I remember one occasion when our son Kenny was a boy, maybe 11 or 12 years old, and he was telling me something. I don’t remember what it was. But his story dragged on. And my mind was preoccupied with other matters.
However, my attention was quickly restored when he blurted out: “Dad, you’re not listening!”
I was there. Hearing words. But not listening. My mind was somewhere else.
Today’s Bible reading (1 Sam. 3) tells the story about the prophet Samuel when he was just a boy being raised and mentored by Eli the Priest. It was a time in history when direct revelation from the Lord was rare.
One night after Samuel went to bed, he heard a voice calling, “Samuel. Samuel.” Thinking it was Eli, the boy arose to see what the Priest wanted. Eli told Samuel to go back to bed. He didn’t call. This happened two more times.
After the third time, Eli realized the Lord was speaking to Samuel. He instructed him to return to bed. And when the voice called again to reply, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”
When God spoke the fourth time, Samuel responded and the Lord revealed to him an incredible message regarding what would occur in Israel.
Samuel heard the Word, heeded the message, and grew up to become one of God’s great prophets.
This text has special meaning to me, because it was one of my earliest sermons as a boy preacher. “Speak, Lord, For Thy Servant Heareth.” King James Version. (I think I “stole” it from Aude McKee). While the outline is filed away in my storage unit, the message is stored in my mind. And I’m reminded to ask myself, “Am I still listening to the Lord?”
The Lord is speaking. Are you listening?
While some would dispute this claim, I’m convinced the days of miraculous divine revelation have ceased. The Hebrew writer reminds us that today God speaks to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-3). Jesus promised the apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit and He would reveal His Word to them and guide them into all Truth (Jn 16:13-14). Paul affirmed that he received the inspired message. Wrote it down. And it’s preserved for us to read today. (Eph 3:3-5). Peter further declared that we’ve been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). Indeed, “the faith” has been “once delivered to all the saints” (Jude 3). We call it the Bible.
God has spoken.
But are you listening?
It’s possible to sit in a Bible class and be listening for something to argue
about, instead of really listening to what God has revealed.
One may hear a sermon, but selectively hear only those parts that apply to other people and fail to make personal application.
During this time of virtual worship, we can watch a service and hear a sermon, but find ourselves critiquing the technology and the video/audio quality instead of hearing and heeding the message.
In fact, one may do their daily Bible reading but not retain or remember what they’ve just read. Or see how the text applied to their lives.
To really hear what God says, we need to be more like Samuel. He was humble. Possessed a servant’s heart. Was receptive to the Lord’s message. Took it seriously. And obeyed the “voice of the Lord.”
From his earliest boyhood days, Samuel developed a relationship with the Lord (1 Sam 2:26). His attitude toward God and His Word is summed up in 1 Samuel 3:19. “So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”
Don’t allow His words to fall to the ground. The Lord is speaking. Are you listening?
Listening to His commands regarding salvation? Christian living? Worship? Stewardship? Discipleship? Relationships? Honesty? Marriage? Family life? Personal responsibilities? And love for one another?
I wonder if our Father is looking down from heaven and saying, “My child, you’re not listening?”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman