Sermon series: A Lasting Legacy
Motherhood is a special privilege and a sacred duty. Think about the role a mother plays in the nurture and development of a child. There is a South African proverb: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the nation and its destiny." A mother's love is special and unique, but a mother's duty is to raise a child to follow and serve God.
There may not be a greater heartache than for a woman to have the heart of a mother, the desire to nurture and love a young life, but not have a child. What great pain and struggle for young couples who want a child, yet cannot have one. It grips your heart to see the tears of a woman who wants to be a mother so badly.
This was the circumstance for Hannah, as recorded in Scripture. In 1 Samuel 1:10-13, we read:
"Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, 'LORD of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant's affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.' While she was praying in the LORD's presence, Eli watched her lips. Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk."
Hannah hurt deeply because she wanted to be a mother. In her pain she cried out to God. This is a side note and not the heart of the sermon, but when you are pain, there is no better person to go than God. As the hymn writer Elisha Hoffman tells us, "I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus, I cannot bear these burdens alone." Hannah goes to God in her pain and makes a vow.
I. Hannah gave a vow to God
What a great gift it is to become a mother or a father, but what a great responsibility. I don't know about you, but I am overwhelmed by being a father. It is an amazing honor to be given a precious young life to shape, mold, and direct. Unfortunately, I did not receive an owner's manual with the birth of my son, and I make too many mistakes. I need someone more qualified than me to help me with this process, and Hannah points us to who that is.
Hannah gives her son to God literally, and she points us toward doing the same. Hannah promised her future son to God as a priest. To demonstrate the depth of her commitment, she committed her boy with a Nazarite vow. According to Jewish tradition, Levite priests served until the age of 50. Likewise, a Nazarite vow lasted for a limited time. But Hannah made a commitment that reached far beyond either one. Her vow was for all the days of his life.
I find it amazing that that Hannah would make such an extreme promise for a son she did not have. Now here is the difficult question: Mom, how much do you trust God? Do you trust Him enough to give Him your children? If not, the next question is, why not? Hannah trusted God completely with her son, and you can too.
II. Hannah gave her son to serve God
The North American Mission Board's statistics have reported that baptisms in Southern Baptist churches have declined. More than 10,000 Southern Baptist Churches did not baptize anyone in a recent year. What will alter this course? Jesus told us that the harvest was plentiful, but it was the workers who were few. A new generation of individuals given to God could become a mighty army for His kingdom.
Listen to these quotes from missionaries about the need to take the gospel to the world.
"In the vast plains of the north I have seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been." Robert Moffat.
"We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first." Oswald J. Smith.
"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving." Amy Carmichael.
"The mark of a great church is not it's seating capacity, but it's sending capacity." Mike Stachura.
"'Not called' you say? 'Not heard the call' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned beg you to go to their father's house and entreat their brothers and sisters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face - whose mercy you have professed to obey - and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world." William Booth.
When I hear those quotes they stir something within me. How much do they stir you? They might stir you enough to give some money to a missionary or a mission fund. They might even stir you enough that you give some time and actually go on a short-term mission trip. And those are great ways to give to missions. But do they stir you enough for you to give your child to God?
You may say, "I think that is a high price to pay, to give my son or daughter to serve God." And you are right, it is a high price. It was the price God paid when He gave His only Son to the world. Are you willing to give your son or daughter?
III. Hannah gave her son to worship God
When Samuel was weaned, Hannah made good on her vow to God and brought the boy to Eli the priest. Here is how 1 Samuel 1:26-28 describes that encounter
"Please, my lord," she said, "as sure as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this boy, and since the LORD gave me what I asked Him for, I now give the boy to the LORD. For as long as he lives, he is given to the LORD." Then he bowed and worshiped the LORD there.
Here is what is amazing about this passage. It is not Eli who worships God, but Samuel. I find it so amazing that this boy who is at the most, two or three years old at the time, knows how to worship God. How did he learn to worship? He learned from the only person around him: his mother.
Children are like sponges, soaking up every thing around them. One of the greatest moments of my life happened when my son, Jack, was only one and a half years old. His preschool teacher came to my wife and me and told me about what happened in his class. They had snack time and prayed over the snack. Jack put his two little hands together in a prayer position and bowed his head. That was special, but he did it again.
There is a speaker in the nursery that broadcasts the worship service. At one point in the service I said, "Let's pray" and Jack stopped, bowed his head and put his hands together again. How did he learn to do that?
I'll tell you where he learned it: at the kitchen table when we pray over a meal. We included him in the prayer. We stop and say, "Jack, let's pray" and we all bow our heads, and mom and dad put their hands together in a prayer position so we can model prayer for our son.
I have to think Hannah did the same thing. She worshiped God and included Samuel in that time. That is how he learned to worship God. If you want your children to learn to pray, include them in a home prayer time. If you want your children to worship, worship in front of them. If it is service, ministry, Bible study, or any other spiritual discipline, your children will learn it from you if you model it in front of them and include them in it.
IV. Hannah gave herself to God
First Samuel 2:1-2 details Hannah's prayer. It is the secret to how Hannah trusted God, and taught Samuel to worship God. Look at how I Samuel 2:1-2 records the prayer of Hannah. "Hannah prayed: 'My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is lifted up by the LORD. My mouth boasts over my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is no one holy like the LORD. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God.'"
Hannah rejoices in the Lord and His salvation. Her horn, which is a symbol of power, is the Lord and her rock is God. In just a few verses, Hannah exalts the might and power of the Lord. These are not just words - they reflect her heart.
Jesus told the story of two men who built homes, one upon the sand and one upon the rock. The storm came and destroyed the house on sand, but the house on the rock stood strong. The purpose of Jesus' parable was to lead us to build our life on the firm foundation of the rock, which is Christ.
Hannah built her life on the rock. She knew there was no firmer foundation. She was an example of worship to her son. How could she do that? Hannah had a personal relationship with God that fueled her trust, commitment, and life.
How can you be a mother who trusts God which her children? How can you make a commitment to lead you children to serve God? How can you be a model and example to your children of a life spent worshiping God? Your relationship with God through Christ fuels your trust, commitment, and life.
Can you trust God with your children? You can if you trust God with your life.
Can you lead your children to serve God? You can if you serve God.
Can you lead your children to worship God? You can if you worship God.
Can you lead your children to become mighty men and women of God, individuals He uses to advance His Kingdom?
You can if you have built your life upon the rock of a personal relationship with Christ.