Hannah: A Mother's Sacrifice

Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:1-28, 1 Samuel 2:5
Date: 05/12/2007 
This sermon focuses on Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. We see spiritual lessons in this story. One is the conflict between two women and their sons. This pattern happens as allegories of salvation. There are two ways.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I’d like to welcome everybody. I want to reassure you that my remarks this morning will be brief. Of course brief is one of those comparative terms, isn’t it? But you know we’ve had a rich experience today watching these people who have made decisions for eternity and for Jesus. It’s been a joy to hear the young people share their gifts and to see how they’re growing and developing in their talents. But today in a special way we want to remember mothers. And much of the country will be doing this in a special way this weekend. We don’t want to let the opportunity slip by because it is one of the, if not the, most important job in the world. And it’s often a problem that sometimes motherhood is looked upon as something that is demeaning and if you are a professional person that is to be a step above someone who is working in the home with children. And I think that is a very unfortunate philosophy. There is nothing more important than the job of a mother that shapes the soul for eternity. And I don’t think we should ever be fooled by the popular trends that are belittling that highest of offices. The greatest men in the world owe who they are to the training that they received from their mothers, at their mother’s knee.

I’d like to begin by reading a quote. I don’t often do this but I don’t think that I could improve on what I find here in the book Ministry of Healing. “There is a God above and the light and the glory from His throne rests upon the faithful mother as she tries to educate her children to resist the influence of evil. No other work can equal hers in importance.” Keep in mind this is written by a woman who had four sons and she lost two of them to sickness. “She is not like the artist to paint a form of beauty upon canvas nor like the sculptor to chisel it from marble. She is not like the author to embody a noble thought in words of power nor like the musician to express a beautiful sentiment in melody. It is hers with the help of God to develop in the human soul the likeness of the divine.” Mothers, never forget how important and how eternal the results of your work is. Sometimes when the beans are burning and the kids are crying it is hard for you to think of it as a divine calling but it really is. I heard one person say, “If evolution was true, mothers would have many more hands right now.

This is evidence that evolution is not true.” I heard about a lady who received a phone call one day from a friend who said, “How’s it going?” She said, “Oh, boy! Am I glad you called. I’m at my wit’s end. The kids are screaming. I’m climbing the walls. The food is burned. The house is a mess and I’m exhausted.” The friend responded, “Look, tell you what. I’ll be right over. You lay down and get some rest. I’ll take care of the kids. I’ll clean the house. I’ll cook you some lunch. You need it. You deserve it.” And she said, “And how’s your husband Sam doing?” She said, “My husband’s name isn’t Sam.” She said, “Oh, my! I’ve called the wrong number.” There was a long awkward pause and she said, “Does this mean you’re not coming over?” I think most of the mothers here would like a phone call like that in the middle of the week. Someone to come by and just relieve the strains and the stresses. I’d like to share some what I think are pithy little quotes. Of course you’ve heard, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Here’s one. “If it was going to be easy to raise kids it never would have started with a word called labor.” There is one love in this world stronger than the love of a mother for her child and that of course is God’s love for his children and that’s the only love that is stronger than the love of a mother towards children. Old Spanish proverb said, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” It’s not the pastors and the clergy who shape the nation as much as the mothers do.

Abraham Lincoln said, “No man is poor who has had a godly mother.” I’d like to turn your attention briefly to one of the great mothers in scripture. Please turn with me to the first book of Samuel. Samuel chapter 1. Book of Samuel is a tremendous story about a great prophet, patriarch and priest who shaped the whole nation. And we can quickly trace his greatness to a great woman. Samuel chapter 1:1, I’d like to quickly look at this story, “Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives.” You see a problem already. “The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other was Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.” Now that was a problem in Bible times. They still remembered the command that God had given to “go forth. Be fruitful and multiply.” And if a woman was not having children she felt like “I’ve failed”. It was a considered a curse. Being fruitful was a blessing. Children were the heritage of the Lord. Not having children was looked upon as a curse. For one thing they had no social security system. Your children were supposed to care for you in your old age. For another thing you couldn’t blame it on your husband’s infertility because your partner, your co-wife was being fruitful so you felt like “It’s my problem. What’s wrong with me?” Now before we go any farther what is a woman a symbol of in the Bible?

