THINK: How do you handle disappointment and discouragement? Do you cave in to outside pressures, collapse under the weight of emotions or curl up and hide from responsibilities and people around you? The fact is that worry and anxiety can rob you of health, peace of mind, and joy. God never intended that you carry the weight of your needs alone. God wants you to make a habit of talking to Him about the things that concern You. The Lord knows your circumstances. He hears your cries. As you devote yourself to Him and trust Him to make the best of your situations, your present sufferings will fade in comparison to the purpose and reward God has in store for you.
RESPOND: How can God use disappointments to guide us in His perfect plans? (See 1:5 note.) How should we handle hurts so God can work through them? Why is Hannah's vow to God a good example for Christian parents? (See 1:11 and 1:28 notes.) What transition in Israel's history does the book of Samuel cover? (See 1:20 note.) What leadership role did Samuel fill in Israel, and what authority did he have? (See 1:20 note.) What character traits and acts of God does Hannah's prayer highlight (2:1-11)? (See 2:1 note.) How did Eli's sons defy God? (See 2:12 note.) In what way did Eli fail to deal with his sons? (See 2:23 note.) How did their behavior affect others (2:22-24)? How did young Samuel's life contrast with Eli's sons (2:26)? How did Eli's failures at home affect his leadership nationally, and what would this cost him? (See 2:29 and 2:31 notes.) From God's perspective, what makes a faithful leader? (See 2:35 note, subpoints 1 & 2.) Who ultimately fulfilled the role of God's faithful high priest? (See 2:35 note.)
PRAY: Give thanks for God's care and guidance through times of pain and disappointment. Pray that you will be receptive and responsive to God's voice at all times. Give God any hurts or difficulties you're currently experiencing.
ACT: Dedicate your prized possessions, activities, resources and relationships to God. Be particularly mindful of anything that may seem detached from your spiritual life or relationship with God. This may mean giving up a few things, but for most things it could simply involve readjusting their place or priority in your life. Ultimately, commit these things to be used in ways that honor God, promote His purposes, benefit others and draw attention to Christ.
THINK: How many times have you thought, "I wish God would just tell me what He wants me do"? You may never hear God speaking in an audible voice like He did to Samuel, but God still speaks today. He speaks through His Word, through His Holy Spirit, through fulfilled prophecies and through prayer. But no matter how He chooses to speak, what matters is that you learn to listen and recognize God's voice and respond obediently to what you hear. Throughout life, your level of victory will be directly related to your dependence on God as demonstrated through prayer. So if your life has become overcrowded with distractions and you find it hard to "tune in" God's voice, you must break away from the chaos and clutter, get alone with God and say, "Speak, for your servant is listening" (3:10).
RESPOND: How does 3:1 explain the trouble and turmoil that was prevalent in Israel up to Samuel's time? How is Samuel's response to God in 3:10 a prime example of how to respond to and interact with God? How was Samuel's role as "prophet of the LORD" unique, and why did God appoint him to this role? (See 3:20 note.) What did "the ark of the LORD'S covenant" represent, and why were the Israelites convinced it would guarantee victory over the Philistines? (See 4:3 note.) Why did the Israelites still lose the battle? In what way do people today sometimes rely on religious rituals and symbols to bring spiritual benefits? (See 4:3 note.) What does the "Ichabod" mean, and how did it relate to Israel's situation at the time? (See 4:21 note.) What was significant about what happened to the image of the Philistine "god," Dagon, when it was in the presence of the ark of God (5:1-5)? How did the men of Beth Shemesh show disrespect for God? (See 6:19 note.) What did the Israelites have to do to prove sincerity to God and receive His help? (See 7:3 note.) What made the difference in Israel's victory over the Philistines in chapter 7 compared to previous defeats (7:12-13)? (See 7:8 note.) What example does this set for Christ's followers today?
PRAY: Ask God to speak to you. Then take time to listen for His answers, insight, guidance and peace. Give God thanks for His constant presence and pray that you never take it for granted.
ACT: The most important part of prayer is not simply what we can say to God; it's what God can say to us. For this reason, continue in an attitude of prayer throughout the day-keeping an open ear more than an open mouth. Actively respond to what you sense God saying to you. Also, remove or readjust anything in your life that tends to detract from your relationship or service to God. This could involve how you use your time, money or energy.