Hardened Hearts

So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people." For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.

1 Samuel 5:11

In Verse 10, the Philistines of Gath sent the Ark of the Covenant to Ekron and the plagues followed. Finally, the leaders of the Philistines gathered together to take care of the problem, because they could not continue to spread the plagues of God throughout the land.

It is clear, even the heathens recognized the power of God, but they were so hardened by sin, they would not repent. They did not want to accept Him as their God; they wanted to get rid of Him.

I see the same thing happening today. People see the heavy hand of God upon our nation, but they do not want to repent. They have hardened their hearts against God. People do not want to fall into the Savior's arms and accept His grace and mercy. Instead, they want to throw Him out, so they can continue on in sin.

We cannot hide the fact that America is no longer one nation under God. I believe there are many Christians in this country, but they keep silent. All you can hear is the uproar of the non-believer, who wants to take God out of our county. If we remain silent, we will have no one to blame but ourselves, when our churches close and we can no longer pray in public. Think about it.

Sin begins with our departure from God; it ends with our departure from God. -James Philip-

Sowing & Reaping

And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god." … And they answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath." So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away.

1 Samuel 5:7-8

The Philistines recognized they were in trouble, because the hand of God was against them, but they failed to do the right thing. They just passed the problem on to the city of Gath, which was also a Philistine city.

God did not want the Ark of the Covenant in the hands of the heathens; He wanted it returned to Israel. Passing the problem on to the next city was not going to help the Philistines. They would still experience the punishment of God, but the people of Ashdod were only concerned with themselves. They were not worried about the people of Gath.

In Verse 9, we see the plagues followed the Ark of the Covenant to the city of Gath. They were struck with the same tumors. God was not happy with His enemies, and He was punishing them.

I think it is interesting how people think they can fool God. They think they can do things their way, and God will be happy with their compromise. They are the fools. God will not be mocked, He is very clear in His Word. If we choose to disobey God's Word, we will face the consequences.

Remember what Paul said in Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

If men refuse to be taught by precept, they must be taught by punishment. -Thomas V. Moore-

Chastisement of God

But the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.

1 Samuel 5:6

What was happening in Ashdod reminds me of the plagues God brought against Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God did not bring the plagues immediately; He first warned them. Moses asked Pharaoh to let the people go; then, he warned Pharaoh of the plagues to come, if he did not release the people.

God did the same thing for the Philistines. First, He knocked Dagon over and still they did not get it. Then, God broke off Dagon's head and arms. Even then, they did not release the Ark of the Covenant. After these two warnings, God had to bring on the plagues.

He struck the people with tumors. In the King James Bible, they are called emerods, which means "tumors, hemorrhoids, piles." Some of the older commentaries say along with the tumors, God sent rats which is interesting because rats bring plagues.

It sound like God was trying to get their attention. He warned and then He sent the plagues. He was demonstrating His great power, while showing them their god, Dagon, was a false god, with no power.

I think God does the same thing today. He allows things, because He is trying to get our attention. He warns us time after time, but eventually He has to do something more drastic. He is always motivated by love, whether you are a friend to God or His enemy.

God punishes His enemies but chastises His children. -Alistair Begg-

God's Greatest Gift

"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

Matthew 28:6

Today is Resurrection Sunday -- a day of celebration, as the promises of God were fulfilled at the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. We have so much to be thankful for, but nothing more than the salvation Christ paid as He took upon Himself every one of our sins: past, present and future. What a great miracle, what a tremendous gift!

As we went through the Passion Week, we saw how the people were blinded by their envy and pride. So many people turned from Christ. They mocked and spit upon Him, while He willingly went to the Cross for each one of them.

He also went to the Cross for every one of us. He went to the Cross for your brother or sister who is not saved. He submitted to the will of the Father in order to purchase our salvation at the great cost of His blood.

Today, we celebrate because He is risen. He is not in the tomb. The grave could not hold Him and neither could death. He conquered death and provided eternal life with Him in heaven. There is nothing greater we could celebrate than eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

As we see and experience the many struggles and trials people are going through today, the greatest thing we have is our salvation. It is the most important thing we have to share with others -- salvation. I pray you take the time today, and every day, to share the greatest gift ever given to man -- salvation through Christ Jesus. That is why we can celebrate!

Calvary shows how far men will go in sin, and how far God will go for man's salvation. -H. C. Trumbull-


So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

Matthew 27:54

In Matthew 27:50, Jesus yielded up His Spirit; He went to be with the Lord. After He died, there was an earthquake and rocks were split apart and the veil of the temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom.

The torn veil is very significant. It was the veil separating the Holies of Holy from the rest of the temple, the place that held the Ark of the Covenant. It was a place where the high priest would go in once a year to atone for the people. With Jesus" death, the people were no longer separated from the holiest place. Through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, the people were reconciled to God.

When the Roman centurion and the others saw these things, they realized the truth. Their eyes were opened and they said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

All week, we have looked at the people who should have recognized the Son of God, but refused to see Him because of their hardened hearts. They were full of pride and envy, so they mocked and denied Him. Now, the Roman guards recognized Jesus, the Savior.

Today, there are so many people with hardened hearts. They deny Christ and they mock Him. They do not want anything to do with Him, but He is the only One who can reconcile us to God. Through Him, we have redemption. I pray they recognize the truth before it is too late!

Christ is the final word about salvation. -G. Campbell Morgan-


Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him."

Matthew 27:41-42

Today is Good Friday; the day they nailed Jesus to the Cross. The day He willingly went to the Cross to purchase my salvation and your salvation. That is the only reason we are able to call this Good Friday. We are redeemed by Christ going to the Cross.

As He hung on the Cross, the people still mocked Him. They shook their heads in disbelief and contempt for the Man who was giving His life for their sins.

While Jesus suffered agonizing pain on the Cross, the priests and scribes mocked Him and told Him to save Himself. They thought they had won and He could not save Himself. In reality, He could have come down from the Cross at any time, but He submitted to the will of the Father, and He endured the pain and the mocking.

In Isaiah 53, the prophet told the whole story of Jesus going to the Cross. The religious leaders should have seen what was happening and recognized the signs, but in their envy and jealousy, they were blinded to the truth. They hardened their hearts and condemned an innocent man, the Son of God, to death.

On this day, we have so much to be thankful for. At the Cross of Jesus, we find salvation. Do not harden your heart or mock in disbelief. Recognize Jesus as your Savior and the Redeemer of the world.

The Cross is the cost of my forgiveness. -Author Unknown-


When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it."

Matthew 27:24

Pontius Pilate was the prefect governor for Judea. He was appointed to his position by the Roman Emperor Tiberius in 26 A.D. When the religious leaders brought charges against Jesus, He was put on trial and brought before Pilate, who had the power of a supreme judge.

As you read the account of the trial, the chief priests and elders brought many accusations against Jesus, but He said nothing. He did not defend Himself, and Pilate was amazed by His actions. Pilate could not understand why Jesus would not say anything, when He knew the charges were false. He knew they envied Him (Matthew 27:18).

Later, Pilate's wife warned him, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him" (Matthew 27:19).

Pilate himself asked the people, "Why, what evil has He done?" Because he could not find anything to convict Jesus for; yet, the people cried out, "Let Him be crucified!" (Matthew 27:23), so Pilate washed his hands of the matter and gave into the religious leaders. He thought he could claim innocence by denying his guilt.

I know so many people who try to deny Jesus. They do not want to hear about Him, because they do not want to be held accountable. It does not work that way. We cannot deny Him and be saved. There is no way!

Sin is like seed -- to cover it is to cultivate it. -Author Unknown-

He Bore Our Sins

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

The entire Bible points to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is there from the beginning to the end. Isaiah the prophet spoke of the death of Christ in Chapter 53. In this chapter, Isaiah compared Jesus to the lamb of the Passover.

Like the Passover lamb, Jesus was led to the slaughter by the religious leaders, and He did not say a word. He did not try to defend Himself. He submitted to the will of the Father and took our sins upon Himself, And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

In Verse 5, Isaiah told of His beating, And by His stripes we are healed. He spoke of Christ dying with the thieves on both sides of Him in Verse 9, And they made His grave with the wicked, but His grave would be in a rich man's tomb, But with the rich at His death.

All through this chapter, we see Christ. More importantly, the religious leaders should have seen Him. They had the Book of Isaiah, and they knew the words, but they missed the Messiah. That is so sad.

In Verses 10, Isaiah said, Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him. Why? He bore the sin of many (Isaiah 53:12). Christ bore our sins, so we could be reconciled to God. He loves us so much, He allowed His Son to suffer for us. It is hard to imagine such tremendous love. It is the love of a Father for His children.

A dying Christ is the last resort of the believer. -C. H. Spurgeon-


Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Exodus 12:13

The Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, begins today. It is the first yearly festival found in the Bible, as it was first instituted in the Book of Exodus, as the children of Israel were delivered from slavery, under the Egyptians.

At this time, God was using Moses to deliver the Hebrew from Pharaoh. God sent one plague after another, and while the Egyptians suffered, the Hebrew were not affected by the plagues. The Lord protected them.

In this final plague, God would pass through the land and kill every firstborn, both man and animal. However, God told Moses to have His people kill a lamb and put the blood on the top and sides of the door way. By this, God would know they were His, and He would pass over their house. No one would die in their household.

Again, God delivered them from this final plague. As Pharaoh mourned the loss of his first born son, he saw and heard all the people of Egypt mourning, except for the children of Israel. Pharaoh witnessed the greatness of God, as His hand of protection upon His people.

Pharaoh finally released the people, but in his pride, he hardened his heart. He went after the children of God, and God wiped him out. Who can truly come against God and win? No one can defy God and win. In the end, God's judgment is final and it is just.

As long as there is eternity, God has time enough to reckon with His enemies. -Thomas Watson-


Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?"

Matthew 26:67-68

As I prepare for Easter week, the Passion Week, I like to read through the Gospels, especially the events following Palm Sunday. After Christ entered the city triumphantly, things turned ugly fast. The crowds who cried, "Hosanna, Hosanna!" no longer embraced Jesus.

In these verses, we see how He, the Son of God, was treated by the soldiers who held Him prisoner. They spit on Him. They covered His head and hit Him in the face, mocking Him and asking Him to tell them who hit Him.

They should have bowed down before Him. They should have worshipped Him, but instead they had nothing but contempt and disrespect for the Lord. Think about that.

This reaction to Jesus is not unusual. The name of Jesus brings strong reactions from people. They either love Him or hate Him. I have been asked to pray at civic events, but I decline, because they do not want me to say the name of Jesus. How can I pray without Jesus? I cannot do it.

Jesus came to save the world, but He knew He would not be embraced by the world. He said, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you" (John 15:18).

As Christians, we will face persecution, but we have to remember, they hated Christ first and He loved them in return. While they showed Him contempt, He gave them love.

Jesus Christ disturbs everything He confronts. -George Barlow-

Palm Sunday

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey."

Zechariah 9:9

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Passion Week, the last week of Jesus' life. Jesus will enter the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, just as Zechariah the prophet spoke of more than 500 years before.

The people knew of the prophecy and when Jesus entered the city, they took off their clothes and spread them on the road before Him. Some cut down branches from the trees to lay before Him.

They remembered the words of Zechariah and they shouted out, "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9).

As they entered the city, some in the crowd asked, "Who is this?" and the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee" (Matthew 21:11).

Zechariah called Him King and said He would bring salvation, but the people saw a prophet, the Son of David, not the Son of God. They missed it. They were in the presence of the Holy God of Israel, and they saw only a prophet, a man.

It is so important for us to really know and acknowledge who Jesus is. He is the Son of God, part of the Trinity of God. He is not a prophet like Zechariah, a man. He is the One who saves -- He gives salvation!

Jesus cannot be our Saviour unless He is first our Lord. -Hugh C. Burr-

God’s Chastening

Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

1 Samuel 5:5

Again, this verse begins with the word therefore, which takes us back to the previous verses. After the Philistines saw what happened to their god, Dagon, while in the presence of the Ark of the Lord, they refused to enter into the house of Dagon. They feared the Lord of the Hebrews.

When Dagon was knocked down and his head and hands were removed, the Philistines knew they were in the presence of a truly powerful God, more powerful than their wooden god. They found out Dagon was really, truly nothing.

Can you imagine how the Philistine people felt. They had been worshipping their god for so long; they believed he gave them the victory over the children in Israel. In reality, God gave them the victory. God allowed them to defeat Israel, because He was chastising Israel.

It is a terrible thing to come into the presence of God when you have provoked His anger. God will allow us to sin, because we have free will, but it is His desire that we would all come to repentance. That is why He does not judge right away. He speaks to us and warns us, so we will repent and turn back to Him.

Remember what Paul said in Hebrews 12:6: "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."

A God of love who has no wrath is no God. He is an idol of our own making as much as if we carved Him out of stone. -R. C. Sproul-

All in God's Power

And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it.

1 Samuel 5:4

This is so cool; God displaying His power as a witness to this heathen nation. Dagon was again on the floor, but now his hands were broken off and his head was removed. All that remained was his torso. It is incredible; they still did not get it. God was showing them the Almighty God.

Their idols were nothing in the presence of God. Why worship other gods when there is only One, True God? Through this whole thing, believe it or not, God was giving the Philistines a chance to know Him, to come to the only Living God.

Think about Jonah. When Jonah, the angry prophet, went into Nineveh he gave an eight word sermon; "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3:4). They repented from eight words. It is not the length of your sermon; it is the power of the Lord.

God can use anything and anyone to show the glory of the Lord. In Ashdod, He used the idol Dagon. In Nineveh, He used a reluctant prophet, Jonah. Both times, it was all about the power of the Lord. God can use a donkey. All He asks is for our obedience, and He will do an incredible work through each one of us. Just be available to the Lord.

When a man makes alliance with the Almighty, giants look like grasshoppers. -Vance Havner-

The One, True, Living God

And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again.

1 Samuel 5:3

The Philistines were a heathen nation who worshipped false gods, and yet they got up early in the morning to worship their gods. There was no communion with Dagon, but they got up early to worship a man-made idol.

Think about it. How many Christians sleep late in the morning, instead of spending time with God? They begin their day in the flesh, instead of the spirit, so the Lord is not in control for the day, it is the flesh.

The reason you get defeated so often is because there is no communion with God. Look at Jesus. Every day, He started the day in communion with the Father. All He faced was done with the Father. It was not accomplished in His flesh but in His spirit.

Then, we see the power of the Lord. He knocked down their idol. They did not know it was God. They thought it fell down, so they picked him up and put him back up on the shelf. They did not get the message. The presence of God was in their midst and their god was nothing. God was showing them who He is, the Living God.

