Life Verse! - “Let His Word direct your life!”
Samuel – “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Bill Cosby was in the news this past week. Rumors were flying that Cosby had died. So to dispel these rumors Cosby did a “live” obviously phone interview on Larry King Live[i]. What I did not know is that this was the fourth time people have circulated false information. On Larry King Cosby was asked how he found out this time. He said his daughter called his house and someone answered the phone and she asked if her father were there and still alive. Do you remember Malcolm Jamal Warner? He played Theo on the Cosby show MANY years ago. Malcolm’s Mom called Bill crying, because she thought he had died. This rumor leaked out via Twitter. How many of you are on Twitter? Twitter is instant information. Twitter is another level of social media networking. “Twittering is defined as micro-blogging. Micro-blogging is a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by members of the social group.”[ii] Last Monday “Bill Cosby died” was the #1 trending topic on Twitter and #2 on Google trends so Cosby responded by saying… "Again, I'm rebuttaling rumors about my demise.” “As you well know, a dead person cannot rebuttal. Therefore, I am rebuttaling to tell you that when I heard the news I immediately began rebuttaling and went into denial." He acknowledged that "rebuttal" was not used as a verb -- but added: "I don’t care, because I’m alive!”[iii]
I think that would be a little unnerving. You are alive, but people are saying you’re dead. I know this isn’t fair and probably altogether weird, but what do you want people to say about you at your funeral? “Geez, Greg, that’s so depressing.” Maybe so, but it’s still a question that needs to be answered. What do you want people to say about you after you die? I confess! I have an ulterior motive that’s driving the question. I am a minister. I get to lead or officiate at funeral services. People ask me to say things about those they love. I have found that funerals follow this pattern – talk about the person and then talk about Jesus. But meaningful funerals connect both the person and Jesus. You can’t tell where this person begins and Jesus ends. Now there’s nothing wrong in saying that – Toga – was a good person. He cared for his Burmese python, loved to run marathons and played "Sporcle" on the Internet. Have you never played “Sporcle”? “Sporcle” is a “mentally challenging diversion.”[iv] Here’s one of many examples on “Sporcle”. In 60 seconds name TEN 3 letter word body parts. Ear, Rib, Toe, Eye, Jaw, Leg, Arm, Hip, Lip and Gum. There’s wrong with playing “Sporcle”, but if that’s ALL people have to say – she was good. He loved to travel. She was a humanitarian. He was good employee. She loved the Cleveland Cavaliers and all teams that play Miami -YOU have a problem because obviously God is not priority ONE for you!
Can I offer you a tiny solution? When it comes to answering this “what do I want said at my funeral question” a life verse would help immensely. “Greg, what’s a life verse?” Well, I blame my “brother like no other” Duane Gray! Duane is part of our leadership at Westerville Christian and he said in devotion not long ago – here’s my life verse and then he quoted Jer.1:5. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
That verse directs his life. That verse defines his life. Folks, you need a life verse – I need a life verse. Actually I have a life verse. Mine is Matthew 6:33 where Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” At my funeral if someone stands up and says – “Greg loved the Browns, the Indians and the CAVS. No wonder he was cranky. I’ll have no problem with that. But I pray someone will say – “Greg put God first. And by putting God first Greg loved people – namely Tricia, Jeanna and Sam. Do you remember the first Toy Story movie? Woody is making announcements because Andy is moving. And Woody says, “Every toy needs a moving buddy. If you don’t have one, get one!” Well, may I say in the strongest tone possible? Every Christ follower needs a life verse and if you don’t have one get one! Let me show you how. Turn in your Bibles to Acts 13. Do you need a Bible today? I have not said that in five weeks. I am so thankful to be allowed to preach at this church! Acts 13 is the transition or paradigm shift chapter of this book. Luke wrote Acts and Luke’s purpose is to demonstrate the acts of the Holy Spirit working through the lives of the Apostles, but two Apostles stand out. Chapters 1-12 are all about Peter. Chapters 13-28 are all about Paul. Paul made many journeys but here’s his first. Let’s see how it all unfolds. (Read 13:13-20-766) Now here’s what I was going to do. I was going to pick five to seven people and investigate their lives hoping