Summary: Can we hear the voice of God? How do we know when it is really the voice of God? Striving to hear the voice of God this year and the rest of our lives.

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Today is the first Sunday of 2013.

Will this be a profitable year for you?

When I asked that question what was the first thought in your mind?

Money? Your job? Your relationships? Your family? Your spiritual life?

Where are you headed in 2013? Do you know? Do you have desires, goals, or will you just continue plodding along with no direction, no destiny, no One guiding you?

As Yogi Berra said, “You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.” And “If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”

Let’s take a look at a young man in the Bible, probably about 12 years old whose path had been directed for him since his birth.

This young boy was a gift from God to his mother who had not been able to bear a child for her husband. One year on a trip to the tabernacle in Shiloh she had prayed silently and fervently that God would give her a man child. Her prayer was so fervent and anguished that the prophet and priest of the Lord thought that she was drunk but she was not and the Lord answered her prayer.

Once the child was born and no longer dependant on his mother for nursing she took him to the tabernacle and after presenting offerings to the Lord she said to the prophet and priest, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”

Now, most of you who know the Old Testament know that we will be talking about the story of Samuel this morning.

Samuel - meaning “God has heard”, what an awesome name describing the response of a loving God to the prayers of Hannah, a faithful and righteous woman. She prayed earnestly, God heard and answered and she completed her promise by giving Samuel back to the Lord.

And, so, Samuel lived at the tabernacle, the house of the LORD, serving as needed and “each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.”

So, we see that this young boy’s life had been directed from the day of his birth, but, a time was coming when he would need to make a decision; would he follow the evil practices of the day in which he lived or would he follow the Lord?

Let’s pick up the story found in 1 Samuel chapter 3 verse 1,

“The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.

“The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

“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; 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.’

“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.’

“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, for 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.’”

Samuel, just like each one of us, was faced with a decision that would impact the rest of his life.

You see, Samuel lived in an evil culture. It is apparent from the first few chapters of 1 Samuel that Eli and his two sons were the only ones serving at the tabernacle for the entire nation of Israel!

When Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land there were 48 towns reserved as the dwelling places of the Levites and their families. You can read about it in Numbers chapter 35. Forty-eight towns full of Levites and all that we see in the book of 1 Samuel are Eli and his two sons. There should have been many there to handle all of the sacrifices but there were only three who could do so and Eli’s two sons were carrying out the task for those few who still brought sacrifices. Eli’s two sons were evil and misusing the sacrifices brought to the LORD for their own gain.

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