Journey of Dedication

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

For the word of God is alive and active. We invite the Holy Spirit to penetrate our thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Let us pray….

God and Father of us all, we come into your presence in the spirit of thankfulness. In faith we believe that you are here with us and you will speak to us. May each of us experience the fulfillment of that promise. May we learn to be still, to listen for your word, and then be responsive to your call through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

ENCOUNTERING SCRIPTURE                 1 Samuel 1:4-11          Samuel’s Birth and Dedication

 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.  Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: “O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”

 

May God bless our understanding of this Holy Word.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# 714       “Shalom Chaverim”

SCRIPTURE                                      1 Samuel 1:12-20                                            Hannah’s Prayer

As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer. They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD.”

 

THE SERMON           “Journey of Dedication”

Hannah lives with discouragement. She lived in a day when a woman’s most important task was motherhood. In the Hebrew culture, a woman remained barren because children came as gift from the Lord. In Biblical times, your heritage continued through your children who would care for you in your old age. Barrenness denotes being uprooted from God and the future. A person was torn away from the family stock and your lineage would wither for lack of progeny.       http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2547-barren-barrenness

Elkanah loved Hannah more than his other wives. At this time, polygamy was still practiced. But the conflict between wives resulted in feuds and hurt feelings. Elkanah blessed her with a double portion that irritated the others.  Peninnah taunted her rival for Elkanah’s affection. She provoked Hannah because they assumed God closed her womb. This only added insult to injury. She still felt worthless and anxious.

Hannah did not give up. She buckled down and prayed even harder. Year after year, she remained faithful and dedicated to the Lord. She poured her soul out in prayer. Each year, she went up to Shiloh seeking God’s blessing to change in her present condition. She did not drink strong drink and pledged to dedicate her male child as God’s servant.

I find it amazing that when people of faith pray in the Bible, others without faith assume they are drunk. Hannah prayed fervently without making a sound. In the New Testament, the Disciples get accused of being drunk on Pentecost. Observers do not understand the power of faith, the distinctive power of God moving through those who live by faith. Even Eli thinks Hannah’s behavior seems out of place, but after years of waiting for God to move through her, she appears desparate. Yet, Hannah pleads with Eli to bless her.

Eli must have received a message from God because he tells her to despair no longer. The God of Israel heard her prayer and will grant her the petition of her heart. Her demeanor changed and as the Lord lifter her overwhelming sadness. Her journey of dedication continues and she conceives a son whom she names Samuel. Her long wait is over, she can rejoice in the gift from God. She sings a song of Thanksgiving.

But the journey does not end here. She nurses Samuel and when it’s time to wean him, she dedicates their first born, Samuel to the Lord’s service as an apprentice to Eli the priest. She continues her annual visits to Eli and now gives up her most precious gift from God, to serve the Lord. She holds nothing back, but offers all she has to the Lord. Samuel will become the great priest and anoint the first two kings of Israel.

So, how can we live like Hannah, dedicated to the Lord? I’m not suggesting that you give your first born son, to live at church in service to God. I do think our faith journey invites us to pray fervently and to serve diligently in a myriad of ways as a gift of the Thanksgiving to the Lord. We dedicate our gifts of time, talent and treasure to the Lord’s service. We give from the heart as a response to God’s grace in our lives. We work together year after year, to demonstrate our dedication to the Lord God Almighty who has blessed us beyond our imagination.

So, we’ve asked you to pray for God to bring about a miracle. We ask you to make a pledge of what you will do with the time you have on earth in service to the Lord. We invite you to share the talents God entrusted to you. We request that you dedicate your resources to the Lord. Hannah’s dedicated journey invested in the future. The Church of Jesus Christ continues on a journey when members pledge to serve the Lord as their first priority. So how will you serve? TGBTG. Amen.

  May 2017  
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