Monday, January 16, 2012

January 15th, 2012 Worship Service

Pastor Waldschmidt Grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. I Samuel 3:1-10 In our the name of Jesus, our guide and shield, dear fellow redeemed; On this Packer weekend, Packer fans may think of Bart Starr. But the former Packer quarterback was not the first Bart. There was another Bart. His full name was Bartimaeus. You might remember him. This Bart could not pick out Max McGee for a touchdown pass. He was a blind man. He spent his days begging by the side of the road. One day Bartimaeus could hear a crowd of people coming down the road. He asked what the commotion was all about and he found out that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Bartimaeus must have heard of him because he called out, “Son of David, Have mercy on me!” Some people shushed him, but he only called out louder. Jesus stopped and called for him and Bartimaeus was told the good news. Some folks told him, “Cheer up! Get on your feet he is calling for you!” Today in God’s Word, we hear about another time when God called. Instead of calling a blind beggar, this time God wanted to talk to a young boy named Samuel. He was serving at the temple in Shiloh not far from Jericho where Bartimaeus lived. Shiloh was just down the road from Jericho on the ridge of hills that runs through central Israel. As we listen today to God calling in His word, may we hear also hear the Lord’s voicein His Word. The Lord wants to talk to you. His voice pierces the darkness. II. His voice gives direction to his servants. The Bible tells us that when Samuel served him, the High Priest Eli was growing old and could barely see. Eli had trouble seeing but he had two sons named Hophni and Phinehas who could see just fine. They could see just fine to do all kinds of wicked things. The Bible tells us that Hophni and Phinehas "were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord.” Eli’s sons were in charge of much of the worship life of Israel. Hophni and Phinehas often robbed and cheated the people out of the offerings which they were bringing for the Lord. They would even sleep with the young women who served the Lord at the temple. Eli, the father of these boys and the high priest of Israel, did nothing about his sons' wickedness except to say, "Why do you do such things?" and "No, my sons, it is not a good report that I hear about you.” Perhaps Eli's laxity and the wickedness of his sons explains why God's word tells us, "In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions." Israel had moved so far away from God and prayer was such a rare thing, that when Samuel's mother came to the temple to offer a true prayer to God for a son, the high priest Eli thought she was drunk. Even in that spiritual blindness gripping Israel God was working out His plan. God was preparing a young man named Samuel, who would serve as God's prophet to His people. God's Word says, "And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men." This portion of God’s Word begins with talk of Samuel's service to the Lord, "The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli.” Soon the Lord’s voice would pierce through the darkness. There is no job description for Samuel but it would seem that he spent his day and some of his night helping Eli. One gets the impression that Samuel’s ears were tuned to listen for Eli calling for his help, even in the night. "One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place." It was the still of the night probably just before dawn because the oil in the lamp in the temple is burning down. God’s voice pierced the darkness. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call you; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down. 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." Samuel did not realize that the Lord wanted to talk to him when God’s voice pierced the darkness. He did not yet know what the Lord sounded like when he talked to His prophets like He did with Moses. "Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, you called me." God’s voice pierced the spiritual darkness back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord. God called “Adam, where are you?” and went looking for Adam and Eve confronting them, “What is this you have done?” God’s voice pierced the darkness as he promised to send a Savior for Adam and Eve and for the world. Years later God sent angels whose voices who voices pierced the darkness and announced the birth of the Savior. God’s voice continues to pierce the darkness in the world we live in. For example, so many people-we-so often have a mixed up idea of what God’s gift of sex is all about. God’s word pierces the darkness, as we heard in the New Testament lesson, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” If we have given ourselves the idea that we are getting away with some sin or that nobody else knows God’s Word pierces the darkness and says to us just like God said to our first parents, “What is this you have done?” God’s voice pierces the darkness as He talks with us about His grace and mercy too. God says, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” when we are troubled by our sins. Yes, God is talking to you when he says that Jesus has washed all your sins away! Jesus was pierced in darkness on Good Friday to pay for all the things we have done wrong. When bad things happen in our lives and it’s hard for us to see through dark days, God’s voice pierces the darkness. "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose," According to World Health Organization recommendations, noise in hospital rooms generally shouldn't get above 30 to 40 decibels. But a recent study found that the average noise level in patient rooms was close to 50 decibels, and sometimes spiked to as high as 80 decibels -- almost as loud as a chainsaw. So often the interruptions and the distractions or this world seem to be even louder than a chainsaw. Let’s take the time to quietly read and listen to our Lord’s word. In His Word the Lord gives direction to His servant. After Samuel had heard God's voice call him and after he had gone into Eli's room three different times, Eli realized what was happening. It took him a while but Eli finally figured out what was going on. To his credit, he recognized that God was calling Samuel. He didn't get his nose out of joint that God was calling the boy Samuel and not him, the high priest of Israel. "Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, `Speak Lord, your servant is listening.' So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times,`Samuel, Samuel!' Then Samuel said, `Speak, for your servant is listening.' Did you hear that? He said, “Your servant.” Being a servant at the temple was probably not the most glamorous of jobs. Especially when you consider that Samuel was probably eating cold food after he had helped Eli eat his dinner while wicked Hophni and Phineas were eating high off the hog stealing food from the offerings of the people. Or think of Samuel getting up when Eli called at all hours of the night while wicked Hophni and Phineas were out at all hours of the night sinfully flirting and worse with the women who came up to the temple. Do you find yourself eating cold food at home after everyone has been fed? Are you taking care of the little details at work while it seems everybody is getting away with everything. The world might say, “Don’t put up with that garbage. Put yourself first!” God wants to talk to you. He gives directions to his servants. He says in his word, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” As His servants, the Lord brings direction to our lives when it seems the world is in confusion, we can hear the voice of the one who says in His word, "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you." We’re servants of the King. What a comfort it is for us to hear God say in his Word, "God is our refuge and strength, an everpresent help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea." God’s word reminds us who we serve, "God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.... The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." God gives direction through his word when he reminds us why we serve. “Christ’s love compels us….And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” How great it is to look to God's word in our life and recognize the voice of our God and Savior talking! When there are so many things in the world and our lives to trouble us and worry us, how comforting it is to say “Speak Lord your servant is listening. We thrill to recognize our Savior say, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. When we lay on our death beds, let's say speak Lord your servant is listening. How comforting it is to hear the voice of Jesus say,"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Bartimaeus jumped up to go to see Jesus and be healed. Samuel jumped up to help Eli. May we perk up our ears to hear the Lord who wants to talk to us. Amen.

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