Take It To The Lord

And Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD. My horn is exalted in the LORD.  I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.”              1 Samuel 2:1-2

Hannah took her prayer request for a son to God and He answered her prayer, and she conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, which means “asked of God.” Hannah's response when God granted her petition is a beautiful example of biblical prayer. Notice with me in verse 1, that Hannah began her prayer with praise. Her heart rejoiced in the Lord. This is just the normal reaction for believers to rejoice when God has answered our prayers in such a powerful and wise way.

Notice that Hannah's prayer focused on her hope of heaven. In Hebrews 11:1,  faith is defined as the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen. In other words, faith is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it coming up ahead. So, we must believe with faith for the coming promise of eternal life. Jesus said in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

We can also see that Hannah based her prayer on God’s holiness. We often forget that our Lord is a holy God, and He is worthy of our reverence. When we approach the Lord, we should have a feeling of profound awe and respect for who He is! In John 14:6  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." There is no other way to approach God; you can only have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

Why do I need Jesus at all, why can’t I just approach God based on my own merit?  Because the Word of God declares in Romans 3:10, "As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Jesus is the only one who ever lived a perfect, sinless life, and I must either be perfect, which I am not, or submit my life to Jesus and allow His righteousness to cover my sin. Here we are reminded of the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lord’s, Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed. Our prayers should always include worship of Jesus.

Hannah honored God and went directly to the Lord in prayer with such trust and humility. Biblical prayers are marked by humility. When our life falls apart, when we lose it all, we should turn to God for direction and help. Biblical prayers are also marked by honesty. Sometimes our prayers are so lofty that they hide our true emotions. To such prayers, I believe the Lord would say, “Tell Me what you’re really feeling. I can handle it. After all, I already know all about it.” Imagine praying this way to God. 

Pour out your real thoughts to God. Hiding your needs from God is ignoring the only one who can really help.  God welcomes your honest prayers and wants you to express your true feelings to Him. Any believer can become more honest in prayer by remembering that God is all-knowing and all-powerful and that his love is everlasting. It is encouraging to know that Hannah’s human side came out in her prayer before the Lord. Just the fact that it is included here in 1 Samuel should encourage us to be open and honest before the Lord about how we are feeling. He already knows anyhow!

Yours In Christ,

Pastor Bob

Reserved in Heaven

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." Philippians 3:20-21

Every believer has a future in heaven. In 1 Peter 1:4, heaven is described as "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." The word “incorruptible" means that it can’t be damaged in any way. No rust, no moth, no fire can touch it. “Undefiled” means that it cannot be stained. Peter said “It doesn’t fade away.” After you inherit it, when you get there you won’t find it worthless, like some stock that once had tremendous value, but in a recession it loses all it’s worth. “Reserved in heaven for you.” The idea here is that God the Father, Jesus the Son and God the Holy Spirit are guarding it for you, taking care of it until you arrive. They are better than any steel safe you can purchase.

The Christians reading Peter’s letter had something better to look forward to, and so do we as Christians. What would change about your life if you understood that this world that you live in, is NOT your final home as a Christian? What if you knew that your days here on earth are very few and precious, what would you do different today? Would your plans radically change if you knew that in every way, God wants your life to be exceedingly fruitful and productive here on earth? Would you view your difficult circumstances in another light if you had a real and authentic expectation of your future place in heaven? What would change about your life if you understood that this dirty, polluted and distorted world that you live in is NOT your final home as a Christian? You are just passing through; this is not your home! Heaven is your home! Do you believe this promise?

Please listen carefully. This is for all of you who are wondering why. Why has this happened to me, why all the suffering, the pain? You may never know the answer to why, but why isn’t the paramount question. The most important question is “where.”   Paul said our citizenship is in heaven.

The bible declares:

• The Lord is in heaven

• His throne is there

• His judgments are heard from heaven

• Heaven is the Lord’s, He made it

• He measures it with His hand

• His word is settled there

• He does whatever He pleases there

• His glory is above the heavens and the earth

• His voice shakes heaven when He speaks

• His holy angels dwell there

• Jesus Christ our Lord has all authority in heaven and earth

• Every knee in heaven bows to Jesus

• If you are humble the kingdom of heaven is yours

• Your rewards are in heaven

• Your treasures are in heaven

• The keys of heaven are yours

• You have a better and enduring possession in heaven

• Your name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life in heaven

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, suddenly all things look vastly different. I’m going to believe the words of Jesus!  Oh, that we would look toward heaven as we sojourn on the earth. This is not your home, my brothers and sisters. Your place is in heaven with the Lord Jesus who loves you and cares for you. Until that day comes when He takes you from this world where things seem so mysterious and distorted, to the clarity and purity of the lake of heaven, live each day like it was your last. Seize every opportunity to kiss your kids, help your friends and watch the sunsets!

Yours In Christ,

Pastor Bob

A Good Heart in a Bad Place

"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel 1:8 

Daniel was in a predicament. His enemies, the Babylonians, were trying to make him conform to the foods and customs of the King. Yet to do so, as a Jewish young man, would be to violate the dietary laws given to the people of Israel by Moses. Daniel felt that to defile himself with the king’s food and wine was to go against the Word of God. 

What can we learn from Daniel's heart attitude? Not to eat certain foods? No, Jesus set a higher standard. In Mark 7:15, Jesus said to the crowd, “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.”

Jesus was speaking of what comes out of the human heart. What is the heart? It is the seat or the center of human life. It is the place of all your desires, feelings, affections, passions and impulses. Jesus said in Luke 6:45, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

If you want to know what is in a person’s heart, all you have to do is listen to them speak. If their heart is right with God, they will use words of love and grace. But if they have the wrong attitude, you will hear it when it comes out of their mouth. Now, Jesus taught that what God cares most about is the attitude of my heart and if I am to have a fruitful and growing relationship with God, He requires me to have a right heart towards Him and towards other people.

But our hearts are inherently evil. Out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, covetousness, wickedness, pride and foolishness to name a few. Jeremiah 17:9 sums it up like this: "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" The truth is you don’t even know your own heart, or why you do the things you do. When kids gets caught, and you ask them why they did such a foolish thing, they always respond the same way: “I don’t know.”

So, is there any hope for our defiled heart? The only hope for us is to undergo a changed heart! We have no hope of changing our hearts alone. The only hope for our hearts is Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can change our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus can break through the crust of our hardened hearts. With God’s help, we can change more and more into the likeness of Christ, until that day we see Him face to face.

John wrote in 1 John 3:2-3 "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

What an awesome lesson from Daniel’s life about purity of heart and faithfulness to God. May we choose today to be a Daniel, seeking to live our lives in a way so as to honor God in all of our ways.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Bob

© 2014