The Possibilities are Limitless
1 Samuel 1.1-16
This past week Barack Obama depending on who you listen to did the expected or did the unexpected. The community that believes he did the expected build the argument on the basis that he won a neighboring state to his home state of Illinois and no one should be surprised or consider it an upset based on him winning Iowa. Those who call it unexpected believes that although senator Obama made a splash on the national scene at the 2004 democratic national convention, that transforming the mindset of America to vote for a young African American candidate with an African name is most unlikely. Yet with all of that on this past Thursday against conventional wisdom in the most unlikely of places and with the state having a record turnout Barack Obama won the Iowa primary. We acknowledge that there is a long way to go before the democratic convention and much to be resolved. However we have in Senator Obama one who was able to bring people together crossing lines of race, age, and economics to raise a unified voice. Listening to Senator Obama’s speeches and to that of the political analyst they all agree that he was able to sway voters on the idea that the time for change is now. Senator Clinton is more of a household name, senator Edwards has more experience in national elections but it was the message for change and the appeal of Senator Obama that won the day in Iowa. A message that got though to the voters in Iowa was the need for change, the need for a change in direction in Washington and a change in the persons leading our nation. Maybe the issues of Iraq and other pressing national and local issues created a gulf by which the idea of change could be the central theme to a presidential campaign but it took someone to galvanize the people to promote and generate a change in the way people looked at political candidates and the way they would vote. In a state where the African American population only consisted of two percent of the states total how would he do? Well history has been recorded and the answer is that he did the unimaginable he won Iowa. 2008 a year of new beginning, I see in Senator Obama’s an opportunity for all of us to evaluate, to embrace and to engage a climate of change. A time to break down old stereotypes, tear down old racial barriers, eliminate fragmented cultures and move toward a common goal of effective change for a better today and a better tomorrow. The reality is the only way that Senator Obama or any of the other candidates for president create change is via the actions that others must take to create the possibility of change. It will rest with the voters to create change, those who choose to vote initiate change, those that voter their political conscience initiate change, those that rally their neighbors initiate change. This idea of change and if not change maturing to new levels ought to appeal to us all. We are all challenged to see the potential and to move toward that potential, to understand that the possibilities are limitless and if we embrace the possibilities then great things can happen. Regardless of your political choices the power of possibility exists for you as well, the possibility of change and or maturation is within your grasp. There is no better time for such a process to begin in and with you than in the beginning of this year of new beginnings. I know the spirit of doubt that can be so overwhelming that crates pessimism, that crates uncertainty, that makes so say here we go again with another hurrah sermon. But I want to share with you by the aide of the holy spirit a method that can create the change you are looking for or bringing you to a greater place of maturity in an area where it is much needed. I believe that is what our text offers for us this morning, a process and a method that can bring us to maturation and that can create change within us.
The children of Israel were not under bondage at this time. They were not wondering in the wilderness. They were not worshipping idols; they did not have to worry about Pharaoh or his army. They were worshipping the one and only true God. They were offering up sacrifices to the Lord, they were living theirs lives the way God required them to live and doing the things God required them to do. In that essence it was the best of times. Eli, the High Priest, had two sons by the name of Hophni and Phinas, and these men were wicked men that caused a lot of distress and confusion among the people. The name Hophni means (Pugilist) boxer if you will and the name Phinehas means (Serpents mouth). We have a lot of fighters and liars in church today. The Bible says these men were the sons of “Belial”, which is another name for the Satan, it means worthlessness, wickedness, and ungodly. Hophni and Phinehas refused to obey God, they didn’t hold to the custom of the priest; they stole the offering of the people that was a sacrifice to the Lord. They threatened the people with bodily harm, they caused the women, who had dedicated their lives to the Lord in the temple (Nuns if you will) to commit adultery. They defiled the temple and when confronted of their atrocities the failed to repent. At a time when things should have been the best of times for the Children of Israel, these men made it the worst of times, they caused confusion and fear and because of their power and position they were Temple Tormentors.
We see in the 1st chapter that the winds of desire had begun to blow by the house of a man by the name of Elkanah. Elkanah was a God fearing man; he lived his life the way God required him to. He worshipped the Lord, offered up sacrifices in Shiloh yearly, he took care of his family. He loved the Lord, he was truly a godly man, but Elkanah had two wives. (Someone say good God a mighty). The name of the one was Hannah and the name of the other was Peninah. The name Hannah means “Gracious” the name Peninah means “Pearl” it is imperative that you remember that because I’ll be going somewhere with that in a minute. the Bible says that Peninah had children, but Hannah had no children because the Lord had shut up her womb. Understand that a certain stigma went with not being able to have children in those days. She was ridiculed, mocked, harassed, talked abut, made to feel as though she was incomplete and a misfit. It was even believed that she had sinned against God and this was the curse that God had placed upon her for the sin she had committed. Even-though she could not have children, Elkanah loved Hannah, not for what she could give him, but for what she meant to him. The Bible says that to Peninah and her children he gave portions, but to Hannah he gave a worthy portion. He treated her especially well. He gave her gifts, showered her with love; he treated her like a Nubian queen. But even in all of this Hannah wept. Elkanah asked her “Am I not better to thee than ten sons” he tried to comfort her, but Hannah still wept.