A woman in the Bible is a symbol of the church. Hannah is a symbol of that here. You notice here you’ve got a battle that starts taking place between two women. In our scripture reading we found out there was a woman getting ready to bring forth a man child and she’s being opposed and fought by the dragon. You get to Revelation 17 there’s another woman. She’s got many children. “Babylon, the mother of harlots”. You’ve got these two women and they’re fighting over the attention of their spouse but we find that Elkanah favors Hannah just as Christ favors the woman in Revelation chapter 12. Now a woman that does not have children there’s something wrong. A church that is not giving birth has a problem. I’m so thankful that the “maternity ward” at Central is busy all the time. Amen? There are people being born. That’s a good sign. There’s life. There’s something going on. There’s also a sign of intimacy and a love relationship with the husband, Christ with his bride the church. But the devil wants to keep that from happening. Now the Bible says that Peninnah had children. Incidentally having children does not necessarily make a person a mother any more than having a piano makes you a musician. It’s kind of strange. We live in a society today where you cannot drive a car without a license indeed you’re not supposed to have a dog without a license but anybody who’s got the plumbing working can be called a parent and have a human and try to guide a human. It’s really sad that sometimes we’re more interested in people’s caring for their pets than people caring for each other. The Bible says that “this man” Elkanah, he was from the tribe of Levi and he “went up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh.” That’s where the temple was before it was built the tabernacle. “Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there.” Now they were corrupt.

There were problems in the church at this time. Don’t miss that. “And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters.” She had a big oodle of kids. Doesn’t tell how many. “But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb.” Now when they would do a sacrifice they’d bring their sacrifice to the Lord and it was a sacrifice for the family the priest received a portion the rest went back to the family. They would eat of that sacrifice. You know how during the communion service we eat of that bread and it’s a symbol of the body of Christ. It’s a takeover so to speak of the sacrifice in the Old Testament. He would give portions a regular portion to Peninnah and her children but to Hannah he would give a double portion. Well that probably did not ingratiate her to her opposition. You remember when Joseph gave five times as much to Benjamin when his brothers were all sitting there in his banquet hall to see how they’d react if they’d be jealous. Well it wasn’t wise for him to show partiality that’s what got Joseph in trouble and this is probably caused additional problems in the family. You know the Bible is very clear.

No man should have more than one wife because it says “No man can serve two masters.” And so he should have known better. “For he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival” her adversary… You know what the word Satan means? The word Satan means adversary. “Provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb.” And it was especially intense whenever they would go up to worship on a yearly basis and I can just see Peninnah as the food is being distributed to her children saying, “Well, I guess she may as well have a double portion because she has no children. Obviously there must be sin in your life, Hannah. Tell us. Fess up. What is it that’s wrong? Why is God cursing you like this? You must have done something wrong.” And this went on all the time and she kept rubbing it in. “I wonder who is going to take care of you in your old age.” Made her miserable. You know the devil is called the accuser of the brethren and this is what Peninnah was doing. The Bible says, “it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.” Now what is food a symbol of in the Bible? The word of God. She’s sad and she’s not eating. Was it because Elkanah her husband was not providing? He’s giving her a double portion but she’s not eating and she’s sad. That’s typically true in the church too. If we’re not eating the word we’re often sad. Keep reading and you’ll find out the reverse happens in a little bit. And “she wept and did not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart grieved?” Why? Why? Why? “Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

