09(1Sam 03,01-11)Listening for the Voice of God
Send to Printer
(use browser's print feature to print out this page)
Listening to God by Jake Kircher
1 Samuel 3:1-3:10
Tonight I want to start off with a little brain teaser. If you have heard this before, please don’t ruin it for everyone else and just keep your thoughts to yourself. I’ll read the question and then you guys can have a minute or two to think.
Once you have gotten the answer right, again, please don’t ruin it for everyone else and blurt out how you got to your answer. All I want to hear is your answer to the problem when I call on you and then I will let you know if you are right or not. So, here is the question:
You are driving a bus. You go east 12 miles, and turn south and go 2 miles and take on 9 passengers, and then you turn west and go 3 miles and let off 4 passengers. How old is the bus driver?
***Give the youth a chance to answer the question and eventually ask one of them to explain the question and how to find the right answer***
The main problem that many people have when trying to answer this brain teaser is listening. A lot of the times, we latch onto certain information that we think is important in a question and then somehow, miss the most important part. When I first read this question earlier this morning, like many of you, I latched onto the directions (east, south, west), the distance and the number of passengers on the bus. Those are things that that are important right?
When I got to the end and it asked how old the bus driver is, I just was dumb founded. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “how are we going to find the age of the buss driver from the information given.” I took a minute and looked at the numbers are wondered if there was some secret message in the numbers and maybe, if you added them together or something, it would work. It wasn’t for a few moments that I finally realized that the clue to this teaser was a simple, three letter word that starts the whole question off. “YOU are the bus driver.”
How often is it though that we have this same problem with listening in real life? Your Mom asks you to do something and you aren’t quite paying attention and latter on you get in trouble for not doing what you were supposed to. You get your homework back from your teacher with a big fat F on it and when you inquire to your teacher, he tells you that you didn’t follow all the directions – directions you missed because you were talking with the cute boy behind you and weren’t listening to the teacher.
Listening is so important in life and crucial to make relationships work. We all have built into us the need and want to be listened to. Being listened to communicates things like worth, value, love, and respect. How do you feel when you are pouring your heart out to a parent or a friend and then find out that they weren’t listening to you? You feel hurt, upset, and like they don’t care about you. Listening is so important and yet we live in a day and age where there are so many distractions to listening that it makes it more and more difficult to do.
***Ask the youth what distracts them most from listening***
As we continue to talk about the importance of taking in “Daily Nutrition” as we jump deeper and deeper into a relationship with Christ, a huge component that I think we constantly forget is the importance of listening to God. So many people talk about prayer and reading the Bible and serving and all the other great and wonderful things; but not a lot of people talk about listening to God.
Again, listening is so important to any relationship, and that includes our relationship with Jesus. And in some ways, I would argue that it is even more important because I think the God of the Universe and the Creator of all things is someone to pay attention to when he speaks. How often do we read our Bibles, which as we talked about last week is the Word of God, but yet just have it go in one ear and out the other? How often do we pray by just throwing up all these requests to God but yet never take them time to listen to what He may want to say?
For our time tonight, I want to look at a passage in 1 Samuel 3:1-10 that will give us some insight to listening to God in our lives.
***Have a youth read 1 Samuel 3:1-10***
Notice what verse one says again. “In those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.” Some of you may think that this is not unlike the times that we live in today. Well, I think I would agree with you but it is important to understand what this verse is getting at.
Some people might argue that this verse says that God wasn’t speaking to many people in the days that Samuel was a boy. Well, only God knows if he was or wasn’t speaking but the root of the problem was that people had given up listening a long time ago. In the chapters that precede what we just read, it tells about Eli, the priests, sons and how they were wicked and “had no respect for the Lord.” They did whatever they wanted and didn’t care about the work God had called them to do. They just ignored Him and what He was saying.
That is why messages from the Lord were rare and visions were uncommon. It wasn’t that God wasn’t speaking, it was that fact that no one was listening to relay the messages of God to the rest of the people. Therefore, it seemed that God was silent for years and years but yet really no one was listening. I think the same is true for our times today. I think God is speaking all the time to many people but, for the most part, we don’t listen. I want to spend the rest of our time looking at four reasons why we are missing God’s message today and not listening.
