“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'”. 1 Samuel 3:8-9
This past Sunday during the worship gathering at NCC I did something I hadn’t done in quite some time. I sat down in a pew, opened my Bible and readied myself to hear the preaching of God’s Word.
My in-laws had planned to visit us from Chicago. It seemed like an opportune time for me to take a rest from giving the Sunday message and allow myself the pleasure of hearing the message God had placed in the heart of my father-in-law, a very effective communicator of biblical truth. I grabbed my pen and scratch paper, ready to jot down the main points. I love the preaching event. I ‘m fascinated by the various styles and mannerisms of preachers. I pay special attention to how he navigates moments of thrill as well as moments of uncertainty: a search for the right word or sentence— an unexpected noise from the back—the joyful sense of fresh anointing and freedom. “How will he land the plane?”
Yet Sunday, in the midst of reflecting on these things, I was suddenly met with a more personal and urgent impression. It wasn’t just that I was listening to my father-in-law preaching. At a certain point, I realized that it was God who was speaking to me through him. God in His providence had prepared a word for me, for that Sunday with the expectation that I would have the spiritual awareness that He was indeed speaking.
Are you trained in discerning and responding to the voice of God?
In verse one of 2 Samuel, chapter 3 we are told that “in those days the word of the LORD was rare, there were not many visions”. One might wonder why God would withhold such a precious and necessary gift from His people. The problem however is not with God’s willingness or ability to speak, but with man’s stubbornness and slowness to respond to what He has already said. To ignore the voice of God is to invite a kind of judgment upon ourselves that makes us spiritually incapable of hearing and responding.
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” Amos 8:11
To spurn the very voice of God, is to regard with contempt the grace He is seeking to extend to us. To hear God speak is to have a very unique encounter with Him. Three times in the passage we read that “the LORD called Samuel”, But it is only during the fourth call that it is revealed that “The LORD came and stood ” where the young boy was (verse 10). Amazingly, God is standing in the room as He is trying to gain Samuel’s attention. Likewise, when we hear God speaking to us through His Word, we can be certain that He has drawn near to the place we occupy to deliver His word directly to our consciousness. That is amazing grace!
Do you easily forget the word that was spoken to you?
In my recent chats with my wife, I have sensed a real desperation in her voice as she shares with me what God has been saying to her during her times of personal devotion. At times, she seems burdened…not by what she hears, but by the need to respond rightly to what she has heard. I praise God for a wife who not only hears but feels burdened to respond to what she has heard!
It should be our greatest desire to hear when God is speaking. Every true seeker of God lives to hear the divine voice. Should we hear His assurance of love…, oh how precious a word to the downtrodden saint! Should you hear a clear and sharp rebuke from His lips, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for we know He disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6).
Therefore, child of Christ, whenever you open the Book, or sit to hear His message proclaimed by one of his messengers, may you develop the holy practice and posture that says, “Speak LORD, for Your servant is listening”.
Pastor Mark Lockett