuel 1:21-2:11

  • Hannah did something astonishing – she gave away the one thing she asked for, the one thing she had been longing for her whole life, which was a child. Her baby boy was her answered prayer.
  • Her decision seems irresponsible, but she is actually being bold and is not a victim, but is liberated in this decision.
  • She goes away singing after giving her son to Eli the priest – she expresses her emotion and something of a summary of what she has learnt. She is an extraordinary woman.
  • Her song teaches us a number of things – firstly, that God is holy and unique – He is much bigger and greater than we think, and should be taken more seriously than we do. It is like she is getting our attention and warning us – she has seen what God is like and knows that we cannot just live our lives as we please.
  • God is the only true rock – we base our lives on many things (money, relationships, etc) but they are all useless.
  • Everything we have is a gift of God – He is the only reason we have anything. When we understand that, it is so much easier to give things back to Him.
  • We need to be warned off any arrogance or pride. We are wired to think that if we do good things for God, then He has to do good things for us, like He owes us – many people think this is how religion works. Christianity goes flat in the face of that – it’s based on the arrangement of a free gift. None of us deserve God’s favour or grace or mercy or any of His gifts. We need to get to know the God of mercy who gives way beyond anything we could imagine. This is the God of the Bible.
  • The only thing God could have given to redeem us was Himself – His very own Son. When you meet this extravagant God, you start to see things differently – like the way Hannah did. You begin to live more risks – someone who hasn’t met God won’t take many risks.
  • V.8 – Hannah is saying she can trust in God. Even the poorest, the lowliest can be raised up if they trust in God. This gives us freedom to be generous and take risks because we know that God will look after us – He has our backs.
  • God also guards our feet – He shows us where the next step is and we can trust Him with our future.
  • God meets our needs in the process of risk-taking.
  • Hannah is like another hero of the Bible: Abraham, who was willing to give up his son – the one who was promised and who he waited so long for. Abraham obeyed God and totally trusted Him – even to the point of believing that He could raise his son from the dead.
  • Sometimes God will take us to the wire, where we need to be willing to let our dreams die – willing to give up the things we’ve longed for.
  • God’s desire is to prove Himself – to raise up things in life where we have experienced “deaths”.
  • It’s not that God is a slot machine – but He will always supply our needs. Sometimes He doesn’t provide in the way we’d like Him to, but He is always faithful.
  • We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future – that is what counts.
  • Hannah ended up bearing more children – she didn’t know  or expect that that would happen. We mustn’t presume on what God will do when we give, but we can trust Him.
  • Hannah also learned that she has a greater purpose in life than her own purpose. She speaks of her hope that God will set up a great Kingdom and a great King; at that time there was no king, no order, no standards – she was living in a nation that was far from God, living in darkness. And what came upon her was a terrible sorrow for her nation.
  • God wants us to see the bigger picture – He wants us to have a heart for our nation, for our city – to long for His Kingdom to come.
  • Hannah knows one thing for sure: God will rule one day. And in some way she believes that her giving of her son Samuel to God, He will accomplish this. The greater King was to come.
  • Hannah saw that, if God can do the impossible of giving her a son when she was barren, then He could sort her nation out as well.
  • If God can raise His Son from the dead, He can bring restoration in our nation and our city. He can change the hearts of those who reject Him. This can happen when we give ourselves and our money to God.
  • It’s so much more than just our small dreams – the real dream is Jesus and His Kingdom.
  • God is doing something extraordinary all around the world – but what about our continent, our nation, our city? God will do miraculous things as cities like Brighton become alive with the gospel and Jesus is exalted.
  • Giving is very practical – we have to actually do something. It is also painful. V.24 is very slow – God wants us to understand how hard it was for Hannah.
  • The death of the bull can be seen as symbolic for the death involved in Hannah giving up her son.
  • Be need to put to death the love of money – it will either kill us or we will kill it.
  • It’s appropriate to sing and celebrate when we give – the two things go together.

Why Did Jesus Die?

November 4th, 2010

Huge crowds followed Jesus – there were healings, dead being raised, people set free. Jesus made remarkable claims about himself – saying he was the only way of life. The religious leaders began to hate him for it, because in their eyes it was blasphemy. They looked for any excuse to start a rebellion against him.

Jesus was crucified and died to bring salvation for all the nations – this was God’s plan of rescuing and saving the human race.

Luke 23:32-43 records the account of Jesus on the cross with the 2 thieves on either side of him – we can gain a lot from examining this.

1. The easiest mistake we can make

  • Like the first thieve and the crowds, we can have Jesus right next to us and totally miss him – who he really is and what he came to do.
  • The Jews thought God would/could never die in weakness but would come in power and overtake the Roman government. They thought no good could come of Jesus’ death.
  • Sometimes we come to Jesus because of an urgent/immediate “need” – career, relationships, money, health – like he’s a genie in a bottle. It only leads to emptiness if he gives us what we want, because we find we’re still not satisfied. We need to come as sinners, not sufferers.
  • We miss the fact that Jesus came to give himself to us, not to fix our life how we think it should be fixed. We need Jesus at the centre – he is what will fulfil us.

2. The hardest admission

  • We have to admit we are sinners – we come to God as a sinner, not a sufferer. This is the hardest admission to make because it means we have to let go of our pride and be vulnerable.
  • The second thief was mocking Jesus with the rest – and then dramatically became Jesus’ advocate.
  • The tipping point comes when we are under pressure.
  • When we become vulnerable and open ourselves to the gospel of grace, we receive the real thing.
  • It’s not about attaining moral standards – this just leads to pride or despair/anxiety, treating God as if he owes you for how “good” you are.

3. The greatest gift

  • Jesus wants to forgive us immediately if we will turn to him – see how quickly he did for the second thief. Jesus is so fast to respond to our admission.
  • The second thief gets it, then the Roman centurion does.
  • Jesus paid the greatest price to give us this – it was his choice.
  • He takes our imperfection – our guilt and shame – and we get his perfection in exchange!
  • When you’re convinced you’re loved, you will live a completely different life! You’re the spiritual equivalent of a billionaire; why would you care about losing a £10 note? You’re loved and accepted by the only one who matters – why care about those few people who reject you or don’t like you?
  • We don’t need to fear death – Jesus has made the way of eternal life. Because he resurrected, we know we will also because we belong to him!