Speak, For Your Servant Hears

Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  22:43
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We are reminded that God graciously pursues us with His call to grace. We are reminded to listen for God's call.

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Hearing Voices

My parents used to have a house phone. They paid Windstream for really slow internet and for a phone that sat on the counter. I can even still remember the old phone number for that phone, 478-987-6983. Don’t call that number, it’s not my parents’ anymore - they don’t pay for a home phone anymore. But when I was in college, I would call the home phone all the time instead of their cell phones. And I did that for two reasons. First, because my mom is the queen of putting her phone on vibrate and leaving it in her purse, so getting her to pick up is really hit and miss, but the home phone rang out loud every time so it got picked up much more often. Second reason was I didn’t actually have to pick who to call, three of my brothers still lived at home with Mom and Dad and when I called the home phone I got a random family member so I got to keep up with everybody. Which was great, for the most part.
But it turns out that my brothers sound really similar on the phone, so sometimes I’d call and Andrew would say “hello” and I’d reply “hey Nathan!” Or I’d call and Caleb would pick up and say “hello” and I’d reply “hey Andrew!” And sometimes they wouldn’t correct me, they’d just keep going letting me think I was talking to someone else. And my little brother Nathan, he’d pick up the home phone and sometimes Mom’s cell phone and say “hello, this is Mom.” That was admittedly easier to recognize, because Nathan does not sound like my mom.
All of this is to say, without caller ID, sometimes it can be a little tricky figuring out who the call is coming from. And it’s kinda funny when we’re talking about my brothers acting like they’re someone different, but it becomes a lot less funny when we think about the different calls we receive from God. If we make a major life decision about our career, our education, our family, our relationships - the big decisions in life, sometimes it can be hard to tell God’s voice apart from our own self-centered voice or all the other voices around us. In our reading, even Samuel confuses the voice of God for something else two times before he figures it out. And a lot of times, we let those other voices make guide our decisions more than God’s voice does - our desire for comfort, our egos, cultural pressure, our lust, our greed all speak loudly in our ears.

Missing the Call

And why is that? Because if we were convinced that our Almighty God was calling us one way, surely we would listen to that voice. I mean, one easy reason would be that we are sinners. We want to do the right thing, but we fail time and time again. That’s what we confess together every week. But I think that’s too broad, too general of an explanation to be helpful at all.
I think a big part of this issue is that we struggle to recognize God’s voice, God’s call. I mean, it’s hard to recognize someone’s voice when you don’t engage with them regularly. Barna research group found that only 27% of American adults read or listen to the Bible more than just once a week. If our time together is the only time during the week that you hear or read the Word of God, it’s going to be harder to recognize His voice than if you read your Bible every night. So part of the problem is that we aren’t equipping ourselves to recognize His voice.
Another related, big part of this is that we aren’t attached to God. Remember what I said about my mom and her cell phone earlier? She puts it on vibrate and sticks it in her purse, so when she gets a call she doesn’t alway pick up. When I asked her for permission to use her as an example for this message, she said “that’s fine, I’m not attached to my phone.” It can be the same thing with God, if you have a big decision to make - whether that’s about your job or a relationship or a school or a career or about your identity - don’t put God on silent and throw Him in your purse. We have this mind boggling tendency to set away from church, from our community, from reading God’s word, from prayer when we’re facing a big decision, and that’s a lot like putting your phone on silent when you’re expecting an important call. Why on earth would you do that?

Persistence Like a Car Warranty

And God uses all these different things to patiently reach out to us, to call to us when we have decisions to make. I love the story of Samuel as an example of this. God calls out to Samuel and he totally misses it, running to serve Eli instead. So God calls out to Samuel again, and Samuel goes running to Eli again. Eli realizes what’s going on and cues Samuel in, and when God calls out to him again he finally answers “speak, for your servant hears.” God is patient and persistent in His call to Samuel. He uses His Word and He uses Eli - Samuel’s mentor to reach Samuel, and He doesn’t give up on Samuel because he missed the first call. God is willing to go to His people again and again and again in different ways until they hear His voice, until they hear His call.

A Call to Grace

And the good news for us is that God is still that same God who called to Samuel three separate times. The same God who spoke to different people in different ways to reach them with His voice. He spoke through the burning bush to Moses, He spoke in the quiet voice to Elijah, He called out to Samuel, He sent a whale to get the point across to Jonah, and the list goes on.
That’s the same God who calls us to faith. The Holy Spirit comes to us in the Bible to call us to faith. He works through the different pastors and youth leaders and elders you’ve had in your life to call you to faith. He works through the friends you’ve made here, the coaches who do devotion and prayer with you, the community groups you’re a part of, and all of the other faithful influences in your life to call you to faith. What’s more than that, sometimes the Holy Spirit works in a way we can’t explain, a nagging feeling or a sense of intuition you just can’t shake that calls you to faith. All of this to call you to faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, who took all of our sins on Himself, who suffered the wrath of God for us, who experienced death for us, and who rose from the grave to show us that our debt had been paid in full.

A Call into Vocation

So our challenge going forward, is to listen to His call. You’ve heard and obeyed the call to faith, the Spirit has done that much in your hearts and minds. But God doesn’t just leave us there, He calls us into different vocations in our lives. He calls us into careers, into relationships, into hobbies, into behaviors, into habits for His glory and for our good. So we listen to God’s call, and I’m going to challenge you to work to listen to His voice this week.
If you don’t read your Bible at all, I want you to download a Bible app or go out and buy a Bible - start reading a little bit every day.
If you aren’t part of a community group that meets around God’s Word on a weekly basis, get involved, make that commitment of an hour or two a week, send me a message and we’ll get you plugged in.
If you don’t follow Edgewater through the week, start engaging with some of our content - probably not all of it, because there’s a ton - but listen to the daily video devotions for 5 minutes a day, read the written devotion that gets posted occasionally, go back and listen to the sermon again, or subscribe to the weekly podcast. Even just follow us on Facebook where Donnie posts a couple of verses every day. I mean, just go to edgewaterlutheran.org and pick something from the ‘Grow’ tab to get going on.
And if you’ve heard that list and you’re thinking either A) I already do all of that or B) none of that sounds like it’s for me, talk to me about the Faith Formation program or the Mission Training Center.
I’m serious about this, especially if you’re facing difficult decisions right now. I want each and every one of us (I’m included in this) to take a step further in the next 7 days! Get into the habit of listening for God’s voice, because He’s calling to you. Amen.
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