(2 WEEK STUDY BEFORE LENT BEGINS)
In two weeks, together, we will go through Paul Tripp’s Lenten Devotional. I’m going to be a participant with you and I’m excited. Hope you will join us. If so, get this now — I think you’ll want your own hard copy. If you can’t afford it, and can commit to being here, let me know by sending your mailing address to email@example.com and I’ll get you a copy.
For the two weeks leading up to Lent, we will prepare our hearts. I’ve been doing Paige Benton Brown’s study on 1 Samuel, and it’s been SO GOOD. She is a gifted Bible teacher who streams her studies from her church and has a few more weeks to go on 1 Samuel. The opening studies are no longer online, so that’s why I’m summarizing here. If you want to jump into her study, go to http://www.westendcc.org/Paige ) I’m going to summarize her teachings on the first two chapters, and add some of my own insights. While there were a few that found her title for the series offensive, I found it helpful. It was:
It’s The Heart, Stupid!
She explained that when Bush the first was running for re-election, he had a 94% approval rating. It didn’t look like he could beat, until James Carvel came up with this slogan for Clinton:
And since that was what mattered most to most Americans, Clinton won.
What matters most to God is our hearts — it’s all over the Scripture. I loved Paige’s title because I saw it as talking to myself, though I’d replace the word stupid with “”foolish,” or “simpleton” used so often in Scripture to warn us. It reminded me of a time when I was driving home from speaking in Nebraska in a blizzard and I was a mile from home, determined to get home. I had Kathy, a young nursing mother with me. Steve called and said, “I want you to stop, knock on a farmhouse, and spend the night. It is way too dangerous for you to continue.”
I balked. I didn’t want to do it. Kathy hadn’t brought a breast pump. How did we know the farm people would be welcoming or even safe? We had only a mile to go! Steve was firm, which was rare for him, and I knew I was to submit. I still balked! God needed to show me too! I prayed for wisdom after I hung up. Right away this proverb, as I remembered it, came to my mind.
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the fool keeps going and pays the penalty.
The Lord couldn’t have been clearer. We did as Steve asked. The farm couple was kind, if a little rough around the edges, had a spare double bed, and we spent the night. In the morning the snow had stopped, and we saw cars strewn everywhere on the side. We knew it would have been us as well. That would have been real trouble.
A hard heart toward the Lord is a foolish, naive, and yes, stupid. A tender and receptive heart that longs to obey is a joy to the Lord — like the heart of David, Hannah, and Samuel. A tender heart is also a wise heart, for God’s boundaries are for our safety and good. Indeed, His boundary lines fall in pleasant places.
Paige said that our prayer life is so often asking God to fix our circumstances instead of our hearts. As she said, “It’s not Covid, it’s our hearts.” This study is having a huge impact on my heart, and that has so many wonderful consequences. I pray it will do the same for you.
Sunday: Dark Times
1 Samuel took place in the time of Judges, a dark dark time in the history of believers. The Word of God was rare.
But then God then aims His Word at two receptive hearts: Hannah and Samuel.
In her winsome way, Paige said, the point of I Samuel 1 is not to give your toddler to your pastor, but to allow God to penetrate your heart. The three priests: Eli, Hophni, and Phineas did not allow God’s Word to penetrate their hearts. They were fools, or at least foolish, and suffered for it. (You may disagree about Eli — but wait and see if you agree.)
- What stands out to you from the above, and why?
- When have you ignored the Lord and suffered for it? When have you listened and been so glad?
- Why do you think Proverbs tells us “above all else guard your heart?”
Monday: Desperate Heart
4. Read 1 Samuel 1:1-8
A. Find everything you can about Penninah.
B. What are some ways you might imagine Penninah tormenting Hannah?
C. How often, according to verses 5 and 7, did Hannah go throught this torment?
D. Paige said Elkanah could have used some marriage counseling. How does he respond to Hannah, and how might he have responded in more helpful way?
5. Paige said it is right to have a desperate heart, for desperate hearts become dependent hearts. Share a time when you were desperate and turned to the Lord and how He either changed the circumstance or changed your heart.
Tuesday: Dependent Heart
The good thing about desperation is it makes us realize we are not in control. We may think we are at times, but the truth is, we are never in control. But in our hearts, we know who is.
6. Read 1 Samuel 1:9-17
A. What does Hannah do in verses 9-10?
B. To whom does Hannah go? To whom does she not go, though he is sitting right there. Thoughts?
C. What is Hannah’s very first suppication in the opening words of verse 11?
D. Do you believe with all your heart that the Lord sees you? Why?
E. What is the rest of her supplication and what is her promise?
F. How does Eli show a lack of discernment in verses 14? What might this tell you about his heart?
G. How does Hannah stand up to the priest in a respectful but firm way?
H. How does Eli respond?
7. When you are desperate, where do you tend to go first?
8. Is there an area right now that gives you a desperate heart? How will you respond?
Wednesday: Delivered Heart
As Hannah leaves, though Eli has added his request to hers, she does not know if God will say yes or no. Our hearts must no depend on our circumstances but on who we know God is. I believe Christians may actually suffer more than non-Christians for as Joni says, He is not so much interested in making us healthy, wealthy, or even happy — though it pleases Him to do so — but in making us holy.
9. Thoughts on the above?
10. Read 1 Samuel 1:18-19
A. As Hannah leaves, does she know that God will give her a son? Explain.
B. When He does give her a son, how does she respond?
Paige told a story about her husband wanting her to give him some of her Starbucks mocha, one she had waited in line for for a long time. She withdrew. He said, “What — you’ve give me your life — your children! She said, “And that should be enough!”
She said we are crazy like that — we’ve given God our hearts, but want to hold back o entertainment, sex life, money…
11. Where are you reluctant to sacrifice something to the Lord? Pray about it here!
12. Read 1 Samuel 1:21-27
A. What happens in this passage?
B. Our actions reveal our hearts. How does Hannah’s sacrifice demonstrate a delivered heart?
Thursday/Friday: Delighted Heart
13. Read Hannah’s song in its entirety in 1 Samuel 1:2-10.
A. What does her heart rejoice in — and what is not mentioned?
B. How does she describe the Lord?
C. What reversals does she exalt in — find them.
Paige said that she is not rejoicing in her new circumstances, but in the Lord. For no matter how shaky our circumstances, our God is unshakeable.
In fact, Hebrews tells us that God make shake our world to show us Who is unshakeable.
14. Share a time when God shook your world, but also showed you He was unshakeable.
15. Read the Song again. What becomes radioactive to you and why?
16. What similarities do you see in Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55? Thoughts?
17. How might you apply this personally to your life?