First, I think a lot of it is because of how busy and crazy we are. Our schedules are so loaded up with thing after thing that we don’t ever take time to just stop and listen to God. In Psalms 46:10, the writer says to “Be still, and know that I am God.” How often are we still and do we take the time to just listen to God? Notice that God doesn’t speak to Samuel in the busyness of the day but instead at night as he is lying down to go to bed. It was when Samuel was still from the busyness of his day. For us today, we don’t even get that. A lot of you fall asleep doing your homework or reading. When you do fall asleep, many of you have headphones in or music on. There is hardly any time where we are still and quite. We are overloading ourselves with so much that we are drowning out God’s voice.
Second, just like what I described about the brain teaser, I think we are all too often focused on all the wrong things. I think a lot of the times, if we thought about God speaking to us we tend to think of everything in grand terms. Meaning like there would be flashes of lighting and booms of thunder and clouds and smoke that would accompany God’s message to us. There would be angels singing and trumpets blasting and all these other things that would make us sit up and take notice going, “Ok, God. You got my attention.”
Notice again, that this is not the way God speaks to Samuel. Instead, he calls out to him quietly in the night. Sometimes God does use dramatic things to get our attention – he speaks to Moses from a burning bush, he speaks to a guy named Balaam through is donkey and he speaks to Mary through angels. But, more often than not, they are the exceptions and instead, God speaks to us in quite and simple ways.
There is a great story in 1 Kings about a prophet named Elijah who is on a mountain top waiting for God to come so that they could speak. As he is on the mountain and “mighty windstorm hits the mountain” but yet God was not in the wind. After that there was an earthquake, but again God was not in the earthquake. After that there was fire but again, no God. Finally, there was a gentle whisper and at that Elijah came out of the cave he was waiting in and spoke to God.
God, I think most often speaks to us in very simple ways – through His words of the Bible, through other people, through nature, our consciences, and even a soft voice – but yet we are all too often looking for the big, huge message when in fact he is already talking and we just aren’t listening.
Third, I think we miss God’s message so often because we have forgotten what God sounds like. In the midst of all the voices and message that we take in every day it is hard to pick God’s voice out of it all. This is especially hard if we are not spending any time with Him. Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice because he had never heard it. It took God calling three times for him to finally realize, thanks to Eli, what was going on.
Think of it this way, the best way to learn a foreign language like Spanish is repetition and spending time listening to it and repeating what you hear. If you do that for a time and then take a break for a while, coming back to it can be difficult because you don’t remember everything. I think it works the same way with us listening to God. If we are not spending the time reading His words and hanging out with Him, His words and language will become foreign to us and we will miss things because we don’t understand anymore.
Fourth, and finally, I think the last thing that prevents us from listening to God is because we simply don’t want to. God calls out to Samuel, he doesn’t just start speaking. He finally delivers the message when Samuel responds to God and says, “Speak, your servant is listening.” Samuel could have chosen – out of fear, out of not wanting to know what God had to say, or any other reason – to just ignore God but instead he choose to respond and purposefully listen to what God had to say.
God is speaking today whether you believe it or not. My challenge to all of us tonight is to start listening. It is so important to make sure that we are taking time to “be still” and take the time to separate ourselves from the world and everything going on around us. This will help us to hear God’s still, small voice and fresh our souls with what and how God sounds like. On top of all that, we must respond as God calls our name. He will not force Himself on us but instead wait for us to be ready and purposefully listen to His leading. The question is, are you ready?
Send to Printer
(use browser's print feature to print out this page)
Holy Headphones by Nate Barbour
1 Samuel 3:1-3:11
How to Hear from God
Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.
Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.”
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”
The employer said, “I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his.”
We live in a world that is full of busyness and clatter, like that office. People are distracted and unable to hear the still, small voice of God as he speaks to them. What about you? Are you tuned in to God’s voice? Do you hear him when he speaks to you? Are you listening? Tonight, we’re studying this subject of “Holy Headphones: How to Hear God’s Voice” and I want you to see exactly how God speaks to us so that you can hear Him when He speaks to you.
How many of ya’ll have ever heard God speak to you?
John 8:47 "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
I’m certain that by the end of this message, if you’re one of God’s children, you’ll be more aware of the times when God was speaking, and more aware of when God will be trying to speak to you, and if you’re not one of God’s children, then you’ll be more aware of how you can become one and start to hear His voice.
