Mindset (Part Two)

Welcome back if you’ve taken the time to read Part One!

In Part One, I briefly outlined the ideas of the ‘growth’ mindset and the ‘fixed’ mindset, a simple idea discovered by world-renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck after decades of research on achievement and success.  I explained in Part One that I’m not convinced that the two mindsets are mutually exclusive.  I believe that we can exhibit signs of being in both mindsets at different stages of our lives or in different  situations.  As Christians, I believe it is more important to develop a ‘heavenly’ mindset than to fit into a box defined by psychologists.

I posed the question:  What sort of mindset should we have as Christians?  I decided to split the blog into two parts because I felt there were two key ideas to explore in answer to this question:

  1.  We should fix our mindset on God, Jesus Christ and his word;
  2. We should work towards having a mindset like that of Jesus Christ.

It is the second of these two ideas that I will explore in today’s blog.  When I say that I believe that we should work towards having a mindset like that of Jesus Christ, I mean it rather like the ‘W.W.J.D’ idea.  ‘W.W.J.D’ being the abbreviation of “What would Jesus do?”.  This phrase became popular in the US especially, but elsewhere as well, in the 1990’s as a personal motto for Christians who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through their actions. So, in a similar way, when considering what our mindset should be as Christians perhaps we should use the abbreviation “W.W.J.T” (What Would Jesus Think), we should work towards thinking like Christ, having a mindset like that of Christ in all areas of our lives.  This is probably the only time I’d say we should have ‘our head in the clouds’ so the saying goes and adopting a heavenly mindset like that of Jesus.

Colossians 3:2 says “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things“. Verse one of the same chapter also mentions our hearts – “set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God“.  This means striving to put heaven’s priorities into daily practice.  Setting our minds on things above means concentrating on the eternal rather than the temporal.  This is priceless advice.  This verse really helps us to shift the focus of our thinking.  When we focus on the eternal, the temporal becomes less important.  This has been invaluable to me over recent months and really helped me to keep things in perspective.  If we are able to think like this, I believe that our mindset takes on a different focus and we can start to deal with the issues more like Jesus.

When we give our lives to Christ wholeheartedly, our mindset has to change along with the new life we live in Jesus.  Ephesians 4:17 says “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking“.  As human beings we have a natural tendency to think our way away from God.  Intellectual pride, rationalizations, and excuses can all keep people from God.  Paul goes on to say ” You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it’s deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4: 22-24.  People should be able to see a difference between Christians and non-Christians because of the way Christians live.  Paul told Christians to leave behind the old life of sin and I believe that includes the way we think about things too, since they were followers of Christ.  Living the Christian life is a process.  Although we have a new nature, we don’t automatically think all good thoughts and express all right attitudes when we become new people in Christ.  However, if we continue to listen to God, we will be changing all the time.  Change may sometimes be slow but it will come as you trust God to change you.  Our old life is completely in the past.  We should put it behind us like old clothes to be thrown away.  Deciding to accept Christ is a once-and-for-all decision when we accept His salvation but it is also a daily conscious commitment.  We are not to be driven desire and impulse.  We must put on the new role and head in the new direction, and have the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives.

“The mind governed by flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” Romans 8:6

In Romans, Paul distinguishes between two types of people: those governed by their sinful nature and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Let’s be honest about it, we’d all still be in the first category if it wasn’t for Jesus!  Jesus offered us a way out.  If we have accepted Jesus as Saviour we want to follow him, because his way is one of life and peace.  We must consciously choose to centre our lives on him daily.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you”.

We know that we cannot avoid troubles in this world, but with God we can know perfect peace even in the turmoil.  When we devote ourselves to him, our whole attitude is steady and stable.  We find support in God’s unchanging love and mighty power, we are not shaken by the chaos around us.  If we need peace in our lives then we need to keep our thoughts on God and trust Him.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

You know, when I read this Bible verse, I had visions of Wonder Woman and her golden glowing lasso striking out and capturing thoughts!

