************ Sermon on 1 Samuel 3:10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 5, 2005
1 Samuel 3:1-10
1 Samuel 3:10
"Listening for God"
I Inability to Hear
A The opening verse of our passage tells us a terrible thing: the Word of God had disappeared from the land. Everything went wrong: immorality (1 Sam 2:22), poverty (2:36), and defeat on the battle field (4:10). Those were days of deep despair.
The Word of God is scarce in our day, too. People don't know the Word of God for marriage, so our homes are being destroyed. Doctors and mothers ignore the Word of God concerning the sanctity of life, so more than 1.4 million legal abortions were performed last year. Scholars reject the Word of God for learning, so our colleges and schools have no values and teach no values. Most of our civic leaders don't search what the Word of God says about government and politics, so much of our public affairs and policies lack any solid direction. The Word of God is scarce in the world of labor and business, so the result is hatred, waste, greed, and exploitation.
B The Word of God is very scarce today. Yet, it is preached on radio and TV, and copies of the Bible are widely available. The Word of God is very scarce today. Yet, nation after nation is opening its doors to the Gospel. For instance, in remote northwest Ethiopia, 500 small churches have been built in the last 14 months. The remarkable church growth – from just seven in early 2004 – comes because the government donated the land for any church that reached 25 baptized members (Christianity Today, June 2005, p.26). With the passing of Pope John Paul II, Christianity Today (May 2005, p.34) revealed the unknown story of how John Paul II ushered Campus Crusade for Christ into Poland. Thanks to his efforts, hundreds of thousands of Polish youth have been exposed to the Gospel for the first time. This also reminds me of how Campus Crusade for Christ trained more than 4,700 Russian teachers how to teach Christian values to elementary and high school students. And – can you believe this – Campus Crusade for Christ did this at the request of the government. Christian radio, like the Back to God Hour, is preaching the Word of God daily on the air waves of Russia and the other former Soviet states, China, and Muslim lands too.
C Baffling, that's what it is: never before has the Word of God been as abundantly available as it is today, and yet never has the Word of God been as removed from life as it is today. The light of God's Word is all around us, yet we grope around in darkness as never before.
What's the problem? Why is the Word of God so scarce when it is so abundantly available?
In our Scripture lesson, God appears as a voice in the night, calling the boy Samuel by name. Not knowing any better, Samuel wrongly identifies the voice three times. Three times he runs to Eli's bed and says, "Here I am; you called me." And three times Eli sends Samuel back to his bed. Samuel confused God's call with a summons from old Eli. God had spoken but Samuel wasn't listening.
The same thing happened in the days of Jesus' ministry here on earth. God spoke, but the people weren't listening. The Apostle John says,
(Jn 1:10-11) He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (11) He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
God has spoken today as well. And, like Samuel, people aren't listening.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile and saying the usual things at all those White House receptions. So, one evening he decided to find out whether anybody was paying attention to what he was saying. As each person came up to him with extended hand, he flashed that big smile and said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." People would automatically respond with comments such as "How lovely!" or "Just continue with your great work!" Nobody listened to what he was saying, except one foreign diplomat. When the president said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning," the diplomat responded softly, "I'm sure she had it coming to her."
The problem – do you know what it is? The problem isn't that God is silent. The problem isn't weakness on God's part. The problem is that man isn't listening because of human inability and human ignorance. The problem is sin. Because of sin we don't hear the voice of God. Because of sin we don't listen when God speaks. Because of sin we are deaf to or confused about the voice of God. Remember the sea shell (HOLD IT UP)? If we would only listen, we would hear the ocean's roar. Nevertheless, even though the sound is always there, most of us don't hear it.
II Directed to Hear God's Word
A Scripture explains Samuel's ignorance to us. It tells us why Samuel was unable to hear the Word of the Lord. Did you catch what verse 7 said?
(1 Sam 3:7) Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. Samuel was but a boy, a child. His knowledge of God was childish because he was a child. He did not yet have the kind of relationship with God that marked the rest of his life. Therefore, when God called to him, Samuel was unable to hear and recognize God's call.
