Summary: Here’s a sermon to challenge us as we begin a new year. It uses an interesting story to illustrate the need for us to listen for God’s direction

"A New Year! Listen To God!"

1 SAMUEL 3:1-10

1 Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

2And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see,

3and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down,

4that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, "Here I am!"

5So he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." And he said, "I did not call; lie down again." And he went and lay down.

6Then the LORD called yet again, "Samuel!" So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." He answered, "I did not call, my son; lie down again."

7(Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)

8And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. Then he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy.

9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ’Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears."

Just across from the Post Office in Bone Gap is the old railroad depot building. The railroad tracks have been removed, but south of town you can still find some telegraph poles running along the old railroad right of way. Let’s go back in time about 125 years to when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication.

One day, the depot manager at Bone Gap retired and the railroad began the search for someone to take his place. One of the main duties of this new depot manager would be to receive and send telegraph messages. Therefore, the man they hired for the job would have to be familiar with Morse code. The railroad placed an ad in the newspaper hoping to attract several applicants for the job. It just so happened that a young man named Edwards saw the advertisement and decided to apply for the job as a Morse code. He went to the address listed in the newspaper ad and entered a large, busy office filled with noise, clutter and the sound of Morse Code clicking in the background. Edward was instructed to fill in the application form and wait with the seven other applicants until they were called into the inner office for an interview. Edward filled in the form and sat down. The environment of the office was so noisy it was difficult to carry on a conversation so most of the applicants sat silently, some reading magazines, others dozing lazily paying no attention to what was going on around them. Edward, however, sat poised and ready to enter the office the very moment he was called to do so.

Like the railroad company, God is seeking workers.

He has sought them in every generation.

He seeks them today.

There are some truths I want to consider with you this morning

which can help us be good workers for God in 2008.

How many want to go to work for the Lord?

If you want to work for the Lord, here’s how to get the job.

Point #1

BE UNDIVERTED BY THE DISTRACTIONS OF LIFE:

1 Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. 2 And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, 3 and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, 4 that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, "Here I am!"

Samuel, even as a young boy, was ministering to the Lord.

He wasn’t doing the things most boys of his age were doing,

playing and romping and absorbed with being just boys.

He was undistracted by the normal boyish things.

Now, boyish things are not necessarily bad things!

It’s just that they were just not the primary things for Samuel.

Throughout his life, Samuel never got distracted from his task.

The setting of that office where Edward went to apply for a job

reminds me a lot of Samuel’s day.

Like that office, things were pretty chaotic for the nation of Israel.

The Philistines were oppressing them.

The sons of Eli, priests, were oppressing the people.

They were gluttonous, immoral, irreverent, disrespectful

and overbearing.

And like those inattentive job applicants,

Eli seemed unaware, or unconcerned about, their conduct.

It also reminds me of our own contemporary culture.

We live in a world that is flooded

with busyness, racket, and commotion

and many are unconcerned about spiritual issues.

It is easy to be sidetracked.

We live in a world that is filled

with noise, busyness and distractions.

1. There is the push to materialism, selfishness and greedy gain.

2. Calendars are crammed with activities.

If people aren’t rushing to some sports event,

they are dashing to some other social activity.

3. There are multitudes of demands on our time,

energies, resources, and finances.

We are surrounded by distractions.

Satan has always used distractions

to keep folk from working for the Lord:

Adam & Eve had an abundance of fruit to eat.

But Satan diverted Eve’s attention

to the one fruit forbidden to them.

He diverted Israel from taking the Promised Land

by distracting them from God’s power, promise,

presence and provision

to fearing the enemy they had to face.

He tried to divert Jesus from His course

by urging Him to

a. satisfy His physical need for food by turning stones to bread.

b. prove His deity by pushing God into rescuing Him with angels by jumping from the pinnacle of the temple.

c. gain rulership over the kingdoms of the world by the simple, but evil, act of worshipping him.

And he still tries to divert us from:

d. focusing on the eternal to emphasis on the temporary things of life.

e. consideration of the spiritual to fascination with the material things.

f. serving in the Church to spending all our time, energy and resources on personal concerns.