Her relationship with her husband like the church’s relationship with Christ should be the best. “So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh” after the sacrifice. “Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle” in the church. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and she prayed to the Lord and she wept in anguish. Then she made a vow.” Here she’s pouring out her heart to God. She’s there before the tabernacle praying, “Oh Lord of Hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” He would be a Nazarite. Now she’s making a bargain. She’d been asking for a son for herself. She finally realized, “Maybe I’m praying for the wrong thing for the wrong motive. Lord, anything you give me comes from you and I want to give it back to you.” You catching that, friends? Sometimes we forget that every good and perfect gift comes from God and we think it’s for ourselves. You gotta remember everything comes from God and belongs to God. Once she was willing to let go and say, “If you give me a son, he’s yours.” You know they had a law that the first fruits of your blessings should be returned to the Lord. She said, “You know I’m going to do this with my son. If you’ll give me a son I’m going to give him back to you that he might serve you forever. He’ll be a Nazarite.” Well, that’s hard for a mother to pray that prayer. You know the Bible says that the strongest earthly attraction of that of a mother for the child next to that for God.

Jesus said, “If you love father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, child, son or daughter more than me you’re not worthy of me.” That’s pretty heavy, isn’t it? When Jesus says, “You’ve got to love me more than you love your spouse, your parents, your family, your children.” Well, there’s no greater love than that, is there? And she said, “Alright, Lord, I’m willing to put you first. Oh, there’s nothing I want more than a child, but I’m going to put you first.” What did God do? Well, she’s pouring out her soul before the Lord and Eli is watching from a distance and his eyesight is not real good. You read on and you find that out. And he sees her swaying back and forth and she’s moving her lips and he thinks that she’s been drinking, that she’s intoxicated and he thinks, “Well, that’s sacrilegious! She shouldn’t be coming to the temple like that!” And he said, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” And Hannah said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.” Bad enough that my heart’s broken, now you’re accusing me of being inebriated. “I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” You know the Bible says in Ephesians that we “should not drink wine which leads to dissipation but be filled with the Spirit.” The Bible makes a comparison several times between alcohol and the Holy Spirit as extreme opposites. Did you know that? When the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost and they began speaking in tongues what was the accusation of the crowd? “They’re drunk!” It may have looked that way but it was quite the opposite. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Hopefully the two don’t act the same way.

Again the Bible says, concerning John the Baptist, the angel said, “He would not drink wine or strong drink that he might be filled with God’s Spirit.” You cannot have both, friends. You fill a person with intoxicating beverages and they automatically don’t have the Holy Spirit. I’ll tell you that right now. Why do you think they call strong drink “spirits”? It is a spirit but it’s the wrong one. That’s why she was outraged that he would think that. And Eli said to her… and she said, “Consider not your maidservant” verse 16 “a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and in grief I have spoken until now.” She was praying a Spirit filled heartfelt prayer fervently with all her heart. And Eli corrected himself and he “said, ‘Go in peace. The God of Israel grant you your petition which you have asked of Him.’ And she said, ‘Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.’ So the woman went away and ate.” Now she eats and “her face is no longer sad.” Notice what happens here. She probably prayed for a child all year long, right? But now she takes her prayer to church. Did it make a difference? Well, evidently. Eli, did he know what she prayed? No, he didn’t know what was in her heart but he said, “God grant your petition.”

She took what he said. She believed that God spoke through him. The Bible says even in the New Testament that the High Priest without even knowing it would often utter things that were prophetic. You remember the High Priest that even condemned Jesus even though he was completely wicked when he said, “Do you not see anything but that it’s expedient that one man should perish rather than the whole nation?” Little did he know that Jesus perished that the nation of spiritual Israel might live. It was a prophecy that he spoke. And here Eli said, “God grant you your petition.” She said, “That’s the voice of God through him.” He didn’t even know it. You know it’s amazing to me sometimes I’m at the door after the service and I wonder if anything made any sense let alone got through. People come out sometimes in tears and say, “Oh, Pastor, I’ve been praying about something and God answered my prayer through something you said today. I know what to do right now.” And I’m going, “That’s nice.” I have no idea what I said. Or someone else will meet me at the door and say, “I’ve been wrestling with something. I believe today the Lord gave me victory. Praise the Lord! Thank you so much for what you said!” And I go, “What did I say?” I have no idea. Do you know the Lord sometimes uses us not because of us but in spite of us? And this is what was happening here with Eli. He had his set of problems but the Lord could still work through his office. And I think we need to respect those offices. Well, she “went away believing.” Now you notice is she pregnant yet? No. Has she had an evening of intimacy with her husband yet? No. Is she happy? Yes! Why? Because she believes that God is going to answer her prayer and she instantly starts feeling better. Do you know faith always comes before feeling? There’s nothing wrong with feeling, but don’t base your conclusions on it.

