Tag: Character

Hannah: A Woman of Prayer and Persistence

hannah-blog

Persistence is certainly one tough pill to swallow.  I’ve personally wrestled with it in seasons of doubt and insecurity.   I also believe persistence is something we need on a daily basis, whether we know it or not.  I wanted to see what the Bible had to say in the department of persistence.  I was so abundantly blessed by what God showed me: A woman named Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:1-27.  Before we jump in, I want to share some of my struggle of persistence with you, so you can better understand how deeply I was impacted by Hannah’s story of prayer and persistence…


Sometimes our deepest struggles are the ones God uses to deepen our relationship with Him.  When I started taking classes at my local community college, I was required to take several remedial math classes before I could move on to the ones that counted toward my degree.  For starters, I am not a fan of math whatsoever. I had to take FIVE of these remedial classes, which were only supposed to last six weeks.  Six weeks isn’t too bad.  I remember thinking to myself.

I didn’t know this at the time, but those first six weeks would have to be endured five more times before I was eligible to move on to the other four classes I needed. Looking back, God taught me so much during those weeks that I feel I would’ve missed otherwise.

Things such as trust and persistence. These things can bring us such peace and hope if we let them.  I think Hannah understood each of these more than most of us.


Hannah’s struggle was real.

From the beginning of the passage we see that there was a man named Elkanah, who had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah.  What immediately stuck out to me as I was reading was the way verse two ends:

“Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.”

1 Samuel 1:2 NLT

I had two main observations that I took away from reading that verse.  First, Hannah had battled feelings of guilt and insecurity because she had no children to give her husband.

My circumstances are different and I don’t want to assign any false thoughts to her, but I can totally identify with Hannah in that season. In our weakest moments, Satan loves to whisper those discouraging lies to us.  I don’t want false thoughts to Hannah, but I’m fairly certain she heard her share of whispers from the Enemy.

Since we know her struggle was real let’s see how she dealt with it…


“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.”

Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG

Having faith is something that seems impossible in the eyes of the world. We know that God doesn’t operate like the world, thankfully.  I believe Hannah had a lot of faith. She knew that faith grows exponentially through prayer.

In the second chapter of her story, we find Hannah on her face and brokenhearted before her Savior:

Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[e]

1 Samuel 1:10-11 NLT

God had shown me something awesome about prayer over the years.  Years ago, when I was in the midst of a very dry season, the Lord in His love spoke to my heart.  He said, “Andrea, I’m willing to give you these things.  I just need you to be brave enough and trust the way I will fulfill your heart’s desires.”

I think Hannah came to a similar realization as she poured out her heart before the Lord.  Although she wasn’t sure how God would answer her prayer for a child, Hannah knew God would answer her prayer.

I can almost hear the sincerity and gut-wrenching honesty in Hannah’s voice when I read the second half of verse 11: …” Then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[e]

God definitely honors our prayers and the sincere honesty we pour into them.


Our prayers never go unanswered and neither did Hannah’s prayer for a son.  In the second half of 1 Samuel 1, we see where Samuel is born.

The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[f] for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”

1 Samuel 1:19-20 NLT

 My favorite part of this verse is when Scripture says, … the Lord remembered her plea,  and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[f] for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”  This is evidence of what our faith can do. We just have to be willing to trust Him and in doing so understand that He only wants what is best for us as His sons and daughters.

God continued to place His favor on Samuel for the rest of Samuel’s days because He is forever faithful.


God’s favor rested on Samuel as he was raised up to become a great prophet for the nation of Israel.

Toward the end of 1 Samuel 1, Hannah takes young Samuel to the tabernacle to dedicate him to the Lord. (v. 24-28)

Verses 26 and 27 are so soothing to my aching soul on those days when I feel like my prayers are going unanswered:

Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.”

1 Samuel 1:26-27 NLT


There are three things I believe we can take away from Hannah’s example:

  1. Persistence grows through prayer.
  2. We can never lose faith.
  3. God definitely honors our prayers and the sincere honesty we pour into them.

One last thing: I believe with all my heart that God included Hannah’s story along with so many others in His word, so that we would be able to look back on their examples and be even more persistent in following Jesus.

© 2016. Andrea Pierce. All Rights Reserved

Don’t Underestimate Your God Given Potential

Gideon Blog

It’s one thing to speak an encouraging word to someone in passing, but it’s another to call their God given potential out before they can see it in themselves.  I’m so grateful for the people in my life who have called me to courage before I even knew what was coming.  They saw the potential God has for me and were brave enough to tell me about it.

I think we can start calling others to courage by not underestimating the potential God has given us.


Growing up in church I had always known that God had a plan for my life even though I couldn’t exactly bring myself to trust His word and believe what God says about me.

Gideon was someone who witnessed God’s courageous calling for his life firsthand.  In Judges 6:11-16, we see Gideon’s story begin to unfold.

Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The LORD said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”    

Judges 6:11-16 NLT

I love Gideon because I see so much of myself in him.  He was taken by surprise when the angel appeared in verse twelve calling him a “mighty hero.”  As I was praying in preparation to write this message I couldn’t help but think of all the times where I’ve been surprised by what God has called me to do.  I can totally relate to Gideon’s current perspective of the situation.  We’ve all had times where we feel weak and unequipped to fulfill the calling God has given us.

God knew Gideon was going to be a bit surprised by his calling that’s why He sent the angel to declare that truth over him.  God does the same thing for you and I.


I’ve walked through many seasons of life where I have known and sensed the Sprit pulling me in a certain direction.  As much as I trusted Him there was still a  tiny part of me that was doubtful.  Feelings of insecurity and insignificance flourish in our moments of self-doubt.  Satan adores our weakest moments.  I don’t want to assign false thoughts to Gideon in any way, but I can just imagine those feelings of doubt were starting to weave their way into Gideon’s mind when he replies with Judges 6:15:

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”

I can’t even tell you how many times I have told God this same thing.  It starts when those feelings of insecurity and insignificance flourish in self-doubt.

In verse sixteen, the Lord says to Gideon:

The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”  I just LOVE that this was God’s response to Gideon because that’s His response to me in the midst of my self-doubt.

P.S. The rest of Gideon’s story is amazing in the way he trusts God to defend his army against the Midianites!  Check it out in Judges 7!

I want to close by reminding you of three key points we can learn from Gideon’s story:

  1. We must not underestimate the powerful potential God has given us.
  2. Trust His calling in your life even when it catches you by surprise.
  3. Feelings of doubt and insecurity flourish in moments of self-doubt.

Childlike Faith for Adults: How Do We Regain It?

trust blog

As a kid, I had several heroes or heroines that I admired.  The Disney princesses are a great example because I wanted to be just like them one day.  I’m sure we could all identify with doing the same thing if we looked back at the childhood we lived.

What I find intriguing about the modeling phase of childhood is this: No thing or person could ever convince you that you couldn’t be like that person you deeply admire.  You see, I feel like as people get older and the world keeps its firm grip of distraction on us and as a result we begin to lose that invincible spirit or childlike faith we once had.  We should carry the same attitude of deep admiration and appreaciation as adults when following hard after Jesus’ example.

The question is how do you and I regain that childlike faith and spirit as adults?  I have wrestled with that question for quite some time now and I think we can start by thinking about what we admire most about God?  We do this with our friends all the time.  We want to get to know them and their character.

 

Several weeks ago, I posed the following question on social media, What quality or qualities do you admire most about God?”

The response I received was quite overwhelming.  I couldn’t believe the amount of comments there were and how well they related to one another.  The top three responses will be discussed and we’ll also talk about how each of them describe God for who He is.


God is always ready and willing to listen to us.  He is never surprised by anything and we have total confidence in Him.  Meaning, whatever we tell Him will always stay between He and I.

He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.
  Psalm 121:3-4 NLT

What a great comfort to know that nothing will ever take God by surprise. He knows what’s going to happen long before we do.  I am eternally grateful that God is one in control of everything, so we don’t have to be.


God’s love for us is immeasurable. We really can’t imagine how much He loves us.  I mean He gave us a pretty good idea by sending His one and only son (Jesus) to die on the cross for the sins of humanity. (John 3:16) Someone who loves me enough to die for me is someone worth believing in-no matter the cost.

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. 

 Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

God’s love for us is everlasting. There’s nothing we can ever do or say to escape the grip of His love.  This verse reminds us that the love of God is always present.  In addition, Mercy also coexists with God’s love. My Bible defines mercy as, “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion; withholding of the judgement or punishment our sins deserve.” (Jesus Centered Bible 2015) God’s mercies for us are unending, just like His love.


I love the fact that I can’t keep anything from God because He knows everything about me before I even knew myself. Don’t get me wrong, it has a cost.  There are always consequences for our sins.  However, that doesn’t alter God’s love and mercy for us in any way.  He loves us fully and completely in spite of our messy imperfections.

Jonah’s Story is a beautiful example of this. At some point today, take a minute to read his story in the first three chapters of Jonah.  (Side note: The chapters are fairly short, so it should be an easy read.)  Jonah knew what it felt like to hide from God and he also recognized the beauty of repentance and freedom in Christ. Through his experience, he learned that God is already there, waiting for us on the other side of the adventure.  We can’t hide anything from God because He knows what we’re going to do before we do.

But, God in His mercy chooses to love us and use us for His glory anyway! How cool is that?!  That’s something I deeply admire about God.