Note: Man is unable to take the natural things to satisfy the spiritual; however, God will take the natural to produce the something in the spiritual.
1. You need to be in church: She rose and presented herself before the lord Vs 9 Change takes place when you commit yourself to the things of God. The bible says to us that Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. What is different now from the years before when Elkanah had brought his family to worship at Shiloh? In the past she had been at this place at this time and change had not occurred for her. Her prayer year after year was the same. Lord bless me and my husband with a child but up to now nothing had changed. Do you understand what Hannah must have been going through? Have you ever prayed for something to happen, but it did not happen. Have you ever brought something before God that you needed to occur in your life but felt as if though God had nor heard or had not responded to your prayer? What is the difference between folk that have their request met and those that walk away empty handed. The difference in what she had done in the past and what she is doing now is she is not just at worship she is in worship. Too many folk are at church, but not in church. In order to get something out of worship you got to put something into worship. When I get here, I may start out pretty and peaceful but before it is over I got to get out of this what I need to make it for another week. If you need God to do something for you, if you need God to respond to your crisis you better not worry about who sees you, who is talking, and what they are saying. You need God to respond in a way that only God can. It is not about being at church, it is about being in church. Elkanah tried everything he could to make her happy, but was unable to. WHY, because Hannah’s problem was spiritual more than it was physical. When you have a spiritual problem physical things won’t fix it. When you have a spiritual problem materialistic things can’t solve it. When you have a spiritual problem, the only thing that will rectify it is something spiritual. That’s why our suicide rate is so high, because people have a spiritual problem and they are trying to solve it through physical and material means and it can’t be done. Hannah’s problem was spiritual and not physical. Remember Hannah means “Gracious” and Peninnah means, “Pearl”. When we think about a pearl we often think of something of great value, but understand that before a pearl becomes something of great value, it first is an irritant that has lodged itself into the body of an oyster, causing the oyster to produce nacre that envelopes the irritant until that thing that irritated it turns into something of great value. Peninnah was Hannah’s irritant, for the Bible says Peninnah provoked her. Often times God will allow a Peninnah to enter into the life of a Hannah in order to cause that person to produce spiritual nacre, which is the image and likeness of God, until that thing that irritated you is turned into something of great value.
2. Ferverent Prayer: In her distress she prayed vs 10 Let me explain this: That supervisor that gives you a hard time for no reason at all has been strategically placed in your life by God to irritate you to the point, that you desire a change, which causes you to produce something of great value. You used to go to work, walk in, go to your desk, go about your day, but now, you go to work and before you get out of the car, you sit in the parking lot and begin to pray, why, because you are about to face Peninnah. That Peninnah has irritated you, causing you to produce spiritual nacre, because you desire a change. The spiritual nacre is Prayer; you didn’t use to pray before you went to work, but now, you are praying which produces a closer relationship with God, WHY, because of your Peninnah. Peninnah irritated Hannah so that she was in bitterness of soul. Bitterness of soul is according to the dictionary, the quality or state of being bitter, sharp, implacable, and resentful, in deep distress, grief and vexation. WATCH THIS: What happens in bitterness of soul is “It causes the steel of disgust and anger to pierce the soul deep inside, which ignites a fire of desire for change. That thing that has been irritating you, that person that has been aggravating you, has been positioned exactly where they are in order to cause a desire for change to impregnate you. (Any body ready to get pregnant?) When you get a desire for change, you get tired of being at the same old level, you get tired of having church as usual, and you begin to do things differently. Your praise changes, your hunger for the word changes your attitude changes. You used to skip Sunday school and Bible Class, but now you skip to it. You don’t quite understand it yourself, all you know is something is going on in me. YOU HAVE BECOME PREGNANT.
3. You have to operate in faith” vs 18 “her countenance were sad no longer After she returned home she conceived and gave birth to Samuel. No where after she had given birth do you ever find in the Bible where Peninah provoked her again, WHY, because a change had come. After Hannah had weaned Samuel she gave him back to the Lord and he grew and stayed at the temple. I wondered why God would allow Hannah to give her son to Eli to grow up in the temple. I know that she made a vow and she was keeping her vow, but there was trouble in the temple. God revealed something to me. That which changed Hannah was going to change Israel. If you read the rest of 1st Samuel you’ll see the change that Samuel made. What I’m trying to say is that thing that changed your life is also to help someone else. God is not a selfish God, he doesn’t just change you for you, but he changes you that you my help somebody else. God forbid we get saved and the only thing we do is come to church. God did not give you the Holy Ghost just to make it into Heaven, if that was the case 5 minutes after you received it you should have died, but God changed your life that you may let the world know.
Wrap Up: In the gift of Hannah we find a Christological moment, what God Gave Hannah in the person of Samuel, is what God gave us in the person of Jesus. Jesus is our gift and came to meet every yearning desire of our lives, to fill the emptiness in our lives, to fill the void that life offers. God hears our cries, our pity and meets us in the place of our every need in our Christ.