Posted by: mikebackup | January 13, 2012

God is speaking to you!

1 Samuel 3.1-20
1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 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!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ “So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.” 15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” 17 Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.” 19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.

The Bible has to be approached very carefully. We must ask questions of who it was written to, why it was written, the social and theological context. We must then put that against the thrust of the whole Bible before we jump to conclusions about how God was at work in a person or group of people. More importantly we must not jump to conclusions to how God is speaking to us through it.

But we don’t always have the time or the resources for an extensive Bible Study, so what do we do? The single best thing is that we read the whole Bible through the understanding we have of Jesus – reading the Bible through ‘the lens of Christ’. What we know of Christ’s loving ways then informs our reading, especially of the Old Testament. The people did get it very wrong sometimes, meaning that eventually God need to come in person to reveal his true nature. On other occasions the people got it very right and these verses are such an example.

There are some significant divine teachings here which speak directly to us today when you look at them through the lens of Christ. Firstly we are all God’s people, regardless of age, there’s no ageism with God. Whether you’re a baby like Evelyn or 95 like Maud, God can speak through us. All we have to be is attentive to that voice.

We then move onto respect for each other. On occasions young people can be disrespectful to older people whilst in church. Far more familiar are older people being disrespectful to younger people. For a very long time there was a cultural acceptance that ‘children were seen and not heard’. That said children have nothing to say, that they are not important and their exuberance for life is like having a big bluebottle in the room during dinner. How wrong that was and how un-Christ like. The Bible has many examples of God at work in young people. Samuel, David, Moses are good examples. Then there is what we have just celebrated – Christmas, where we recognise the arrival of God in a baby. What adults must not do is be blinded by that old prejudice as God may be speaking to you directly through a young person. This is particularly important to remember in worship. During the times when the younger ones are noisy, don’t get angry or frustrated. Look at them, bless them, pray for them, and watch their interactions. God may have a word for you.

When we gather as a Christian community in holy expectancy of hearing God be excited that the voice might come from anyone or anything. It is certainly not only going to come through the worship leader, sometimes you will not hear anything through them. If you expect God’s voice to just come through the leader you will spend many a Sunday frustrated, angry, and forsaken even. Open your eyes and ears to the presence and voice of God.

Read these verses again, which show this respect for each other and openness to the way God speaks. Eli is unwavering in his respect for Samuel. Not once is he annoyed by the repeated interruptions. It is only through his respect to Samuel and openness to the way God speaks that he then realises God is trying to speak to Samuel.

This leads us onto our final teaching for today, that of working together. Loving respect and openness leads to the clear hearing of God. Samuel needed Eli and Eli needed Samuel. Together they allowed God to be heard.

We are about to embark on a new style of church meeting where there will be younger people present who will ask for things and will make some noise. Be open to the way God may speak through them. In the same way you must not expect God to only speak through the worship leader; don’t expect God to only speak through those who will spend the whole time around the table.

Let me finish by returning to something I said earlier – ‘there’s no ageism with God’ and expand on it. The respect, openness and the working together is not only about young and old, but all the nuances and variations in person, background and ability. To hear God clearly we must be truly inclusive and not let prejudices slam the door in God’s face.

God IS all around, all we have to do is realise that.

Prayers (adapted from roots worship material)

 We give you thanks, Lord,
for Samuel and Eli,
and the way they worked together
as a team, hearing your voice and deciding
what had to be done:
the young and the old;
the listener, the counsellor;
innocence and wisdom.
May we learn from them
how to serve you better.

Because Lord, we’re not always very good at listening to you,
especially if we think you’re going to say something we might not like.
We’re sorry that so often we’re not prepared to give you,
and others, the space to speak to us.
Forgive us our deafness, our impatience, our stubbornness,
and all the other things that block out your word.

We pray today for all who listen.
For teachers, that they really hear
what their pupils are saying:
hear us, good Lord.
For parents, that their children
may never feel neglected:
hear us, good Lord.
For doctors and nurses, that they
may radiate care and concern:
hear us, good Lord.
For counsellors, that they may understand:
hear us, good Lord.
For politicians, that they will
make wise decisions:
hear us, good Lord.
For ourselves, that we might truly reflect Jesus:
hear us, good Lord.

Amen.


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