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A Mother's Prayer

On Mothers' Day, Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon about Hannah's prayer in I Samuel 1-2.

Hannah's Suffering

She was suffering socially and culturally.  But she was diligent in her relationship with God.

Hannah managed her suffering with uncommon grace.

Hannah's Response

Hannah's representing a larger narrative (as in common in Hebrew literature).

Peninah represents larger cultural expectations for women.  Motherhood was supposed to make her happy and satisfy her.

Elkanah represents an alternative.  The double portion showed his love for Hannah.  He offers her a real alternative:  He'll take care of her!  (He wasn't a typical man of his time.)

But even that represents a departure from her God-given calling.

Elkanah's saying, "Find your satisfaction in me."  But we're designed to find satisfaction in God alone.

In today's world, we're still urged to find satisfaction in our children or in a great love.  Today, women are also given the alternative of finding satisfaction in our careers.

These various alternatives don't work, don't produce satisfaction - and everyone knows that, really.

Hannah rejects both the alternatives before her.

Hannah's response is a transformative, faith-soaked, God-dependent prayer.

The phrase "Hannah stood up" in verse 9 is an idiom meaning, "She put her foot down."  She made a firm decision.

Hannah surrendered.

It's not bargaining with God.

If Hannah had been bargaining, the order would have been:  Prayer, Provision, Peace.  But in this case, the order was:  Prayer, Peace, Provision.

Hannah has resolved.  She stood up!  And then she got peace.

She's been praying for years, but something shifted.

She prayed, "All my life, I've wanted a child for me.  Now, I want one for you, Lord."

She wants a child in service to God.

Peace comes in response to the prayer.  Hannah has let go.  She wants God's story for her life.

How does Hannah get to this place?

We look at her prayer in I Samuel 2.

First, she acknowledges God's sovereignty and power, which is how spiritual breakthroughs begin.  "You're God - I'm not."

The Great Reversal:  God does not see the way we see.

Hannah was blessed because she suffered.

The Great Reversal:  If I hadn't experienced those hard things, I wouldn't now experience such freedom.  "It is not by strength that one prevails."

At the end, she brings up the Messiah.  And her prayer foreshadows Mary's prayer, which also brings up the Great Reversal.

Cultural expectations tell us what we need to be happy.

What if the whole checklist is wrong?

There is an alternative.  Stand up and surrender.

"When they are wholly His, they will be more themselves than ever."  -- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Audacious Faith

On Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen preached another sermon in his Advent series, "Audacious," this one about Audacious Faith, looking at Mary's response to the announcement from the angel in Luke 1:26-38.

We looked at the character of God-honoring faith.

Sometimes faith is about Risk.

Sometimes faith involves Tenacity.

Sometimes faith is doubting our doubts.

But Always faith involves Surrender.

Moving deeper with God starts with Surrender.

Surrender is yielding to something higher and better, deliberately, not reluctantly.

"I am the Lord's servant; may it be to me as you have said."

If the virgin birth was a myth, where'd it come from?  It wasn't expected by the Jews.  God demonstrated that what was happening in Jesus was unique.

Mary was "highly favored" - "graced" by God.

God's work in us is always grace.  Grace doesn't always come with a welcome face.

What we learn here:

1)  Mary will give him the name Jesus -- Savior.

2)  He will be great!

3)  He will be called the Son of the Most High!  God squeezed Himself into human skin.

4)  He will be the Messiah promised to the descendants of Abraham!

5)  His kingdom will never end!  He is actively ruling right now.

6)  All of this happened through the agency of the Holy Spirit!

ALWAYS, God-honoring faith is about Surrender.

Moving deeper with God always involves another act of surrender.

Speaking of the favorite Christmas song, "Mary, Did You Know?" the answer is that Mary didn't know.  What she knew is that God spoke to her.

Mary knew what to do when God presses on your heart, speaks a word to you.  Do the same thing the Old Testament saints did -- Surrender.

Today we also don't know what's going to happen.  But we know who does know.

We need to surrender.

We don't need to figure it out.

We need to surrender.

Spiritual growth always looks like taking the next step.  The next step is always surrender.

There's something you need to give to God....