Are You Tuned In To Hear God?

In 1 Samuel Chapter 3, the prophet Samuel was about 12 years old. Hannah had given her son back to the Lord at about the age of 2, leaving him to be raised in the tabernacle at Shiloh as she had promised God. After 10 years growing up under the elderly chief priest Eli, God called Samuel. Samuel at first thought it was Eli calling him, but Eli realized it was God’s voice. Eli gave Samuel great advice, and anyone trying to serve God could benefit from following it too.

When God speaks, in any way, we should simply respond with these same words: “Speak, for Your servant hears.” “But,” you say, “God doesn’t speak to me that clearly.” No, He doesn’t speak that clearly to most of us. He usually speaks through other people and His Word, the Scriptures. So when we read something that strikes a chord in our hearts or we hear someone speak of God and it seems to be “speaking directly to us,” we should whisper this silent pray as Eli suggested.

There is a great old story about learning how to listen. A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square, during the noon lunch hour. The streets were filled with people, cars were honking, taxicabs were squealing around corners, and sirens were wailing; the sounds of the city were almost deafening.

The Native American suddenly said, “I hear a cricket.” His friend exclaimed, “What? You must be crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all this noise!” The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big, cement container in which was a plant. He looked into the bushes and sure enough located a small cricket. His friend was amazed. “That’s incredible. You must have super-human ears!”

“No,” said the Native American. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.” “But that can’t be!” said his friend. “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.” “Here, let me show you,” he replied. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. With the noise of the crowded street still blaring, every head within 20 feet turned to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs. “See what I mean?” asked the Native American. “It all depends on what you’re listening for.”

If we are tuned in to hear God, we can hear Him speak in spite of all the distracting things around us.                                                                                                    (PASTOR ED REA)

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The Extravagant Samaritan

“But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him.” — LUKE 10:33-34

When I think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, the first word that comes to mind is “extravagance.” The Good Samaritan gave extravagantly—much more than just giving the man some loose change; loose change was not his need at that moment. He desperately needed community, somebody to treat him justly, as a person created and loved by God.

And then there’s the priest and the Levite. Like them, we are busy with our religious lives, determined to reach our established goals, worried about the bottom line. We can become easily upset if we are inconvenienced, be it a traffic jam or a drunken man asking us for loose change.

One charity had a rather touching commercial on TV recently. After displaying the plight of various groups, they pleaded with the viewer to “Join in the struggle for justice” just by sending in a donation. It seems to me that the priest and the Levite would have been quite self-righteous about sending in their donations.

I see this as a pretty serious problem within the Church. We can ease our conscience by giving a donation, but then we walk right past the homeless woman on the street without even a thought of concern or compassion. We justify ourselves by our so-called “sacrificial donation.” Having done that, we are then free (or so we think) to do whatever we want in terms of self-centred pursuits. But pity the poor guy who might interrupt us in that pursuit. The Good Samaritan gave extravagantly. How do you give?


1. How can we “join in the struggle for justice”? How can we do so without feeling self-righteous?

2. If you were to become a neighbour “to the one who had fallen into the hands robbers” (LUKE 10: 36) what would that look like? What are some first steps you could take as a family or as a church?          (DOUG WIEBE)

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Worship The Lord Your God

We live in a culture which is increasingly self-centered. Media is driving a constant change in self-identity among young people. Pseudo-celebrities live indulgent and bizarre lives in Reality TV shows. Dating and marriage are trivialized in others. On television, people compete in cutthroat competition where deception and betrayal can ensure success – not just in a game, but in the potential for a celebrity life afterward.

Our youth is being indoctrinated into the cult of self. George Drinka notes that “hours spent with any attractive and appealing ‘friend’ on TV or the movies of the Internet influences the child’s moral development, just as hours spent every day with a good tennis coach strengthens the child’s tennis game.”

As people created in the image of God, we were made for something else. We were made to worship the Lord of Heaven and Earth. It’s not just a command; it’s what we were designed to do. All the cultures of the earth, back to the very beginning, have offered some idol to stand in place of devotion to God (! Chron. 16:12-16: Rom. 1:22-23). In our culture, the greatest idol is ourselves – our desire to focus on our lives as the greatest good. But there is a greater good. There is One who is good, who deserves the entire devotion of our hearts and lives. This is what worship is – devotion to God in the way we liven(Rom. 12:1) and the expression of our hearts and voices (1 Chron. 16:8-11)

In Revelation 7, John witnesses a scene of a coming day when the souls of those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ gather together at the throne. People of every culture, ethnicity, language, and nation. From their mouths come praise and worship for the Lamb who was slain. I will be one of those people. John was given a glimpse of an event where I will be a participant, one day. And you also, if you are numbered among those who have put their trust in Christ. This is a moment we were created for. It is the purpose of our existence.