She believed God was going to answer her prayer and her whole attitude changed. She got her appetite back and started feeling better. Incidentally you can tell how a person is doing spiritually often by their appetite. One of the first things a doctor will ask a person when they’re having some problems they’ll say, “How’s your appetite.” “I can’t eat.” That’s a serious indicator. Person says, “I got a good appetite but I got a runny nose.” Well, the doctor doesn’t worry too much, right? But if a person has no appetite that’s a sign usually of something more entrenched. I worry about members that don’t have an appetite for God’s word. There’s a sign of a deeper spiritual problem there. She went away and she ate and she wasn’t sad anymore. “Then they arose and went in the morning and worshipped before the Lord, and they returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him from the Lord.’ And the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, ‘I will not go up until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.’” Was she not going to the temple because she didn’t believe in worship anymore? Or did she make a vow that next time she came if God answered her prayer she was leaving her son. She had to make sure he was old enough and ready for that. This was a woman of integrity. How many of us if we long for something all of our lives and finally God gives us the desire of our hearts? And after she was looking at that child and it’s the only one she can hold and Peninnah is being surrounded with her brood of children.

She’s got this one child that now has suddenly changed her reputation. Everyone in the town says, “She’s blessed now.” God has opened her womb. She’s got the fruit of the womb. She’s got to give it away. Good looking kid, bright kid. She’s got to give him away. And every time she brought him to her breast and nursed him she remembered she’s made a promise. “He is not mine. He belongs to God. He belongs to the nation. God is going to use him for something great.” And you know? I think that must have been a tremendous struggle for her. How do you think it feels, mothers, to know that every time you pick your child up and embrace him that the day is coming when you’ve got to hand him over to God. Every time that you change their diaper or you nurse them or you teach them you know that they’re going to be given to God someday. If you know your child is going to be the instrument of God to lead a nation to repentance and revival and reform how carefully would you train them? How carefully would you evaluate everything you said to them? Everything they were exposed to? You know I think that’s how every mother and father ought to look upon their responsibility. Amen? They’re not yours. They’re not mine. They belong to God and we need to remember that. And she took her responsibility very seriously and she took her vow to God very seriously. She said, “No, not until he’s weaned.” She nurtured the child and taught him took care of his needs all the time knowing he belongs to God. “So Elkanah her husband said to her…” Think about him for a minute! You’ve been praying for a baby. You’ve been praying for a baby and finally God gives you a baby and now you’re going to give him to the temple? I’ve heard about the temple, you know. The sons of Eli aren’t quite like their father. There’s a lack of integrity there. There’s some problems in the church. You’re still going to give your greatest gift to the church when there’s problems in the church? Have you ever heard people say, “Don’t give to the church because there’s problems.” You ever heard that before? Is that a Biblical approach?

The idea that you don’t give to the church because there’s some inconsistency or sin or corruption in the church is not a Biblical argument. For one thing if you use that argument then you probably would not have supported Jesus when He ministered because you know He had a Judas, after all, didn’t He? You would not have been like that widow who put her last two cents in the temple treasury because you know those priests that were there were hypocrites. They were going to crucify the Lord of Glory. But what did Jesus say to that widow that put her last two cents in the treasury box? She was blessed for what she had done. You don’t stop giving because there is compromise in the institution because it’s always been that way, friends. When you give, you give to God. Amen? She wasn’t giving her son to Eli. She was not giving her son to Hophni and Phinehas. She was giving him to God and that’s who you’re giving to when you give. Don’t ever worry about it. Don’t ever be ashamed. God will bless you for it just as he was getting ready to bless Hannah.

