Articles for the Month of December 2017

When We Drift

Living the high life as royalty, complete with answered prayers, world-renown fame and riches galore, Solomon drifted from God.

When presented with the option to pray for whatever he wanted, Solomon humbled himself. Rather than seeking to satisfy the human desire for material things, he chose to ask for wisdom. As newly established king of Israel, he did not know it all. In order to rule God’s people effectively, Solomon needed God’s type of wisdom.

Pleased with this request, God answered Solomon’s prayer for wisdom and gifted him with bonus blessings. He promised Solomon an unmatched level of wisdom that no one before ever had and no one after will ever have. He was then given riches and fame. God also promised him long life if he continued to walk in obedience.

Yet, even with all the wisdom and understanding in the world, we cannot stop praying to God when things are going well. We have to be diligent in maintaining our relationship with God. We need to make Him our main priority in all things.

It doesn’t take much for us to drift. But if we don’t quickly reroute when we start drifting, we’ll soon find ourselves in an unplanned and unrecognizable destination.

There is still hope in this story. Though Solomon drifted away from God, God never drifted away from him. Solomon was never stripped of his God-given blessings and gifts. His disobedience did have consequences for him in his later years as well as the generations that followed him, but God never stopped loving Him.

We drift. It doesn’t take much, just a tiny nudge off the path and we’re slowly veering in a slightly different direction. We can be encouraged by Solomon’s experience.

God is there. He’s not eagerly watching, hoping for us to mess up so that He can strip us of our blessings. Rather He’s anticipating our call, for us to realize that we need Him.

And God lovingly answers our calls too.

No Self-Discounts

David. A notable person of prayer?

The idea sounds like an oxymoron. Yet, the more we think about it, we can understand how this is possible.

What often comes to mind when we hear the name “David” are the more colorful details of his past. A puny boy ignored by his father, yet hand-picked by God. A shepherd who kills wild animals bare-handed. Goliath & the stone. Escaping from multiple murder attempts by Saul. Nabal. Bathsheba. Absalom…

One who repented.

This is the reason why David was able to commune with God the way he did. David understood his status as a forgiven child of God and knew that the grace and mercy of God, though unbalanced to humans, was fair.

Our pasts are littered with their own collection of colorful moments. The enemy loves to highlight our ugly at the most inconvenient moments. This causes us to forget that the God who thoroughly forgave David also forgives us thoroughly as well.

When we feel unworthy, we sometimes feel that we cannot ask God for too much. We pray as though His grace is pre-packaged according to what we’ve earned throughout our lives. We pray for what we believe are the ‘easy-to-answer’ prayers. Perhaps we might find it easier to intercede for others, willingly praying great things on their behalf, yet neglect to pray as willingly for ourselves.

Lord, forgive us for discounting ourselves without Your permission. Forgive us for self-regulating our prayers hoping that it might improve our chances of Your approval. Help us to remember our status as children forgiven by a loving God. Guide us when we’re tempted to feel inadequate before You because You do not see us as inadequate. Help us, Lord, so that we can walk more closely with You each day. We pray in the name of Jesus.


Hannah’s Story

Have you ever read 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2 from Hannah’s perspective? Though she’s mentioned in those chapters, rarely do we hear this story told with Hannah being the main focus. We discussed some of what we’d learned at our November 22 prayer meeting. When it comes to Hannah, the most commonly known detail is that God answered her prayer for a son. Yet there’s much more to her situation.

In the book “Prayer”, author E.G. White writes that “Hannah had been communing with God.” Closeness with God is what makes Hannah’s prayer life notable. The dictionary defines ‘commune’ like this:

To converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy.

Hannah is commonly known for her many years of being childless. In Bible times, childbearing was the main thing for women. To be childless gave the impression that you were marked or perhaps even cursed by the Almighty in some way. Society considered childless women to be even more inferior than they already were. Elkanah, Hannah’s loving husband, also struggled with his marital issue. In a crisis of faith, he took a second wife to have children. This second wife was abusive and unkind towards Hannah.

Because of her closeness with God, Hannah didn’t react as we might expect. She never lashed out or sought revenge against Elkanah, Peninnah or anyone else who hurt her. Instead, she went straight to her God with her pain and trusted Him to fill her heart with peace and soothe her weary soul. She always kept talking to her God throughout the years. Nothing distracted her from His love.

Another place where Hannah’s relationship with God was tested was in the temple. In her desperation to connect with God during a painful moment, Hannah prayed. She prayed from deep within her heart, crying through her agony. Too overwhelmed to speak, she trusted that God could understand her words as she mouthed them. Again, she asked God for a child and included a promise to dedicate him back to God.

The priest, Eli, was disgusted by the behavior he witnessed from Hannah. He did not know or understand her story. He did not know the torment that drove her to the temple that particular day. And he also did not recognize this type of spiritual connectedness. Society had drifted so far from God’s ideal closeness that when Hannah appeared, her actions were misunderstood. Rather than learning about her perspective, the priest assumed the worst.

Even though she was falsely accused by Eli, Hannah remained calm and confident. She knew that her behavior was misinterpreted. She had done nothing wrong that morning, nothing that needed to be defended. She was able to rationally explain that she was praying from a place of pain. And the surprised priest blessed her.

There are times when we’re overwhelmed by the hardships of our lives. Though all our experiences will be different, the one commonality is pain. Life will hurt us. And yes, we might even be attacked in our home and in the church, like Hannah was.

Like Hannah, we can commune with God. If a book was written about your life, wouldn’t you love to read this line: “__(insert your name here)__ had been communing with God”? Just as He gave her the strength to stand with confidence through her hard moments, He does the same for us.

If we’re not close to Him, we will miss out on the assurance that comes from being in His presence.