Sometimes, even Christians need to be reminded who God really is in their lives. If we do not spend time with Him, and only come to Him in times of need, He is nothing more than a genie in a bottle to us, not the One, True, Living God.

Nothing created can ever alter the Creator. -Stuart Olyott-

Idolatry Desecrates God

Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon.

1 Samuel 5:1-2

In 1 Samuel, the people were reaping to their sin. Notice, they took the Ark of God to one of the largest cities on the coast, Ashdod. When they arrived, they brought the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon, one of their gods.

Now, Dagon was a god of grain and fish. He was half man and half fish. When the Philistines took the Ark of God into their temple, they desecrated the Ark. They were saying, "Our gods are better than your God." Because they defeated the Hebrews, they thought their gods were better than the God of Israel. They did not know it was God who allowed them to beat Israel.

They lost respect for the Ark of the Covenant, because they thought it had no power. The Ark itself had no power. God had the power and the Ark held the things God told them to keep for remembrance. Inside was the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded and the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments (Hebrews 9:3-4), but it could not contain God.

We have to remember, these are just objects. God is omnipresent. He cannot be contained. He cannot be held on a Cross. All those things are reminders, but they do not have any power. If we wear crosses and put up images or statues of the Virgin Mary or saints, we become nothing more than idolaters. Just like the Philistines, we desecrate the Lord.

Where idolatry begins, there Christianity ends. -Friedrich H. Jacobi-

A Matter of Time

"Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate."

Jeremiah 7:32, 34

Look at the great judgment against Judah. The land would be desolate. It would be deserted, as God would use the nation of Babylon to judge His people. God used a heathen nation against His own people. Once God's judgment came, there would be no more partying. It would be a time of wrath.

Remember, God had already used the Assyrians to take the Northern kingdom of Israel into captivity, because of their idolatry. Judah had been witness to God's judgment against Israel, but they did not take it seriously. They thought they could get away with their sins, but God sees everything. Nothing is hidden from Him.

We have to remember, these things are written for our examples. If God judged His chosen people and led them into captivity, surely His judgment is going to come against this nation. We cannot live with our heads in the sand. As we move farther and farther from God and His Word, we are inviting the wrath of God. It is only a matter of time. Read your Bibles; do not be taken unaware.

Time shall be no more when judgment comes, and when time is no more, change is impossible. -C. H. Spurgeon-


"For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight," says the Lord. "They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart."

Jeremiah 7:30-31

The charges against the children of Israel continue. Simple idolatry was not bad enough for them. They brought their idols into the house of the Lord and set them up. The house of the Lord, which is called by His name, was filled with carved images. They spit in God’s face!

Then, in the Valley of Hinnom, they had set up the idol Molech. The idol had two arms, outstretched in front of it. The people would heat up the idol until it was red hot, like a furnace and then they would bring their babies and lay them in the outstretched arms. They sacrificed their babies to Molech.

There have been approximately 57 million babies aborted in the United States, from 1973 to 2014. According to the World Health Organization, there are 40 to 50 million abortions in the world in just one year.

It seems we are still worshipping the god Molech today. We call it Pro-Choice and sacrifice our babies to selfishness and pleasure. I think the prophet Jeremiah is speaking to the world today -- and his message is 'Repent!'

Repentance is, fundamentally, a change of direction, a turning from sin to God. -James Philip-

Face God's Judgment

"Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you."

Jeremiah 7:27

God was speaking to Jeremiah. He knew the people would not listen to Jeremiah. He knew they would not receive the message Jeremiah had for them, from the Lord. God was giving this great warning through His prophet, knowing it would not be received. Think about that.

Why would God bother warning disobedient sons and daughters? I think the Lord was warning them, because the judgment was so great. Look at what He said:

'Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights; for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath' (Jeremiah 7:29).

God was going to reject and forsake an entire generation. Wow! This was a heavy judgment from the Lord. He was done warning them, and now it was a time for action.

I think we have to take the warnings and judgment of God very serious. Imagine what it will be like when God forsakes the United States. We think things are bad now, what will it be like when God no longer has His hand upon us? It will be like nothing we have ever experienced. We can ignore it, but soon we will have to face God's judgment.

In this liberal age we tend naturally to avoid any thought of God's judgment. -David Watson-

Led By the Lord

Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

Jeremiah 7:25-26

Here it is. God sent His messengers, His servants and prophets, to give instruction to the people and lead them according to the Word of God. He first gave them instruction and then, when they disobeyed, He sent warnings. Did the people listen to God's servants? No, instead they got stiff-necked and behaved worse than their fathers. They ignored the Word of the Lord.

What has God been doing? He raised up men to be messengers to teach people how to walk with Him. We have seen such great messages from Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Chuck Smith and many others. God sent His people to preach and to teach, but the people in both the past and the present do not hear.

People go to church every week, but they really do not hear the Word of God. If they did, they would act differently. If they really listened to the Word of the Lord, they would have the fear of the Lord. They would have awe and reverence of the Lord.

This is happening in the church. We have to pray for our pastors and leaders. We do not want leaders who do not hear from the Lord. They have to be led by the Lord, if they are going to lead the people according to the Word of God.

Our service cannot be approved of God except it be founded on His Word. -Author Unknown-

Wages of Sin

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.' Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward."

Jeremiah 7:21-26

These are very interesting verses. Look at what God said. From the beginning, He did not set up the sacrifices. All they had to do was obey the Lord and walk in His ways. Then, they would be God's people.

What happened? They did not obey the Lord. They did not walk in all His ways. Instead of growing in the Lord, they went backwards. Because of their sin, God had to set up the sacrifices, as a covering for their sin.

It was the same for Adam and Eve. God gave them the perfect place to live and fellowship with Him, but they messed it up. They refused to obey the Lord, and we all pay the price for their sin.

That is the point. There is always a price to be paid for sin. It may seem fun at the time, but there will come a time when the wages of sin must be paid. You decide whether you allow Jesus to pay the price or you pay it. It always comes down to the choices we make, for God or against Him.

Vices are more costly than virtues. -Thomas Brooks-

Fury of God

Therefore thus says the Lord God: "Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place -- on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched."

Jeremiah 7:20

This verse begins with the word, therefore. God was saying, "Because of all these things we have just gone over, I am going to judge and pour out My anger and fury on My people."

Notice, God's anger was provoked. He is not an angry God. He does not judge unjustly, and before He judges, He warns; before He pours out His wrath, He tells us why. We are never left in the dark. We can never say, "I did not know." We know. God warns. We ignore the warnings. We provoke the Lord.

Look at our nation today. Look at the world. Do you not see the warnings from the Lord? In Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus how they would know it was the end of the age and Jesus said: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet" (Matthew 24:6).

These are the warning signs we are seeing today. God is warning the people. He is getting ready to judge, but He wants to give people a chance to repent and turn to Him. He does not want anyone to end up in hell. He desires all come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). America needs to wake up or they will face the anger and fury of the Lord.

The real horror of being outside of Christ is that there is no shelter from the wrath of God. -Eric Alexander-

Double Life

"Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger?" says the Lord. "Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?"

Jeremiah 7:17-19

The children of Israel had become idolaters. They were not only sinning in the house of the Lord but in the streets and their homes. They were making offerings to the heathen gods, while still going into the house of the Lord. They thought they could worship the Living God and idols of wood and stone.

In Exodus 34:14, Moses wrote: (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), so they knew better. They knew they could not have a divided heart.

In Deuteronomy 32:16, Moses warned the children of Israel against idolatry and provoking God's anger: They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger.

Think about it. So many people today are just like the children of Israel. They have the full counsel of the Lord, and yet they provoke the Lord to anger, by living their lives with one foot in the church and one foot in the world. We have to make a choice. We cannot live a double life.

An image lover is a God hater. -Thomas Watson-

Hindered Prayers

"Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you."

Jeremiah 7:16-19

Let's examine God's command to Jeremiah. God told him to no longer pray for the children of Israel. He said: "Do not intercede on their behalf, because I will not listen." It was not only that their sin was so great against the Lord, but they refused to believe the prophets God sent to warn them. Because of their hard hearts, they had sealed their judgment and there was no turning back.

This is a tremendous lesson for each one of us today. Remember what the prophet said later in Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God has great plans for every one of us. They are plans for a future and a hope. He wants to bless us. He wants us to walk with Him, so we do not get caught up with the things of the world. Once we turn to the world, we will miss out on all the great plans God has for us. God is trying to save us from ourselves.

It is so important to realize, if we choose to be rebellious and ignore the warnings from the Lord, He will stop speaking to us. He will stop hearing our prayers. We will be on our own, with no leading or guiding of the Holy Spirit, because we chose the things of the world over the Lord.

A wicked man in prayer may lift up his hands, but he cannot lift up his face. -Thomas Watson-

God's Final Judgment

"And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."

1 Samuel 3:14

What was the problem? In Hebrew, the word iniquity means "perversity or depravity." Since Eli ignored the warnings of God, their iniquity could not be atoned for, or covered, by a blood sacrifice or sin offering, now or forever. This means, the judgment was against Eli, his sons and every generation to come. It was a done deal. There was no need to pray for this family. God's judgment was final.

I believe, right now, the church and the world is on the edge of God's final judgment. We are either going to listen to His warning or we are going to face judgment. He is speaking to His church through His Word, and He not only gives us the warning but the consequences of our iniquity.

If you want to be a part of this world and its sin, when the Rapture comes, you are going to be left behind. That is just the way it is. God has said it and He will do it, just as He judged the House of Eli.

Remember what He said in the Book of Revelation, seven times, "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the spirit of God is saying to the church."

Listen, God's final judgment came against the house of Eli, but this is a warning to you and me. We do not have to face the final wrath of God, if we have open hearts to heed the warnings of God. He wants us to obey. He does not want to judge us. We choose the judgment.

The power of man can never reverse the sentence of God. -Thomas V. Moore-

Warning of the Wrath

So Samuel lay down until morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son!" He answered, "Here I am." And he said, "What is the word that the Lord spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you."

1 Samuel 3:15-17

We see the heart of humility in Samuel. He was afraid to tell Eli what God had revealed to him. Imagine how young he was and Eli had raised him. He had to tell him, "God said He is going to kill you and your family."

Samuel was called to tell his mentor the judgment of God was upon him and his entire house, from generation to generation. Samuel was afraid to speak God's truth. He had never heard from God until this time, and the words God gave him were of judgment against the priest who had raised him. He did not know what to do.

Look, Eli knew the message was not good before Samuel said a word. He told Samuel, "Tell me the truth. Do not hide anything God said from me." If it was good news, Samuel would not hesitate to tell Eli, but Eli knew it was not good and he needed to know what God was going to do.

Eli knew it. He knew God was going to judge him, but he never did anything about it. That is the way the church is today. We know what is going to happen and the church has gone to sleep and continues in sin. Do you hear God's warning of the wrath to come?

There is terror in the Bible as well as comfort. -Donald Grey Barnhouse-

Warnings & Consequences

Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him."

1 Samuel 3:18

This is very interesting. Samuel told Eli the bad news, God was going to judge him, his sons and the entire house of Eli. He told Eli everything God had revealed to him, and it was not good. It was the judgment of God -- the wrath of God.

Then, we see Eli's reaction. He said, "Well, it is of the Lord, so it is good. Let Him do whatever He wants to do." WOW! God was going to judge every member of his family and Eli was not worried. He was not stressing out or pleading for mercy. He accepted the judgment of the Lord.

Eli recognized the character and nature of God. He is holy and righteous. He gave warnings. He told Eli the consequences for the sins of his sons and Eli did nothing. He ignored the warnings from the Lord.

In the Book of Revelation, John wrote of the Last Days. He has given us the warnings. He has given us the consequences, and yet, in Revelation 16:9, he said:

And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.

God has given us the warnings and the consequences and still, in the midst of judgment, men will blaspheme God. Think about it and learn.

God's wrath is His righteous reaction against unrighteousness. -J. I. Packer-

Reap What We Sow

So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:19-20

Samuel continued to serve in the house of the Lord and the Lord was with him. God continued to speak to Samuel and everything he told the people came to pass. God did not take back anything He told Samuel. God made a promise and God kept His promise.

Think about that. God does not break His promises. We were created in the image of God, but we do not have His character. We are the ones who break promises. We disqualify ourselves from serving the Lord; He does not disqualify us. He gives us instructions to follow, so we can be blessed and bless Him, but we do not follow His ways. The result is that we reap what we sow. Job 4:8 says: Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.

Samuel sowed the seeds of God's Word -- His promises -- and he reaped the respect of the people. Notice how the people recognized that Samuel was a godly man. He did not have to say one word. They recognized his submission to the Lord, and they submitted to him.

This whole chapter keeps coming back to the choices we make in life. We can be like Eli and ignore the commands of the Lord, or we can be like Samuel and sow the seeds of God's Word, walking close to the heart of God. In this chapter, we see the results of both choices. Now, we have to make the choice and reap what we sow.

The reward of sin is more sin and the reward of obedience is the power to obey again. -David Shepherd-

Different Kind of People

We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet; nor is there any among us who knows how long.

Psalm 74:9

In the time of Asaph, he wrote these words to the children of Israel. There were no prophets and the Lord was not speaking to the people, because the people did not want to hear the voice of God.

The people did not learn from this. Later, in Ezekiel 7:26, the prophet wrote this: Disaster will come upon disaster, and rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; but the law will perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders.

When God got sick and tired of people playing games with Him, He removed His voice from the prophets and from every one of the kings. They would not listen; so they did not hear the voice of God.

Before Ezekiel, the prophet Amos prophesied: "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord God, "That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11).

Although Amos was speaking of the 400 years of silence, between the Old and New Testament, we see this happening today. People are not hearing the words of the Lord. If we were truly listening to the Lord, we would be a different kind of people. I really believe that with all my heart.

Before the Word everyone must give way. -Martin Luther-

Captive to Sin

They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it.

Amos 8:12

When the Lord gave the prophet Amos the words to speak, he was prophesying about the 400 years of silence, between the Book of Malachi in the Old Testament and Matthew in the New Testament. During this time, the Lord was silent and did not speak to His people. Amos wrote these words before Israel was taken captive by Assyria in 772 B.C. God's silence began in 400 B.C.

Can you imagine what it was like to live with the counsel of the Lord, and then suddenly silence? There was no instruction, no commands and no prophecies. The nation of Israel was like a ship without a rudder. They did not know which direction to go.

For so long, they ignored the Lord, until He finally stopped speaking to them. He would teach them a lesson. They thought their earthly kings could guide and direct them, but without the Lord, they were lost.

We are like the nation of Israel today. While we have the Word of God, we no longer have prophets who can rightly say, "Thus says the Lord …" and speak for God. And just like Israel, we ignore the counsel of the Lord from His Word. We think our leaders can lead us without God.