In Corinthians, Paul is using military terminology to describe his warfare against sin and Satan.  God has to be the commander in chief – even of our thoughts, so our mindset, must be submitted under his control as we live for him.  Believers, because they are spirit-empowered believers must capture every thought and yield it to Christ.  When we are exposed to ideas or opportunities that might lead us to do the wrong thing, we have a choice.  We can recognise the danger and turn away from it or we can allow the thoughts to take us captive.  We can capture our fantasies and desires when we honestly admit them to the Lord and ask him to redirect our mindset.  We can ask God to give us the spirit of discernment to keep our thoughts focused on his truth.

God has good, pleasing, and perfect plans for us.  He wants us to be transformed people with renewed minds, living to honour and obey him as ‘living sacrifices’.  Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then  you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will”. This verse does not just focus on how we should not conform to the ways of the world, in terms of our behaviour, but it goes further than that and suggests that it must be planted firmly in our minds.  It is only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our minds that we are truly transformed.

Final Thoughts

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, what ever is noble, what ever is right, whatever is pure, what ever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”  Philippians 4:8

“We reap what we sow”……..”We are what we eat”……”I think, therefore I am”…….you’ve heard these sayings before right?  Philippians 4:8 is pretty much saying “You are what you think”.  What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions.  Paul is telling us to program our minds with things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  It’s worth really thinking about what we are feeding our minds with…. what we read, what we watch etc.  Above all, read God’s word and pray.  Ask God to help you focus your mind on the right things.  Reading God’s word should lead to obedience.  We sometimes need to practice the art of obedience as we can be naturally selfish.

Below is a link to an article in which Joyce Meyer gives some advice on how to think like Jesus:

“3 Ways To Think Like Jesus” by Joyce Meyer (Charisma Magazine

May God Bless You,

Ali @ Humble Mumblings xx

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Mindset (Part One)

Signpost

What sort of ‘mindset’ do you have?

‘Mindset’ is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success.  There is the ‘fixed’ mindset and the ‘growth’ mindset.  The illustration below expresses the essential ideas of both mindsets:

growth-mindset-body

In a ‘fixed’ mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.  They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.  They also believe that talent alone creates success – without effort.  Can this be right??  Whereas, in a ‘growth’ mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.  Virtually all great people have had these qualities. Such a mindset can create motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports.  It enhances relationships.

I’m not a psychologist but I can see how having a growth mindset would lead to success, however you might define ‘success’ of course.  Looking back over my life so far, I would probably say that I generally have a growth mindset but I have probably, at various stages, dipped in and out of the fixed mindset too.  I’m not convinced that the two mindsets can be mutually exclusive.  I think that sometimes we have to experience a fixed mindset in order attain living in the growth mindset.  It’s an essential part of the journey, perhaps,  in our personal growth? People cannot always be neatly fitted into a box.  We are all unique and whilst we share many things in common as human beings, we are all also so very different even down to our unique finger prints.

What sort of ‘mindset’ we should develop as followers of Christ?

I’ve had to consider this question myself in recent weeks after facing a challenging few months on the job front and in having a sense of direction as to where God is leading me at the moment.  There have been days when I have felt very much as though I am sinking into a fixed mindset (feeling like giving up, like a failure, why should I bother?) and then days when I feel very much entrenched in a growth mindset (this will take time and hard work, keep trying and don’t give up).  The issue has been more that I haven’t remained in one or the other for very long but more switched between the two on almost a daily basis! (Much to the frustration of my husband, Dan, I’m sure!) Which is not good for anyone!  But of course, If I admit defeat and give up, where will that get me?  Therefore, I have to agree to keep going.

I guess the question is, how do we adopt the right mindset to keep going when we feel like we are failing or getting nowhere?  How can we accept where we are and be positive enough to keep going?  How can faith in Jesus Christ help us with our mindset?  How can God’s word help us? So, in today’s blog I am going to explore what the Bible has to say about our mindset – our way of thinking and our opinions. I think that I would distinguish between two key thoughts regarding our mindset.  Firstly, we need to focus our thoughts on God, his son Jesus Christ and His Word. Secondly, we need to have a mindset like that of Christ rather like the ‘W.W.J.D’ idea.  For this reason I have decided to split this blog into two parts to explore them adequately.