The Bible says, “When she weaned him, she took him up with her,” verse 24, “with three bulls.” That was a very expensive sacrifice. “And one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine.” She said “I’m not going to just give him to Eli and said ‘now he’s the charge of the state. I want the state to take care of him.’” She actually gave money and funds for Eli to take care of this gift. You know sometimes members will come to me and they’ll say, “I want to start a program.” And they want the church to pay for it. She wasn’t just going to give her son and have the church take care of him. She was going to pay for that. She brought provisions “and brought him to the house of the Lord… And the child was young. They slaughtered the bull, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.’” Do you think he remembered that experience? We don’t know. May not have. Problem is God heard her prayer and her promise, right?

God remembered what she said. “‘Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.’ So they worshipped the Lord there.” And I can just see this little child is there standing by the priest and Eli, the Bible says, was a big man. And here you’ve got this big priest and this little child I don’t know he might have been five years old or something. He was young. Just finished nursing. Potty trained. Just… can you imagine what it must have been like for her when she gave him his last embrace and said, “I’ll see you next year, son.” And she made sure he had his little bag he was holding in his hands with his garments and the things he was going to need now until Mom came back next year. And she’s leaving him in this ornate tabernacle with the sons of Eli and surrounded with strange surroundings and he’s starting to whimper and say, “Mommy, don’t leave. Where’re you going? Why are you doing this?” I think she had prepared him, don’t you? I think she told him, “You belong to God and something very exciting is going to happen. God’s got a plan for you.” And I’m sure that even though he knew great things were in store it was a very tender, heart wrenching moment when she had to walk away from that little charge that she had prayed for.

You know the thing that really moves me about this story is Hannah’s devotion to God first. You read chapter two. I’m not going to read the whole thing. Her whole prayer is glory and exhalation to God. She never says anything about the baby. She praises God for what He has done. She praises God for His gift. Her concern is for the glory of God. What is your concern in raising your child? That they might make you proud or that they might bring God glory? What was her concern in raising Samuel? That God might be glorified. And the Bible says then in verse 18 of chapter 2, “But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod.” Here this little child was ministering. Can God work through our children even while they’re young? “Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe.” All year long she’d weave love into every fiber and she’d “bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer a yearly sacrifice. And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘The Lord give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was lent to the Lord.’ Then they would go to their own home. And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile Samuel grew.”

When she gave her first and her best to the Lord did the Lord multiply everything else after that? You know sometimes we think I can’t afford to give to God because I won’t have anything left. Friends, you won’t have anything if you don’t give to God when he tells you to give. Amen? She gave her best to the Lord and the Lord multiplied what she didn’t have. Where she had only one child before now she had five because she put God first. It doesn’t make sense, friends, but it works that way. The Bible tells us that that son… Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were taken away in judgement because of their sin and that young man became the last judge of Israel. He led the nation back to God, delivered them from their enemies the Philistines. He ordained the first king and the second king of Israel. Samuel was a prophet and a priest and a patriarch and a father to a whole nation and it all sprang from the tender, careful training of a godly mother. And what a sacrifice to sacrifice her children like that. You know the Bible tells us that Jesus is sometimes not only compared to our Father in Heaven. Did you know Jesus is not only God the Son, one of His titles is Father because we are all created by Him, right? “He is called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God,” the what? “Everlasting Father.” But he’s also a mother.

Some people have an idea of trying to attach only one gender to God. Don’t get caught in that trap. Jesus said He compares himself to a mother hen. Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stone them that are sent unto thee! How often I would have gathered thy children together, even as a hen…” He’s comparing himself to a mother hen. “Gathers her children under her wings.” God says, “I want you to hide under my wings” in the Old Testament too. Like a mother eagle trains their young and protects them. Isaiah 49:15, 16, “Can a woman forget her nursing child that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?” Yes, they may forget. It happens on occasion. It’s unnatural. It’s rare. It shocks us when we hear about it. Unfortunately it’s happening more and more because we’re living in an age where love is growing cold, where mothers don’t care about their children. They might forget but the Lord says, “I’m not going to forget you. I’ll remember you and love you more than a mother loves a nursing baby, not just a baby, a nursing baby. We still have that happening in the Batchelor household and it’s almost impossible to forget about a nursing baby. I don’t need to go into details but I’ll just tell you right now it’s nearly impossible to forget about it. And the Lord said that’s almost unthinkable, but it’s less likely that I’ll forget you. Why? “I have graven you upon the palms of my hands.” He has eternal scars in his hands to remind him of how much he loves you and me.