We have not learned from the lessons and examples of the Bible. We too have been led away into captivity -- captive to our sin. We must pray for each other and for our nation.

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. -George Washington-

Faithful Servant

And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.

1 Samuel 4:1

In Chapter 3 of 1 Samuel, the Lord spoke to Samuel for the first time and pronounced judgment against Eli, his sons and his descendants to come. God's judgment was great against the house of Eli, but God was ready to use Samuel.

Samuel had served in the house of the Lord for many years. Although he had been raised by Eli, alongside his sons, Samuel was faithful to the Lord. He did not rebel like the sons of Eli.

As we enter 1 Samuel 4, God will speak to the children of Israel for the Lord and we see how God plans to use the life of Samuel. It says: the word of Samuel came to all Israel. God was speaking to the people through Samuel. He would be Israel’s prophet and priest. God was going to use him to speak, to lead, to discern and judge the people of God.

It is important we see the plans God had for Samuel. This was His plan from the beginning, when Hannah was praying for a son. God wanted a faithful servant to serve His people and He gave Hannah Samuel, as she promised to give him back to the Lord.

Just as God had a plan for Samuel, even while he was in his mother's womb, He has a plan for you and I. He wants to use men and women who are faithful to reach out and speak to those who are lost and perishing. Will you be a faithful servant, just as Samuel was?

God requires not more than faithfulness in our place. -William Gurnall-

The Presence of God

Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field.

1 Samuel 4:2

The Philistines were Israel’s enemy. They moved against Israel in a mighty way. We see them mentioned 150 times in 1 and 2 Samuel. In the Old Testament, the Philistines really represent the enemies of God coming against the Lord constantly. They never gave up.

In the Book of Judges, it says Israel was in bondage to the Philistines for 40 years. God allowed them to be put under the control of the Philistines. Sometimes, God uses His enemy to chastise His people because they have turned their backs against God. God says, "Okay, you do not want Me to lead you, then I am going to allow this other nation like Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, the Medes, Persians, Greece or Rome to rule over you."

God has His ways to get the church's attention, no matter who we are. He has a plan and a purpose; He will not allow us to stand in His way. He will use whatever resources are at hand to accomplish His will.

God was ready to demonstrate His power to Israel. They had put their trust in Shiloh, the tent and the Ark of the Covenant but they forgot about the Lord. God allowed them to be defeated over and over and over until they finally realized they did not need the things; they needed the Lord.

Even today, people think God's power is in the church or in idols. It is not. It is the presence of God, over the people of God; that is the key.

God can do without exception what He wills to so. -R. B. Kuiper-

True to His Word

And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies."

1 Samuel 4:3

Look at the confusion of the people. They were asking, "Why did God defeat me? Why was I not blessed? Why is God doing all this stuff?" If you go back to Chapters 2 and 3 of 1 Samuel, you can see the answers to the questions they were asking.

You can find the answer in one word -- disobedience. Go back and look at Eli and his sons. They were abusing the ministry of God. They were not godly; they were lying with women, taking the offerings and taking money from the people. God did not approve of their actions. They thought they were getting away with their sins but we are going to see how God deals with disobedience. God does not play games.

The disobedience was not just with Eli and his sons. They had led the children of Israel into sin. They no longer respected the sacrifice unto the Lord. Remember, it said they despised the offering of the Lord in 1 Samuel 2:17, but they still expected the blessings of the Lord. They were trusting in the Ark of the Covenant, even in their disobedience to God.

How many times do we come before the Lord and ask Him to bless something we know is wrong? He cannot do it. He has already spoken to us through His Word. We must trust in Him and His Word. He has spoken and His word is true.

God never needs to change His counsels. -Matthew Henry-

True Faith

So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook.

1 Samuel 4:4-5

The people of God had been defeated by the Philistines, so they went looking for a solution -- a quick fix. They did not examine their hearts before the Lord, to see if there was sin. They said, "What can we do to have victory over our enemy?"

In trying to fix the problem themselves, they decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. If they had God's Ark, surely He would be with them and they would have the victory. Right? No way! They were trying to do things their way, not God's way.

They brought the Ark of the Covenant into the camp and all of Israel cried out, so loudly, the ground shook. Notice the emotional demonstration. It was all emotions, but their hearts were not knitted to God. They were counting on an object, but not the Lord.

There are many times we can be emotional, but not spiritual. There are many emotional people but that does not mean God is with them. Anyone can become emotional, but only true faith in God can bring us to a place of obedience, so we can and will do what God has called us to do.

True faith commits us to obedience. -A. W. Tozer-

Personal Responsibility

Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, "What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, "God has come into the camp!" And they said, "Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before."

1 Samuel 4:6-7

When the Philistines heard the shout of the children of Israel, they were afraid. Remember, they shouted so loud, the ground shook. The enemy was afraid. They were not believers; they were heathens who worshipped a wooden god -- an idol. They thought, just like the children of Israel, the Ark of the Covenant had power.

Notice, God's people were thinking like the heathen nation. They had put their hope and trust in the Ark of the Covenant. Where were they with the Lord? Were they listening to the Lord or were they simply following Eli and his sons?

This is an important issue. Do we blindly follow our leaders or do we examine their lives to be sure they are right with the Lord? If we follow bad leaders and become just like them, we cannot point the finger at the leaders and think we have no responsibility.

God has given us His Word, and He will hold each one of us accountable for our lives and our relationships with Him. He has called us to walk with Him, and in order to know God, we must know His Word. Do not depend on another person to feed you God's Word. You have to study and pray, so you can be close to the heart of God and not led astray.

Ignorance of the Scriptures is the root of all error. -J. C. Ryle-

God's Chastening

"Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness."

1 Samuel 4:8

The Philistines were heathens and they did not know who the Israelites worshipped. They worshipped Dagon, a wooden idol and they knew the other heathen nations worshipped other gods -- other idols -- but they did not know the One, True, Living God.

I find it interesting, although they did not have newspapers, television or computers; the Philistines still knew who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. They did not know it was Jehovah God, but they knew it was the god or gods of Israel. They knew He was powerful and they were very afraid.

Think about it. They had their god, Dagon, but they recognized the God of Israel was greater than their god. They had heard stories of what God did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and they knew their god was no match; still they came against the children of Israel. Why?

It was God who brought the Philistines against Israel. God would use this heathen nation to chastise Israel and to accomplish His purpose and plan. He was going to remove Eli and his sons, while chastening Israel at the same time.

God does the same thing with us. If we do not want to listen to God and we want to do our own thing, God will allow us, but there will be a chastening. God loves us; He will chasten us, to get us back on the right track.

Chastening is simultaneous wrath and mercy. -R. T. Kendall-

Sowing & Reaping

"Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!" So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.

1 Samuel 4:9-10

When you first read this, it appears as if the world defeated the Lord. Notice, heathen Philistines defeated God's people, the Hebrews. Does this mean the world has more power than God? No way. The Philistines were used by the Lord. God allowed them to win. They were not more powerful than God; He just stepped aside and did not assist the Hebrews.

This is a great lesson in sowing and reaping. The children of Israel had walked away from the Lord; even greater, they despised the sacrifice of the Lord. It was as if they had spit in God’s face, and now they were facing the consequences of their actions.

Remember when they went through the wilderness and defeated their enemies along the way? They were not defeated by Israel's strength; it was the Lord. He went before them in the battles and defeated their enemies, but they no longer had God's strength. They were fighting with just their own mortal strength.

When we choose to do things in our own strength, or we turn from the Lord and He leaves us to face the consequences, we are going to fail. It may be a small failure or a tremendous failure, like losing 30,000 men.

Wrath … is the expression of God's holy, loving displeasure with sin. -Arthur Skevington Wood-


"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Esther 4:14

The Feast of Lots, Purim, begins today at sundown and will continue until sundown tomorrow. The Jewish nation will celebrate the providence and protection of the Lord, as they read the Book of Esther and recognize God's hand upon His people.

During the time of Esther, the children of Israel were in Persia and Esther, a young Jewish maiden, had been chosen as the new queen. However, neither the king nor his advisors knew Queen Esther was a Jew, so when Haman convinced King Ahasuerus to wipe out the Jewish people living among them, they did not know they had condemned Queen Esther to death.

As the plot to destroy the Jewish people was revealed, Mordecai, Esther's uncle, asked her to go before the king for her people. Because the queen could not go before the king without being summoned, Esther was afraid to do as Mordecai asked. Look at the faith of Mordecai. He knew God would deliver His people, either by Esther or some other means. He knew God would preserve His people, and God had placed Esther in her place for such a time.

God has a plan for each one of our lives, but if we are too fearful to do what the Lord has called us to do, He will use someone else. We will miss out on the blessing. We just have to trust in the Lord, fully and completely.

Why are we so slow to trust an infinite God? -William S. Plumer-

Christ Paid the Wages

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

The Feast of Purim is a celebration of deliverance. God delivered His people from annihilation, using a young Jewish girl in the courts of King Ahaseurus. She was not just any young girl; she had been selected to be queen. God knew the plans of Haman and He put Esther in the right place to stop the enemy from destroying God’s people.

Just like the children of Israel, we all have a death threat hanging over our heads. We are all destined for an eternity in hell, but God has made a provision. Just as He knew the plot of Haman, God knows the plans of Satan. He knew from the beginning that man would fall for the lies of Satan, and God would have to provide deliverance.

The decree of King Ahaseurus could not be changed. Once his signet was placed on a decree, it could not be cancelled. It is the same for us. Once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, our death sentence was signed.

Paul said: the wages of sin is death. The price had to be paid. There is no cancelling the debt we have, but God had a plan. He sent Christ to pay the price for all of us. He did what no one else could do; He covered our sins with His shed blood.

Christ provided atonement for us and paid the wages of our sin, all we have to do is accept Him and the sacrifice He made on the Cross. He did all the work. He suffered for everyone. We have the easy part, we just have to believe and give our lives to Him.

Christ assumed every consequence of sin which was not itself sinful. -S. P. Tregelles-

St. Patrick's Day

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

Matthew 9:37-38

Today, bars will be filled with people celebrating St. Patrick's Day. They will wear shamrocks, drink green beer and eat corn beef and cabbage to celebrate; without knowing anything about the man we call St. Patrick or the real reason we celebrate.

St. Patrick was a missionary. He left his home in England and went to Ireland to tell the people about the hope and salvation we have in Jesus Christ. He knew they were a pagan people, who worshipped the Druid gods and goddesses. He knew they were perishing without hope, and he left his comfortable home to bring salvation to a nation.

It would have been easy for him to leave the work to someone else. Why should he go back to the people who had kidnapped him and made him a slave? Why should he care about these pagan people?

Patrick cared because he received the Lord while he was a slave. In the midst of his great trial, God got ahold of his heart and gave him great compassion for the people who enslaved him. He knew God had called him to witness to the people of Ireland, and he answered the call. He did not wait for someone else to do what God had called him to do.

God has called each one of us. He is just waiting for us to answer the call. People are perishing and the laborers are few. Will you answer God's call?

Since the Lord saved me, I have despaired of no man living. -Henry T. Mahan-

Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent

Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

1 Samuel 4:11

In Verse 10, 30,000 soldiers of Israel were killed, and the consequences for Israel’s sin continue in Verse 11. Because the people were putting their trust in an object, the Ark of the Covenant, God was going to take it away from them. The Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. It was now in the possession of this heathen nation. It does not end there. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed in the battle. The judgment God had revealed to Samuel was coming to pass. He had warned Eli and now God was bringing judgment; not just on Eli and his sons, but on a disobedient nation. While the Ark of the Covenant was taken by Israel’s enemy, it had no power. They did not capture the Lord, only an object. With the Ark of the Covenant would come great judgment against the Philistines. Although the Lord allowed the Ark to be captured, He was going to use it to display His power and might to this heathen nation. The Philistines thought the power of Israel’s God was in the Ark, just like their wooden idol of Dagon. God would take this opportunity to show them they could not capture or contain God. He was in control and He could destroy them. We have to remember; we cannot control or contain God. He is not a genie in a bottle; He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Nothing can contain or control the Lord, which brings both comfort and fear.

As a Christian is never out of the reach of God's hand, so he is never out of the view of God's eye. -Thomas Brooks-

Avoid the Wrath

So the messenger answered and said, "Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured." Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

1 Samuel 4:17-18

God's judgment against the house of Eli came to pass. As Eli was sitting at the gates, the messenger brought the news of the battle to the children of Israel. First, he told of their defeat and the great loss of life, and Eli was not moved. Next, he broke the news of the death of Hophni and Phinehas. Again, Eli does not seem surprised by this news. Now, check this out. He told how the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, and Eli has a heart attack. He fell backwards, breaking his neck, and died.

He was the priest. He was supposed to represent God to the people, but he allowed his sons to compromise and sin against God, leading the people into sin. He accepted the judgment of God and the loss of his sons, because he knew it was his own fault, but the loss of the Ark was too great a burden to carry.

Many times, we sin against God and the burden of our punishment is too great to bear. If we had only thought about the consequences ahead of time, we would not have sinned against God. Heed the warnings of God and you will avoid the consequences. God warns us, because He loves us.

The wrath of God does not end with death. -C. H. Spurgeon-

Effects of Sin

Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas's wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. … Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

1 Samuel 4:19, 21

The judgment against the house of Eli continued, as Phinehas' wife gave birth, and just before she died, she named her son Ichabod. The name Ichabod means "no glory" in Hebrew. She gave him the name because she realized the glory of the Lord had departed. God's final judgment had come against the house of Eli.

The sin began with Eli's sons, but it was allowed by Eli and, because Eli failed to discipline his children, the consequences were experienced from generation to generation. The Lord had warned him, but Eli had no fear of the Lord, so he did nothing. His sins cost the lives of his sons, his daughter-in-law and generations to come.

God no longer punishes the father for the son's sin or the son for the father's sin, but we cannot think our sin does not affect the people we love. When we sin, it hurts our families and can have devastating effects on our children. If we love our families and friends, we have to deal with our sin. If we ignore it, like Eli, the effects could be devastating and eternal.

Sin pays -- but it pays in remorse, regret and failure. -Billy Graham-

The Glory of God

And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

1 Samuel 4:22

The glory of the Lord did not just depart from Eli's family; but the presence of God had departed from the nation of Israel. They were on their own, because the glory of God had departed from their lives.

The glory of God represents the presence of God, dwelling in the tabernacle. Look at Psalm 26:8: Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.

