Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.
May the peace of Christ be with you, today.
Eleven days until Hamilton, if the show goes on.
Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please check out his beautiful photography at the link provided.
What I really need to work on this year, is staying focused. I am so easily distracted, and I don’t think I’m alone. Our culture is driving us in that direction. We had a discussion in our house church, last Sunday, about our attention spans, and how short they tend to be now. For a good indicator of that, see how long TV commercials are, now (if you even still watch them . . . almost everything we watch is on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, now).
But I’ve been up since about 7:30, and still have not managed to start my devotional. I will say that I have listened to a Bible reading and done some praying, though, so there’s that.
It was nice being at the library, last night. I like all of my roles at the library, but Tuesday evening may be my favorite. That’s when I do shelving for four hours. It’s nice, because I’m by myself, either sorting books or media in a back room, and then pretty much alone in the stacks as I re-shelve the material. It’s quiet, and there’s a lot of time to ponder things. Plus I am always discovering new books I want to read or new movies/TV shows that I want to see. My “Want to Read” list on Goodreads has grown quite a bit, since I started this gig.
What’s on the agenda for today? I think I may have to make an in-person grocery trip. There are a few things we need, and Albertson’s doesn’t have them all. And Walmart Neighborhood Market doesn’t have any pickup times available today. Between being short-staffed, and people doing more pickups because of Omicron spread, they are being beat up pretty badly, these days.
I also plan to get on the treadmill at some point, today. I’ve been planning that all week, though, and it hasn’t happened, yet.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for beautiful music, with which I can praise God, both in listening and in playing/singing 2. for the faithfulness of the Lord and His promises 3. for water, water to drink, water in oceans and lakes and rivers and waterfalls 4. that, even when I mistake or simply don't hear the "voice" of God, He keeps calling me (1 Samuel 3) 5. for the clear call of God for us to love one another, because "love is from God" (1 John 4:7)
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own 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, and he said, "Here I am!" and ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. And the LORD called again, "Samuel!" and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." 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 your servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears." And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. (1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20 ESV)
There’s a lot I could say about this passage, this morning. So much that my mind is kind of whirling around with all the thoughts. So I’m trying to focus on something. I’ll point out a couple of things.
First is the usage of the phrase, “not yet.” It occurs thrice in the passage. It first occurs in verse 3, where it says, “the lamp of God had not yet gone out.” This may be nothing more than a literal statement that a physical lamp was still burning that night. But I’m leaning toward reading more into that, considering the statement in verse 1 that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days.” That, in itself, displays the inadequacy of Eli and his “ministry,” and we find out, later, that his sons were pretty skeezy characters.
Nevertheless, there was still opportunity for God’s Word, because His “lamp” had not yet gone out.
The other usages both occur in verse 7. “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”
I mean, we don’t know how old Samuel was, at this point . . . no real clue. But how long had he been “ministering” with Eli, and he still did not know about God or His Word?? So Samuel is totally not to blame for not recognizing God’s voice, at this point.
Samuel mistakes God’s voice for Eli three times before Eli figures out what’s going on. Finally, Eli tells Samue what to do, Samuel does it, and the rest is history. He becomes one of the most famous prophets ever to exist in Israel.
How can we apply these things to ourselves, in our day and culture? First of all, I know about God and His Word. So I don’t have Samuel’s excuse when I don’t here His voice, or mistake His voice for someone/something else. There is so much “noise” in our world, today. Much of it is literal noise. This is why the disciplines of silence and solitude are so important. But they are also very neglected. I know I don’t practice them very often. And, truthfully, while it is difficult to find a place to practice those, I could go sit in a chair in my back yard, next to the pool and have “relative” silence. Sure there is noise, but there’s no coherent noise. And I could be alone for a while, assuming S doesn’t come out and bother me.
I know that I have felt/heard things in my spirit before, and wondered if that was God’s “voice” or just my own brain coming up with something. But I need to do better at knowing His voice and acting on it.
Second, we can learn something from Samuel, here. Obviously, he is still a child, more than likely pre-adolescent. And we have the teachings of Jesus that speak of us receiving the Kingdom “like a child.” Samuel was quick to obey, and when he finally understood what was happening, he did exactly what Eli (bless his heart) told him to do.
“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”
That’s my lesson for today. When I hear the voice of God (whether literal or figurative), that needs to be my response.
“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (Matthew 25:35 ESV)
He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." (Luke 14:12-14 ESV)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:22-27 ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7 ESV)
Father, as I walk through this world, in Your Kingdom, engaging with people and situations, I pray for the child-like faith of Samuel, to be able to jump up and say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears,” whenever I hear Your voice. I do not believe I have ever heard Your voice, audibly, but I do believe that I have heard Your Spirit speak to me many times. Sadly, some of those times, I did not heed, and suffered for it. Oh, I did not necessarily “suffer,” in a physical way. Sometimes, it was in a spiritual sense. I have one instance in mind, over thirty years ago. My spiritual growth suffered because I did not do what I felt You telling me to do.
Father, Your lamp has not yet gone out in our world, in our land. Truthfully, I don’t believe it will. And Your Word is prevalent in our land, at least in this country. That doesn’t mean we are paying attention to it, though. Help me to be more aware of Your Word, and help me to
find make time to practice silence and solitude so that I can meditate on and contemplate You and Your Word. My initial tendency is to feel overwhelmed and think that I don’t have enough time for all of this. But, truthfully, I have lots of time. I’m just not using it very wisely, sometimes. I pray for wisdom in that regard, as well.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalms 145:18 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.