to determine their life verse. But then I found my self in Acts 13 and I saw that Paul already did that for me. First he mentions Samuel, then King Saul only to emphasize King David, then Jesus, then John the Baptist then of course Paul himself. I want us to spend the next five weeks looking at the lives of five men – they each have a life verse. How did you find a life verse? Read the Bible and examine the examples of people in the Bible whether they be good or bad. We’ll start with Samuel. Turn in the Old Testament to 1 Samuel chapter 1. (Page 187) Samuel had an interesting childhood. His Mom is Hannah. And Hannah cannot have children. Chapter 1 – verse 6 says that “God had closed her womb.” Seems cruel, but we have to trust God that there’s a reason why he does what he does. How many Moms do you know want to give their children away? OK – when their kids are bad, maybe allot, but they don’t actually go through with it! Hannah becomes so desperate for a son and desperate people pray desperate prayers - she prays to God – “If you give me a son – I’ll give him back.” This is exactly what God and Hannah do! God gives her a son and Hannah gives him back by giving him to Eli the priest. Look at chapter 1 verse 28. (READ) Samuel would now live with Eli. How old was this little guy? “Samuel was probably three years old—the customary age for weaning—when his mother left him at the tabernacle.”[v]
Now Samuel’s childhood gets even more interesting… Turn to 1st Samuel chapter 3. (Read 3:1-4(Mom cartoon)(5-10) There’s Samuel’s life verse. “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel spent his life listening to God and saying to people what God said to him. If your name is Samuel – I know of many Samuels – one being special to my family. Your name literally means “asked of God.” It means “Heard of God.”[vi] Could you make Samuel’s verse your verse? His verse could direct your life! I am going to spend my life listening to God. Can you imagine having someone say that about you even before your funeral? “You know that Bob/Larry, man, they listen to God.” I’m curious? How does one do that? How do you listen to God? The Word of God gives us the answer. Go back to Samuel’s dialogue with Eli in verse 8. I find that if you really want to hear from God you often need a little help. Who is your Eli? I read Eli, but I think ally. Who is your spiritual ally? I know Eli was imperfect. Eli was old and barely able to see. Chapter 4 says he was over weight. My goodness – old and overweight – I bet he was one cranky priest and yet Eli could not have given a better answer to young Samuel.
Again – who is your Eli? Are you in a small group? Our small group could be your Eli. These people in your group could help you hear God by seeing scripture more clearly! Is it one person who acts as a mentor to you? I have several spiritual mentors or advisors. This week I got so confused over some verses in the Bible. So I called Dr. Johnny Pressley at Cincinnati Christian University and his counsel literally helped me hear God. Laura Buffington serves as the Creative Director at the South Brook Christian Church in Miamisburg, Ohio. Laura came over to our house last Sunday Night and she told my wife Tricia. I have kids ask me all the time. How do you grow as a Christian – as a disciple of Jesus and I tell them – “latch onto some adults who really get God and don’t let go.” If you really want to hear God in your life – you might need some help along the way.
It goes without saying – that if you want to hear God you need to be in his word. But sometimes what God has to say to us is not what we want to hear. Drop down to verse 11. I wonder what Samuel’s face looked like after he heard this bombshell! Oh, I can’t wait to tell Eli – my spiritual father and priest – that he’s going to die and so are his two sons. Honestly, for years I’ve thought – wouldn’t it be awesome to audibly hear from God, but then I realized God might want me to build a boat, leave this country or deliver a stinging message to someone. I’m not convinced we all really want to hear from God after all. What he might say – might be the last thing we want to hear in this world.
Please tell me – do you think that if Samuel refused to tell Eli what God said that God would be giving Samuel anymore messages? But Samuel did speak. Find verse 18 in 1 Samuel 3. Have you received news from God lately and let’s face it – it just stinks in your opinion! But in your sorrow or confusion or even anger – you can still say, "He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” I beg you right now – pray like Samuel did - “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
[v] Life Application Bible Notes
[vi] Logos Bible Software, Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1 Samuel 1:20