Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Story of God: Samuel

Like Samson, Samuel was born to a God-fearing woman who did not think she would ever become a mother.  Like Samson, Samuel was a miracle baby.  And like Samson, Samuel would be set apart for a special purpose.  Samuel would be the spiritual leader of God's people.

But before he could become the leader of Israel, Samuel had to accept his greatest gift:  his ability to hear the voice of God.  This would be Samuel's great contribution to the world.  He would represent the people when he stood before God.

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  1 Samuel 3:1-10

How can we learn to hear the voice of God?

God usually speaks in one of four ways:  through His Word, prayer, people, and circumstances

And the order is important!  It must begin with #1.

1) God’s Word erases agenda from the equation

Whether we want to admit it or not, we have agendas.  We are not objective.  When we want to hear God's voice, we usually have something we want Him to confirm.  We're leaning one way or the other already.  If we begin with God's Word, that takes the emotion out of it.  At least, it helps!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:17

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

2) Prayer erases despair from the equation

Even if God's words to us are difficult, convicting, or disciplinary, His words will contain hope!  No matter how far we have fallen, God will reach out His hand and lead us home.

If we talk to God without hope, that is merely complaining.  That's not praying.  Complaining is airing out what’s on our mind for the purpose of hurting.  Praying is expressing what’s in our heart for the purpose of healing.  Remember that God is more concerned with being close then being clear. His favorite part of prayer is the intimacy; not the information.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:13-16

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.  Ezra 8:23

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  
Matthew 21:22

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”  Mark 9:29

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 4:16

3) People erase isolation from the equation

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.  Proverbs 15:22

We need people in our lives.  They help us make sense of what God is saying to us.  BUT...make sure you have already filtered God's message through Scripture and prayer.  If people's advice contradicts God's Word, don't listen too long to them.

4) Circumstances erase manipulation from the equation

Have you ever manipulated a situation and then wondered if that was the only reason things happened as they did?  Frankly, I love it when God shows up and orchestrates something that I would never have thought of or never could have done.  Then I have to say, "It was just God being God."

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

If God is speaking, it will line up!

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