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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

grateful

A low hiss of frustration might have escaped Martha’s lips as she glanced across the room, taking in her sister’s almost worshipful appearance as she leaned in to hear each of the Rabbi’s words.

Didn’t Mary realize there was work to be done? Dough to be shaped. Place settings arranged. Water to be drawn. Yet, Mary sat. It was Martha who rushed about preparing a meal for Jesus and the disciples who had traveled with him from Jerusalem. It was Martha who filled mugs as quickly as they were emptied. Martha who met the needs of the each guest.

Her flushed cheeks and quick movements became more pronounced as Mary lingered ever longer at Jesus’ feet.

Hospitable and servant-minded, Martha’s penchant for detail overcame the desire to give of her time. Share from the heart. Overwhelmed by the details of presentation and preparation, Martha reverted to accusation.

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40)

Christ’s words gently rebuked.

Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41)

Turning kind, penetrating eyes her direction she knew he recognized the selfishness of her request. Realized her motive. Understood and still loved.

She, too, loved the Lord but had forgotten, or not yet learned, that Christ prefers worship to works. Martha’s personalized list of do’s and don’ts, designed to prove her worth or express her commitment paled in comparison to the simple act of resting in the company of Christ. Soaking in the words of the Bread of Life rather than fretting over one task and then another in an effort to serve the Imperishable the perishable.

One thing is necessary, friend. All of our fretting, worrying and doing fail to lead us closer to Christ. Instead, our fulfillment comes at His feet in moments of worshipful stillness when our hearts are bent toward the God who requires no more than us.

May we have the wisdom to set aside the temporary for the eternal each day and discover Jesus afresh as we absorb the Living Word.

 

Blessings,

Tammy

 

Also sharing at: Blessed but Stressed, God Sized Dreams

 

 

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Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons? (1 Samuel 1-MSG)

 

He didn’t understand. A loving husband, he reassured her of his devotion and cast aside the expectations of the day. But thoughts of the other woman intruded—unwelcome—and the cruel sting of her words embedded themselves in the tender places of Hannah’s soul.

At times, Hannah’s heart felt as hollow as her womb and, despite Elkanah’s gentle encouragement and generous love-gifts, nothing relieved the emptiness of her arms.

How she longed to hold a baby—feel its precious weight against her, inhale the fresh-from-heaven-scent, experience the ebb and flow of mother-life pouring sweet and abundant from her body to nourish a child.

Yet the years passed—one, two, ten or more–and the journey to the Lord’s tabernacle became Hannah’s personal trail of tears—the path from sorrow to depression and depression to despair.

Maybe He was her last resort. Perhaps it was the nudging of the Spirit. But, on one particular return visit to the tabernacle, Hannah made a decision that changed her life and impacted the spiritual direction of an entire nation.

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She prayed.

Crushed in soul (1 Sam. 1-MSG) and weeping with abandon, Hannah poured out every bit of her brokenness before God—the hurt, the loneliness, the desperation. Her fervent praying even caught the attention of Eli, the tabernacle’s priest. Mistaking Hannah’s silent muttering for drunkenness, God’s man even reprimanded her.

You’re drunk. How long do you plan to keep this up?

 Upon hearing Hannah’s story, though, he pronounced a blessing—a salve to an aching woman’s wounds.

Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.

 A few years later, Hannah returned to the place of her prayers—a young boy trailing by her side. Greeting the old priest, the woman who had bowed humbly before God explained that this child—her child—belonged to the Lord.

And they worshiped Him together.

What an incredible picture of God’s faithfulness and mercy! The God Who Sees All never lost sight of His daughter. He listened to her cries, captured each tear, and answered her prayers.

And this same unchanging, all-knowing, wonder-working God? He is there for us in the same way He was for Hannah—patiently waiting for us to come to Him with our needs…our burdens…our hurts.

And, one day? Maybe the same will be said of you or me.

She prayed.

 

Scripture for Reflection

  1.  Do you think it’s a coincidence that each time Hannah was preparing to worship, the enemy came against her?
  2. What causes you to struggle in worship?
  3.  How has God redeemed your past hurts?  Or, is there a heart-wound you are laying before Him now?
  4.  In what way does His faithfulness encourage you in your walk?

 

1 Samuel 1

1-2 There once was a man who lived in Ramathaim. He was descended from the old Zuph family in the Ephraim hills. His name was Elkanah. (He was connected with the Zuphs from Ephraim through his father Jeroham, his grandfather Elihu, and his great-grandfather Tohu.) He had two wives. The first was Hannah; the second was Peninnah. Peninnah had children; Hannah did not.

3-7 Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and offer a sacrifice to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as the priests of God there. When Elkanah sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his wife Peninnah and all her children, but he always gave an especially generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because God had not given her children. But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite.

Her husband Elkanah said, “Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?”

9-11 So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow:

Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.

12-14 It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!”

15-16 Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.”

17 Eli answered her, “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.”

18 “Think well of me—and pray for me!” she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant.

19 Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.

 

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I can see them in my mind.  Men–worn and thin–browned by their daily toil beneath the hot sun.  Women–their hands raw from gleaning the last piece of grain from a heavy stalk.  Children–kneeling in thanksgiving before a god who doesn’t exist–hoping they’ll have enough food to eat next month.

I leaf through magazines considering my family’s Thanksgiving meal, but am distracted by the article about Pongal, southern India’s harvest festival.  I try to imagine a celebration that honors the sun and the rain.  I try to envision emaciated cattle adorned in bright colors as if they deserve more honor than the God-man who died reddened by his own blood.  I try to grasp what it means to forget that He is the One who offers a bounty of goodness to His children.

Pausing, I am humbled.  I realize I forget His goodness every day.  In the mid-life muddle of  raising a family, I get caught up somewhere between dishes and driving lessons and begin to worry about children…finances…and tomorrow’s dinner menu.

And I’m reminded that even when I forget Him, I am not forgotten.  My hope is sure because my God has existed eternally.  Friend, He invites us to an everlasting table–a feast of matchless blessing.  Won’t you join me?

Scripture for Reflection

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!  Psalm 34:8 NLT

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