Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, June 5th. Have you ever read the Old Testament and wondered how those stories have anything to do with life in the 21st century? Today we begin a series that can help you develop a heart for God that will impact you and those around you. And in that series, the Bible tells us that we are all able to be in the hope of life in the 21st century. And the Bible tells us that we are all able to be in the hope of life in the 21st century. And yet, in spite of that, all of us have had those hopes that sometimes we had to struggle to hold onto.
And there's particular reasons for that. And if God has placed the hope in your heart, don't give it up. Don't surrender it no matter what. Now I want you to turn, if you will, to the book of 1 Samuel. And in 1 Samuel, there is a beautiful example of someone who held on to their hope in spite of many, many difficult circumstances.
And so in the process of looking at this passage, I think you'll find something that'll be most encouraging to you. 1 Samuel, chapter 1, and it begins like this. Now that was a certain man from Ramotham, Zophia, from the hill country of Ephraim. And his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeron, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zeus, and Ephraimite. And he had two wives. The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Penana.
And Penana had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man would go up from the city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the Lord there. And when the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Penana, his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters. But to Hannah, he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb.
Her rival, that is the second wife here, her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her because the Lord had closed her womb. And it happened year after year as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her so she wept and would not eat, that is, Hannah. Then Elkanah, her husband, said to her, Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad?
Am I not better to you than ten sons? Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh where they were worshiping. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord and she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she made a vow and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou will indeed look on the affliction of thy maidservant and remember me and not forget thy maidservant, but will give thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.
And a razor shall not come on his head. Now it came about as she continued praying before the Lord that Eli was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart. That is, she was just sort of praying under her breath.
Only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you. But Hannah answered and said, No, my Lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now of my great concern and provocation. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you ask 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. Now you say, Well, what does that have to do with my hope? It has a great deal to do with our hopes, because here is a woman who held on to hope in spite of very, very difficult circumstances. And so I want you to think about this, because more than likely every single one of us has hopes.
A person who has no hopes more than likely is not excited about life, has no sense of direction, no sense of meaning in life. God is the one who wants us to have hopes in our life and wants us to have faith and assurance and confidence and wants us to trust him. So as we look at this woman's life and look at what happened to her, I think there's some principles here that will help you understand why you and I are not to give up our hopes. Well, they're all right here in the life of Hannah. And one of the things I want you to notice, I want you to notice, this is a praying woman. Look at these verses, for example, that indicate this about Hannah, a number of them. Verse 10 says that being greatly distressed that she prayed to the Lord and the Bible says she wept bitterly. In verse 11, she's talking to God, praying to him and making a vow. In verse 15, if you'll notice, when Eli thinks that she's drunk, she's praying and she says, I have poured out my soul before the Lord. And she's talking about what she's asked of him in verse 17. Look, if you will, in verse 27, after little Samuel is born, she says in verse 27, for this boy I prayed and the Lord has given me my petition, which I have asked of him.
And when you start the second chapter of 1 Samuel, how does it begin? Then Hannah prayed and said, My heart rejoices in the Lord. My heart is exalted in the Lord. My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is no one holy like the Lord.
And that here's a whole passage of 10 verses of praise and thanksgiving and adoration to God for answering her prayer. I don't know of anything that better encourages me in my hopes than to be able to talk to the Lord about them. Because you're talking to the one who can make your hope a reality. You're talking to the one who has the power and the wisdom to know how, has the power to make a reality in your life, the thing that you're hoping for. Don't give up your hopes, but bring them to the Lord.
Talk to him about them. When you and I have our focus on him, what does he do? If our hopes are sort of out of sync, he will show us how to get them in sync. If, for example, I am hoping for something that is not the will of the Father.
Now listen carefully. If I'm hoping for something that is not the will of the Father, one of two things more than likely will happen. Number one, I will begin to lose interest in that hope. Or secondly, listen, if it is not the will of the Father, I'll sort of lose interest in it or I'll find myself struggling with God about it. And so if you find yourself struggling with God about it, then more than likely he's trying to get your attention to say, you need to change this. You need to lay this aside and let me show you what I really want you to hope for.
And I'm going to get to that a little later on. And so there are times when we struggle with our hopes. There's something about prayer. God will use our praying to solidify that hope. He'll use our praying to keep our focus on him, to remind us the fact that no matter what our circumstances are, how bad they are, he is still God. He is still in control. And he can alter the circumstance of your life and mine instantly at any given moment.