B On his own, left to his own devices, Samuel would never have discerned the voice of the Lord. He needed the guidance and direction of Eli. Scripture tells us that when Samuel came to his bed a third time, Eli "realized that the LORD was calling the boy."
(1 Sam 3:9) 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. Thanks to Eli, when God did call him for a fourth time, Samuel was able to discern the voice of God.
We are the same way. If we rely only on ourselves, our own experience and knowledge, we too cannot hear and understand the voice of God. We need someone who has already met and knows God to guide and direct us. Remember the sea shell (HOLD IT UP)? Unless someone who has already heard tells us to listen, most of us would never bother putting it to our ear. We need someone to guide and direct us.
Parents, moms and dads, do you know what your most important job is? Your most important job is to guide and direct your children to hear the voice and Word of God. When it comes right down to it, that is the job of Christian teachers at church and school too. Like Eli, we are to tell our children about God, and direct them to God, so that they can hear His voice when He calls.
C Directing others to hear the voice and Word of God – that is the calling not only of parents but of the entire church. I always think here of Andrew and Simon. Andrew met Jesus and made a decision to follow Him. Then Scripture adds this note:
(John 1:41-42) The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). (42) And he brought him to Jesus.Andrew made finding Simon his first priority. And, that should be our attitude as well – our first priority should be to direct others toward the Lord.
Let me ask you 2 things: one, have you or are you being used by the Spirit to lead your own children to Jesus – after all, evangelism always has to start in the home; two, how many other souls have you, by grace, brought to the Lord?
III Open to Hear God's Word
A Of course, there is also another side to the equation. You know the old saying, "You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink." Likewise, you can direct a person to Jesus but you can't make him or her believe. You can tell a person to listen to the Lord, but they still won't hear unless they, by grace, open themselves to hearing God's Word.
Young Samuel is directed by Eli to hear the Word of the Lord and he responds with openness: "Speak, for your servant is listening."
God wants not only a young Samuel to listen to Him, to be open to His voice and Word, but He also wants you and me to listen. God wants to hear from us what He heard from Samuel: "Speak, for your servant is listening."
B There is a precondition to listening to God or to anyone for that matter. Think about it. You cannot hear if you are busy talking. For Samuel to hear the Lord he has to be silent before Him. For you to hear the Lord you have to be silent before Him. The psalmist and prophet speaks to this:
(Ps 46:10) "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." When it comes to listening to the voice of God we can say that "silence is golden." Again, remember the sea shell (HOLD IT UP). To hear the ocean's roar we need to be silent.
(Hab 2:20) "But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."
Many people are not comfortable with silence. They feel ill at ease when there is a lull in the conversation. When alone they have to hear the sound of the radio, TV, or stereo. Ours is a world that has grown accustomed to noise. Many cannot stand the sound of silence. More people wake up when a sound stops then when a sound starts.
To hear the voice of God, then, we need to be silent. To listen to the voice of God we need a quiet time – a time when we can meditate on the Word and pray. Like Samuel, we need to be listening. "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." "Speak, Lord, for I am silent and waiting to hear."
Do you hear the voice of God? Or, is your life too busy and too noisy? Do you have a quiet-time each day in which, like Samuel, you are listening to God?
C "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." And God spoke to Samuel. "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." And God speaks to us as well. However, there is a big difference between the way God speaks to us and the way He spoke to Samuel. Samuel somehow, in someway, heard the voice of the Lord. God doesn't speak that way anymore. To hear Him today, what we have to do is turn to Scripture. God speaks to us and we can hear His voice in the Bible.
"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."
I found a poem in my files this past week that was written by a girl in one of the previous churches I served.
Take Time to be Still
Take time, my child, to stop and think;
for peace and stillness is the link
to fellowship with Me.
Not now, O Lord, I've things to do!
places to go, no time for You.
My homework must be done.
Now, my child, be still and rest
for then you surely will be blessed
with strength to go on.
No, Lord, I want to have some fun
and then some praying can be done.
I don't want to now.
Do not let this your answer be;
from this temptation quickly flee.
Stop and listen to God.
Be still and know that He is king;
with joyful sound let His praise ring.
Give praise to your God.
Take time to think along the way;
take time to pray and then to say:
"Lord, I'm listening."
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