Summary: For us to be effective in our Christianity, we have to hear the voice of God, recognize the Voice of God and respond to the Voice of God.
June 1, 2008
Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-21
Subject: Hearing God’s Voice
Title: Let Him Who Has Ears Hear…
Last week I spoke to you about how America is following in the footsteps of Europe in becoming basically, and anti-Christian nation. I found it interesting in these last couple of weeks that the presidential candidates are continually distancing themselves from different pastors and churches. Now I don’t agree with some of the things that these pastors are saying, but here is what is really happening. The candidates are trying hard to find a specific belief that will not offend anyone. They are trying to rewrite the Bible. They are attempting to remove God’s voice of influence from the political arena. Because no one wants to hear what God is saying to the nation.
After looking at what is going on culturally in our country I had to stop and ask myself, “Has this kind of thinking filtered into the church?” Is the church hearing God’s voice on a regular basis? If it is, then how has the church become so ineffective in the culture, and if we are not hearing, why not?
I want to share with you today about your ability to hear God’s voice and the things that can hinder it. I pray that you would open your ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the church.
I. HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD (verse 1-3) The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. In order for you to hear from the Lord you must be open to it. Look at how this is playing out. The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli… This is the third time that the scriptures tell us that. Samuel had been given to Eli for service in the wilderness tabernacle, but he ministered to the Lord! Samuel’s heart was right for hearing from God. But Eli and his sons were not. 2:12, Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD. In fact, the whole nation of Israel was not prepared to hear from God. At this time – the end of the rule of judges over Israel – it tells us in Judges 21:25, In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. You can see by the spiritual climate in the land that 1) It would be difficult for anyone to hear from one who they did no know, and, 2) they wouldn’t recognize who it was when God spoke. That is what Paul refers to in Romans 10:17, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Now how does that apply to the church? First, we need to be living in line with God’s written word (logos) in order for us to hear a spoken (rhema) word. I don’t have any doubt that the Holy Spirit is continually trying to speak words of life and ministry and fulfillment into each one of your lives. That happens in the spirit man. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” Nothing in the natural tells us… 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The church is supposed to be hearing from God. 2One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3The 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. 2 things to see here. 1) Eli’s spiritual vision had gone the way of his natural eyesight – he could barely see, and 2) There was spiritual darkness. It was the priests duty to keep the lamps trimmed and continually burning – but now the priests were letting the lamps burn out – the same way they had let the light of God be extinguished from them.
II. RECOGNIZING THE VOICE OF GOD. (4-8) 4Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5And 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. 6Again 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.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. How did the Lord call Samuel? Was it an audible voice? We don’t know but whatever it was it was so strong that he thought it was audible. He didn’t recognize it as being the voice of God, so he assumed that it was Eli. This gives a word picture of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the life of an unbeliever. First He calls. The Holy Spirit will convict you of sin and your need for a Savior. He will put it on your heart to respond to the call. And He will let you know that it is God you are responding to and not the preacher. If people begin coming to the altar because I somehow have given such a compelling altar call that they can resist, I have to tell you, it won’t be any good. 2 Peter 1:20-21, 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture (the Word of God) came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21For prophecy (the word) never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart you should know that it is Him and not my words that are ministering to you. Samuel knew something was going on but he didn’t know who it was that was speaking. The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The word wouldn’t be revealed to him until after he comes to faith in God. Two more times the Lord calls to Samuel and he still doesn’t understand who it is. Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9So 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. Do you see what was happening? The Holly spirit was ministering to Samuel but someone had to tell him how to respond. That is the nature of an altar call. God has already dealt with individuals. Now they are given the opportunity to respond. Now I want to encourage you with these words, hearing from God does not refer to salvation alone. Back when I read from 1 Corinthians 2, God has revealed it to us by His Spirit… He is still speaking words of life to the church. He is giving you words to speak through the gifts of the Spirit, whether it is tongues, interpretation, prophecy, a word of knowledge etc. I have tried to explain to you many times that too often we give our own human minds way too much credit. By that I mean that when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us we tend to think that it is our own minds making things up. We need to understand that if you are standing in the presence of the Lord during worship or at the altar, and your mind is upon Him, when you begin to sense that something is going on inside of you, it is the Holy Spirit. Eli had to tell Samuel how to respond.