Tuesday, August 17, 2010

God is Calling Your Name (Knowing God: Samuel)

Emily and I took our family to Menard’s recently and had one of those parental nightmares. After I scoured the shelves for the right size screws and bolts to fix some new furniture in preparation for our new baby, I looked down and Tommy was gone. I quickly checked the next aisle, and the next, and eventually Trinity and I made a long 30 min lap around half of the huge store, calling his name in the garden center, the wood, insulation, everywhere! I called my wife on my cell phone and realized he had found her. I was exhausted after that. Every possible evil intent a kidnapper could have flooded through my brain and I batted them away, telling God I was trusting Him. Tommy didn’t answer me because he was too far away to hear me.
Another scary event happened to some friends of ours. They lost their daughter for 2hrs. The parents had similar reactions, and called her name, and the authorities were involved, until finally she came out from hiding. When they called, she didn’t recognize their voices because she had fallen asleep. She wasn't listening.
I'm not trying to terrify you, but one more story. My daughter was riding her bike last week and took off for the busy road as fast as she could. I called her, yelling for her to stop, but she didn’t listen. I called her again and she didn’t listen, a third time, and I heard my voice echo off the buildings near her, and knew she could hear me, but she did not obey.
Are all of these stories to tell you about terrifying children’s tales? Am I trying to frighten you? These stories all have a piece of what not to do when God calls your name. God called a young boy named Samuel, and Samuel was not too far away to hear Him, he was not asleep when his name was called (he recognized it), and when he knew God was calling him, he obeyed.
God will call you if you belong to Him, and tell you what to do. The question is: will you be ready?

Today you can leave here taking with you three helpful steps for how to respond when God is calling your name.
We look at 1 Samuel 3:1–3 and the story of a young man whose barren mother Hannah dedicated him to serve the Lord when he was a toddler. Samuel was a student of Eli, the priest at Shiloh, where the ark of the covenant was kept in the tabernacle. One of the commands of the Law was that the priests were to continually keep the lamp candles burning in the tabernacle all night long, and Samuel was near the ark and the lamp, most likely keeping it going. (READ IT, 1 Samuel 3:1-3)

First, in verses 1–3 Samuel was close to God. How do you prepare to respond when God calls your name? The answer is to sit close to God. In order to hear God’s voice, you need to be close to Him. Just like Samuel was near the ark, and Eli was farther away (a description of his spiritual state), you need to position yourself close to God.
In those days it meant being near the visible presence of the Tabernacle and the ark. Today it means spending time devoted to God in private worship and public worship. You need to participate on Sundays, but also at your home, when you work, with your family, with your friends. You need to always be near to God.
Notice it was rare to hear God’s voice in those days. Sometimes people get impatient when they wait and wait and wait and don’t hear anything. Samuel was persistent to do his duty for worship and stay as close to God as anyone could physically be!
At the carnival a couple weeks ago, it was busy and people were shouting and trying to get you to try their rides and buy their goods, and unless you were close to them, you couldn’t hear them.
My son Tommy couldn’t hear me calling him (for his own good), because he was too far away!
(A) Sit close to God. This week, tomorrow, give God 15 minutes of reading your Bible and 15 minutes of prayer. You will be on the road to a beginner’s level of daily devotions and putting yourself closer to Him. This is a step towards understanding Him and obeying Him.

The second step for responding when God calls, is to look what Samuel did when he heard a voice. He asked the man of God if he was calling his name. He looked in the right place for clarification that God was calling him. Even though Eli was not perfect, he got this one right. He knew how to hear God, even if he didn’t obey God.
So, if you're keeping track, write down #2, Make sure it is God speaking to you. In order to know what God wants, you need to verify God’s voice.
There are all kinds of voices out there, like New Age voices, liberal political voices, conservative political voices, socialist voices, capitalist voices, cutting edge voices, traditional voices, talk show voices, pleasing and enticing voices, scary and violent voices, and you need to know how God speaks to you. This only comes through practice of listening to Him. It involves discipline. Most of us won’t hear audible voices. Most of us will hear God through reading His word and prayer and doing that every day. Most of us will get affirmation from another person who is also following Jesus.
Like my friend whose daughter could not respond because she was asleep, so some of you are sleep in your faith! You don’t hear God because you don’t care about the Bible! You don’t value spending time with the one who died for your sin on the cross! You don’t hear because you don’t bother to verify Him. The first book that comes out saying, “God wants every Christian to be a millionaire” makes you foam at the mouth. The radio speaker says, “the world will end in 2012” and you say, “Must be God” without verifying!
Ask anyone who has served in the military and they will tell you about the training and discipline in learning the important lesson of distinguishing the right voice from the false ones. They must learn to hear only their drill instructor or the distraction could cost someone their life.
Are you that focused and waiting to hear from God? If you don't know what He sounds like, that's your first item of business. Isolate His voice from the rest.
How can we be sure it is God speaking?
This is my threefold test I use when making decisions and think I'm hearing God speaking to me: a) does it agree with the Bible? If it does not, then it isn't God. If it does, then continue to question "B." B) does the Spirit confirm it in prayer? When you pray, if you don't feel the Spirit confirming your decision, move to question "c." C) does your church family confirm it? If everyone else you know who is following Jesus thinks you're crazy, then maybe you are! But if the answer to all three questions was "Yes, yes, yes," then most likely God is calling you to do something.
And let me add one more, very important part of finding God's will. Unless you have salvation through Jesus Christ, you will never hear God’s voice. The Holy Spirit in your heart is how God communicates today, and through that same Spirit opening your eyes as you read the Bible that God Himself put here for your benefit. Unless you have faith in Jesus alone that He paid for your sin through dying on the cross and rising again, and unless you believe that, unless you follow Him, you might as well give up on ever knowing God’s will for your life.
Or you can come to Him now, confess every sin, believe in His death and resurrection (I love the resurrection), and commit to follow Him and begin to know His will. Pray that today and tell Him, and the Bible says you are saved from hell and going to heaven, and going in first class. The Bible says the angels throw a party for you if you trust in Jesus Christ today! (Luke 15:7, 10)

