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I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. - 1 Samuel 1:27 (NLT)
Years ago, I took a walk around the block with my daughter. She was 5 or 6 years old. I loved taking walks with the kids when they were little. The funny thing with her was, she would either get really far ahead of me or really far behind me. I would be talking to her, but she could not hear me. I kept walking and she would have to either catch up or wait up. Eventually, she would end up where she could hear me. And we could chit-chat when she was right beside me. I loved spending time with her even if she was ahead of me or lagging behind -- but our most meaningful conversations were when she was beside me.
God speaks in so many ways to engage in relationship with us; we will take a look at some of those ways this week.
We discover in the life of a man named Samuel that one of the ways God speaks is through His word. As we open the Bible we see that it is living and active -- it encourages us, strengthens us, re-aligns our focus, priorities, and heart. 1 Samuel sets the scene with a desperate mother pleading to God for a child. In deep anguish, she prayed to God to give her a son. So much of recognizing His voice comes through familiarity -- hearing God speak through His word helps us recognize His voice. This happens as we spend time getting to know Him.
God is always speaking; but am I listening? His word is a way He conveys how much He loves us and deeply desires a relationship with us. He speaks to us; because He loves us. The closer we walk beside Him the clearer we can hear His voice, discern His activity in our lives, and cooperate with His leading.
The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.” - 1 Samuel 1:19-20 (NLT)
A few weeks ago our family went to Southand’s Summer Night of Worship at the Moondance Amphitheater. It was an incredible time. One of the highlights for me that evening was listening to the personal stories of a couple of our worship leaders. They shared how God was present in their suffering, in their wait for answers, and in their joy. One major truth that stood out to me was when one of them said not to wait on an answer to worship but to worship in the wait. I was so challenged by that! Connecting to God through worship allows us to hear Him speak.
I love what Samuel’s mother, Hannah prayed, but moreover her words as she was waiting on her answer... and listening to God speak to her. She prayed, she waited, she worshipped, and she asked. God was speaking the whole time. Even when she could not hear Him, she didn’t withhold her worship.
Worship affords the relational connectedness to hear God speak -- for God to have our full focus, devotion, and undivided attention. There are so many competing voices and mixed messages in our world today, it’s never been more important to tune into the voice of God. He longs to connect with us and, when we worship Him in song and with our lives, it is a way to let Him know we are attentive and desire to hear from Him.
How can worship transform how you hear from God? What neon sign of God speaking do you need to see? Want to see? Want to experience? As we discipline ourselves to be still, we take on a posture of anticipation -- fully confident that God wants to speak to us and is speaking to us. He is a good, good Father. Nothing would please Him more than to talk to His children.
And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” - 1 Samuel 1:11 (NLT)
We have a prayer board at home that we all share prayer requests on. We put down different things we are praying for on index cards and pin them on the board. Then, throughout the week we take some time to pray over the cards.--together or on our way. We have seen some really cool answers; but even more, we are all growing to not only believe but come to experience that God is always speaking. As a family, we have come to learn to involve God in our everyday matters... and He always shows up!
Prayer is simply conversation back and forth with God. Prayer is another way we can hear from God -- encounter another sign that He is always speaking. Prayer is connection. And connecting brings awareness -- awareness to His activity around us. Which affords us the opportunity to cooperate with what God is doing in us and around us.
Prayer allows us to see His heart. Renew our image of Him. Ask, seek, knock. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart. God is always speaking because He is always engaged with us. When we release our limited view and understanding of Him, it opens up the pathway to encounter Him.
Hannah was in deep anguish as she prayed to the Lord -- she asked God to look upon her deepest heart-desire in giving her a son. She made a vow to God to give Samuel back to Him. And as a sign that Samuel had been dedicated to the Lord, his hair would never be cut. God responded and showed He had a plan.
God was speaking to Hannah even before she could see the answer to her request with her natural sight. He cared for her and her heart’s desire.
Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. - 1 Samuel 3:7-9 (NLT)
I really enjoy encouraging people! I am not really great at a lot of things, but I do love to cheer people on. I sometimes forget that encouragers need encouragers. I had been focused on praying for quite a few needs of loved ones this past week and hadn’t realized how much I may have needed encouragement. Out of the blue, I got a call from a very dear friend. She simply shared how the Lord had laid me on her heart. I immediately felt strengthened by her voicemail message.
Another way God speaks to us is through others. She had no idea what was going on. But I believe she was prompted by God to reach out. And her obedience energized me in the things I was walking through. It’s a beautiful thing when we receive words of encouragement, letters, notes, or text messages from others that lift us up. I love when God chooses to use others as a way to get His message across.
God used Eli -- who Samuel assisted. The Lord kept calling out to Samuel but he thought it was Eli. And Eli sent him back to bed saying he did not call out for Samuel. Samuel did not realize this was the Lord calling out to him because he had never had a message from God before. Eli finally realized God was calling out to the boy Samuel and encouraged him to listen to God.
How have others been used by God to strengthen and encourage your walk? Or maybe a decision you are processing? Or a prayer you are desperately seeking an answer for? And God chooses to move in the heart of someone to relay His heart for you. It inspires me to be that kind of listener so that I can be that kind of vessel. Not to mention when you are on the receiving end -- how much that infuses us with spiritual stamina or peace to keep going or to take a leap of faith!
And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.” - 1 Samuel 3:10 (NLT)
My earliest memory of God showing Himself to me and speaking into my situation was when I was around 10 years old. My parents had just gone through a divorce and my dad was a single dad. He worked very hard for my brother and I. We did not have a lot of money and were struggling to make ends meet. I quietly held in a lot of anxiety and nervousness about how God would provide and take care of our family.
We were pulling out of the driveway one evening heading somewhere. I was sitting in the back seat of our car with my younger brother. I looked out my window and saw our trash cans had fallen over and a swarm of birds feasting! I then felt in my heart the Lord saying, “I take care of them; I’ll take care of you.” It was in that moment that I experienced how God speaks through our external circumstances. I believe that encounter anchored me to God’s character and the faithfulness of His promises.
We see that in Samuel’s life. The Lord used a vision to speak to Samuel. He then sought the counsel of Eli -- Samuel heard a voice multiple times and because of Eli’s instruction, Samuel responded by saying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” This week we have been looking at the life of a man named Samuel who not only listened to God, but did what God asked him to do. And we have taken a look at all the ways God speaks to us.
God speaks because God loves us. May we all be challenged and encouraged today to listen. To get really familiar with His voice and how to tune in to what He is saying. When we can hear Him it creates a pathway towards obedience! Which in return creates a life lived to the full! There is no greater joy and peace than to know you are in alignment with Him, His heart, and His ways!