The first thing you gotta do to hear God’s voice is Tune In. You can’t listen to 95 Rock or Y105 on the radio unless your radio is tuned in to 95.1 or 105.7, can you? You can’t listen to WRMK unless your radio is tuned to 100.3, can you? Well, you can’t hear God’s voice unless you’re tuned in to Him.
II. Tune In
1 Samuel 3:1-11 “1The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
2One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, "Here I am." 5 And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down. 6 Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
"My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
8 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. 9 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.
10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"
Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
Little Sammy is lying in the temple, the candles were still lit, so it’s about 2 or 3 in the morning and he can’t quite get to sleep. His mind’s probably racing from everything he learned that day. You see, Sammy was about 8 or 9 years old and he was living with Eli, the priest. His momma had dedicated him to the Lord as a baby, so Sammy as a boy learned the function of a priest under Eli.
So here he is trying to get some rest and he hears somebody call his name. He runs to Eli and says, “Here I am, what did you want?” And Eli’s like, “I didn’t call you, go back to bed.” So, Sammy goes back to the sack and the same thing happens. He hears somebody call his name, goes to Eli, Eli says, “It wasn’t me,” and he goes back to bed. The same thing happens a third time, and this time Eli catches on that God is the one calling lil’ Sammy. So Eli gives Sammy some instruction on hearing from God and he goes back to bed, hears the voice of God, and then listens to what God has to say.
You see, at the beginning, Sammy didn’t quite know what was going on. He thought that Eli was calling him. He wasn’t tuned in to God, the Scripture says “the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” If he was tuned in to God, he would have known that it was God who was speaking to him, and he would have heard clearly all the instruction that God had for him.
So, what about you? Have you tuned in to God? Can you tell when He’s speaking to you?
A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening.
Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”
His friend said, “What? You must be crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!”
“No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said. “I heard a cricket.”
“That’s crazy,” said the friend.
The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed. “That’s incredible,” said his friend. “You must have super-human ears!”
“No,” said the Native American. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.”
“But that can’t be!” said the friend. “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.”
“Yes, it’s true,” came the reply. “It depends on what you’re listening for. Here, let me show you.”
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.
“See what I mean?” asked the Native American. “It all depends on what you’re listening for.”
If you’ve tuned in to God, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around you, you can hear Him speak.
Ok, so you want to tune in to God. Well, what station is He on? How can I Hear him? Tune in to WGOD. There are a number of ways that God can speak to you.
We read through the Old Testament and see the different stories of how God spoke to certain people. Like when God and Adam were just chilling in the Garden shootin the breeze and chit-chattin. Or when God spoke to Noah to build a huge boat. Or when God spoke to Abraham and told Him he could have all the land where he set his foot. How about when God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. Or even in the New Testament when God spoke to Mary through an angel and told her she would have His baby. Or when Paul saw the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus and heard Him speak. And we can’t help but think, "Wow, I wish God would speak to me like that." But you know what would happen if God spoke to us like that?! We’d poop our pants. It would literally scare us to death. A lot of people think God speaks through “signs” or “burning bush” experiences, but that’s really very rarely how God speaks today. I mean, imagine driving down the road with mom or dad on a long road trip and they hit the rest stop. Meanwhile, you’re sitting in the car playing your Game Boy and you look up and see a huge tree on fire, just burning away, not getting black and ashy, just burning, and glowing. And so you say, "Hmmph, What’s up with that?" And then the tree starts talking to you. "Hey Eric, Yo Mattie Sue, Tori, Whaazzzup? Yo come here I need to tell you something, and take off your kicks too." No way. We’d freak out, and we definitely wouldn’t go near it. I mean, you’re more likely to hop in the driver’s seat and burn rubber instead of walking up to it to see what it wants.
Or what if you were walking through the hallway of your school and all of a sudden, a bright shining light flashes and knocks you down. Then you hear a big booming voice that sounds like Jesus talking to you. "Ebony, Ebony, why do you persecute me?" "Umm, I’m sorry, I guess." But all your friends don’t see a thing, and they swear up and down that you’re crazy for dropping all your books, and squinting like you’re blind. You’d probably think you were crazy too. You might even check out a shrink.
While God doesn’t necessarily reveal himself to us in those ways today, He does reveal himself in various other ways.
A. God speaks through the 5 fold ministry.
Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Whenever you sit in a service like this, for example, each Wednesday night, you’re hearing from God. He speaks through your youth pastor, He speaks through our pastor on Sunday, he speaks through other ministers you may hear or see.
