Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Growing Like Samuel

All of us have a desire to hear from God. That's one reason Christians attend church. One responsibility of a pastor is to bring the word of God in a way that is understandable and allows God to speak to us, in a personal way. But each of us must have an openness to hear from God for this to happen. A preacher can preach all day but unless we are open to hear from God nothing will happen.

Today, I want to examine our ability to hear from God using Samuel's encounter with God as an example.

1 Samuel 3:1-11
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!”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.”7 (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)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.”11 Then the LORD said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

1 Samuel 3:18-19
18 Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” 19 So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

Samuel was Willing to be Taught the Things of God

In the first verse of our text we read that, "Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli." So we are seeing that Samuel followed the teachings of Eli as he ministered before God. So Samuel was a disciple: A pupil: A learner. But there is a deeper relationship between a disciple and a teacher than between a student and a teacher. A disciple will strive to be like the teacher. he will pattern his life after the teacher. Samuel has accepted the training of the man of God, his pastor.

What kind of relationship do you think they had? Do you think Eli was able to bring correction into his life? Samuel had been given to God at an early age and brought to Eli so that he could be raised to serve God. That's what that word minister means. Eli raised him as a father and as a teacher. This is a powerful relationsghip that they have.

Samuel's life was turned over, completely, to God for God's use.

1 Samuel 1:28
28 “Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.

That word lent means to be turned over for someone else's use. I have a number of books, people always ask to borrow them. So I let them use them. I give them to them to use. Those books have been lent. Hannah, Samuel's mother, turned him over to God for God's use. So he has been dedicated to God. he is set aside for God's use, or consecrated to God.

As Christians we are supposed to turn our lives over to God. We have consecrated our lives. We have been lent to the Lord. Giving ourselves to God is a vital step In hearing from God, because it removes the distractions of the world. In a sense we are dying to Christ: making his will, our will. Our lives no longer belong to us.

When we turn our lives over to his pleasure. Then we are creating an openness to hear from Him, because we are now listening for his voice. He can we live his will if we don't know what it is? How can we know what it is, if we don't hear it.

Kids are funny aren’t they? Sometimes you can call them over and over and they don’t hear you. It’s because they have their own things that they’re doing. They don’t want to hear you. But when they are eager to please you what happens? They are listening for you voice. They are looking for your call and so they can hear from you.

Unless they desire to please you, there's resistance. But when they want to please you, they willingly respond. That's an openness to hearing from you. Samuel is open to hearing from God, because of the desire to please God.

Secondly, Samuel is ministered to the Lord before Eli. He is serving God. he is looking to meet the needs of God. He has a desire to serve and contribute.

So often we come to church looking for what God can do for us. People come to church in need and often when that need is met they leave again. And we think that by giving up drugs and whatever we're serving God. But that's really serving ourselves. Serving God means meeting the needs of God.

When you go to a restaurant, the server waits on you. They take your order, they bring your food. They fill your water glass, they serve you. They try to meet your food related needs. But what would you think about a restaurant where the server comes up and says, “I quit using drugs so I could be here with you today.” And then takes a seat. Is that serving you? No, it isn't but that's what people do with God all the time. "I'm serving God." "Really what are you doing for him?" "I quit using drugs and now I go to church."

Samuel is doing things in the tabernacle. He's assisting in the worship. He's preparing things so others can worship. He's serving God. He has given himself to the purposes of God. When he is in this frame of mind, God can speak truths into him, because God knows that he will faithfully speak those truths according to God's purposes for them. Simply put, God can trust him to execute those truths according to God's purpose. God is able to use him, because he has immersed himself into the will of God. In our lives, if we desire all that God has for us, we must also immerse ourselves into His will. When we have done that we have prepared ourselves to hear from and become useful to, God.

Listening for the Voice of God

The next thing we see in our text is that God is calling to Samuel. For all the reasons that I have just mentioned Samuel is prepared to hear from God. So when God calls out to him, "Samuel!" Samuel says, "Here I am!" He thinks that it is Eli calling and goes to see what Eli wants. He doesn't yell, "What!" He doesn't wait to see if he's called a second time. He just responds. He hears the voice calling and because he is immature he thinks that voice belongs to Eli.

1 Samuel 3:7
7 (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)

He's never heard the voice of God before so he goes to Eli and says, "Here I am." It's Eli who perceives that God is speaking to Samuel and so he gives him counsel on what to do when God calls. Samuel does what Eli tells him and God brings revelation that will affect all of Israel. "The ears of everyone who hears it will tingle," because it's from God.

Do you want to hear from God? If you do, then you need to listen for his voice, and you need to be open to instruction and sometimes interpretation.

I’ve had people come to tell me that they’ve heard from God and I don’t think it’s the voice of God. But they can’t hear me when I try to warn them. And they go off and make some huge mistake and end up chasing some dream that ruins them. Then they blame God when the real problem is that they were crying out to hear the voice of God, but then listening for their own; unable to distinguish the voice of God from their own thoughts.

Samuel is unable to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of Eli because he's immature. And it is the same for us as immature Christians, we have difficulty recognizing the voice of God. When I say immature I'm talking about being inexperienced.

How can we recognize a voice that we’ve never heard before? How can we know what to do when we have never done it before? People who are hiring look for people who have experience because they don’t want to take the time to teach someone who has no experience: Who has never experienced what needs to be done. We won't recognize when something is from God, unless we have experienced God's methods and purposes before.

Samuel Grew

1 Samuel 3:19
19 So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

This is the end result of Samuel's ministry; spiritual maturity and fruitfulness. This should be what we are all striving for, but where did it come from? I've mentioned several things.

1) Samuel was a faithful servant of God. By ministering to God he served God's purposes and made himself a trusted servant.

2) He learned to recognize when God was speaking to him. He learned to recognize God's voice.

3) he faithfully spoke what God gave him to speak. And the result was that he grew in the Lord. God was with him. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the confidence that God was with you in everything you spoke? God made him fruitful. He let, "none of his words fall to the ground." We want to reach people and God will give us words to speak. But we have to be able to recognize when they are God’s words and not just our own thoughts.

It's God that brings the increase. God does it that's what we miss, sometimes. God gives anointing to our words. If we don't have anointing it is difficult to draw people with just our words. We need his anointing to give power to what we speak. That's what the verse is speaking about. God's anointing on the words he speaks,so that they won't, "fall to the ground."

The reason that God anointed Samuel's words was that Samuel spoke all that God gave him to speak. "Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him." If we will faithfully speak all that God gives us to speak, he will anoint our words as well.

What did God give to Samuel to speak to Eli?

1 Samuel 3:12-14
12 “In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.13 “For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.14 “And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Ouch. That's the judgment of God on Eli and his family. Can you imagine what Eli would feel in hearing that? Can you imagine what Samuel must have felt to tell him that? This is a close relationship and Samuel is called to tell Eli some very bad news. The Bible tells us he was afraid to say that to Eli. But he did it anyway, because he was committed to faithfully speaking the words of God.

In the end Samuel was the last God appointed Judge over Israel. After him was King Saul. The people demanded a king and Saul was chosen. The Bible tells us he stood head and shoulders above them all. He was Tall and handsome...He looked like a king. He is the king the people would have chosen for themselves. Samuel was the leader that was chosen by God. God didn't look on his outward appearance. God chose him because of his heart.

Samuel is what God is looking for from us. A faithful minister, committed to the will of God. A man who will hear from God and speak the word of God. Someone who will allow himself to be instructed in the things of God.

This is someone who can grow to maturity in the Lord. This is someone whom God will anoint and make fruitful. Are you a Samuel, today?

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