A life which is focused on self, or any other idol, is a life lived in contradiction to that day. It is a life in contradiction to the purpose for which it was made. And if we do not fulfil the purpose for which we were created, we cannot have the lives we were meant to have. The cult of self, the cult of celebrity, the cult of materialism – these are false paths to fulfilment in life. If you want to experience the full life you were created to have, practice the purpose for which you were made. Worship the Lord your God, today, as you will then. With all your heart, your mind, and soul. Don’t let anything distract you from what really matters. Offer yourself completely to Him.

Picture yourself on that coming day. That’ the destiny toward which you are heading. I will meet you there.                                                (MICHAEL CRANFORD)

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The Dangers Of Parenting Like Eli

Our children’s behaviour doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it affects others. And a child’s delinquency can sometimes be matched by the delinquency of their parents. Take for example, Old Testament priest Eli. He had two delinquent sons who not only hurt a family, but caused untold damage to a community and nation. In 1 Samuel 3:13 God speaks to Samuel about the parenting of Eli…I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. The result of Eli’s poor parenting was not just trouble in Eli’s home, but the loss of a war in which 30,000 men died and who knows how many families grieved.

Eli knew about the sinful behaviour of his children and did nothing about it. And he is no model of godliness either. In fact Eli grew fat on ill-gotten gains from his children. Perhaps that is why he never restrained them. He enjoyed what his children could offer him, more than cherishing the protection of God for his family and society. I think some fathers standing on the sidelines of their sons’ football games could learn from this as they try to live out their dreams vicariously through their children. But the thing to note is that unrestrained behaviour does not teach wisdom. Rather it allows for a growth in foolishness which at heart has no fear of God…”Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:12)

As parents we must be active and vigilant in the correction and restraint of our children. No parent wants to hear what Eli heard about his children “it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:25)

A message for young people:  Children ought not kick out against mum and dad’s discipline and restraint. If you are a young person reading this and struggle with your parents’ discipline, spare a thought for mum and dad. They know the consequences of your actions could ruin you and others.  They also have the maturity to know their accountability to God for the way they raise you. Parents have a tough job – their love for their children and community means they will often act in ways that children may hate them for.

But the truth is – every time a child wishes their parents were more like other parents, who lets their children do anything, that child has wished for a parent like Eli. But Eli was a parent who allowed his children to self destruct and be condemned by God. He was a parent who allowed for untold hurt to be visited upon an entire community.

Honour God before your kids:  Eli made one big mistake in parenting which you pick up in a question asked of him by God “Why do you honour your sons more than me…” 1 Samuel 2:29. Whenever a parent honours their children more than God, the potential for ruining their children is heightened. In fact whenever God is not first in any aspect of life, our lives will suffer. If this can happen in the family of a priest in Israel, one might wonder if the most concealed idolatry in the Christian church today could be the idolatry of our children. Heaven forbid that we have to learn that “it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.”   (RICK LEWERS)

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That’s So Last Century: Is The Bible Still Relevant Today?

The Bible is kind of a big deal. But reading it can be tough. There’s parts that go down nice and easy, verses that offer up practical wisdom on doing life. And there’s other parts that are just beautiful to read – we’re talking about the Psalms!

We can get down with the motivational bits right? The kind of verses you’d see on a meme or can stick on your Pinterest wall. But then there’s some seriously challenging parts of the Bible; some bits that are just outright confusing, and entire verses that are just lists of names or places.

So how is all this stuff that happened thousands of years ago relevant to our lives now?

The people that wrote the Bible never had to deal with half the stuff we do today. No snapchat, Facebook or Instagram – in fact forget about social media altogether. And the internet? Non-existent (can you imagine!?). These people would never have seen a jumbo jet, experienced global warming, or had to worry about nuclear bombs.

A rather clever chap, Peter Enns, puts it like this: “The Bible is not a Christian owner’s manual but a story–a diverse story of God and how His people have connected with him over the centuries, in changing circumstances and situations.”

Now that sounds more relatable, right?

Admittedly there’s a bit of a gap in time, culture, geography and language for our 21stCentury understanding. But what we love about the Bible is that it’s full of stories about people, people who had hopes, dreams, and a whole heap of flaws and questions – just like us. Struggling to understand God, life, happiness and pain, all that stuff that we sometimes squash down in our deepest being. It’s an age-old ache. And us humans have never really gotten to the bottom of it.