Let’s take what we’ve discovered and apply it to the original question: How do you and I regain that childlike faith and spirit as adults?  Remember these three things:

  • God Can Be Trusted (Psalms 121:3-4)
  • His Mercy and Love is Unconditional (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • God Already Knows (Jonah 1, 2 and 3)

I hope and pray that God uses these words to encourage and guide you today. He has certainly blown me away in the things He has revealed to me while writing this!

©2016. Andrea Pierce. All Rights Reserved.

Peace, Hope and Joy

Peace hope joy

The English language was created to help us communicate efficiently with the people around us.  Which, is certainly amazing if you ask me.  What intrigues me most about our language is the fact that we can use adjectives to be even more descriptive with our words. They help us understand what a word is made of by describing it. You get the point, right? Adjectives serve the same purpose when they describe the nature and character of God.

(Disclaimer: There are MANY more adjectives that can be used to describe God, but if I wrote about all of them we would be here all day!)  Now let’s look at three examples:

  1. Peace
  2. Hope
  3. Joy

We know that all of these adjectives describe God, but exactly what do they say about His character? Let’s find out! (Note: I looked each of these up using the Dictionary/Concordance in my Bible.)


Peace: “A state of tranquility or quiet; a pact or agreement between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity; harmony in personal relations, especially with God; a state of security or order within a community; freedom from disquieting thoughts or emotions.” I know that was a lengthy definition, but I love how clearly it’s worded.  The part of the definition that resonates with me the most is where it speaks of being in harmony, especially with God. If you’re in harmony with Him then your heart is most likely where it needs to be.  If not, that should be your first clue to examine the condition of your spirit.

Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.” Psalm 37:37


Hope

For starters, I really feel like we need to establish a decent definition of true hope.  That word gets thrown around so much in our culture today but what does it really mean?  Hope: “Confident trust with the expectation of fulfillment.”  Wow.  It astounds me every time I read it.  I want that hope in my life because it’s eternal and I know that God always keeps His promises to us.  He is the reason we can have hope and I will be forever grateful for the hope I have in Him alone.

“Rejoice in our confident hope.  Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12


 Joy

“The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune.”  I agree with this definition as it refers to the well-being of a person because that only comes from Christ. However, I also believe joy can be found in the darkest situations of our lives as well.  We can look back on the dark times and remember to live a Romans 5:3-5 life-one of suffering, perseverance, character and hope.   Personal confession: If I’m being honest with you right now, I never would’ve thought that I would be the person writing these precious words about the Attributes of God. I spent many years not living the Romans 5 kind of life.  I thank God daily for changing my perspective and for making me more like Him.  That’s why I’m so passionate about sharing peace, hope and joy with those around me.

“And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10


Since God lives in us through the Holy Spirit, his attributes become ours in the sense that we’re made in His image. (Genesis 1:27)  When I look at my life through the lens of living in peace with Christ it changes things for me. Peace, Hope and Joy become even more alive to me and life itself is so much greater than anything I could ever imagine.

©Andrea Pierce. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

A Holy Hope

a holy hope  When we hear the word hope in the world today it’s most often associated with the things we can’t see.  Interestingly, Meriam-Webster defines hope as a transitive verb meaning “to desire with expectation of fulfillment.”  The second definition is “to expect with confidence.” (Meriam-Webster, 2015) The more I continue growing in Christ, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that the worldly definition of hope and what God says about hope sometimes tend to contradict one another.  You see, even though the world wants us to be hopeful in the life it can become very easy to hold on to the hope but lose the “expectation of fulfillment” as the definition states.  So, the next obvious question to ask here is what are you and I placing our hope in?  If your answer isn’t Jesus, I would strongly encourage to consider changing it because although God desires for us to have hope while we’re here on earth, that hope shouldn’t come from the things of this world, it should come from Jesus Christ.

If you have any doubts about what I’m saying let me encourage you to read a passage from Luke’s gospel.  In Chapter eight (v. 43-48) we read the story of a woman who has suffered from bleeding for quite a few years.  Although it’s unclear how many years she had been suffering I can only imagine how worn she must have been from her circumstances.  If we’re honest everyone is probably worn to a certain extent because that’s just how this life is. Furthermore, what I admire most this lady is the fact that she wasn’t placing her hope in the world, but she placed it in Jesus.  She believed and knew that He was the only one who could totally heal her because her faith allowed her to see beyond her physical circumstances and the current reality before her.  In the last three verses of her story (46-48) we witness he faith turning into action when she actually touched Jesus.  But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”  When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”  I want to have the faith of this woman.  A faith where absolutely nothing can separate me from Him including a disability!

I would’ve given anything to have seen the look on her face as she stared into the eyes of her Creator as she was healed.  How exciting!  There are a few verses from Romans that I would like to leave with you about having faith in Christ and it’s my hope and prayer you’ll be encouraged by these words today!

 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 (New Living Translation)

©Andrea Pierce. 2016. All Rights Reserved.


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