In the wilderness, the people saw the glory of the Lord descend in the cloud, which covered the tabernacle (Exodus 33:10-11). Then, after Moses met with God, face to face, his face would shine from being in the presence of the glory of the Lord (Exodus 34:29). Everything Moses did in leading the children of God was given to him by the Lord, when he would meet with God. Everything was done according to the Lord.

Now, the glory of the Lord had departed from the children of Israel and they were left to do things according to their own strength and wisdom. They could no longer rely upon the presence of God.

Could this happen to us? Could this happen to America? As we walk further and further away from the Lord, we could be in danger of seeing the glory of God depart from our nation. We will be left to operate in our flesh, without the strength and wisdom of the Lord. This is a great warning to each one of us individually.

The sight of God's glory humbles. The stars vanish when the sun appears. Thomas Watson-

Learn from History

"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, … But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Joshua 24:15

At the end of his life, Joshua asked the children of Israel whether they would serve the Lord or the heathen gods. They all said they would follow the Lord God. Then, if you turn to Judges 2:10-11 it says:

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals;

This is one generation after Joshua, and it was downhill from that point on, all the way to the Kings and the Chronicles. There were times when the children of Israel followed the Lord, but they were not consistent. When the king went the wrong way, the people went the wrong way; they did not keep their eyes on the Lord.

As you go through the Major and Minor Prophets, God used the heathen nations to bring judgment against His people. He allowed the Assyrians and Babylonians to take the Hebrews away into captivity.

There is so much history in the Bible to learn from. America has been one of the greatest nations, but right now we are in big, big trouble. I am not a prophet of doom. I am just telling you the truth. If we do not learn from the lessons in the Bible, we are destined to make the same mistakes they made.

Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. -Edmund Burke-

Lesson Not Learned

And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

1 Samuel 4:22

Before we enter 1 Samuel 5, we have to look at how Chapter 4 ended. Eli died, his sons died and the glory of the Lord had departed; it was a done deal. The Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines and God began to judge Israel.

Often, when you read the Bible, you come to these stories and you do not have the background, so people get confused. If you do not have the background to the chapter, then you are going to miss a link.

In studying the history of Israel and doing some research on Chapter 5, in order to understand what was going on in this chapter, we have to go to Jeremiah 7.

It is very important to remember, the Bible is God's Word and the books all come together to tell one story. While I was studying 1 Samuel 5, it took me to Jeremiah 7:29:

'Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights; for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath.'

Even with God's Word, the children of Israel will disobey the Lord again, and His glory will depart from them. They did not learn. We have God's Word today. Have we learned the lessons God is teaching us? Will we obey the Lord, individually and as a nation? Think about it.

Beware of reasoning about God's Word -- obey it! -Oswald Chambers-

Warning at the Gates

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, "Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!'"

Jeremiah 7:1-2

It is important to stop here, at the very beginning of the chapter, because one of the things happening during Jeremiah's time was the practice of religion. They did not have a relationship with the Lord, they were just playing church; and they thought attending church would save them.

The people were coming to the gates of the house of the Lord every week, but this time God called Jeremiah to give them a message. God told him, "I do not want you to go into the house of the Lord; I want you to stay outside, in the front of the building, and meet the people as they are coming into the sanctuary. I want you to give them my heart in my message."

The children of Israel were like so many people today. They were going through the motions, but they did not have the anointing of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It was emotion but not a real, true infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah was called by God when he was a young man. God anointed him and used him in a powerful way, to warn the children of Israel to stop playing games with the Lord. There are many people playing church today, and the Lord is calling each one of us, individually, to stand at the front of the church and warn the people. Church attendance does not save, only a relationship with Jesus will save us.

A church membership does not make a Christian any more than owning a piano makes a musician. -Douglas Meador-

First Repent

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: "Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place."

Jeremiah 7:3

Notice the beginning of the verse. Jeremiah started out with, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. He was giving all the authority and glory to the Lord, by saying, "This is the Lord speaking, not me. I am nothing."

After establishing who was speaking to them, the first thing God told them was to repent, amend your ways and get your life together. If they wanted to remain in the land and be used by God, they had to repent and come back to the Lord.

After being a pastor for so long, and being on the board with Pastor Chuck Smith, I have seen many things. I have seen so many men being used tremendously by the Lord, turn and go into a life of sin. Then, the Lord has to remove them from His ministries. God cannot use them while they are walking in sin. There is no possible way.

This does not happen just to pastors and leaders. If you are living a life of sin and attending church, God cannot bless you. You may be fooling the people around you, but God sees your heart and He is telling you to amend your way, or He is going to remove you.

If you really want God to use you and you want God to do a real work in your life, you have to examine your life and make things right. Then, God will use your life to the fullest.

The broken spirit and the contrite heart are the abiding marks of the believing soul. -John Murray-

No Compromise

"Do not trust in these lying words, saying, 'The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.' For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,"

Jeremiah 7:4-5

Notice the problem. They were hearers of God's Word but not doers. That was a big problem. Again, Jeremiah said, amend your ways and your doings. Speaking for the Lord, Jeremiah was telling them to repent. He was telling them they were not saved by the temple or attendance to the temple. They had to live their lives holy and separated unto the Lord.

He went on to tell them to execute proper judgment. They could not compromise in executing judgment, because someone was a friend or had power. He used the word thoroughly, which means "completely or one hundred percent."

Today, we see compromise in the church and in the courts. Our legal system has become very political, and many times, guilty people are getting off with little to no punishment. When they are convicted, they go to prison where they work out, watch television and get three meals a day. They are better off than many people working hard in this country.

It is the same in the church. We cannot compromise. We cannot allow people to practice sin and serve in the ministry. Notice, I said practice sin. We all fail, but we repent and go on. If you practice sin, you are not repentant and you cannot serve in the ministry. There is no possible way. God cannot bless it. We have to be doers of the Word, not just hearers.

Compromise must always be impossible where the truth is essential and fundamental. -C. H. Spurgeon-

Promises of God

"if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever."

Jeremiah 7:6-7

He will give them the land to dwell in forever and ever. The promise was with their fathers, but it was not kept because of their fathers' unfaithfulness generations ago. They had to walk according to the Lord's commandments and statutes. They could not live like the heathen nations and receive the promises of God.

This is an important lesson to each one of us. Many times, people give their lives to the Lord, but they still want to keep one foot in the world. They live compromised lives, but they still want the blessings and promises of God.

These same people go to church, and they see the blessings others are receiving, and cannot understand why God does not bless them. They say, "God just does not love me. He does not hear my prayers." Look at what Peter said: "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

When we truly give our lives to the Lord, He gives us a desire to walk with Him. If we choose to walk in the world, we cannot expect to receive the blessings and promises of God. They are for the righteous.

Upon the two hinges of faith and repentance do all the promises of the Bible hang. -George Swinnock-

Lying Words

"Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'?"

Jeremiah 7:8-10

These verses could have easily been written today. That is exactly what is happening in the church and in the world. We no longer trust in the Word of God. Instead, we trust in the lying words of the false teachers and the politicians. The people are so blind and so deaf; they think, Oh man, this is so cool.

Believing the lying words of the politicians and the false teachers is very, very dangerous, for the Christians and for the heathens. When people follow the pastors who no longer teach about sin and the wages of sin, they are putting their eternal lives in danger.

In the same way, when we believe the lies of the politicians, we allow them to lead our country in a direction completely opposed to the Lord. Recently, we have seen so many Christians persecuted for their beliefs, right here in the United States, even though we have the First Amendment.

Now, many people say Christians should not get involved with politics. That is not true. We have the privilege and honor of living in a country where we can vote and have a voice. If we believe the lies, or go along with the lies, we will perish both physically and eternally.

Keep the truth and the truth will keep you. -William Bridge-

A Clean House

"Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," says the Lord.

Jeremiah 7: 11

The children of Israel were going to the house of the Lord, the place of worship, which was called by the Lord's name. They called upon the temple of the Lord with unclean lips. They were a people of unclean hands and unclean lips.

God told them, "I see what you are doing and I know you are a bunch of thieves and robbers, seeking refuge in My house." They thought they were alright, but they could not fool the Lord; He saw the wickedness of their hearts.

Think about it. This is written in the Book of Jeremiah and then you go to Matthew 21:13 and Jesus reminds the people of this verse: "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"

Even with the warnings in the Book of Jeremiah, Jesus went into the temple and found the same conditions Jeremiah experienced in his time. Jesus went right into the temple, overturning tables, and ran the money changers and salesmen out.

Today, we are the temple of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord dwells in each one of us. Are we living our lives with the knowledge the Lord is with us? He calls us to be holy, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15). Does God need to clean our house?

The secret to clean living is clear thinking. -John R. W. Stott-

Know the Warnings

"But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel."

Jeremiah 7:12

This brings us into the Book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 5. God was directing the children of Israel to go back to the lessons in 1 Samuel. God's people had turned from the Lord, and they were wicked, so the glory of the Lord departed from Shiloh. Heavy.

That was the warning God gave Jeremiah for the children of Israel. If they failed to walk with the Lord, He would leave them, or He would lead them into captivity. Either way, the Lord would leave them to their wickedness.

I think this is a warning to you and me. For more than 40 years, the Lord has used and blessed the ministry of Calvary Chapel. Pastor Chuck Smith was faithful to the Lord for all those years. He sought the Lord in every decision he made, and the Lord blessed him.

Now, Pastor Chuck is gone. Will the pastors of Calvary Chapel stay the course set by God through Pastor Chuck, or will they go astray? I remember Pastor Chuck used to tell us; the first generation really has a passion, God has touched their lives and they are going for it, by faith. The second generation enjoys the spoils but by the third generation; they do not even care anymore. They just do their own thing.

It is so important to know the Scriptures and recognize the warnings from the Lord. They were not just for that generation. They are for every generation.

It is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself. -A. W. Tozer-

Full Revelation

"And now, because you have done all these works," says the Lord, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren -- the whole posterity of Ephraim."

Jeremiah 7:13-15

Wow! What was Jeremiah saying? The judgment of God was upon them. God had made up His mind. It was a done deal. They had the warning from 1 Samuel, but they did not bother reading and knowing the warnings from the Lord, so they would be chastened, just as the people at Shiloh.

Recently, I have been looking at history, going back to the Old Testament and into the New Testament, putting things together. In the first five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, God established the Law. You can see how the Book of Genesis starts with everything brand new, the beginning of all things created. Then, as you come into the other books of the Bible, from Joshua moving all the way through to the Chronicles, the poetical books and the major and minor prophets moving into the Gospels and ending in the Book of Revelation, which goes into the end times.

God gave us everything, between Genesis and Revelation. He did not leave us blind, trying to figure things out. He gave us everything we needed to have a relationship with Him and be blessed. What happens? We choose, not the blessings but the cursings. We choose, not God. Remember that.

It is by the evil use of his free will that man destroyed both it and himself. -Augustine-

Christianity Inherited

Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.

1 Samuel 2:12

Now, in Verse 12, we leave the prayer of Hannah and we are introduced to the sons of Eli. The Word tells us they were corrupt; they did not know the Lord. Underline this. They were evil, because they did not know the Lord. They were the sons of Eli the priest, and yet, they did not know the Lord. How could this be?

Let me explain. Many Christians have children who do not know the Lord. They grow up in the church, but they never make a personal decision to walk with the Lord. Many pastors have children who do not know the Lord, yet they allow them to be in the ministry. They have never really repented and given their lives to the Lord, but they still get a job in the church. That is not right.

We have experienced this personally. When, my son, Ryan was living in the world, walking without the Lord, we kicked him out. He went out after the world. His mother and I told him, "You want the world -- go ahead, but you will not be a part of this ministry." This is really important to understand. This is what the Bible is teaching us.

Just because you are a Christian and you are walking right with the Lord does not mean your children are right with the Lord. They have to make a personal decision to walk with the Lord. It is not inherited from you. Every person has to make their own decision. If they choose not to walk with the Lord, they have no place in the ministry. That is the bottom line. Without the Lord, you cannot serve in the ministry. It is an impossibility!

Man's will is free to follow his inclinations, but fallen man's inclinations are always and invariably away from God. -R.C. Sproul-

God's Sacrifices

And the priests' custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.

1 Samuel 2:13-14

When we look at the sons of Eli, it is important to understand the rules and customs of the priests. Remember, the priests received no inheritance of land. God was their inheritance, and He provided for them.

How did God provide? The priests received from the offerings, but there were rules. When the people brought their sacrifices to the priests, the servant would put a three-pronged hook into the boiling meat. Whatever they took up at one time was for the priests and their families.

Notice, the servant did not take raw meat, but the meat from the boiling pot. It was cooked. Do not forget, in Leviticus, Moses taught the children of Israel about the sacrifices. The fat of the animal was to be burned as a sacrifice unto the Lord. Read Leviticus 3-4. Whether it was the peace offering or the sin offering, the fat of the animals was always burned upon the altar as a sweet smelling sacrifice unto the Lord. It was not given to the priests.

God provided for the priests, but they had to follow the rules of the sacrifice. They could not steal from the Lord and disrespect Him, without consequences.

The man who does not set himself under the law of God sets himself above it. -John Blanchard-

Fear of the Lord

Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, "Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw." And if the man said to him, "They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires," he would then answer him, "No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force."

1 Samuel 2:15-16

In Verses 13-14, we saw what Moses had instructed the children of Israel to do with the sacrifices given to the Lord. The servant of the priest was to take meat from the boiling pot. They were to take only what came up on the tree-pronged hook when it was dipped into the pot once.

The sons of Eli did not want boiled meat. They wanted raw meat, so they could roast it. Not only did they want raw meat, but they wanted the fat of the animal, which was only for God.

They were stealing from God, and they were bullies. They were forcing their servants to sin against the Lord. They were in the house of the Lord, stealing the sacrifices of the Lord and their father allowed it. Incredible! He allowed them to sin against the Lord in the house of the Lord, because there was no fear of the Lord. Instead of disciplining his children, Eli allowed them to sin. He allowed them to serve in the house of the Lord, and yet, they did not know the Lord.

If we do not discipline our children, we do not love and fear the Lord. Without discipline, we are turning them over to Satan.

Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness in any situation. -Alan Redpath-

Stumbling Someone

Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.

1 Samuel 2:17

God saw the sins of Eli's sons and He was not happy with them. They were not just stealing the best parts of the sacrifice from the Lord; they were causing the children of Israel to stumble.

Look at what it says, for the men abhorred the offering of the Lord. In this verse, the word abhorred is na'ats in Hebrew. Translated, this verse says the men of Israel despised the offering of the Lord. What God intended for the people to bless Him and cover them became a contemptible thing to the people.

This is a great sin before the Lord. Paul the Apostle spoke about stumbling another believer in Romans 14:21: It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

The sons of Eli were causing the people to stumble. The people were offended by their behavior and they began to despise the offering of the Lord. The same thing was happening in Rome, when the new Christians saw believers eating meat sacrificed to idols. The new believers were offended and some were stumbling in their walks with the Lord.

