Every now and then God speaks to us in really profound and exciting ways. He calls us to do new things or realign ourselves with his ways. Last week I was spending some time with God and reflecting on Acts 5; the disciples obedience, courage and boldness as they set about filling Jerusalem full of teaching about Jesus. I was struck by how much of a difference it made to the city. I was thinking about how great that would be to see in Woking - a town filled with Jesus. And I was thinking' 'how can we do this, how do we set about filling a town with Jesus'? And as I reflected on it I was drawn back to the disciples initial instructions from Jesus in Acts where Jesus tells them to wait in order to proclaim what they had heard him speak about.
It then dawned on me that if we are to achieve anything for Jesus we have to wait on Him, we have to listen to Him, we have to know what he is telling us to do. Jesus only ever did what he saw the Father doing - is that the way we live? I don't know. But as I was reflecting on these things I felt God saying 'I want to raise up a new generation, a generation who will fill towns with my teaching, who will be brave and courageous in their faith. They will be a generation of people like Samuel the prophet. They will speak my truth and lead many to me because they first and foremost listen to me.'.
So as I read Samuel's story I felt God saying so much to me about how we should live out our faith. We need to be a generation of people who listen to God. Who seek Him, who know Him and who have an intimacy with God that leads them to action. It says that Samuel served in the temple - our call is to serve God, not in the temple because we are the temple as God has placed His Spirit in each of us, but we are to serve in the world, in our actions in the encounters we have with people. We are to listen to God to hear what he has to say, then speak and act prophetically and with love. This generation will be one that has their hearts set on listening, they will not settle for rumours of God's words only for the very words of God. They will learn and grow from the Bible as they pray and seek God. Their prayer life will not be full of requests instead it will be a prayer life (life, being the operative word) that waits on God for his instruction. God will use this generation to make the ears of people tingle. He will do a new thing with this generation as they listen and obey him. This generation will be a model for years to come as they reveal how to live in the world as Christians, demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus in an authentic and relevant way. They will not fear people - only God - and God will not let their words and actions be wasted. They will be a generation set on saying "speak God your servant is listening".
I reckon this message applies to us. It says in verse 7 'now Samuel did not yet know the Lord' but he had been serving in God's temple for a while. Maybe that is the same for us. We know about God but don't know God. We have been around the church a while but not developed that listening, intimate relationship with God. Perhaps that is something we need to respond to, something we need to change.
Maybe too our ears are blocked. We can't hear properly because we are too busy, or too hurried or simply just don't listen and assume that we know what God wants us to do. Here the response is to find time to be in God's presence. Set that as our priority. God wants to use this generation to do a new thing, to make people's ears tingle. But we need to listen first.
Also we have to learn what God's voice sounds like. It took Samuel four attempts to get it right. Maybe we mistake God's voice or even ignore it. Maybe we have to let God make our decisions for us.
I don't know if any of these apply to you. But I feel that God is saying to us that he would like us to be this generation. I feel that God wants us to listen to him before we act, to listen to him while we act, and to listen to Him after we've acted. Wait on the Lord, be brave and courageous, then wait on the Lord -Psalm 27:14. We can be this generation. If this word is from God then we need to listen and respond to it, if it is from men then it will fail. I encourage you to test it. To start waiting on God, to start a life of listening to Jesus...