And oftentimes he does it without any prepared warning on our part that God is up to something very good. So don't give up your hope no matter what. Prayer is certainly a promoter of our hope. And it's very evident in her life.
A second thing that I want you to notice here is this. And that is that here is a woman who not only was a praying woman, but she was a woman of great faith. Because you think about this scripture says year after year, year after year, twice he says that this went on. Now, for her to hold on to her hope meant she was holding on to God. Now, when she said, for example, that she would make a vow, she said, Lord, if you'll give your maidservant a son, then I vow this to you.
I will give that son back to you to serve you all the days of his life. Here's a person who believed enough that God would do what she asked that she made a vow to him. Now, she wasn't trying to bargain with God, I don't believe. But I think in her desperation, in her crying out to the father, she was saying, here's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to be selfish about this.
I'm willing to give him back to you. She refused to give up her hope. Living in bad situations and circumstances, Hannah held on in spite of everything. She said, I'm going to keep trusting, I'm going to keep praying, I'm going to keep believing God. Another one of those promoters, I believe, of our hope is perseverance. Now, perseverance says that I'm going to hang in there, I'm going to stay with it, I'm going to keep moving. When everything around me says quit, everybody around me says stop, everybody says just give it up. God says keep moving, keep going. That is perseverance says I will not give up, I will not relinquish, I'm going to keep my hope up, I'm going to keep moving no matter what the circumstances may be.
You see, if you and I bend to what is natural and normal, people's criticism, their cynicism, all the reasons that they think we should give up our hope and do something else, go somewhere else, or whatever it might be, what we're doing is we're surrendering, we're yielding to those things that would steal our hope. Faith, prayer, perseverance, that is, we hang in there. This is exactly what Hannah did. In spite of the circumstances, she refused to give up hope. Year after year goes by, what's she doing? Praying, trusting God, persevering, hanging in there, believing that somehow in some way that God is going to answer her prayer.
When if you had asked her, well, on what basis do you think he'll do it? The only thing she could say is I'm just trusting him, I'm persevering. One of the greatest expressions of true, genuine character is you don't give up no matter what. And this is certainly true in the light of Hannah's life here. But likewise, there's another characteristic of her that I think is so good, and that is that she certainly had the spirit of sacrifice. That is, I'm willing to do whatever is necessary in order to make my hope a reality, as long as it's legitimate in the eyes of God.
So here's what she said. She said, Lord, Father, if you'll give me a son, here's what I will do. I will not keep him to myself.
I will give him back to you, and he can serve you all the days of his life. Now, I want to say something at this point that I hope you'll understand, and I want to say it carefully so you will understand. Because oftentimes people make all kind of promises. The truth is every single one of us, counting me, all of us have made promises to God that we didn't keep, amen. Sometimes maybe we didn't think we could, or maybe it's something we made a promise about. We should have thought before we made the promise, but everybody's made promises to God.
Now, Lord, if you'll do this, and so here's what I'll do. And God does exactly what we ask or something close to it, we don't keep our word. Hannah, the Bible says, stayed at home with her son until he was weaned. Then she took him up. And what did she do? She did exactly what she promised. She was faithful. She presented him to the priest to Eli, and she said, here is my son. I promised him.
I brought him to stay with you forever. She left him there, and he grew up. And let me say this about Samuel. Samuel was born from a mother whose womb had been closed.
God waited till the right time to give that son to her. Because this was the period of the end of the judges. It was a horrible, terrible time in the life of the nation of Israel. Because they had been run over, over and over and over again.
Crops burned, stolen from them, you name it. The Philistines were just giving them trouble all through the book of Judges. Then here comes the birth of this son, Samuel.
He comes along. He becomes a prophet in all of Israel. The Bible says that all of Israel, all the nation of Israel knew that Samuel was a prophet of God. He's the one who chose and anointed Saul to be the first king. He's the one who anointed David to be the second king. He was a gigantic influence.
He met an awesome impact upon the whole nation of Israel. Born of a woman who before lived in misery, in a bad situation, bad circumstances, under criticism. Lots of reasons to doubt if she had not persevered, held on and refused to give up her hope. Well, she trusted the Lord. She prayed. She persevered. She was faithful. She did exactly what she promised God she would do.
And what happened? She was greatly rewarded. Well, what are hope's rewards? Well, let me take a moment just to mention the fact about hers. For example, first of all, she got a son. God gave her not only a son, but He gave her a son whom He was going to use in a most awesome way in the whole nation of Israel.
And so what are we doing? Thousands of years later, we're talking about Hannah. And we're talking about Samuel.