This is such a great lesson for every one of us. We cannot say and do whatever we want to do. We have to think of others and how our actions affect them. Our actions may not be sin, but if we turn someone from the Lord, we have sinned.

What I live by, I impart. -Augustine-

Obedience to the Call

But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod. Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.

1 Samuel 2:18-19

We see great contrasts between the lives of Eli's sons and the young boy, Samuel. While Eli's sons were in the temple, defiling the sacrifices, Samuel was ministering before the Lord. Eli's sons had been appointed by man, but Samuel had been chosen by God. This is an important difference between the two.

Many times, people have a desire to serve the Lord, but we have to look at their motives. Why do they want to serve the Lord? Do they want to get up before the people and be known as great in the minds of the people or do they want to truly minister to God’s people, without a pat on the back?

I never wanted to be a pastor. I was not a good student and I did not want to stand in front of people and speak, but God called me. The need to tell people about Christ and His message of hope burned in my heart. I could not remain silent. When God called me to go to Baldwin Park High School, I thought I was imagining things, but He kept prompting me until I went.

When I stood up and spoke to the kids at lunch time, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through me. I was obedient to the Lord and He used my life. That is what He wants from each one of us individually -- our obedience.

One act of obedience is better than a hundred sermons. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer-

Motive of the Heart

And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, "The Lord give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the Lord." Then they would go to their own home.

1 Samuel 2:20

Even though Eli would speak the Word and even give prophecy, his heart was not right before the Lord, because of his sons. When he first encountered Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1:12-18, he said: "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him" (1 Samuel 1:17), and the Lord honored the words spoken by Eli.

This does not mean Eli was in a right standing before the Lord. It means God will still use people, even if they are not walking right with Him, to fulfill His plans and purposes. God will still bring judgment upon an ungodly person, even if He uses him.

We have to remember this lesson when we examine our own lives. Do not assume your heart is right before the Lord, just because God is using you. Remember, in Numbers 22, God used a donkey to get Balaam's attention. God will use whatever is available to accomplish His purposes.

I am one of the donkeys God uses, but I examine my life daily. I know myself and I know my heart is wicked without the Holy Spirit. If I do not spend time in His Word and in prayer, I am wicked in my flesh.

We all know our own hearts and we know if we are walking right before the Lord. Do not be deceived, because God is never deceived. He sees our hearts and knows our intentions.

The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive. -A. W. Tozer-

God's Purpose & Time

And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the Lord.

1 Samuel 2:21

I love this verse, because it shows the faithfulness of God -- His love, grace and mercy towards us. While Hannah's son Samuel grew before the Lord, Hannah was blessed with three sons and two daughters. While one child cannot replace another child, the Lord blessed Hannah with more children, and honored her faithfulness in presenting Samuel to serve before Him.

Although Hannah and Elkanah visited Samuel in Shiloh every year, they missed him, so the Lord provided comfort with additional children. Hannah was no longer cursed with barrenness and Penninah could no longer torment her.

As Hannah went before the Lord with her great anguish, He answered her prayers and blessed her with many children. Having children was a gift of God. Only He could open or close a womb, and God had great plans for Hannah and her son.

Many times, when we are going through a trial and we are experiencing great anguish, we cannot see God's hand. We often think the Lord is not listening to us or He is punishing us. That is not the case. We have to remember, God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives. Many times, our plans are not the same as God's plans, but we have to seek His timing and purposes, because they are so much greater than ours.

God's purposes are sometimes delayed but they are never abandoned. -John Blanchard-

Do Not Corrupt Your Children

Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people."

1 Samuel 2:22-23

Eli was a father who heard the evil his sons were committing in the temple and yet he did nothing to stop them. They were corrupt and they had no discipline at all. Because Eli never rebuked them, they thought they could get away with what they were doing in the temple of God.

Think about how many children in the church are like Eli's sons. They are sinning in the homes and in the churches and the parents have no control over them. Their children actually rule and reign, not the parents.

I had an experience with Raul Jr. when he was in high school. He used to cut classes and go surfing every day; then one day Sharon called to tell me he was breaking up his bedroom. The first thing I did was call the police, to protect me, because I was going home to take care of things. The police showed up before me, so I packed all his stuff and kicked him out of my house. I told him not to come back until he changed: respecting his mom and our home. He came back two days later, and he was never the same again.

We have to discipline our children. Without discipline, they will become corrupt, like Eli's sons; they will ruin their lives, and your lives. It is really important to understand; God wants you to be strong as fathers and mothers. Teach them God's Word and watch it work in their lives.

If a parent does not punish his sons, his sons will be sure to punish him. -Thomas Guthrie-

Equip Your Children

"If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?" Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them.

1 Samuel 2:25

Finally, Eli confronted his sons because of the evil they were doing before the children of God. They were not only sinning against the Lord, but they were causing God’s people to transgress against Him. They were bringing the people down with them in their sin.

Eli knew the consequences of their sin; judgment from God. Then, who would intercede or pray for them? Who would go before the Lord and plead their case? There was no one who could make right what they had done, and they were not willing to repent and plead their own case before the Lord.

We all get the opportunity to make our lives right before the Lord. Each one of us can come before the Lord and be washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, but we have to repent. We have to make that first step towards God.

Our children get an opportunity to be right before God. As parents, we teach them, discipline them and bring them up in the ways of the Lord. Then, if they go out into the world, they will come back. If you do not discipline them and teach them the Bible, they may never come back. God could take them away from you, and you will be to blame, just like Eli. Give your children the tools to walk right with God, and then you will have clean hands before the Lord.

Ideal parenting is modeled after the relationship between God and man. -James C. Dobson-

Good Character

And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.

1 Samuel 2:26

I think it is important to notice how God is showing us the difference between godly service and ungodly service to the Lord. We see the clear difference between the sons of Eli and Samuel. As the sons of Eli were causing the people to transgress, God provided a godly example in Samuel.

While God was preparing to bring judgment against the sons of Eli, Samuel was growing both in stature and favor with the Lord and with man. His life was an example to the people, as he served the Lord and was obedient to the call of the Lord.

As Samuel was serving at the tabernacle in Shiloh, his heart was to serve and please the Lord. He was not seeking the favor of man, but because he was right before the Lord, the people saw his character and they respected him.

This is the example the Lord is providing for us through the life of Samuel. He did not live a life of privilege. He lived away from his family, serving the Lord. He did not have great possessions, but the Lord provided for all his needs.

When we are honorable before the Lord, we will find favor in the eyes of men. Whether people are Christians or non-believers, they will trust you because you are a man or woman of good character and good reputation.

The fruit of the Spirit is not excitement or orthodoxy: it is character. -G.B. Duncan-

God First

Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: 'Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? … Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?' "

1 Samuel 2:27, 29

God sent a man to speak to Eli regarding his sin. He went to speak for the Lord, saying, "Thus says the Lord: …" When Eli heard these words, he knew he was hearing directly from the Lord, and the message was not good. God asked Eli, "Why do you kick at My sacrifice, … and honor your sons more than Me?"

This was a great charge against Eli. He was guilty of dishonoring the sacrifice unto the Lord and honoring his sons above the Lord. When we read this, we are shocked by Eli's actions. We know this was a very serious charge, and we cannot believe he would dishonor the Lord.

Before we judge Eli too quickly, I think we all individually need to examine our own lives. Have we dishonored the Lord at times? Have we forsaken our offering unto the Lord? Have we put our children and our families above the Lord?

God must be first in our lives. He is a jealous God and we cannot put anyone or anything before Him. If we are going to walk with the Lord, we must honor Him and put Him first.

No man acts with true wisdom till he fears God and hopes in his mercy. -William S. Plumer-

Abraham Lincoln's Birthday

Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.

Colossians 3:22

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. He was elected in 1861 and served the people until his assassination in 1865. As the leader of this nation, he recognized his position as a servant to the people. He was not above the people and he did not lord over them.

Truly, no other president of our country faced such a great division of the people as President Lincoln. The division was so great; it literally split the nation in half. The south seceded from the United States and went to war against the north. Fathers and brothers faced one another on the battlefield. It was a time of great calamity.

Today, we see a great division in our nation. It is a division of ideals and culture. At each election, we see the great division, as the red and blue states are put up on the map.

Division has come to our country because the people we have elected have forgotten their position. They are bondservants, like Paul the Apostle. They have been elected to serve the people -- all the people -- not just a small segment of the people.

I pray our nation and our people will come together once again. I pray our leaders would look at the life of President Lincoln and realize what made him a great leader -- his humility and servanthood -- and copy him.

I freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people, according to the bond of service -- the United States Constitution; and that, as such, I am responsible to them. -Abraham Lincoln-


"Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: 'I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.' But now the Lord says: 'Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.' "

1 Samuel 2:30

Again, this is continued from Verse 27, when the man of God came to Eli and said, "Thus says the Lord: …" This is a judgment from the Lord. Although it was written in the Old Testament, this is not just for Eli and his family; it is a warning to all of us, today.

When Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Lord set up the priesthood. He chose the people who would serve Him in the temple and promised they would serve before Him from generation to generation. However, because of their disobedience, God would no longer allow them to serve before Him.

It is important to remember, when God made His promise to Moses and Israel, He told them He would bless them as they walked in obedience to His statutes and commandments. When they chose to walk according to the world, God would curse them.

This is what God was telling Eli. He saw the actions of Eli's sons and the lack of discipline from Eli and He was bringing judgment. They would no longer walk before the Lord.

It is the same for you and me. We can choose the blessings or the curses. It is always our choice. Do we choose God or the world?

If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels. -C.H. Spurgeon-

Valentine's Day

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."

1 Peter 4:8

Valentine's Day, the day when couples will buy flowers and chocolates, go out to dinner and do all kinds of things to make their wives or husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends happy. That is how the world celebrates love -- with things and romantic gestures.

I am not really romantic. I hate the pressure to remember this day and do something extraordinary for my wife. It is not because I do not love my wife. It is because I believe I need to love her and cherish her every day. I should not treat her special just one day of the year.

I like what Peter said in this verse. We are to love one another with a fervent love. In the Greek, the word fervent means "stretched out." It is a love that goes on and on.

He went on to say, "love will cover a multitude of sins." When love goes on and on, there is no stopping it, and with it comes forgiveness. When we love fervently, we do not pick on every little habit the other person has that makes us crazy. In our fervent love, we love them with their habits, good and bad.

If we truly love our wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, we will have a fervent love for them. We will love them and show them love during the good times and bad times, not just one day a year. I pray we would all seek to love with a fervent, forgiving love!

Of love there be two principal offices, one to give, another to forgive. -John Boys-

Stumbling Block

Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house.

1 Samuel 2:31

Look at the tremendous judgment of God on the house of Eli. The sons of Eli affected not just themselves but generations to come. The house of Eli, the genealogy of Eli, would be cut off, because of their great sin against the Lord and His people.

Eli's sons were not the only ones responsible for this judgment against the house of Eli. Eli, himself, was to blame. He did not discipline his children. He allowed them to serve in the house of the Lord while they were sinning against the Lord.

Now, we do not know if his sons would have made things right with the Lord, so we cannot blame him for their sins, but Eli was responsible for not removing them from the house of the Lord. Instead, he turned a blind eye and allowed his sons to sin against the Lord and lead the people into sin. That is the greater sin.

We all have liberties, but if we practice our liberties in front of others and it causes them to sin, we are in sin. Our liberties should be done in private, so we do not stumble a weaker brother or sister.

All we have to do is look at the judgment against the house of Eli to determine if our liberties are more important than the spiritual lives of others. Certainly not! We need to live our lives in such a way as to bless God and bless others, not be a stumbling block.

My liberty is controlled by my love for my brothers and sisters. -Author Unknown~

Face the Consequences

Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them.

1 Samuel 2:34

God had given His judgment against the House of Eli; they would be cut off, from generation to generation. In Verse 33, it says, And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. They would all die at a young age.

With the judgment proclaimed, God gave a sign to Eli, that the judgment was from God and it was coming soon. It was not just future generations who would die in their youth but the judgment would begin with the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. They would both die in one day.

God's judgment was just and quick. Once it was set, it was carried out. There was no time to try and bargain with the Lord. The judgment was settled.

It seems harsh, but we have to remember, God is holy and just. We cannot live our lives in sin and think God is going to turn a blind eye. He is full of grace and mercy, but the time comes when we have to repent and get our lives right before Him.

If we willingly choose a life of sin, we choose the consequences that come along with the choices we make. God gives us every opportunity to turn to Him and away from sin, but once the judgment is set, it is a done deal. Those who choose sin will face the consequences.

That which a man spits against heaven shall fall back on his own face. -Thomas Adams-

Faithful Servant

For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.

Psalm 75:6-7

Before we begin 1 Samuel 3, I think we really need to understand what ministry means, because too many people change once they get in the ministry. I wish we took a video of people when they first got saved, when they were called and then years later, after being in the ministry. They could look back and see what happened. They could go back and retrace their steps. Did they get puffed up? Did they remain faithful to their call?

Each one of us has to go back and look at our mistakes. Did we get prideful and arrogant? Nobody is great. If you are looking for center stage, you are in the wrong place. That is not the ministry; you can be prideful in the world, not in the ministry. Remember, promotion does not come from the East or the West, the South or the North; it comes from the Lord. The Lord lifts up one and He puts down the other.

There is a beginning and an ending. Pastor Chuck always told us, "It is not how you start; it is how you finish the race that counts." Anybody can start, but how many can really finish well?

Think of all the funerals you attend for both non-believers and Christians. When you hear the pastor speak, does he talk about a servant of the Lord or someone who fell short? When I go, I want the pastor to say, "God received one of His faithful servants home to Him." What will be said of you?

Faithfulness to God is our first obligation in all that we are called to do in the service of the Gospel. -Iain H. Murray-

Follow God's Examples

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. …"

Revelation 2:7

In 1 Samuel 3:1-9, we see a big problem. The priest does not have a listening ear. I think that is a major problem in the church today and in the world. The people do not have an ear to hear at what is being taught.

This has been a problem with people from the Old Testament to the New Testament, and will continue on to the Last Days. Look at what John wrote in the Book of Revelation. Not just once but seven times.

I will admit; I am so bad about reading instructions. When I get something new, I open the package and forget about reading the directions. I would rather explore and do it my own way, seriously. My wife likes to read all the instructions and I hate reading them. I just get the package and put it together as best as I can, but if I would just follow the instructions, it would be easier and it would be done right.

