August 11

Today's Bible Reading
            I Samuel 1
            Romans l
            Jeremiah 38
            Psalms 13-14
“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord. So they worshiped the Lord there.”
(I Samuel 1:27-28)
            Hannah was a woman who desperately wanted to conceive and have a son. She prayed to God for this child, and persevered fervently in that desire. God granted the request through much difficulty, and gave her a son.
Hannah's husband was a polygamist. His other wife was Peninnah who bore him children. This is probably why he had two wives since Jewish survival demanded a high birth rate to be a strong, growing nation. Elkanah loved Hannah but her infertility occasioned this second marriage. This husband was of priestly ancestry and he was a Levite. The Levites had no land of their own, so Elkanah lived in the territory of Ephraim, between the Great Sea and the Jordan River.
            Hannah was caught in a domestic triangle, a three-sided marriage where she was loved by her husband, but despised by the other wife. Multiple wives may sound good to some men, but I can assure you that it brings on a complex set of problems you really do not want.
            Peninnah taunted Hannah constantly because of her barrenness. It was not enough that Hannah suffered the unspoken humiliation of having no children; she also weathered a constant shower of petty criticism. There is no evidence, however, that Hannah ever retorted or retaliated. Undoubtedly, she ached inside and had a broken heart. So Hannah prayed and wept, and made a vow.
            She had learned the secret of fasting and prayer. She had also learned how to plead to God to keep His promises. God will always keep His promises. God does not indulge selfish whims, but He delights in keeping His promises. So Hannah made a promise to God. She committed to Him that if He would give her this son that she deserved, she would give him back to God. This was not a spur of the moment act of contrition. It was a genuine, heartfelt, prayed over, commitment to God as a living sacrifice.
            When Eli the Priest heard her prayer and request of God, he thought she was intoxicated; nevertheless, God gave Hannah a peace of heart. She left with her burden lifted. Her contract was with the Lord and not with the Priest - and then God gave her Samuel.
            After the birth of Samuel, Hannah prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, which helps us decipher her thinking. It is one of the most powerful prayers in the Bible revealing a prayer life to be far deeper than just asking for what she wanted God to give her. That prayer is I Samuel 2. Hannah reveals to us the kind of woman in a relationship with her husband and with her Lord that is a wonderful example of motherhood today. She was a woman who cherished the privilege of motherhood and desired it with all her heart. She was the kind of mother who stayed in the home and taught her children basic truths about God and how to know Him.
            She was the kind of woman who gave her children to God, and gave God to her children. If Hannah were alive today, she would surely win ''Mother of the Year." She sets the example for all mothers that the heritage they can leave are the children who live on after death.
            All of us want to go to Paris. I remember going the first time to preach in a church in Paris. It was almost impossible to even locate the church. There was no place to park, and it was necessary to ring a doorbell to have someone come from the back room to let you in, in order to worship or preach. I shared with them that they just had to get something larger since that building was already packed. They soon bought a gigantic garage in the very heart of Paris, cleaned it out, and made space for offices, housing for the pastor, and the ministry itself. Again, you would have to see it to believe it. Some of the most fun I have had in Christian ministry is going there to Uchaud, near Nimes, France to preach for a week, and then concluding that week with the graduation of students. That has been an awesome experience. 
            France is one of the most secular and spiritually ignorant nations in the world. Islam is growing rapidly in France.  It is a dark place spiritually. Pray for God's servants in Paris and Nime and throughout France today.