Again, if the answer to those three above questions was "Yes, yes, yes," then you'd better do what you think God is telling you to do. That leads to the final step, which is what happens when Eli directs Samuel. Eli tells him the next time he hears a voice calling, "Samuel, Samuel!" to reply, "Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening."
So #3, Say yes when you’re sure it is God speaking. Knowing God means saying yes to whatever God will say in the future.
That takes guts! My daughter did not do that, and suffered a serious consequence. So too, you who call yourself a Christian and ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God day after day, week after week, weekend after weekend, you are also going to suffer a serious consequence.
Look at the text. God says his name twice, like God did on the mountain where Abraham sacrificed Isaac (really himself) to God, and like God said to Moses at the burning bush. God said to Samuel, the most prominent male prophet since Moses, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Did Samuel wait to hear what God wanted before he said yes? Did he? No. He said yes first. Samuel gave God a blank check, and said, “I’m Yours! Here I am!” Samuel obeyed. Will you? Will you say yes when you’re sure it is God speaking?

Saying yes to God will cost you. Samuel was not always popular, he was sometimes lonely, he had fame, but he didn’t have many friends. He had an angry King Saul to contend with, and had to do some brutal, hard work. If you’re not afraid of that, go ahead and tell God “Speak to me Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
So pray to God to speak to you, as you make time to be close to Him. Make sure it's Him speaking when you think you hear something. Finally, say, "Yes."


10 Virgins said...

Weird story, I posted a facebook status about waking up last night at 2am to, I thought it was my hubby, calling my name from the living room. I actually woke up saying, "Yeah?" I look over to my suprise to see hubby sleeping. I know I heard a farmiliar voice saying my name... I got up, made sure said farmiliar voice was not an intruder who somehow knew my name... no intruder. Made sure the house was locked and all the windows... go to bed and can't sleep for 2 hours. I end up repenting for a serious struggle I have been having with my faith due to realizing that my childhood church revolved around hearing God's voice so much - but their practices were so off that they were listening to - not God. Then I post of fb my strange name hearing and try to sleep. A friend then commented, "God is calling your name," and left this link to your blog. Hmm. Maybe. Maybe it actually was God calling my name.

Michele Michaels said...

I was looking for answers to a voice calling my name twice in one day. I was actually alone at home. I jumped up from the sofa and said, "I know I heard that voice but how what I was not scared. I was curious to the point I looked around the house. I can't quite remember if I asked the Lord was it he. But the voice was humble. Very powerful though. After that my sleep later was disturbed that night. I think I stayed up reading my online bible, praying, and talking to the Lord. Than a day or 2 after it was around 4:48 a.m. And one of my sisters who's a Sheriff had gotten up to go to the store to get her son lunch before she dropped him off at his brother's and headed to work. About 5 or 10 minutes after she had left I fell asleep. I was quickly awakened by a voice that sounded like my sister. I said to myself and to the Lord "I hope that girl's alright." Than I nodded off again and I was again awakened by the same voice. But than my heart started racing. I was about to panic, thinking something was happening to her not good. But than she walked in the door and I started fussing at her about going to the store that time of morning. Knowing the danger thats out in the 🌎. She agreed and I told her about the voices that sounded like her. She askec me,"You heard it again ?". I said, "Yes". By than my brother who's involve in tbe church said, "You're suppose to say, Yes Lord, or Pray and ask the Lord what he wants you to do." Just now as I'm writing I did ask the Lord Yeshua, "What did he want to say to please tell me. I was listening." I'm not sure if it was word from word but I asked, "What was it he wanted to say that I was listening." So now I found your site. What do you think ?