B. God speaks through His Word
Psalm 119:105 “105Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
You first learn how to hear from God by following His written word. If you can’t follow what He’s written in His word, chances are, you can’t follow His audible word.
C. God speaks through the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:16 “16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”
This is also known as the inward witness or inward intuition. The Holy Spirit will verify that you’re doing the right thing or going the right way. If you’re going in the wrong direction, or making the wrong decision, you’ll feel an uneasiness on the inside, and that’s the Holy Spirit letting you know something’s up.
D. God speaks through the inward voice or the conscience.
Romans 9:1“1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,”
Have you heard of the “still, small voice”? This is it. It’s not real strong and overwhelming saying, “DON’T DO THAT!” It’s your own spirit speaking to you and it mostly speaks in just a word or a phrase. Maybe if you’re planning on doing something or going somewhere, the inward voice may say, “Wait,” or “Not Yet,” or “Stop.”
You remember the story of Mattie Sue’s uncle Sammy, and how he listened to the still, small voice. He was getting ready to leave his house one day and he walked around the back of his Blazer doing a “kid-check,” making sure nobody’s around or under the car. He doesn’t see anything, so he hops in and puts it in Reverse. As soon as he lets his foot off the brake, he hears this voice on the inside of him say, “Stop.” So he does. He puts it in park and lets his foot off the brake and waits. Then he tries again, shifting the Blazer in reverse and taking his foot off the brake, and again he hears the voice say, “Stop.” He stops, goes through the same process, and then tries again. This time he hears the voice even louder say, “Stop.” He stops again. And this time he says out of his left side mirror, a little head poking around the back of his car. It was his son, Andrew, playing with the lights on the back of the Blazer. If Sammy wouldn’t have listened to that still, small voice, he would have ran over his son. Thank God for the Holy Spirit.
E. God speaks through the authoritative voice of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10:19 “19While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are seeking you.’”
Now, if God speaks to you like this, it’s gonna seem a lot louder on the inside. It may even seem audible, like you can hear it with your ears, because it is so strong. This rarely happens. It is not an everyday thing.
God speaks to you through His word, through the 5 fold ministry, through the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, through the conscience, and through the authoritative voice of the Holy Spirit.
So, chances are, you’ve had the opportunity to hear God’s voice at some point or another, but still, the question remains, “Are you listening?”
IV. Deadly Interference
John 10:3,4 "The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice."
What if all the sheep heard the Shepherd calling, but a couple of them were off doing their own thing, checking out one of the female sheep, and they didn’t notice that the flock was leaving the pasture and heading to the brook. Well, the next thing you know, the flocks gone and these two sheep are stuck. Because sheep are stupid, they can’t find their own way without the Shepherd. The flock could be just up the hill and these two sheep would panic until the Shepherd came back looking for them.
What happened to these sheep? Why didn’t they listen to the Shepherd when he said, “follow me to the water”? They were distracted! And there are a number of things that could be distracting you tonight. Maybe there’s a sin in your life. Maybe there’s something you won’t let go of that’s keeping you separated from God. Or maybe it’s not that you’re preoccupied with sin, but you’ve got a totally different agenda on your mind. Maybe it’s a girlfriend, or entertainment, or the quest for popularity. Maybe you’re so worried about being Mr. Somebody that you don’t even realize that God is trying to speak.
In order for you to hear God clearly, you have to get rid of distractions in your life. You have to be so tuned in to WGOD that no interference can cut in at all. Have you ever been listening to the radio and this really hoppin’ song comes on and you’re grooving to the music, and then you hear this static and somebody’s voice or another awful song coming through for just a second or two. That’s interference. It could possibly mean that you’re out of range. That you’ve moved too far away from the source. Well, if you’re experiencing interference while trying to hear from God, it could be that you’ve moved farther away from the source. So, to get rid of the interference, cut out the distractions, drop what you’re doing and draw near to God.
How? How do I draw near to God? How do I get my holy headphones on and hear his voice?
Well, ONE, we learn more about Him and what He wants. How? Study His letter to us. Find out what He says about us and agree with Him. He would never talk to us and contradict His word. TWO, we practice listening. Practice makes perfect, right? When we study God’s word, ask ourselves, what could God be trying to tell me through this? When we pray, we have got to have a time of reflection where we "Be still, and know that He is God."(Psalms 46:10)
The closer you get to the Shepherd, the louder His voice will be.