Imagine how the Lord must feel about us. He is probably frustrated. He has given us His Word but, many times, we do not follow the instructions and we get ourselves in trouble. We hear what the Spirit is saying, but we do not listen.

Eli is a great example to us. He was given the capacity to be a leader, to be the priest of the nation of Israel, but he did not follow the instructions, so God had to remove Him. We can be the leaders God wants us to be or we can ignore His Spirit and be removed. We choose.

We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled. -Augustine-

God's Perfect Timing

Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

1 Samuel 3:1

God raised up Samuel and was going to speak through him. Samuel was ignorant; he did not know what God wanted. He knew he was in the Temple to serve the Lord, which his mother had promised God. For 12 years, God had him there to be molded and shaped for such a time as this.

Samuel had been in the house of the Lord in preparation for him to become a prophet of God. He was going to become God's voice. It was the same for Paul the Apostle. He went to Saudi Arabia to wait on the Lord. It was about 12 years before he came back to be used by the Lord.

This is a lesson for all of us. People get save and they want to serve the Lord right away. It should not be like that. We have to know God's Word. We have to hear the heartbeat of God before we can serve Him.

God molded and shaped me for many years. I was going to Shepherd's School in Costa Mesa, and the Holy Spirit was teaching me. That was when God spoke to my heart and called me to teach and preach. I heard from the Lord, and I stepped out by faith. For four and a half years, we were small.

Sometimes we want to rush things and God does not want to rush. God's plans are perfect. He is never ahead; He is never behind; He is always right on time.

God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time. -Author Unknown-

God's Word

Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

1 Samuel 3:1

Underline this, And the word of the Lord was rare in those days. People did not know what was going on. They did not know the Word of God, and Eli the priest did not know what was going on. He was not listening to the Lord.

Think about it. If he was hearing from the Lord, he would have known what was going on. He would have known God was not pleased, and he would have disciplined his children. If he really had the fear of God, he would have removed the leaven from the temple, even though it was his own sons.

These same words could be spoken today. The Word of the Lord is rare, which means not everybody is teaching and not everybody is listening. That is the bottom line. That is what is happening today.

It is all about entertainment. They want to show you something to shock you. It is happening all over the United States right now. The Word of God is no longer the main thing. People no longer come to church to hear from the Lord. They come to be entertained. They do not come to be convicted by the Word. They come to feel good.

Just as God removed Eli and raised up Samuel, He will remove those who do not know His Word and put His priests in His pulpits.

The Bible is not an entertainment. It was never designed to amuse. -J. I. Packer-

Called to Lead the People

and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, "Here I am!" So he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." And he said, "I did not call; lie down again." And he went and lay down.

1 Samuel 3:3-5

One of the things I love reading about in the Book of 1 Samuel is what God saw in the nation of Israel. Like we see today in the church, He saw there was no leadership in the nation of Israel.

As we come out of the Book of Judges and enter into the Books of 1 and 2 Samuel God begins to teach us His purpose for leadership; His purpose for the nation; and His purpose for the church. He wants people who are available and willing to count the cost in serving Him, loving Him, fully and completely, because it is not easy to serve the Lord.

Samuel was just a little kid, only about 12 years old and the Lord had not spoken to him. This would be the first time God spoke to a young person. He did not speak about Samuel. God spoke about the leadership and the behavior of the nation of Israel.

Many times, God calls people out of their work in the world to build His church and to make up a leadership to lead the people to the heart of God. In order to lead people to God's heart, you have to have the heart of God. If you do not have the heart of God, you cannot lead people to the heart of God. Samuel will teach us how to have the heart of God.

A man should only enter the Christian ministry if he cannot stay out of it. -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones-

George Washington's Birthday

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:1

As the first President of the United States, George Washington is a role model for the men who have come after him. The Bible tells us God raises one man up and sets another down. Clearly, the Lord raised him up to be President and Commander-in-Chief.

Washington proved to be a great leader, as he understood his position. Having just won freedom from the powerful King of England, he knew the people desired liberty. They did not want to be in bondage to a king again.

Just as we were set free from the bondage of sin, by the blood of Christ; our nation was set free from a monarchy by the blood of the men who gave their lives for our freedom. President Washington saw this sacrifice first hand on the battlefield.

Understanding this great sacrifice the people made for freedom, he made sure our new leadership respected the life and liberty of the people. While the king treated the people as children, who could not make their own decisions, this new government would be run according to the will of the people.

The world has changed since Washington was president, but the will of the people to govern themselves has not changed. Today, we must take time to pray for our leaders and the direction they are leading us.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it. -George Washington-

Seek Him Unceasingly

So he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." And he said, "I did not call; lie down again." And he went and lay down.

1 Samuel 3:5

This is the second time young Samuel heard the voice of the Lord calling him, but he did not know it was the Lord, so he ran back to Eli. He knew he heard the voice and he assumed it had to be Eli, even though the priest kept sending him back to bed.

I like the perseverance of Samuel. He kept going back to Eli. He did not give up. There is one thing you cannot do with most young people, discourage them. They do not get discouraged easily and will continue to move forward until they find out what is going on.

We get discouraged as we get older, because of different problems and circumstances. We allow the things of this world to wear us down. We are no longer curious and become easily discouraged by life.

You think Samuel is going to give up, but every time he hears a voice, he gets up and runs to Eli. Instead of listening to the true voice of God, he could have listened to Eli's voice, who was not a spiritual man. He had major problems in his call before God. He did not hear the voice of the Lord, so God was going to speak to Samuel.

I wonder how many of us would have gotten up every time we heard the voice of the Lord. It is so important to seek the Lord without ceasing, be sensitive to His voice and not allow the noise of this world to drown Him out.

The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success. -Donald Sarnoff-

Age of Accountability

(Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.)

1 Samuel 3:7

As I said before, many believe Samuel was around the age of 12 when he first heard the Lord. This is in alignment with the Jewish tradition of the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah, which mean "son of the commandment" and "daughter of the commandment," in Hebrew and Aramaic.

A young Jewish boy celebrates this coming of age ceremony at the age of 13 and the girls celebrate at the age of 12. After this ceremony, they are accountable before the Lord for keeping His commandments. Their parents are no longer accountable for their actions.

As Gentiles and Christians, we do not have a coming of age ceremony for our children, but I think it is very important to recognize a child’s accountability. I do not know if we can put an age to it, but I think it is when a person knows what is right and what is wrong. Then, you are accountable before the Lord and before the world.

Today, parents are held responsible for the actions of their children until they turn 18 years old. If they vandalize a house or steal a car, the parents can be sued for the damages, because their teenager does not have the money to pay.

I like the Jewish tradition of accountability, because a teenager does know the difference between right and wrong and should be held accountable for their actions. I think we would see less juvenile crimes if young people were held accountable.

Responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power. -John G. Holland-


And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears."

1 Samuel 3:8-10

We see the Lord called to Samuel a third time. The Lord was waiting for two things to happen. First, he wanted to awaken Eli spiritually. At first, Eli, did not realize the Lord was calling Samuel. He thought Samuel was hearing things. Now, Eli perceived is it the Lord calling Samuel, and He is not calling Eli. Eli should have woken up spiritually by then and asked, "Why isn't God speaking to me? I am the leader."?

The second thing the Lord wanted to happen was for Samuel to answer Him. He called and called until Samuel answered back. God is persistent with us. He calls out with a desire to have a relationship with us, but sometimes we are too busy or distracted to hear and answer Him.

We have to realize, when we lose the anointing of God, God has to speak to somebody else, because we are not listening. We do not accept God's chastisement or His direction. Pastor Chuck always told us, "If you are no longer teachable, then God cannot use you." He will find someone else. He will raise up another Samuel, who is open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not. -Augustine-

Listening to God

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.

1 Samuel 3:8

I find something very interesting in this chapter. I ask myself, Why would God call Samuel and talk to the boy, instead of speaking to the priest? Think about that for a minute. Why did he not speak to the leader, the priest? Eli was the one appointed to speak to the people for the Lord. God would speak to him, and he would speak to the people.

The reason God had to go to Samuel was because there was no communication between God and Eli. It was cut off, because Eli was not listening to the Lord. God was looking for someone who wanted to hear and speak truth.

Eli had the position, like so many pastors and people in ministry, but they do not have the authority -- they do not have the authority of God. They do not even know who God is, because they do not hear Him.

This insight made me stop and examine my own personal life, because this is pretty heavy. When Eli realized it was the Lord, he did not ask himself, "How come He did not speak to me? How come He spoke to Samuel? If I am leading, why would He speak to somebody else?"

God will speak to somebody else when you are no longer leading. When you are no longer listening to God; He will speak to somebody else. He will use someone else, when you are no longer obedient to Him.

Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience withdraws from grace. -Thomas á Kempis-

God's Anointing

Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

1 Samuel 3:9

Finally, for the first time, Samuel is going to hear the voice of God. The Lord is going to speak to Him and reveal His plans to this young boy. If Eli had not experienced this with him, who would believe Samuel had really heard from the Lord?

This reminds me of a movie I watched when I was about 7 years old. I always remember this movie; it is called Marcelino Pan Y Vino, a Catholic movie. It was about this little boy and the Virgin appeared to him, but nobody believed him. Eventually, God gave him a miracle, so they would believe. I never forgot that movie.

When God comes into our lives, and we really hear the voice of God, people are not always going to believe us, because they have not heard the voice of God. They think we are dreaming or making it up. We do not have to worry about people believing. We just trust in the Lord and wait for Him to bring things to pass. Then you will see people believe.

I believe God wants to speak to each one of us. He wants to use our lives. He wants to anoint us to serve Him. He is just waiting for us to say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.' It always comes back to our choices. We choose whether we are going to walk with the Lord and listen to His voice or walk in the world, following the prompting of our flesh, Satan and the world. Think about it and seek the anointing of the Lord.

Divine work must be divinely initiated. -Watchman Nee-

Faithful & Just

Then the Lord said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end."

1 Samuel 3:11-12

The message the Lord gives to Samuel is not for Samuel; it is for Eli and his house. It is a message of coming judgment against the house of Eli. God had warned Eli, but there had been no repentance. Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, did not stop their evil ways and repent, and Eli did nothing to stop them, even though God warned them.

God revealed the judgment to Samuel in Verse 13:

For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.

Notice, his sons were vile before the Lord, and Eli did not restrain them. It was his responsibility to restrain his children. God placed the responsibility of training up children on the parents. It is not God's responsibility to restrain our children; it is ours.

God is faithful and just. That is His character. He gave the warning to Eli, and He gives us the warning when we are walking in sin and have become vile before Him. It is our responsibility to heed the warning and make a change. We cannot blame God. He is always faithful and just!

What God is to one saint He is to all saints. -William S. Plumer-

New Year’s Day

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:12-13

I love the Book of Jeremiah and the words he has for us. Remember, Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Throughout his entire ministry to the nation of Israel, not one person repented. He saw no fruit from his ministry, to comfort him in the great persecution he faced. Yet, he provided these comforting words to a rebellious people.

This is a great lesson for every Christian, especially as we enter into a new year. God has called each one of us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying people. He has called us to provide hope in the face of despair.

There are many people facing great trials. They have experienced tremendous loss: emotionally, physically and financially, and they were not prepared. They were trusting in themselves, their possessions and the people around them.

As we have walked with the Lord, we have come to the realization that hope can only be found in Jesus Christ. Without Him, we are all a hopeless people. We would have eternity in hell without Him.

As the nation of Israel went into captivity, Jeremiah gave them this message from God. He told them to call upon God, and He would listen. He said when they sought God with all their hearts, they would find Him. No matter how we begin this New Year, or the trials to come, we can find hope in the Lord. Outside of Him, we are truly a hopeless people.

Hope is grief's best music. -Author Unknown-

Rebellion Against God

"After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years."

Acts 13:20-21

We are going to start the New Year with the Book of 1 Samuel. There is so much for us to learn in Samuel. I think it can help us in these last days, as we see the wickedness of the world becoming acceptable behavior.

When we look at the country today, and the church, we see evil prospering. It is important to recognize, sinful living is no longer confined to the non-believer. Sinful living has become the norm for the Christian. How can this be so?

As we study 1 Samuel, we will study three major stars: Samuel, Saul and David. These are men who need to be studied in-depth, because they were each very different, with three different jobs.

The first person we will learn about is Samuel, who was called to be, not only a prophet, but also a judge. He was the last judge for the children of Israel, before they asked for a King. This is important, because this request from the nation of Israel was open rebellion against the Lord. They were not rejecting Samuel; they were rejecting God as their King.

Think about your own personal lives. How many people are being led by their emotions, because they do not want to be under authority? How many think the principles of Christian living, given in the Bible, need to be changed to align with the culture of today? Be careful, you are falling into the same sin as the people of Israel -- the desire to be like the world.

If I walk with the world, I can't walk with God. -D.L. Moody-

Repent & Cry Out

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 17:6

As we enter into the Book of 1 Samuel, we have to look at the state of the nation of Israel. In the Book of Judges, we see Joshua’s generation passed away and another generation came along who did not know the Lord (Judges 2:10). They did not remember the things of the Lord or how He had delivered them from their enemies.

Now, as we open the Book of 1 Samuel, we see the Israelites were doing their own thing; they did what was right in their own eyes, even though God had given them judges. Every time they went deep into sin, they were defeated by their enemies. The judge would cry out to God for them; but the moment there was peace, they went right back into the sin. It was a cycle of apostasy.

Look at the United States of America -- where are we today? Are we witnessing the judgment of God? We have sunk so deep into sin; we are falling so far from being a world leader. We are living in a time when so many do not know the Lord. It is a time of apostasy.

In many ways, we are living in the same conditions as the children of Israel during this time, but we are too blind to cry out to God. We continue to do what we think is right in our own eyes. I am talking about the church, not just the world.

It is time for the church to repent and cry out to the Lord. We cannot run towards the sins of the world. We must stop and make a stand. We must be like Samuel and stand in righteousness.

To do so no more is the truest repentance. -Martin Luther-

God's Plan

Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.

1 Samuel 1:1

Beginning in Chapter 1, we begin with the life of Elkanah. It is a story about a divided home. Elkanah was from Ramathaim Zophim, which is near Ramah. It is about 50 miles north of Jerusalem.

Elkanah's name in Hebrew means "acquired of God." God acquired this person to be the father of Samuel, whose name means, "asked of God." We see how God was establishing the base, the foundation. Coming into 1 Samuel, there was no one to lead the people. There was no leader, and the people were concerned.

Again, in the Book of Judges, everybody did what was right in their own eyes; so God was not giving them the victory over their enemies. They had no leadership to follow, and God, was not only aware of it, He was listening to the people and He already had a plan. The people did not know it, but God had an amazing plan.

