Passage: 1 Samuel 3:8-10
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.”
The year was 2005, and we had just moved to Southern California. The house prices in San Diego were shocking to us. Many people had said that we needed to bite the bullet and just buy a house. We found a house that we were both excited to purchase. In my mind, it was a done deal. My wise wife suggested, “Let’s keep praying about this.” We had no idea that the housing market was about to crash. I kept thinking about the size of the house, the location, and the great views. Because I had gone to the prospective house so many times, I had become attached to the house and it didn’t feel good to step away from purchasing it. Sometimes God’s grace includes protecting us from enticing decisions that are destructive. Our inner turmoil would soon be resolved. There was no audible voice, but a deep sense that we didn’t have a green light from God. I admit that I don’t always listen closely enough to God. We eventually withdrew our potential offer though because it didn’t feel like God wanted us to close the deal. I look back now after many years of renting and know that God helped us to avoid a purchase we couldn’t afford to make. The promptings of the Holy Spirit are an example of how God personally leads us as His children.
Accessing God’s grace and voice may include slowing down and giving Him our full attention without distractions. God spoke to Samuel, but Samuel did not know how to listen to God yet. Eli began to teach Samuel how to listen to God. It is one of the most important skills in our spiritual lives. If we don’t listen to God, then we can make the wrong decisions and run ahead of God’s timing. Saul is someone who failed to inquire of God (1 Chronicles 13:3), and his life took a downward spiral. In a time of battle, however, David was careful to check in with God and ask not only what decision to make but also how to carry out the plan. (1 Chronicles 14:8-17). The Bible has three ‘God is’ statements: “God is love (1 John 4:16), God is light (1 John 1:5), and God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).” These positive attributes of our Creator are worth taking time to reflect on today. In what ways do these three attributes point us to His grace? How do these descriptions of God encourage us to listen closely to Him?
As a reflection of His grace, God communicates with you in so many different ways. God personally guides you with His Word, His Spirit, and His voice. The primary revelation you have is through the Bible. God also speaks through His Spirit: teaching, rebuking, and giving insight and direction. Another way God talks is through His people. Surround yourself with wise people who can speak truth into your life. God can also creatively use circumstances, nature, dreams, and even angels to bring you His message. As you spend time reading the Bible and praying, one option is to grab a pen and paper to write down what God is communicating to you.
Eli’s advice for listening to God:
1) Be Still. Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down”: Psalm 46:10 also tells you to be still and know that He is God. So be still. Turn off interruptions like your cell phone and your computer and your TV and begin to tune into God. Find a place where you can humble yourself before God.
2) Be Patient. Eli added the phrase: “…And if He calls you”. Don’t try to force it or pretend like God is communicating if He is not telling you anything. You don’t have to try to be extra spiritual. Job said that there are times when we don’t hear His direction (Job 23:8-10). Don’t be discouraged. God knows when He wants to speak.
3) Be Open. Eli explained, “Say, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’ ”. Don’t just say this phrase, mean it. This phrase tells God that you desire His direction, and it also communicates that you are humble before Him. You truly want to do whatever He says. You are listening as a servant. When you hear His voice, act on it because He is leading you with grace and wisdom.
1) Do you spend more time talking to God or listening?
2) Do you have a favorite place where you can be quiet and just listen?
3) What is your attitude when you hear God’s Word- are you teachable?
4) What are the biggest distractions that are hindering you spiritually?
5) What has God been communicating to you recently?
John 16:14-16. The Holy Spirit communicates and teaches you about Jesus.
Proverbs 12:15. If you don’t listen to God, you will make foolish decisions.
Hebrews 4:12-13. The Word of God penetrates the heart and gives life.
John 17:14-17. The Bible is God’s truth--it has the power to change your life.
Luke 10:38-42. Serving God shouldn’t replace listening closely to Him.
Prayer: Loving God, thank You for wanting to hear me and also help me listen to You. Thank You for Your many ways of communicating with me and getting my attention. You are worthy of my undistracted time and attention. Please help me to be someone who hears You and then does what You say. I want to know You better and be sensitive to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.