January 16-18, 2021
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10
“GOD’S STILL SPEAKING!”
1. In the midst of a mess.
2. Seeking those who are listening.
3. Empowering those who will make a difference.
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (EHV) “The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days. Prophetic vision was not common. 2Now it happened that Eli’s eyes had begun to grow dim, so that he could not see. Once when Eli was lying down in his place 3and God’s lamp had not yet gone out, Samuel was lying down in the Lord’s temple, where God’s ark was. 4The Lord called Samuel, and Samuel said, “I am here.” 5He ran to Eli, and said, “I am here, sinc100e you called me.” Eli said, “I did not call. Lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6Then the Lord called once more, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “I am here, since you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son. Lie down again.” 7Now Samuel had not yet experienced the Lord’s presence, that is, the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The Lord called Samuel for the third time. So he got up and went to Eli and said, “I am here, since you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the young man. 9So Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and once again lay down in his place. 10The Lord came and stood there and called as he had the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
SILENCE! UNCOMFORTABLY LONG SILENCE!
Silence can be deadly. School kids know that when they have angered their teacher to the point of silence it is not good. Silence can be uncomfortable. Were you wondering if I was OK? Did it scare you a bit? Those types of silences are not good. But there is a far worse one. Silence from God. Listen to this judgment that God pronounced on Old Testament Israel through the prophet Amos. “Look, the days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine into the land—not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but rather a famine of hearing the Words of the Lord. 12 People will stumble from sea to sea and from north to east. They will roam back and forth seeking the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12 EHV) Why did that happen? The people of Israel consistently and persistently refused to listen to God’s Word. So He took it away. That’s a horrible judgment. No word. No faith. No faith. No salvation.
But that is not the time we live in, is it? God’s still speaking. Just like He was still speaking at the time of Samuel even though it was a messy time for a believer to live. Samuel lived at the end of the time of the Judges. Do you remember how that was described? “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” There is some pretty nasty stuff described in the book of Judges. Idolatry. Adultery. Dismembering a body. Morally a mess. Spiritually too. At the beginning of 1 Samuel Eli the priest saw Samuel’s mother silently praying at the Tabernacle and thought she was drunk. From that reaction you get the idea that happened a lot. People showing up drunk for church. Eli’s two sons, also priests, stole people’s offerings and seduced or sexually assaulted women who came to church. I remind you of this telling description of the times. “The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days. Prophetic vision was not common.” The word was rare, but not gone. God was still speaking in those messy times.
As He is still speaking in our messy times. Someone passed on to me the prayer that was used to open the brand new session of Congress this year. Here is how it ended. “And dare I ask, oh Lord, peace even in this chamber now and evermore. We ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awoman.” (Rep. Emanuel Cleaver D-MO). We should be so proud! You know what we got here? We got a stinkin’ spiritual pile o poo. What a mess! That got some negative publicity. More people loved it. It is representative of the spirit in our nation where many people are saying (and I hope this hurts your ears as much as it hurts my mouth to say it) “Shut up Lord. We’re talking now. We’ll tell you who you are and we make the rules of right and wrong.” How sad. And yet in our country, God’s still speaking!
We might wonder why. Because He’s seeking those who are listening. At least one person was listening at the time of Samuel. Not the priests. Samuel. A boy, 10, 12, 14 years old. We’re not sure exactly. Remember his mom, Hannah, had prayed for him and promised that if the Lord would give her a son, she would dedicate him in service to the Lord. God did and she did and he did. When he was just a child, he began serving the priest Eli at the Tabernacle. He would serve God more. “Samuel!” he heard in the middle of the night. Samuel ran to serve Eli’s needs thinking he had called. But Eli hadn’t. A little later. “Samuel!” Up he went again to see what Eli needed. Again Eli had not called. And Samuel hadn’t yet had God communicate to him in this special way. A third time. God’s number. “Samuel!” Now Eli caught on. The LORD was talking. “Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the young man. 9So Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” God was speaking seeking those who would listen and He found one in Samuel.
God’s still speaking today. We have His word in book form, podcasts, devotions, services in person or online, Bible classes. He’s still speaking. And still seeking those who will listen. You are listening. First I have to urge you to take it to heart. God’s words are true. They will never lead you astray. Whatever He says, hard for you or easy, listen to it. And keep listening. You might feel like rolling your eyes and saying, “Pastor, we are not the ones you need to encourage to listen. It’s the ones who aren’t here, who aren’t watching online. They need to hear this.” True but you know I’ve seen some sad things. I’ve seen folks who at one time were listening just like you gradually become folks who stopped listening. It wasn’t that they got mad about something or liked some other church better. They aren’t listening anywhere. What happened? As far as I can tell when the Lord called, when the Lord invited the response was “Not now, Lord. I’m busy. I’ll listen later.” And then later never comes and if you and I think that same thing cannot happen to us we are fools. Today, God’s still speaking. So today is the day to be listening. That’s what God is seeking, those who will listen.
And it is so important that we do because the Lord is seeking those who will make a difference. Samuel had a servant’s heart. But he was just a boy! Never say “just” when God is involved. God used Samuel to make a difference. He appointed kings and advised kings. This one little boy guided the course of the entire nation of Israel returning them to the Lord. He was directly involved in God’s plan to bring the Savior Jesus into the word. In God’s hands Samuel was a difference maker. That’s why God spoke to him.
And why God’s still speaking to you. I know some of you are getting a little discouraged. You don’t like what you see happening in our country. Maybe you feel like giving up. Don’t listen. God is empowering you to make a difference. You make the difference simply by being a believer. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? For the sake of only 10 believers God would have spared those wicked cities. Kids, do you see what God did with Samuel? You are not too young. Your words matter. Who knows what God has planned for your future? And if we can make a difference in our country, make it a better place to live that’s great. But it’s not what’s most important. Everything on earth passes. Eternity remains. You are the ones God is using to make a difference in people’s eternities. You are proclaiming Jesus. You are doing that personally and through our work together. You are teaching little ones and adults. You are snatching souls from Hell. God’s word has made you a difference maker. You are not just an old lady or little girl, just high school kid or an electrician. You are feet and hands and voice of God.
It's no wonder the Devil does not want people listening. He has seen what God has done through His people. We have plenty of work to do and time to make a difference. So we won’t give up or give in to discouragement. You’ve heard it said, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” They get that from opera. Not true. It’s actually not over until God goes silent. But He isn’t. God’s still speaking. So we will keep listening and He will use us to make the differences that matter most. Amen.