But God is looking for workers

who set their minds on things above,

who remember the claim of God on their lives,

and who are undiverted by all the stuff of secular culture.

The railroad company needed just one employee but eight had applied. Which would get the job? After waiting a few minutes, Edward stood up, crossed the waiting room, and walked right into the inner office. The other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They concluded that the young man was impatient or mistaken about what he was supposed to do and would be disqualified. But Edward possessed one quality the other seven lacked: he was really ready for the job.

God needed someone who was ready for the job

of leading the nation of Israel.

God had big plans for the boy Samuel.

Here is another suggestion for those

who want to go to work for the Lord:

Point #2

BE READY FOR SERVICE:

5 So he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." And he said, "I did not call; lie down again." And he went and lay down. 6 Then the LORD called yet again, "Samuel!" So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." He answered, "I did not call, my son; lie down again."

Samuel was prompt in his reply.

Hearing the Lord and mistakenly thinking it was Eli,

he ran quickly to his teacher.

Though mistaken as to who was calling

he was none-the-less ready when called.

A. That’s still the requirement for faithfulness to the Lord: readiness.

Your greatest ability is availability.

B. Let us have the mindset:

1. Of Isaiah who said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8.

Of Paul who wrote, "Romans 1:15

So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to

you who are in Rome also.

C. God is looking for those who are ready for service.

Ready to go, ready to stay, ready to do His will;

ready for service, lowly or great, ready to fill their place.

Young Edward was ready for work and he stepped right into the inner office. In a few minutes the employer stepped out. He said, to the other seven applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled." They were surprised! They were astounded! They were shocked! They were angry! Said one, "Wait a minute! I don’t understand! He was the last to come in, and we never got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!" The employer waved them down and said, "I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here the telegraph has been ticking out in Morse Code: ’If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his."

Edward was ready for service

and he demonstrated the third quality needed by all

who would go to work for the Lord.

If you want to get the job:

Point #3

BE LISTENING TO GOD’S VOICE:

8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. Then he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ’Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears."

The old priest Eli told Samuel that it was God speaking!

Then he told Samuel how he was to respond.

So Samuel returned to bed to listen for the voice of God.

God still speaks and still wants us to hear His Word.

We ought to be listening for God’s call.

The sons of Korah, psalmists, had the right perspective,

"I will hear what God the Lord will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly." Psalms 85:8.

Jesus set the right way when He said,

blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

James shows the acceptable way to really hear,

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving themselves." James 1:22.

Sometimes it is hard to hear God’s voice:

Some listen to public opinion and the popular voices.

Some listen to their own feelings, desires, passions and choices.

Some listen to every wind of doctrine that comes along.

Some listen to every new revelation or wild experience someone

Some listen to psychics, horoscopes, Ouija boards and tarot cards.

Some listen to those who tickle their ears

and tell them only what they want to hear

and what is pleasant to consider.

But God is looking for those who are listening for His call.

CLOSING:

Samuel was quick to hear what God had to say!

He was quick to do what God commanded.

Are you listening?

Can you hear Him speaking to you through the Holy Spirit?

Can you hear him as He applies God’s Word to your heart?

Are you in tune with the voice of God?

Do you hear Him when He calls you to leave off sin

and self-righteousness and pride

and all that separates you from Him?

Do you hear Him calling you to take up your cross

and follow Jesus?

This won’t necessarily mean you’ll become a missionary.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be called to preach.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will teach a class.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a deacon or elder.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be called by God

to serve on some committee –

but He may call you to do those things.

It doesn’t mean that you will have to spend all your time

at the church building.

But it will mean that you will live your life, on the job,

at school,

at play,

in the home

and where ever you are

with pleasing and obeying Jesus.

If you want to get the job of working for God,

you need to be undiverted by the distractions of life,

you need to be ready for service,

and you need to be listening to God’s voice.

Then you need to respond!

You need to give all you have and are for Jesus.

And when you stop to think about it,

that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do,

because He gave all He had and is for you.