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::Devotional:: ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’

July 10, 2009

Who owns these tattered pages?

As we travel on the journey of the Christian life, many of us will pass landmarks that so many others have seen before us.  These common landmarks might appear in the form of an often asked question, a difficult principle or precept finally understood, or perhaps even an experience of God in the midst of grief.  Whatever form it takes on, the landmark still represents a pivotal point in our walk with God where we either chose to turn towards him or turned away.  Today I’d like to share a landmark with you that I’ve encountered in the form of an often asked question; “How can I hear God speak to me?”

When Samuel was just a young boy, perhaps only around 12 years old, we read in 1 Samuel that God came to him and spoke, calling out his name.  Unfortunately, Samuel was growing up in a period of Israel’s history where they weren’t very close to God and as a result God didn’t often reveal himself to them, so he wasn’t familiar with God’s voice.  Let’s look at some more verse from Samuel.

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli.  In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.  One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was laying down in his usual place.  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.  Then the Lord called Samuel.  Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  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. 1 Samuel 3:1-5 NIV

As you read on in this chapter, this exchange happens two more times to Samuel and Eli.  Finally Eli realizes that God is in fact calling Samuel’s name and gives him some specific instructions on how to respond.

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.  Then the Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  And the Lord said to Samuel… 1 Samuel 3:10 NIV

Samuel obviously heard God speaking to him but at first did not recognize his voice and did not listen.  As we seek the answer to the question “How can I hear God speak to me” we want to make certain we have done our best to prepare to hear and listen to him.  We don’t want to confuse God’s voice with anything else and be led in the wrong direction; away from God rather than towards him.

Preparing To Hear

When it comes to preparing to hear from God I believe we have to make sure we are in the right position before anything else.  First and foremost, the Bible says the we must be saved in order to hear from God.  “He who belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”  John 8:47  The Bible contains some very difficult verses to comprehend; fortunately this is not one of them.  We need to make sure we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and committed ourselves to following him before we ever try to hear from him.  Not because it just seems like a logical step but because the Bible promises us that if we do not belong to God we   hear him speak.  Perhaps, the only thing a person who does not know or belong to God will hear from God is one simple word – “Come”.

If we do belong to God and we anticipate hearing from him we have to make sure we are tuned in.  Our Bible is the single most important tool God has given us to tune in.  He has spoken in it and continues to speak through it.  It is the standard by which we are to evaluate every other aspect of our life as a Christian.  We need to make sure we tune into God through His word every day.

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16 NIV

I spent several years in youth ministry and during that time one of my passions was to kindle a passion for God’s word in each student.  One student approached me after a youth meeting one night and said “you are always telling us to read more and more and more and more….how much do we have to read.”  My response then is no different than my response now, more.  God has laid so much there before us to experience, we must tune in if we want to hear from Him.

Preparing To Listen

When God called out to Samuel the third time, Samuel was prepared to listen.  Notice his response:

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 NIV

As I studied through some of the words in this verse I found myself in the depth of the word “listening” here in this passage.  Strong’s Concordance says that this word “listening” in Hebrew means to hear, listen to, obey.  This was not the kind of listening we do when someone is talking to us and we’re watching something on TV.  This is a listening with an intent to obey.  The Message translates it as “Speak.  I’m your servant, ready to listen.”

When we come to God, prepared to hear, are we prepared to listen?  Are we ready to obey?  If we can get our perspective right on the situation and realize that each and every time we read God’s word He is speaking to us, whether it feels like it or not, then I think we can begin to understand that his words are not idle and there is something for us to take away in obedience each time.  If we will enter into the situation from that perspective, we will come to God just as Samuel did – ready to listen.

May I encourage you to take some time today, because nobody can make more for you, and go to God’s word prepared to hear and prepared to listen?  Address God as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Friends if you will do that, I believe whole heartedly that God will speak to you and you will no longer have to ask the question “How can I hear God speak to me?”

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-


****Story Behind The Tattered Pages****

As I searched the internet for a photo to accompany this post I came across this vivid depiction of someone who has lived a life of saying “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” as evidenced in the tattered pages of this Bible.  In reading further on the website about this photo I learned more about the owner. “It belonged to a toothless, homeless man whom the photographer claimed was the happiest man he ever met. Those are the pages of a man after God’s own heart, a man fervent to know God, all that He is and all that He has done.” You can read the full post at The Prayground.

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