Summary: A sermon about listening to God.
"God Calling: Samuel"
1 Samuel 3:1-11, 19
Raise your hand if you have a hard time hearing God, or discerning God's Voice.
Interruptions define our lives.
Our days and nights are full of gadgets that ping, buzz and beep their way into our attention, taking us away from whatever we are doing.
Our brains focus quickly on one topic, then switch to another, and another.
It really is bizarre!!!
It's like we are constantly on overload.
Neuroscientists say that there are fundamental biological limits to what our brains can pay attention to, and I believe it.
But we just can't seem to resist a blinking inbox or a buzzing phone, can we?...kinda like a dog can't resist a squirrel.
One study has found that a typical college student can't go more than 2 minutes without becoming distracted by social media, whether it be twitter, facebook, emails, texts, instagram, tumbler, or just the plain old web.
That means that the millennial generation can't concentrate on one thing for more than about 2 minutes.
But it's not just the younger people: people everywhere seem to be experiencing an epidemic of overwhelm.
According to studies, the average businessperson receives and sends about 109 e-mails a day, and that rate is growing each year by 7 percent.
Instant messages are increasing 11 percent, and texting is bombarding everyone.
According to a book called "Driven to Distraction" all this stuff is a huge problem.
"It's the newest addiction. There are in-patient centers now for people with technology addiction.
Marriages even break up."
The surge of texts and social media notifications in recent years is giving many of us terminal distraction and always-on availability.
Michael Salem, co-founder and CEO of Vorex, says he gets 1,000 messages a day.
"I'm overwhelmed," he admits.
"Responding is a daily thing, 24 hours a day."
He barely sleeps, taking calls from global users of his product from his bed.
The idea that we are supposed to be able monitor and troll through all this stuff and keep a handle on what God is up to at the same time seems absurd.
Some people say things such as "my life is lived on the internet."
Which means it's not lived in the real world.
With all these Interruptions and distractions how in the world are people supposed to be able to listen for and hear the voice of God?
In our Scripture Reading for this morning, it says that "The Lord's word was rare in that time, and visions weren't widely known."
What I think the writer of 1 Samuel is trying to tell us is that "people weren't listening!!!"
God was talking, nudging all people all the time.
It wasn't that God wasn't sending out visions or His Word; it's that people weren't hearing Him.
And isn't that what is going on today?
God is always speaking, calling, nudging.
Do we hear Him?
Or, does it sometimes feel like, "The Lord's word is rare...and visions aren't widely known?"
I'll tell you, with all the hate crimes and terror attacks we have been witnessing lately, it sure can seem that way.
It's like nearly everyone is nuts!!!
What voices are they hearing?
I don't even want to know.
God knows it's not His!!!
Our nation is mourning as we have just witnessed the largest mass shooting in the history of America!!!
Some people may just throw up their hands and say: "Where is God in all this?"
If you listen to the politicians and 24 hour news cycle enough it can become extremely depressing!!!
It can become extremely difficult to slow down and listen for God.
But isn't that exactly what we need to do?
If we can't hear God what hope do we have?
Is terrorism, hatred and gang violence all there is to this life, to this world?
Or is there a higher purpose?
Are McMansions, ridiculously expensive cars, embarrassingly expensive clothing, all that stuff that is just "blowing in the wind" what this great world and life are about?
Is that what it's about?
Is that what brings us happiness and fulfillment?
Are we meant to be self-centered and miserly or is there another way?
Is there any hope or is this life just a cruel joke?
Is it all meaninglessness or is there meaning?
Is there a purpose?
Is there a reason to live?
Hannah, Samuel's mother, was at the end of her rope.
She was not able to have children and she very much wanted to be a mother.
So, she took a chance.
She promised God that if she could have a son she would dedicate him to God’s service.
She became pregnant and had a son she named him Samuel, which means “God heard.”
She kept her promise to God, and Samuel grew up in the Temple from a very young age.