God has a plan for each one of our lives, yet so often, we do not understand what He is doing, but He always has a plan and a purpose. He always knows what He is doing.

If you want God to do amazing things with your life, do not question the works of His hand. See where His Spirit is moving and jump in.

God watches and weeds us, and continues His labor upon us, till He brings us to the end of His promise. -Richard Sibbes-

Be a Blessing or a Curse

And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

1 Samuel 1:2

Now, we begin to see the source of the family division. Elkanah had two wives. One was Hannah, which means "grace," and the other, Peninnah, meaning "jewel," but she was no jewel or treasure. She was a mocker. She loved mocking Hannah, because Hannah could not have babies.

People often ask why God allowed men to have two or more wives in the Bible. It was never God's intention. In Genesis 2, God instituted marriage, and it was one husband with one wife. Polygamy came about, because it was the custom of the land, but not God’s custom.

During this time, if a woman could not have babies, then a man could take a second wife to bear children. The one who could not have a child was considered cursed. In Deuteronomy 7:13-14, Moses said having children was a blessing, so people thought barrenness was a curse.

This is the reason Peninnah was able to mock and torment Hannah. She believed she was blessed by God and Hannah was cursed, but she was wrong. Later, we will see how the Lord blessed Hannah.

Peninnah should have been a jewel. She should have been a treasure, but she was a thorn. She could have comforted Hannah but instead she was a curse.

We can be a blessing to others or a curse. It is not about our name, but who we are -- Christians.

If we are not very kind we are not very holy. -Author Unknown-

Fear of the Lord

This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there.

1 Samuel 1:3

Elkanah and his family went to the city of Shiloh every year, to worship the Lord and offer sacrifices. At this time, the tabernacle was in Shiloh, not Jerusalem. When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land, God had them assemble the tabernacle in Shiloh. This was before the permanent Temple of the Lord was built by Solomon in Jerusalem.

Shiloh was about 50 miles north of Ramathaim, where Samuel was born, and Elkanah’s family traveled there every year to worship the Lord. Imagine that. For us, 50 miles is nothing, but for them it was a great distance to travel, especially with your entire family.

Why did they make this journey every year? They went to worship the Lord of hosts. Now, this is the first time in the Bible we see the words, the Lord of hosts, which means, "the Lord of the armies," or "Lord of all creation."

Look at the great reverence Elkanah had for the Lord. He recognized who God is and went to the tabernacle yearly to offer sacrifices and worship the Lord. It was not easy, but he made the journey with his family, because He had the fear of the Lord. He was not afraid; He had great awe and reverence for God.

When we sleep in on Sunday, what is our excuse? Do we have awe and reverence for who God is?

The fear of God is the soul of godliness -John Murray-

Pursue God

And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb.

1 Samuel 1:4-5

He does not say anything about loving Peninnah, but he obviously loved Hannah more, even though she could not have babies. If not, he could have divorced her, but he loved her too much.

Elkannah felt bad for Hannah, and knew she suffered greatly, because she could not have babies. In his great love for her, he gave her a double portion to present to the Lord as an offering. He tried to ease her pain.

Although we know God closed her womb, I wonder if Satan used this to torment Hannah. Did he whisper words of condemnation in her ears and make her think she had done something awful, and the Lord was punishing her, by denying her children.

That is how Satan harasses people. He says, "You cannot have children because of what you did in the past." Satan always brings up our pasts to try and discourages us and make us turn from the Lord.

When we get harassed or condemned by Satan, we have to be like Hannah and come before the Lord. She brought her offering to the Lord every year. She did not walk away from God but she pursued Him.

Satan, the hinderer, may build a barrier about us, but he can never roof us in, so that we cannot look up. -J. Hudson Taylor-

God's Timing

And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb.

1 Samuel 1:6

Verse 6 gives us insight into the problem. The two women were rivals. They both sought Elkanah's attention. It seems Peninnah knew he loved Hannah more, so she used her barrenness as an instrument to harass her. Look what it says. Peninnah provoked Hannah to make her miserable. She harassed Hannah constantly.

While Peninnah worked so hard to make Hannah miserable, it was really the Lord who closed her womb. He was not trying to make her miserable. It is really important we understand; whatever God does, He has a purpose for it. Also, it is not our time but God's time. Remember that; it is always God's time.

When we want something, we get desperate. We get impatient. We start flipping out, and God says, "Well, go ahead do it, but I am not going to be with you." We step out of God's perfect will.

I think this is something for all of us to understand; whatever we do, we have to make sure we are aligned with God's purposes and God's perfect time. If not, it will fail and then who do we blame? God? No, blame yourself. You did not wait upon God.

Like Hannah, we have to wait on God. His perfect time is complete and on time. If we want to walk in His perfect will, we cannot be swayed by others. We have to allow God to do whatever He wants to do in our lives.

Nothing lies beyond the power of man if it is within the will of God. -James E. Crowther-

Strong Tower

So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.

1 Samuel 1:7

Peninnah did not harass Hannah for a short time. This went on and on for years. Year by year, Hannah would go up to the house of the Lord and Peninnah would provoke her. Finally, Hannah had too much and she broke down in tears. She was so tired of the constant harassment; she started weeping and stopped eating.

I really believe, at this particular moment, God was putting it in her heart to pray and fast. It was time for Hannah to really get serious with God. She had allowed the enemy, her rival, to harass her long enough. She had to bring it all before the Lord and allow Him to handle the situation.

I believe God allows things to happen in our lives in order to draw us closer to Him. Many times, we try to handle things on our own, in our own strength, when they are things requiring the power of God. We are unable to resolve them without the empowering of the Lord.

There are also times when God wants us to show our faith. Are we going to crumble under the threats of our enemies, or stand strong in the Lord, knowing He is our defense?

As Christians, this is an important lesson for each one of us. When people come against us, we have to rely upon the Lord. He is our defense. We can stand strong in Him -- our strong tower.

That my times are in God's hand is a fact, whether I realize and experience it or not. -E.F. Hallock-

Peace with God

Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"

1 Samuel 1:8

Elkanah thought his love for Hannah should be enough, but it was not about him. The situation she found herself in was distressing. She could not have children, and it broke her heart. Not only was her heart broken but she was reminded of her lack of children every day.

I love the way God works. Once God sees you breakdown; once He sees your humility and you separate yourself from everybody, start weeping, praying and fasting, results will come. I promise you. If you are not honest in your commitment to God and your devotion to God, then God will never answer your prayer.

God answers prayer according to His will, not according to your will or my will. This is important. Many times, we say, "God answered my prayers." Did He really? How do you know?

The only way I know God answered my prayer is the peace I find. There is peace in my life, and I do not have to struggle. When I do not have peace, I am worried. I am concerned, because I know something is wrong, and I cannot sleep or do anything until God gives me peace.

Hannah loved her husband, but she had no peace in her life. She was miserable. It was time to turn everything over to God and seek peace with God. It may be time for you to turn everything over to God and seek peace with Him.

Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God. -Alexander Maclaren-


So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.

1 Samuel 1:9-10

When Hannah went out, she did not know Eli was there. He was on one side and she was on the other side. She was so consumed with her grief, she did not see him. She was blinded by her tears and grief.

Hannah did three things we need to look at. She was in bitterness of her soul. She was weeping in anguish; and she was praying to the Lord. First, she was in bitterness of soul; does this mean she was angry with the Lord? No. In the Hebrew, the word for bitterness was mar and it means "of pain." She was in great pain, because she could not have children.

Next, it says she wept in anguish. Hannah longed for children and she wept in great pain, because the Lord had closed her womb. Because of her great pain and anguish, Hannah turned to the Lord in prayer. She knew it was the Lord's wilI, so she went before Him in great humility. She poured herself out to the Lord.

Her actions tell us so much. She did not go before God with a quick prayer, like we often do, "Jesus bless this food. In Jesus name. Amen." She went before the Lord in brokenness. She recognized her need for the great healer and physician; the Lover of her soul. Only God brings us deliverance in the midst of pain and suffering.

Calvary is God's great proof that suffering in the will of God always leads to glory. -Warren Wiersbe-

Raise Up a Child

Then she made a vow and said, "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."

1 Samuel 1:11

Hannah came before the Lord and she told Him her great affliction. She was barren. She asked the Lord specifically for a child, but not just a child, a male child. Why? I believe the Lord had already shown her He was looking for a man to be a leader in the temple. Here was a godly woman praying for a godly son; he would be the leader of Israel.

How do you know what your children will be like? It all depends on us; the way we live. There is a time and age when they will make their own choices; but, if they have had a godly influence, like my son Ryan, they come back to the Lord. Why? The Word of God.

When parents brainwash their children with the Word of God, showing love and not condemning, they remember the love of the Lord. If they have never witnessed God's love, grace and mercy, what do they have to come back to? Nothing.

Hannah prayed for a son, to give back to the Lord. What an example. Our children are gifts from God. As godly parents, we have to raise them in the Lord and give them back, so they can serve the Lord.

What we desire our children to be we must endeavor to be before them. -Andrew Combe-

Love & Comfort

And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; 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 be drunk? Put your wine away from you!"

1 Samuel 1:12-14

Hannah did not notice Eli, but he saw her, as she was mumbling, praying to God. Now Hannah did not pray out loud. She spoke in her heart, and her lips were moving, so Eli thought she was drunk.

Eli did not ask her what was wrong. He did not go up to her to minister to her. He asked her if she was drunk. He misjudged her and made an accusation against her.

It is important to remember, in Verse 10, it said Hannah wept in anguish when she left the table and went outside. Eli was at the doorpost and he saw her come out, weeping in anguish. Instead of ministering to her in her time of torment, he accused her of being drunk.

How many times have you been misjudged, because someone did not know your heart? How many times have you been in the middle of a terrible trial and someone came against you and made you feel worse?

This is what happens in the House of the Lord and it should never be. It should never be. We are to love and comfort one another (Philippians 2:1-2).

If a man says he is a Christian but has no love he is simply deluding himself. -Geoffrey Thomas-

Poured Out Soul

But Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now."

1 Samuel 1:15-16

Underline these words, poured out my soul before the Lord. Hannah was broken before the Lord. She was pouring out the anguish of her spirit to the Lord. Hannah did not just pray; she wept and fasted before the Lord. God saw the heart of Hannah, and He knew she sought Him in all things.

Then she said, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now. This was not the first time, she had cried out to the Lord. She had been doing this for many years. This was her life; praying, weeping, asking and waiting. She prayed continuously for a child, and God knew it was her greatest desire. This year, everything was going to change and it would be according to God's purposes and divine timing.

Hannah is teaching the church a very important lesson. I think this attitude of prayer is lacking in churches today. We have to really pour out our souls before God. We have to come before Him in brokenness, seeking the will of the Lord.

When we come before the Lord and He sees the desires of our hearts, He will answer our prayers, but not always the way we think it should be. God answers our prayers according to His will because He knows what will build us up and what will destroy us.

God's heavenly plan doesn't always make earthly sense. -Charles R. Swindoll-

God's Promises Bring Peace

Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." And she said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

1 Samuel 1:17-18

Eli was a priest in the House of the Lord, not a prophet, but the Lord used him to speak to Hannah. He told Hannah not to grieve anymore, because God was going to grant her petition. God was going to answer her prayer and give her a child. There was no need for her to weep any longer.

When Hannah heard these words from Eli, she believed him. She did not doubt God would answer her prayer and give her a son. It says she stopped fasting and went away happy. She did not have a sad face.

With these words from Eli, there was no more condemnation, no more anguish; there was peace. She had peace because her hope and faith were in the Lord. She no longer had to face the shame of being barren.

Hannah went away trusting in the Lord. Her faith was not in Eli. He told her the God of Israel grant your petition. Eli did not take credit, he pointed to the Lord. He told her God would give her a child.

In the Bible, God has given all of us His promises. They are there for every believer, so we do not lose hope. The problem with us is we do not always believe the promises. If you want the peace Hannah had, you have to hold onto the promises of God.

Faith and promise meeting make a happy mixture, a precious confection. -John Trapp-

God's Plans & Purposes

Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.

1 Samuel 1:19

There are two important things to notice here. First, they rose early in the morning to worship the Lord. Every place you read in the Old Testament and the New Testament, God's people always started their day by worshipping God.

I agree with the Bible. It is so important to start your day with the Lord, and then you will be able to walk in the spirit throughout the day. If you do not take time for the Lord first thing in the morning, you risk walking in the flesh.

The second thing I notice in this verse is that the Lord remembered Hannah. That is so cool. Hannah had prayed to the Lord. She had worshipped the Lord, even when she was sad, and God remembered her.

He had never forgotten her, but He was working in His time. It was God's perfect timing for Elkanah to go into her, so Hannah would get pregnant with Samuel. It was not just God's perfect timing for Hannah to have a baby. It was God's perfect timing for a new judge to be born. God gave Samuel to Hannah, because He knew He was going to use Samuel tremendously.

We have to remember, God has a plan for each one of our lives. We just have to worship and wait upon Him, and He will use our lives in a great way.

God knows what He is going to make of us. -James Montgomery Boice-

Wasted Worry

So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked for him from the Lord." Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow.

1 Samuel 1:20-21

One year after Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord and Eli the priest prayed God would grant her petition, Elkanah and his family returned to Shiloh to worship the Lord and offer their yearly sacrifice. This time, Hannah did not go with them to Shiloh, because the Lord had answered her prayers.

Hannah had a child, a little boy and she named him Samuel, which means "asked of God." Hannah had petitioned the Lord for a child and God answered her prayer.

Only one year earlier, Hannah had been in tears, in anguish before the Lord. Now, her sorrows had turned to joy, as she bore her son. It may have seemed like an eternity before the Lord had answered her prayer, but it was not.

Isn't it funny how we can get so caught up in our wants and desires? There are things we want badly, and we think the Lord is not listening to us, or He does not love us, because He is not giving us our wants. That is not the case. God knows what is best for us and all things are done according to His perfect will. He has our best interest in mind; we can wait upon Him and not be stressed out. Do not waste your time worrying.

Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us. -Oswald Chambers-

Fully Trusting God

But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever."

1 Samuel 1:22

Hannah was a woman of her word. Remember what she told the Lord back in 1 Samuel 1:11: … but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, …

Can you imagine what she said to her husband? She finally had a child but she was not going to keep him, so she told Elkanah, "Honey, I am going to take this baby and leave him in the house of the Lord. I am not going to bring him back. I am going to give him to the Lord."

Think about the heart of Hannah. She was not leaving the baby for a short time. She told Elkanah Samuel would remain there forever. Elkanah did not argue with her. He told her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord establish His word" (1 Samuel 1:23).

