Sermon Ideas For 1 Samuel 3:1-10; Part 2
Ours is a fast paced, technologically advanced age. We live in a world of hard drives, gigabytes, and modems. The technology and the science behind it blurs by at such a frightening pace that even the brightest and best among us still become a bit light headed as we try to take it all in. The world races by leaving many to feel inadequate and even outdated.
The call of Samuel can be a word of great hope, affirmation, and encouragement to all those of our society, especially the senior adult population, which are often made to feel unwanted, ill equipped, and left behind. The call of Samuel affirms the importance of old age in God's redemptive plan. First, it offers the concept of inclusion. Senior Adults are important to God and they have a place both in God's Kingdom and work. In 1 Samuel 3:3-10, it is "old man" Eli who possesses the discernment needed to hear the voice of God calling. It is his wise counsel that facilitates young Samuel's call to ministry. It clearly points to the great worth and value of "seasoned" and mature Christians. Eli stands as a symbol of wisdom, discernment, and leadership. In God's plan, the wisdom of old age is joined to the exuberance and strength of youth. God harnesses both to achieve God's will.
Second, the call of Samuel points and reminds the reader of the long and slow process of acquiring wisdom. Wisdom is always gleaned from experience. It is through our "life experience" combined with our exercise of faith that we grow and develop as Christians. While simply growing older does not necessarily equate with growing in wisdom, it is impossible to become truly wise apart from the lessons that life and experience offer. Eli's counsel should serve as a reminder that the contribution and wisdom of old age must never be discounted nor ignored.
This passage also speaks concerning God's call to ministry. Knowing and doing the will of God for our lives can be a very difficult and soul searching endeavor. Many struggle with knowing what God is doing and how individuals are to respond. Trying to discern a call to ministry can be met with many of the same frustrations. Often those called into ministry experience a lack of clarity in their calling from God. Many feel that God is speaking, yet they are faced with uncertainty concerning the details of the journey. It is important to realize however that the lack of clarity is never from God's perspective, but rather from that of the hearer. God's call is always a strong, persistent voice. Just as young Samuel heard repeatedly the call of God, those who seek God's leadership and voice will discover its clarity and consistency. Though we as hearers may be slow to respond at times, God will continue to call, faithfully and patiently.
Discerning the call of God always demands a step of faith. We must echo the words of Samuel by saying, "Speak, for your servant is listening" even when the way is unclear and the path uncertain. It is as we give God our undivided attention and declare to God our willingness to be both led and taught that we will discover a clarity of call and defined sense of purpose. If we are the people of faith that we claim to be, it is our faith that will lead us to respond, knowing that God's will is our ultimate goal. Implied in these words is the truth that God's will can be known and God's purpose in our lives can be accomplished. As we seek, God speaks.
In terms of God's call, this passage also speaks of the importance of a spiritual environment to aid in spiritual development. One of the real barriers facing many would-be hearers is the lack of a proper atmosphere conducive to growth. Young Samuel was in a place where he could hear the call of God. It is as he serves Eli, the priest of God, while in the Temple of God, that he hears God's voice. It was a place conducive to God's voice.
To be sure, not all of the revelations of God must come within the walls and boundaries of a church. God speaks in many ways and in many places. But more than physical location, the mental and emotional state of the hearer is crucial. Samuel was able to receive the call of God because the focus of his life centered on doing God's will. It is as we prepare our hearts in purity and focus our minds spiritually that we best discern the voice of God calling to us.
Such a thought flies in the face of our busy lives. Not only are our schedules over packed, but our very souls are stretched to their limits between too many conflicting influences. As we filter the distractions and eliminate the static, we best position ourselves for readiness when God chooses to speak. Our place of worship can be found in any place and in every place if our hearts have been made ready to hear from God. The truth of God's Word remains constant..."Be still and know that I am God."
Jon R. Roebuck