He laid down his life to save you and me. A number of years ago a mother was traveling cross-country before they had the artificial automation we have now of cars and trains and busses. She was walking and unexpectedly got caught in a blinding blizzard. She was carrying a young baby. Pretty soon it was a white out. She could not even see the road. She started wandering through a field. Snow got deeper. She got colder and she knew that she was going to perish. The next day searchers went looking for her and not far from the road out in the middle of a field they saw a mound. They dug away the snow in the mound and there was the mother. She’d frozen to death. She’d taken off all of her outer clothing and wrapped up the baby and then she curled her body over the baby as much as she could to shield him. And when they pried the frozen body of the mother away and they unwrapped all the garments there was the baby alive and well because of the sacrifice the mother had made. Does that mother love her baby? Oh, incidentally, that baby became David Lloyd George the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Did that mother love her baby more than Jesus loves His children? Does the Lord love your children more than you do? Your hearts yearn sometimes over kids who might be wandering from the Lord or grandchildren.

You don’t love them more than the Lord. Do you think He doesn’t hear those prayers? God loves them more than the love for her nursing child. The best thing you can do for yourself, the best thing you can do for your children is what Hannah did. She finally came to the place where she came to church. That’s a good thing to do, friends, when you want to pray. Her prayer was answered in church. Amen? She came to church and she poured out her heart and she gave all of her heart and said, “Whatever you give me, Lord, it belongs to you.” And when that happened, God gave her everything back. And the whole nation was blessed. And she ended up with five children because she gave God her heart first. The best thing you can do for your children is to give Him all of your heart and then He’ll teach you how to train them for Him. There is no greater love than the love of a mother for her child except the love of Jesus for you and me. If you believe that, friends, I’d like to invite you to reach for your hymnals. Let’s sing our closing hymn “I Will Sing of Jesus’ Love” 183. We’ll sing the first and the last verse. And let’s stand together.

Just before we sing the last verse of this song there’s two things I want to say. Some of you have felt your hearts stirred. Some of you have come to our evangelistic meetings for several weeks now and you’ve not yet made a decision for baptism. We’re going to give you one verse of this song to make a decision. If you haven’t made a decision yet and you’d like to plan on baptism and those of you who are looking forward to baptism in the future we’d like to invite you to come to the front. We want to have a special prayer for you at the close of this verse. Come now as we sing the last verse.

Praise the Lord. Some of you are still coming. We want to pause a moment. Some of you maybe who have been in the church for years if you’ve wandered and you know you need to rededicate your life to the Lord. If the Holy Spirit spoke to you today, come now. We want to pray for you and with you before we close. And following the prayer I will invite the congregation to be seated. We’re going to have the bell choir do something for us here. Those who were baptized today please join me at the back door because the rest of the congregation wants to welcome you into the family. Let’s bow our heads.

Father in Heaven, Lord, as we’ve heard this story from your word today and as we’ve witnessed others today making decisions to seal their hearts and their lives through baptism in a decision to follow Jesus we are stirred. We’re stirred when we consider how much you love us. You love us thousand times more than even a nursing mother loves her charge, her child. I pray, Lord, that we’ll learn how to trust our lives to that love and if there are any here today who are running from you, who are resisting you, I pray that you will melt and soften their hearts. Help them to make a complete surrender and give them joy in their hearts that comes from that decision. Please bless those who have responded to the call today. Fill them with your Spirit. I pray that you will seal these decisions for eternity. Be with those who were baptized today. We know that Jesus was tempted after His baptism and I pray that you will guard these people during that time. And so pour out your Spirit on everybody present here. Help us to remember that you’ve promised to be with us always in Christ’s name we ask. Amen.

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