Fixing our thoughts on God, Jesus Christ and His Word

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God?” Psalm 42:5

Depression is one of the most common mental/emotional illnesses.  One antidote for depression is to meditate on the record of God’s goodness to his people.  It can take our minds off of the present situation and give hope that it will improve.  When we read God’s word we see how he delivered his people from all kinds of awful situations.  Surely God will do it for us too?  It can focus our thoughts on God’s ability to help us rather than on our inability to help ourselves.  When we feel depressed, we can take advantage of this Psalm’s anti-depressant.  We can read the Bible’s accounts of God’s goodness, and meditate on them.

“There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”  Romans 8:24-27

Paul presents the idea that salvation is past, present and future.  It is past because we were saved the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as saviour; our new life (eternal life) begins at that moment.  It is present because we are being saved; this is the process of sanctification.  But at the same time, we have not fully received all the benefits and blessings of salvation that will be ours when Christ’s new kingdom is completely established.  That’s our future salvation.  While we can be confident of our salvation, we still look ahead with hope and trust toward that complete change of body and personality that lies beyond this life, when we will be like Christ.  As believers, we are not left to our own devices to cope with our problems.  Even when we don’t know the right words to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with us and for us, and God answers.  Trust that he will always do what is best.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken”.  Psalm 62:5

I love that David was honest with God!  He poured out his heart, his true feelings, to God, and then reaffirmed his faith.  Prayer can release our tensions in times of emotional stress.  Trusting God to be our rock, our salvation and our fortress can change our entire outlook on life.  No longer do we need to be held captive by resentment towards others when they hurt us.  When we are resting in God’s strength, nothing can shake us!

“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word”.  Psalm 119:74

God’s word makes us wise – wiser than our enemies and wiser than any teachers who ignore it.  True wisdom goes beyond amassing knowledge, it is applying the knowledge in a life-changing way.  Wisdom comes from allowing what God teaches us to guide us.  The Bible is a light in our darkness, showing us the way ahead so we won’t stumble as we walk.  It helps us to see a way clear and steer us on the right path.  It reminds us of God’s promises to us.  It reminds us of who we are in Christ, sons and daughters of the most high God!  When we feel battered by life and feel like we are nothing, with self-esteem that is in the gutter, God reminds us how special we are, that He loves us with an ever-lasting love and that we have purpose for us to fulfill.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  Jeremiah 29:11

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.  Isaiah 40:31

Hoping in the Lord is expecting that his promises of strength will help us to rise above life’s distractions and difficulties.  Do we believe God loves and wants the best for us?  Can we relax, confident that his purposes are right?  Are we convinced that he has the power to control all of life – and our lives as well?  Though our faith may be struggling or weak, accept his provisions and care for us.

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light”.  Psalm 36: 7-9

Quite often, speaking from my own experiences only, when we do not have our mind fixed on God, we can easily feel defeated and battered by some of the situations we face in life.  My life in recent months has been challenging but I know that there are others around me who I know are going through far worse.  When I have felt defeated, I am reminded of the suffering and struggles of others, and I make a conscious effort to count my blessings, to focus on the good things in my life: a wonderful loving husband who is my best friend ever, three beautiful children who make me laugh on a daily basis, a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in the cupboard, some wonderful friends and family.  However, sometimes finding the good in bad situations can be hard can’t it?

Victorious

God’s word coaches us in how to live victoriously. Victory comes from renewing our relationship with God. In Samuel 4:5-8 it says:

“When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god hascome into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

The Philistines were afraid were afraid because they remembered stories about God’s intervention for Israel when they left Egypt.  But Israel had turned away from God and was clinging to only a form of godliness, a symbol of former victories.  People (and churches) can often try to live on the memories of God’s blessings.  The Israelites wrongly assumed that because God had given them victory in the past, he would do it again, even though they had strayed far from him. Today, as in Bible times, spiritual victories come through a continually renewed relationship with God. We don’t need to live off the past.  We need to keep our relationship with God new and fresh.

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God”. 

1 John 3:8-9

We all have areas in our lives where temptation can be strong and some habits are hard to conquer.  These weaknesses give the devil a foothold, so we need to deal with our areas of vulnerability.  If we are struggling with a particular sin, however, I do not think these verses are aimed at us, even if for the time we seem to keep on sinning.  John is not talking about people whose victories are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify it.  Here are three steps necessary to find victory over prevailing sin:

  1.  Seek the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s word;
  2. Stay away from tempting situations;
  3. Seek the help of the body of Christ – be open to their willingness to hold you accountable and to pray for you.