Both Hannah and Elkanah were trusting in the Lord. Their faith was fully and completely in Him. They recognized the Lord gave them Samuel and they stood by their promise to give him back to the Lord.

We perform baby dedications, where we dedicate the babies unto the Lord. We present them to God, but we do not physically give them away. People do not leave the children at the church to be raised by the pastor. When parents dedicate their children to the Lord today, they must be trusting in the Lord to keep them. More importantly, they must keep their word to raise their children in the Lord.

Children need to be trained, not just in the facts of life, but in the ways of life. -Author Unknown-

God First

Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, "O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord."

1 Samuel 1:24-26

Once Samuel was weaned, Hannah fulfilled her promise to the Lord and took him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. She took him to Eli, so she could show him how the Lord had heard her prayers and given her a son.

One year earlier, Eli had rebuked Hannah, because he thought she was drunk when she was praying to the Lord. Then, after she explained her anguish to him, Eli told her, in Verse 17, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him."

As the Lord was faithful to Hannah, she was faithful to the Lord. She brought her sacrifice to the Lord, along with Samuel, and she gave them to the Lord. She left her son at Shiloh to serve the Lord all of his days.

When I look at my sons, I cannot imagine how Hannah was able to leave her son behind. I am sure it was the hardest thing she ever did, but God was first in her life. She did not put anyone before Him.

Is God first in your life? Can you give up possessions or people, if the Lord asks you to? Learn from Hannah. When you put God first, He will give you the desires of your heart.

God requires no more than faithfulness in our place. -William Gurnall-

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

1 John 2:9-10

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known as a man who had a dream. Although he died in 1968, people still recognize him as a great leader, a great speaker and a man of peace. He chose love over hate. He encouraged people to solve problems through peace and not violence.

I find it interesting; every year, when this devotion comes out for the national recognition of Dr. King, people write in to tell us what a horrible person he was. Every year, someone has to write in with hate against a man who is no longer here and cannot defend himself.

I never knew the reverend, but I know he studied God's Word. I know he was a shepherd to the flock at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Most importantly, I know he loved the Lord. He loved Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

I think it is so important to think before we speak hateful things about another brother or sister in the Lord. Why? John told us. Those who hate their brother or sister live in the darkness. They are not walking with the Lord. They are not in the light.

Remember, we are all flawed. We are all sinful by nature, but when we come to Christ, we must step into the light and leave the darkness behind. If we choose to walk in darkness, we cannot call ourselves sons and daughters of God.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-

Trust Through Sorrows

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.

1 Samuel 1:27

We need to learn to give God the glory and keep our promises to Him. Look at what Hannah said, "I prayed and I am giving him back to the Lord; that is the covenant God and I made. If You give him to me, I will give him back to You Lord. I will give him back to You, because Lord I love You more than I love my child." That is so cool.

Think about how many mommies love their children more than they love the Lord. The children become idols and when idols are built, God takes them away. He will not put up with idols in anybody's life. It is very important for us to understand what takes place.

I remember when my little brother died. Imagine what it must have been like for my mom, knowing her child was gone forever. I have never lost a child; I do not know the feeling, but I have watched my friends go through it and it is a tremendous loss.

Hannah did not lose Samuel to death, but she willingly gave him back to the Lord. It was still a great loss in her life.

It is hard to lose someone you love and yet, God is in control of our lives. God knows what we can handle and what we cannot handle. If we do not trust in the Lord, we are going to point a finger at God. We will get angry and bitter with God. Either God is in control or God is not in control. If we fully trust the Lord, we must trust Him during our sorrows, as well as our celebrations.

Better to have a Christian's days of sorrows than a worldling's joys. -C. H. Spurgeon-

Blown Away By God

"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.

1 Samuel 1:28

I love this verse, because Hannah gave Samuel to God and she was not taking him back. Hannah would visit, but she would not raise her firstborn child. Samuel was given to the Lord for his entire life. He belonged to God.

This could have been a day of great sadness for Hannah and Elkanah. There could have been weeping and anguish of heart, but what happened? They worshipped the Lord. They gave their child to the Lord, and then they worshipped Him.

How could this be? Why would they worship at this time? They recognized the blessings of God. They knew Samuel was a gift from the Lord and Hannah had made a promise to God, to give him back. Hannah was blown away by God and the awesome gift He had given her, so she worshipped Him, just like anyone of us would do when blessed by the Lord.

When you look at your life today, are you blown away? Look how far you have come in the Lord and what God has done in your life. You might not think about it, but He has blessed you and will continue to bless you, as long as you remain open to the Holy Spirit. When you are humble before God and listening to what the Spirit is saying God will use your life. He will bless you. He uses people who are simple, humble and have a desire and a passion to serve Him, fully and completely.

The more we are humbled in grace, the more we shall be exalted in glory. -C. H. Spurgeon-

Salt & Light

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.

Psalm 12:1

In the Book of 1 Samuel, the Lord revealed the great need for a righteous man to make a stand. He needed to make a stand not just for himself, but for the nation of Israel. He had to stand for righteousness and holiness.

That was God's purpose when Hannah, through prayer, became pregnant. The Lord blessed her and opened her womb to receive a child. She delivered her baby, and named him Samuel, which means "asked of God." She prayed, and God answered; giving Israel a righteous leader.

Israel was in big trouble. Not only did they need righteousness, but they needed to be salt and light to the heathen nations. In the Book of Judges, God gave Israel opportunity by raising up judges to lead them righteously. Every time the judges were called upon, they would deliver the people, but then the people would go right back to their vomit -- just like the people today, they go right back to the vomit.

How are we going to get the message out to the people who do not know the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How are we going to raise up Samuels, who will stand in righteousness and not compromise? If we constantly walk in the darkness, we cannot lead people into the light.

In the second chapter of 1 Samuel, we are going to see the difference between Eli's family, an unrighteous priesthood, and the righteous priesthood of Samuel. We will learn to be salt and light to the world.

No candle which God lights was ever meant to burn alone. -J.C. Ryle-

Salvation through Christ

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."

1 Samuel 2:1

In Chapter 1 of 1 Samuel, Hannah was blessed by the Lord and given a child, who she dedicated to serve the Lord for his entire life. Now, in Chapter 2, we have Hannah’s Song of prophecy. She not only became God's choice to bring forth Samuel, but she gave us the prophecy of future salvation, through Jesus Christ.

The significance of salvation is that it is a gift -- a free gift -- you do not have to pay for it. In Ephesians 2, Paul the Apostle explained how the gift of God is free. We are saved by the grace of God not by works. It is the grace of God, given to each one of us individually.

Jesus Christ was not yet born, but Samuel's mother was speaking about what was happening in her time and the Holy Spirit came and gave her this incredible prophecy.

In the New Testament, Luke 2, before Christ was born, we have Mary's Song, when Mary exalted God for giving her the baby Jesus. Just like Hannah, Mary exalted the Lord for the salvation we receive through Christ Jesus.

Do you exalt God? Do you recognize where your salvation comes from. The greatest gift we will ever receive is our salvation and, while it is free to us, it cost the Lord greatly. He gave His only Son, so we would be saved. Think about it and give God the glory.

God does not owe you salvation. You deserve damnation, but He provides salvation. -Billy Sunday-

Rejoice in Salvation

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.”

1 Samuel 2:1

As I read the Scriptures I see nothing but simplicity. I see the power of God. I see the exaltation of God. This is what Hannah was doing in her prayer. She was praising the Lord, and she went even further by saying, "I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice at Your salvation."

Hannah lived with her enemy. Remember, Peninnah was Elkanah's other wife and she tormented Hannah day and night. She could not get away from her enemy, because she was in the same house.

What God did for Hannah is so cool, because He shut down her enemy. Peninnah tormented Hannah, because she could not have children, so the Lord gave her Samuel and then more children. God took the enemy's weapon away from her.

Now, Hannah was able to smile at her enemy, because she was rejoicing in the Lord. She rejoiced in the salvation of the Lord.

What can your enemy do to you, when God is on your side? Nothing, but you can go before God, fall on your face and pray. When we bring our petitions before the Lord, we can truly trust He is going to take care of it. People can do things to you physically, but emotionally and spiritually, you have to rely upon the Lord. He is your protector -- yours. If you are being defeated the problem is not with God, the problem is with you. Rejoice in your salvation and let God take care of your enemies.

If God has said, 'I will never leave,' we may well say, 'What shall man do?' -John Brown-

Rock of our Salvation

"No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God."

1 Samuel 2:2

Hannah began her song unto the Lord with praise and adoration. She recognized who God was in her life. He is like no other God; He is holy, like none of the heathen gods.

Hannah lived surrounded by heathen nations. She saw their idols and their gods but she did not worship them, because she knew those gods were nothing more than manmade idols. They were not holy and had no power.

Hannah not only recognized the holiness of God, but she also saw Him as her firm foundation -- her Rock. Throughout the Old Testament, the Scriptures point to Jesus Christ as the Rock of my salvation. From Deuteronomy 32:15, through the Psalms and into Isaiah 17:10, the Scriptures declare Christ as the Rock of our salvation.

The people of Israel recognized the Rock of their salvation, but at times, they turned from Him, as in Deuteronomy 32:15:

"But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; you grew fat, you grew thick, you are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation."

In our own lives, we must not only recognize Christ as the Rock of our salvation, but we must treat Him as the Rock -- esteeming Him higher than all other and walking with Him, day by day.

The sea ebbs and flows, but the Rock remains unmoved. -Robert Murray M'Cheyne-

Weighed & Measured

"Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed."

1 Samuel 2:3

Notice, once you recognize who God is -- holy and the Rock of our salvation -- we have to put aside our pride and arrogance. How can we be prideful before the Lord, when we know what retched people we are? We know who we are inside and how we act when we are alone, so we cannot be arrogant before our holy God.

We are not the only ones who truly know us from the inside out. Look at what Hannah said, God has all knowledge and He weighs or measures our actions. What does it mean to measure our actions? God looks at the intent of our heart and determines whether our actions have been done with the right motive.

We can pray every day, but if we are doing it to be seen by man, they are worthless. We can serve in the church or go out and take care of the homeless, but if we are doing it for a pat on the back or to look holy, there is no reward in heaven for it. That is how God weighs our actions.

It is so important to remember who we serve. We can do all kinds of things to impress people but those things will never impress God. He looks at our hearts and sees our motives. He alone knows if we are serving because we love Him and we want to bless others.

It is so cool to serve the Lord and bless others, not just to be blessed by God, but to bless the Lord.

The best past of all Christian work is that part which only God sees. -Andrew Bonar-

All Glory to God

"The bows of the mighty men are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, and the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, and she who has many children has become feeble."

1 Samuel 2:4-5

Remember, in Verse 3, Hannah told us God weighs or measures our actions. He looks at the intent of our hearts to determine whether what we do is done to glorify Him or bring attention to ourselves.

In Verses 4 and 5, she gives examples of what happens when God weighs our actions, including her personal situation with Peninnah. When our motives are not right before the Lord, the mighty are brought down, the rich are made hungry and the person who has many children will become feeble.

Clearly, Hannah was speaking of Peninnah. While she was blessed with many children, she did not comfort Hannah in her barrenness; she tormented her. Then, in 1 Samuel 2:1, Hannah did not retaliate against Peninnah. She smiled at her enemy, so she was kind to her and her motives were pure. We know this because God blessed her.

God is in control of all things. Look at Verse 6: "The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up."

We do not have to worry about those who come against us. We have to guard our own hearts and be sure we bring glory and honor to the Lord.

A concern for the glory of God is the ultimate motive for Christian living. -Author Unknown-

God Promotes

"The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord"s, and He has set the world upon them."

1 Samuel 2:7-8

Promotion does not come from the East or the West, it comes from the Lord, the Lord is the one who raises one up and takes down others. It all comes from the Lord, because He has set the earth on its path. He has placed every star in the sky and He holds the universe in the palm of His hand. It is an awesome thing to realize the power and might of the Lord. He truly is the giver of life.

There are many men and women in this world who believe they have become successful on their own. They are self-made men and women. However, the Scriptures tell us a different story. It is the Lord who raises a person out of poverty and makes him to sit among princes.

Now, I am not saying you should sit back, be lazy and wait for the Lord to give you a job or promote you in your job. God expects us to use our minds, to be productive and use the gifts and talents He has given us to serve Him and serve other. In doing this, He will promote you. He will bring you to the attention of the people in charge.

We cannot get caught up in success, as the world defines success. God raises up and God sets down. He looks at our hearts -- our desires and our motives -- and He works things to accomplish His purposes.

God's providence leaves room for our prudence. -Matthew Henry-

Walk Confidently with God

"He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness. For by strength no man shall prevail."

1 Samuel 2:9

This is a very important verse. If we want to walk through this life with confidence, we have to memorize this verse, because in ourselves, we cannot be confident. Look at what it says, God will guard the feet of His saints. He will keep us from falling. This is a promise from the Lord.

Then, it says man will not overcome with his own strength. The strength of man is weak in comparison to the strength of the Lord. That is why the wicked will be silent, because they cannot prevail in their own strength.

What is so cool about this verse is the promise God has given us. We do not have to rely on our own strength, because the Lord will keep us from falling. He guards our footsteps.

I experienced this when I had flashbacks for the first time since I had been in Vietnam during the war. I had been healthy and strong all of my life and suddenly, I was struck down. I was laying on the floor facedown before the Lord in prayer. I had no strength in myself. I was dependent upon Him, fully and completely.

The best thing about my experience was realizing I was strongest when I was resting in the strength of the Lord. When we are weak and realize we cannot do it on our own, we place our trust completely in the Lord and He does not fail us. We can walk with confidence, as He guards our steps and gives us strength.

It is better to be as low as hell with a promise than in paradise without one. -John Flavel-

Judgment of God

"The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed."

1 Samuel 2:10

In Verse 10, Hannah ends her prayer. In Verses 1 and 2, she praised the Lord and recognized Him as her Protector and the Provider of her salvation. She spoke of His holiness and how no one compared to the greatness of God.

As she continued through her prayer, she spoke of the mightiness of the Lord and warned those who would come against Him. She said all things are done by Him, men are raised up and they are brought low, but those who come before Him humbly will be blessed.

As she closed her prayer, she spoke of the future. She spoke to those who would come against the Lord and be His adversaries in the Tribulation Period. They will face the judgment of God in the last seven years of world history.

It is important to realize, those who choose to be enemies of God will not prevail. It may seem like they are prosperous right now, but in the end, they will face judgment. Whether they die now or go through the judgment, all who come against the Lord will be broken in pieces.

While God will give strength to those who follow Him and exalt His anointed, judgment will come against God's enemies. The judgment of God is a powerful thing!

God will give the rebel what he chooses and what he deserves. -Simon Austen-