1 Samuel 3:7-10 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, Speak, LORD, for thy servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came and stood forth, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for thy servant hears."
There are some things that are so common we forget that they need to be taught. For example, sportsmanship – I was taught that it was not whether you win or loose, but how you play the game. Why, because of you were a good sport, people would enjoy your company. So it is necessary to learn how to be a gracious victor, and also to be gracious in defeat. It seems that somewhere along the way we lost this, perhaps we need to return to teaching it.
Here’s why – because we have adopted a value that winning is everything, people are apply this rule to everything. Could it be that conversation didn’t die because of TV, but because people tired of talking with others who were out simply to score the most points? Could it be that the reason why so many people seek counseling, is because we have lost the ability to listen? If we are so busy figuring out what we are going to say next, how can we listen? And most of what counseling is, is someone paid to listen, someone who is paid to be a friend – it’s a sad state of affairs.
For example, when I ask children what is prayer? The answer is almost always, talking with God – and if it were not for our win at all costs mentality, it would be a good answer – but these days we need to perhaps teach that prayer is conversation with God. And because God is Our Father, God talks first, and we listen – and then, after we have listened, we speak. Yes, that brings up something else we need to teach, the art of polite conversation – where we wait our turn, and where we don’t interrupt someone else how was already speaking. It may be just good manners, but these things need to be taught.
Our lesson give us a good example of the need to teach our children. Samuel was brought to the house of the Lord as a young boy, this is different that just going to church – Samuel was there every day – and somehow, although he was in the house of the Lord, he was not taught about the Lord, how to recognize him, or how to answer when he calls. So when the word of the Lord came to Samuel, Samuel did not know it was the Lord, and did not know how to respond. And so he went to his teacher, Eli – 3 times he went, before Eli recognized that this must be a call from God, and told the boy how to respond.
But there is something more here, that just a need to teach our children – many people report that they just don’t hear God throughout the week – many think that they need to do all sorts of extraordinary things to learn God’s will – but it all begins with a very simple, stop talking, and listen. I’m not talking about sitting in silence, and certainly not talking about emptying your mind – I am talking about the kind of listening you can do when you are reading the Word of God. Reading with the simple question – what is it saying to me? No – this does not mean that the Bible is open to everyone’s own interpretation – rather the Word of God is living, and some part of it will grab our attention, as it speaks to our situation. Once you have your mind filled with a thought from God, then you can think about it for a while, examine it, turn it on every side – and then after you have considered what God has said, then you can respond. That’s what prayer is really about.
Sometimes people ask, how can I know if something is from God – usually it has to do with a dream, although on occasion someone has seen something in the clouds, or has heard a voice – so how can you know if something is from God? Simple, check it against God’s Word, the Bible. God will not contradict himself or change what he has written. And the best thing is that God has already told us that everything we need both for salvation, and also for training in Christian living has already been written, and can be found in the Bible,
Lets not let the Word of the Lord be rare in our house, nor let it be infrequently be heard – for the word of God is a light to our feet and a lamp to our path – it shows us the way of salvation by grace through faith in Christ – it brings us the promise of the forgiveness of sins, and everlasting life. It is of such great value that we carry it with us everywhere.