“No one who is born to God will continue to sin” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning, nor do they become indifferent to God’s moral law.  All believers still sin but they are working to gain victory over sin.  “God’s seed remains in them” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning because God’s new life has been born into them.

“Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” 2 Chronicles 14:11

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. ”  Romans 8: 1-2

We cannot win the victory on our own or in our own strength.  If we are facing battles we feel we can’t win, don’t give up.  In the face of hordes of enemy soldiers, Asa prayed for God’s help, recognising his powerlessness against such a mighty army.  The secret of victory is first to admit the futility of unaided human effort and then to trust God to save.  His power works best through those who recognise their limitations (2 Corinthians 12:9).  It is those who think they can do it all on their own who are in the greatest danger.

“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

God has won victory over Satan. In Psalm 68:18, God is pictured as a conqueror marching to the gates and taking tributes from the fallen city.  Paul uses that picture to teach that Christ, in his crucifixion and resurrection, was victorious over Satan.  When Christ ascended to heaven, he gave gifts to the church, some of which Paul discusses in 4:11-13.

“This is why it says: “When he is ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” Ephesians 4:8

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword;whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection”.  Hebrews 11:32-35

Hebrews 11 summarises the lives of other great men and women of faith.  Some experienced outstanding victories, even over the threat of death.  Others, however, were severely mistreated, tortured and even killed.  Having a steadfast faith in God does not guarantee a happy, carefree life.  For many of us, it can mean the opposite in fact.  Our faith almost guarantees us some form of abuse from the world.  While we are on earth, we may never see the purpose for our suffering.  But we can know that God will keep his promise to us.  Do we believe this?  I’ll be honest, during those times where my mindset has not been, has been negative and defeated, I have sometimes doubted whether God will keep his promise to me.  That says more about me being weak in my human nature than it does about God. Many think that pain is the exception in the Christian life.  When we suffer, we say “Why me?”.  We feel as though God has deserted us, or we accuse him of not being as dependable as we thought.  In reality, we live in an evil world filled with suffering, even for believers.  But God is still in control.  He allows some Christians to become martyrs for the faith, he allows others to survive the persecution.  Rather than asking “Why me?” it is much more helpful to ask “Why not me?”.

Let’s be honest about this…. our faith and the values of the world are on a collision course, if we expect pain and suffering to come then we will not be shocked when it happens.  But we can also find some comfort in knowing that Jesus also suffered.  Jesus understands our fears, our weaknesses, our disappointments.  He promised to never leave us, and he intercedes on our behalf.  In times of pain, suffering and persecution we should rest confidently in Christ.  Victory, therefore, comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”.  Hebrews 2:16-18

4″Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.  Hebrews 4:14-16

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

“…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.25 Therefore he is able to save completely[a] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  Hebrews 7: 24, 25

“When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.”  Isaiah 43:2

Part One – Final Thoughts

 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7

Two trees had been in the Garden of Eden – the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eating from the tree of life brought eternal life with God; eating from the tree of knowledge brought a realization of good and evil.  When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they disobeyed God’s command.  So they were excluded from Eden and barred from eating from the tree of life.  Eventually. evil will be destroyed and believers will be brought into a restored paradise.  In the new earth, everyone will eat from the tree of life and will live forever.  Hope for the future!

God bless for reading and following!

Ali @ Humble Mumblings xx

Seasons

nature_colorful_seasons

Are you in a season of waiting?

If so, I hope this song will bless and encourage you.

It has been for me.

The harvest is worth our patience.

God is not done yet.

Love this song! ❤

‘Seasons’ by Hillsong (Click to listen)

Seasons

Words and Music by Chris Davenport, Benjamin Hastings & Ben Tan

VERSE 1
Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia

PRE-CHORUS
I know

CHORUS
Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come

VERSE 2
Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
As I gaze I am blinded
In the light of Your brightness
Like a fire to the snow
I’m renewed in Your warmth
Melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

BRIDGE
I can see the promise
I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons
I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done working
God I’m not done waiting
You can see my promise
Even in the winter
Cause You’re the God of greatness
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead You sent a child

TAG
And when I finally see my tree
Still I believe there’s a season to come

VERSE 3
Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
From Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia

First milestone!!