Why? Because this woman refused to give up and trusted God. And God honored her with a son. Naturally, there was great joy in her heart. Certainly, her faith was increased because year after year, holding on, persevering, not giving up, she trusted God.
And when He was ready, He gave her a son. Well, how does God reward our hope? He rewards us in different ways. Sometimes His reward is He gives us exactly what we asked for, exactly what we hoped for, exactly what we dreamed of. Sometimes He gives us something better.
That is, it's what we asked for, but it's so much better than we ever expected it to be. You see, that's a loving God who says, delight yourself and may not give you the desires of your heart. Sometimes God does not give us what we asked for, but He gives us something better than, because maybe we couldn't see and understand in the circumstance, but at least we were hoping and trusting. What He does, He gives us something that we could not have possibly imagined. But one thing for certain, God never gives us less than His best for us, no matter what. That's the kind of God He is.
He's a loving Father. You see, if you and I could ever just grasp this, my Heavenly Father loves me so much, He has planned and prepared and is generously ready to give me the very best that a supernatural, divine God could give to His children. Once we grasp that, then you and I, but listen, our hopes begin to skyrocket. We begin to live not in the sense of cynicism and doubt and fear and frustration, but hope and gladness and joy and thanksgiving and praise. God begins to do something in our life. Listen, God is a negative God. He is a positive God.
He wants the best for every one of us, because that's the kind of God He is. You know what that says to me? I don't have to be perfect.
I can make mistakes. And here's what I know, when you and I make a mistake that is absolutely, as sincerely as we can be coming to God, here's what I do know. He will take our mistakes and He will take our failures and every single time, He will turn it into something so much better than you and I could ever imagine.
Why? Because He's a good God. He's a loving Father.
Who knows exactly what we need, when we need it, and He is there to provide it. Am I to give up hope? No. I may have to alter the direction of my hope. I may have to adjust my hope to something that God knows is better or that His timing is different or whatever it may be, but give up hope?
Absolutely not. Certainly God demonstrated His faithfulness to Hannah, and He demonstrates His faithfulness to us day after day, things we've hoped for, things we've dreamed of, things we've planned, God always in some fashion or the other. Listen, He will take you where you are and bring you to the good, bring you to His best, no matter what it is. It's a matter, listen, I'm not saying now I'm hopeless, but Father, in your loving sovereignty, what is your sense of direction now?
Clarify my mind. What is it that you want me to hope for? What are you saying in my life at this point?
And you know what? Every single time, get this, every single time it is good. Good, good, good, because He's a good God.
Now let me ask you this. What is the best thing that could happen to you? The best thing that could happen to you is to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, because listen carefully. If you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are hopeless when it comes to your future eternity, because without Christ, you're not going to heaven. And if you die without Him, you have absolutely no hope. You have a reason to be hopeless if you're living your life without Christ, unless you want to turn your life over to Him. When you turn your life over to Him, you say, but you don't know what I've done, doesn't make any difference. Once you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior by confessing your sins and accepting His death at Calvary as full payment for your sin, and you receive Him as your personal Savior by faith, the moment you do that, you know what happens?
Here's what happens. God will fill you with hope, and He will begin to work into your life this awesome assurance about your future. Until then, you have no hope of heaven, no hope whatsoever, and God does not want anybody to be hopeless. What is the thing that you hope for today above everything else in your life if you have just one hope you could bring to God? Lord, here is my hope that is above all of the hopes in my life.
What is it? Is it scriptural? Can you pray about it with confidence? Do you have assurance about it? Are you struggling with it? Is your struggle because of circumstances, criticism, doubt?
Or is it because you're just not sure about God? Remember this, whatever your hope, if it's the will of God, He will bring it to pass no matter what. He is a sovereign God. And Father, we are so grateful that we can trust our life into Your hands. We can trust our hopes, our plans, our goals, our dreams into Your hands.
We know that You only do what is good for us, and sometimes what is good for us is a little disappointing. Sometimes it causes us great turmoil, but ultimately it causes us great joy when we get a glimpse of Your divine loving intervention in our life, in our hopes, in our dreams. Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus, I pray that every person who hears this message, who has never trusted Jesus as their Savior, might acknowledge today their need of Him and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and for the first time in their life have eternal hope, which begins here and now. We thank You, Father, that all through Your Word from Genesis to Revelation, there is one cord that is unbroken from the beginning words till the last words. God loves you, and we praise You for it in Jesus' name.
Amen. Thank you for listening to Holding on to Hope. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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