Scripture
1 Samuel 3:1-10
Date
January 14, 2018
Speaker
Pastor Witt

 

Greeting: Grace and peace are yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

 

Text: 1) 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 temple 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) The Lord called Samuel a third time 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.”

 

Introduction: In his book: “Life In The Crystal Palace,” author Alan Harrington writes: “We are all, it seems, saving ourselves for the Senior Prom.  But many of us forget that somewhere along the way we must learn to dance.”   Harrington makes an interesting comment on preparedness for life.  It rather easy to think about big moments, great opportunities and important tasks, but it is equally easy to forget that we must be prepared to meet them and use them well.  Today we will consider the theme of preparation for the God-revealed and God-directed purposes of life.  We will draw from the Lord’s own instruction as He tells us about the way in which He called the boy Samuel to be in His service.   May God bless us and help us be ready to be of service to Him.

 

1. To Hear Your Life-Giving Word

One of the things God wants people to do for Him is to hear His life-giving Word.  He wants them to welcome it, eagerly receive it and firmly believe it.  He tells us: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.”  (Luke 11:28)  “Humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you.”  (James 1:21b)  “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”  (John 5:24)  God speaks the Word that gives life.  Oh, that people would be ready to hear it – to receive it and believe it for their blessing.

 

God helped Samuel get ready to hear His Word when He was a boy.  Samuel, the son of Elkhanah and Hannah, was a special gift God gave to his parents.  In thankfulness to the Lord, they dedicated Samuel to be in God’s service.  As a small child, Samuel was taken to the Temple and put under the instruction of the priest, Eli.  Eli served in the temple.  He assisted in the temple, doing the chores Eli assigned him and faithfully helping this aged man with his needs and making sure that the temple was cared for properly.   One night God called out to Samuel as he was getting ready to go to sleep.  He said: “Samuel.’  Upon hearing his name called, Samuel got up and rushed to Eli’s side.  He thought that it was Eli who was calling him for assistance.  Samuel had not experienced this kind of call before.  Instances where God called and appeared to people in visions were very rare and unexpected at this time.  God called Samuel by name three times.  Each time Samuel rushed to Eli and offered himself to be of help.  Eli sent him back to sleep each time, but the third time, Eli realized that it was God who was calling Samuel.  So Eli instructed Samuel to sit still and respond: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”  When God called Samuel a fourth time, Samuel replied as Eli had instructed him.  God had Samuel’s attention.  He spoke a message and prophecy to Samuel, the first of many that He would deliver to His prophet during the course of his life.

 

In this interesting way, God prepared Samuel to listen to His Word.  God is also interested that we listen to His Word.  He works to prepare us to be ready to listen well.  There are some differences in the call God made to Samuel to hear and the calls God makes to us to hear His Word.  For one, we no longer live in the days of direct revelation.  It is highly unlikely that God will wake us up at night by calling our name at the side of our bed and give us a vision of Himself as He did with Samuel.  God will use indirect ways of trying to get our attention. Usually, He will call us through the invitations and encouragements of fellow Christians in our lives. A second difference is that we no longer live in the days of incomplete revelation.  At the time of Samuel, only a few of the 66 books of the Bible had been given to people in written form.  Samuel lived during the times when God the Holy Spirit was giving and revealing the words of Scripture for the first time through the prophets.  In our time, we have the completed revelation of God’s will in the Bible.  It has all been revealed and written. There is no more to come.  In addition, we have God’s Word readily available to us in our own language.  We have access to a variety of good translations in contemporary English.   What a great blessing that is.

 

Yet, God’s call of us to hear His Word has much in common with His call of Samuel.   As in the case of Samuel, God issues multiple calls to help us recognize His voice and the importance of hearing Him.  God calls people repeatedly to hear His voice in the words of the Bible.  Each time we were brought or invited to attend worship service or a Bible class, to listen to a religious broadcast or to read the Bible for ourselves, God was drawing our attention to His Word and inviting us to hear, read and absorb its message for ourselves.  As God worked with Samuel patiently and persistently, so God works with us.  He knows how vital it is that we hear and believe His Word and He knows how naturally disinclined we are to hear it, so He lovingly persists to get out attention and get us to realize the value and importance of our minds and hearts joining with His as He communicates His truths and teachings to us.   As God used Eli to help Samuel with his hearing, so God uses the people around us to help us understand how and why God wants and deserves our attention and how to hear His message for our lives.

 

God has so much to teach us.  He wants us to know the depths of our sin and how to repent.  He wants us to know the heights of His forgiving love in Christ and how to be certain of our salvation.  He wants us to know about our place in the Christian family and fellowship of believers so we can be more encouraging to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  He wants us to know about our role as citizens of an earthly government so we can more helpful to our community and our country.  He wants us to know about His will for human life so we can better protect and defend the weak and needy from the dangers of evils such as hunger, disease and abortion.   As God called Samuel from early years to a lifetime of hearing and learning His Word, so God calls you to pay attention and open your head and your heart to receiving His life-giving Word in your life.  Oh, that God would help us be more and more ready to hear this life-giving Word.

 

2. To Do Your Life-Saving Will

Hearing God’s Word is one part of our life purpose as Christ’s people.  The other key part is to do God’s will.  He tells us: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God, and obey it.” (Luke 11:28)   “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed.”  (James 1:22,25)  The Word of God we hear is to be translated in action.  Our faith is to bring forth fruitful evidences in the deeds of our lives.

 

God prepared Samuel to be a faithful doer of His Word.  As a boy, Samuel was trained by his parents and later by Eli, the priest, to carefully and consistently carry out God’s will.   Later, as he grew and received more revelations from God, Samuel became a faithful prophet and ruler in Israel.  Samuel served as Judge and then as Israel’s spiritual leader during the reign of Israel’s first king.  Samuel served God diligently in spite of unfaithfulness and corruption around him.  He was loyal to God when Eli’s own sons were greedy, immoral and wicked and when Saul became proud and rebellious.  Samuel faithfully taught and obeyed God’s will throughout his life.

 

From Samuel’s response to God’s night-time calls in the temple, we see the servant spirit God wants to work in people.   When Samuel heard the call of his name, he went into action.  He came to Eli, assuming that Eli needed him for some duty or assistance.  He didn’t ignore the call or insist that he be left alone and someone else offer help.  Even though it was night time and he was tired, Samuel’s first thoughts were of serving and carrying out God’s will.  So he got up, ran to Eli and said: “Here I am;  You called me.”  And later, he told God: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”

 

God would help us be ready as Samuel was to do God’s life-saving will.   We may think that following up our good intentions with solid actions is not so important or urgent.  God reminds: “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.”  We may be paralyzed by fear or embarrassment to do the right things.  God tells us: “Fear not, for I am with you.  I will help you.  I will uphold you with My powerful strength.”  We may be tired or discouraged.  God assures us: “God gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.  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 40:29, 31)

 

God had important things for Samuel to do.  God has important things for us to do.  We have people to deliver and lives to save.  God would use us to deliver people from hunger, pain, addictions, selfishness, loneliness, discouragement and despair.  God would use us to protect those around us from harm and danger.  God would use us to share His Word so people can be delivered from the power of sin and death and be saved spiritually and eternally.  May God work in us so that we are more and more ready to do His life-saving will.

 

In his poem called “Preparedness”  Edwin Markham writes: “For all your days prepare.  And meet them all alike.  When you are the anvil, bear.  When you are the hammer, strike.”   Each day is a day of preparation.  By using God’s Word and through prayer, God is getting you ready so you will fulfill the deep purposes of your Christ-ransomed life: to hear His life-giving Word and to do His life-saving will.  Amen.