Woo hoo! I have reached 💯 followers today! This has made my day!

I love the WordPress community!

Thank you so much for all who have followed me thus far, have liked my posts and taken the time to comment. I have really appreciated your encouragement and feedback! Now I just wish I had time to catch up on reading everyone’s amazing blog posts!

Please keep following, reading, liking and commenting and of course blogging!

God bless, Ali @Humble Mumblings

😘😘

Woman, who art thou? Hannah (Part 1)

Hi everyone!  Welcome to my series “Woman, who art thou?”, exploring the lives and stories of women in the Bible.  To discover how I came to begin this series, then take a look at my very first blog entitled “Woman, who art thou?”.

This blog is the fifth in the series and I’m going to be looking at the life of Hannah in the Old Testament who was the mother of Samuel.  I have split the blog into two sections, Part 1 and Part 2, for ease of reading.

Samuel was the last of the judges and also a priest.  He was the best example of what a good judge should be, governing the people by God’s word and not by his own impulses.  He formally inaugurated the true royal line of Israel by anointing David as king.  He became a towering figure in Israel’s history.

In ‘Twelve Extraordinary Women‘, John MacArthur describes Hannah as a ‘portrait of feminine grace’.  Hannah’s name means ‘grace’.  Grace is the undeserved favour of God exemplified through Jesus’  sacrifice on the cross for our salvation.  John MacArthur says that this is a very fitting name for Hannah because her life was crowned with grace and she became a living emblem of the grace of motherhood.  Looking at Hannah’s life reveals the classic profile of godly mother.

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The Godly Mother

Hannah was the wife of Elkanah.  He also had another wife, Peninah.  It was not uncommon for Old Testament leaders to have more than one wife.  However, if we look back at Genesis 2:24 we find that this was not God’s original plan for marriage.  Genesis 2:24 states that in marriage two people become one flesh.  Polygamy existed to produce more offspring to help in the man’s work and to ensure the continuation of the man’s family life.  Having lots of children was seen as a symbol of a man’s status and wealth.  In societies where many young men were killed in battle, polygamy became the accepted way of supporting women who otherwise would have remained unmarried, and very likely, destitute.  Nevertheless, polygamy often caused serious problems, understandably! And we see this in the story of Hannah.

We read in 1 Samuel 1:6 that God had “closed her womb”.  Hannah was unable to conceive.  In those days, a childless woman was considered a failure.  Barrenness was seen as a social embarrassment for the husband.  Children were a very important part in the economic structure of society because they were a source of labour for the family and had a duty of care for parents in their old age.  If a wife could not bear children she was often obligated by ancient Middle Eastern custom, to give one of her servant girls to her husband to bear a child for her.  We see this tradition observed in Genesis too when Sarah was unable to bear a child for Abraham, so he took her servant Hagar to bear him a child.  Legally, Elkanah could have left Hannah and even divorced her if he’d wanted too because civil law said he could divorce a barren wife.  However, Hannah was his first wife and he loved her.  He remained lovingly devoted to her despite social criticism and his rights under civil law.

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Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

1 Samuel 1:3-8

How cruel Penninah is to Hannah.  How clueless Elkanah is as the husband!  Penninah has been torturing  Hannah for a long time  and he wonders what is wrong with Hannah and  why she cannot eat?!!

“Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping?  Why don’t you eat?  Why are you downhearted?  Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”.”

1 Samuel 1:8

Elkanah really seems to not be seeing what is going on here at all.  Hannah knew her husband loved her, but the words he speaks are not bringing her any comfort at all.  I mean, come on!…. “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”……this is not going to help. This reminds me of the ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ idea.   Hannah did love Elkanah but the love she felt for her husband is a different type of love that she would feel for a newborn child, the unconditional ‘agape’ love.  I imagine Hannah must have felt at rock bottom, a failure as a woman not being able to undertake one her most natural roles as a woman, aware of how people would have looked at her and judged her for not being able to produce an heir for her husband.

I imagine Penninah enjoyed rubbing salt into the wound and lording it over her what a failure she was.  Hannah’s self-esteem must have been battered! Penninah’s words would have kept chipping away at any self-confidence that Hannah had left.   I’m sure that Penninah did this out of her own insecurities as a woman because in her heart she knew that Elkanah loved Hannah and not her in the same way.  Maybe Elkanah should have paid Penninah a little more attention then maybe she would not have taken out her jealousy on Hannah.  Hannah had his heart.  Jealousy can poison our hearts and minds can’t it?  It can cause us to behave in the most terrible ways.  Penninah allowed her emotions to rule her behaviour at a time when she could have been a good friend and comfort to Hannah in her time of suffering, showing some female solidarity perhaps instead of knocking a woman when she’s down.  Hannah had good reason to feel the way she did. She was unable to bear children.  She shared a husband with a woman who abused her.  Her husband could not solve her problem.  Even Eli misunderstood her motives:

10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

1 Samuel 1: 10-11

13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”  15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.

1 Samuel 1: 13-15 NIV

Instead of retaliating or giving up, Hannah prayed.  She was honest about how she felt and poured her heart out to God.  That was probably difficult to do.  It would have been all to easy for her to lose faith in God because she was feeling so ineffective.  But Hannah discovered that prayer opened up the way for God to work. She stopped focusing on her problem and gave it to God.  She exchanged self-pity for hope.

Some final thoughts….

  • We cannot always see God’s plan for our lives but that does not mean that God is not working or going ahead of us;  God fulfills His plans in His perfect timing – sometimes we have to wait;
  • In prayer, we can pour out our hearts to God.  We can leave our problems with Him;
  • Through prayer we can exchange self-pity or a sense of discouragement for hope;
  • Nothing good can come from jealousy.  It is like a poison that spreads and infects many different areas of our lives if not dealt with and can cause others pain;
  • As women in Christ, we need to spend time together, support and encourage one another, not knock each other down like Penninah did with Hannah, out of jealousy;
  • As women and mothers in Christ we should be passionate in worship and effective in prayer – praying for each other, praying for our children and families, praying for our communities  etc – like Hannah was, a true godly mother/woman;
  • We should not judge our worth by earthly measures whether it be our job, bank balance, whether we are single or married, whether we have children or not.  Instead we should find our worth in accepting our full identity as daughters of Christ.

Thank you for reading.  God bless, Ali x

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No longer a slave to fear!

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No Longer A Slave (Jonathan David & Melissa Helser (Bethel Music) 🎧

I love this Bethel song and it had been stuck in my head over the past few days….

Believers are no longer slaves….to anything…. let alone fear!

This has been a key message from God for me over the last few days through different people and mediums.

The stuff of life can weigh us down sometimes, can’t it? Whether it’s people, situations and so on.  I’m sure Satan loves nothing more than to see us fearful or anxious or doubting God’s goodness and faithfulness to us. Consumed by fear, worry and anxiety, we then give up and become ineffective for God.

However, the good news is …. we are no longer slaves to fear because we are children of God!! God delivers us from our enemies! God is always with us in every storm! We do not need to be afraid!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

For me, these verses read like commands rather than platitudes. God is telling us in no uncertain terms to not be afraid because He is with us and He goes before us. Think about it….how can we honestly be afraid when we have God on our side?? I mean….GOD….the God….the only God….the God who created the world and everything in it, the God who delivered His people from slavery and parted the Red Sea, the God who in the person of Jesus healed the sick, drove out demons, raised the dead….need I go on?

Here’s what God’s Word says:

Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us ?”

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“For the Spirit God have us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear had to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrated ‘perfect love’ so that we could escape punishment and be set free from the debt of sin. That ‘perfect love’ drove out fear so that today we do not need to be afraid!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭32:7‬ ‭

God is with us….so we do not need to be afraid. His perfect love can drive out fear. We can trust Him with everything even if we can’t see what God is doing at the moment. In Him we can have hope!

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”‭‭ Romans‬ ‭12:12-13‬ ‭

In church we sang ‘Louder’ by Matt Redman and there are a few lines that stood out for me:

“There’s a faith that rises through the flame
There’s a joy that chases the dark away

God, we won’t be silent

………

And the greater the storm

The louder our song”



When we are afraid or face adversity, it seems that this song is saying that we should respond by praising God and driving out the darkness….sing louder!! Think back to Jericho!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