When we read the Bible we get this amazing insight into what life with God has looked like throughout history. We see His compassion, kindness, greatness, largeness, mercy, justice and unfailing love is unwavering, even when us humans least deserve it. He is constant from beginning to end. Most importantly, we see our role in God’s Kingdom, and how our lives are jam-packed with purpose and meaning!                            (EMMA BORQUAYE)

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Maintaining Your Freedom

It was for freedom that Christ has set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1)

The American Revolutionary War against Great Britain was a hard-fought battle; and many lives were lost in order to ensure the freedom of the United States of America. There is always a price to pay for freedom, and the moment we take our freedom for granted, we run the risk of losing it.

Freedom in Christ from our sinful nature and the god of this world is the inheritance of every believer. Christ has set you free through His victory over sin and death on the cross. But if you have lost a measure of your freedom because you have failed to stand firm in the faith or you have disobeyed God, it is your responsibility to do whatever is necessary to maintain a right relationship with God. Your eternal destiny is not at stake; you are secure in Christ. But your daily victory in Him will be tenuous at best if you fail to assume your responsibility to maintain your freedom in Christ.

Remember: you are not the helpless victim of a tug-of-war between two nearly equal heavenly superpowers. Compared to Satan’s limited attributes God is immeasurable in His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience – and you are united with Him! Sometimes the reality of sin and the presence of evil may seem more real than the reality and presence of God, but that’s part of Satan’s deception. He is a defeated foe, and we are in Christ the eternal Victor. That’s why we worship God: to keep His divine attributes constantly before us in order to counter Satan’s lies. A true knowledge of God and our concept of God and the misplaced deification of Satan are the greatest contributors to mental illness.

Are you walking in freedom today?

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Entrusting Children To God: Lessons Of Biblical Motherhood From Hannah

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD. (1 Samuel 1:27-28). These are Hannah’s words as she brings her young son, Samuel, to Eli the priest and leaves him there to be raised in the temple. Hannah knew the anguish of being a barren Jewish woman. She wanted nothing more than a son. She poured out her soul to the Lord and He gave her a son. She named him Samuel meaning, “heard of God.” He was her delight, her gift. So how could Hannah have the faith to trust God with Samuel? How can any parent?

1.Hannah knew God and knew His character. When we read her prayers in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, we hear her heart. She knows Him as Lord, as God Almighty, as the giver of all gifts. She worships Him, knowing who He is and who she is in His presence.

2.Hannah seeks God honestly and humbly in prayer. Her prayers are fervent; nothing is left unsaid. She describes her prayer as pouring out her soul in grief and great anguish. And when she is finished praying, she leaves in peace.

3.Hannah demonstrates her faith through obedience, even when it means an extreme personal sacrifice. She has longed for this child, and she loves him as only a mother can love a child. But her love for God is greater and she shows it by letting go of Samuel.

4.Hannah trusts God and that His plan for Samuel is better than her way or her plan. She may not understand it but she trusted it. Through her life she had learned to wait on the Lord and trust in His sovereignty.

5.Hannah praises God in all circumstances. The 2nd chapter is her prayer right after leaving her son. How must she have felt on that trip back home without him? And yet, we hear her say, “My heart exults and triumphs in the Lord; my strength is lifted up in the Lord … There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You; there is no rock like our God.”

When Hannah took her 3-year-old son to the temple to entrust him to God, she could have never known God’s plan for Samuel. The Scripture says, “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and let none of his words fall to the ground … And Samuel’s word came to all Israel” (1 Samuel 3:19). God used Samuel to change a nation – a nation! Samuel had a great faith and was an obedient servant. He first saw faith lived out through his mother as she taught him not only through her words but more importantly, through her obedient action of letting him go.                                                                          (JANE ANN CROWSON)

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Strength In Our Resistence

Satan is active. We don’t have to look far to see the results of his dirty work. Marriages breaking up, rise in sexual perversions, pornography, ant-Christian bias, racism, riots, greed, injustice, poverty. You must not let down your guard for even a little bit for Satan will take opportunities and eat away at them. Many Christians give in to the temptations and as a result affect their faith and others.

Simple flirting quickly turn into affair, innocent borrowing of a little cash quickly escalates into stealing. A little distortion of the truth so as not to embarrass oneself soon becomes a series of outright lying. A little pick me up with some drug soon captivates our desires for more. Some times to relieve tension can easily guild into focusing more and more of our attentions on hobbies, pleasures, and materialism that sucks away on spiritual discipline and growth.

Satan is full of deceit. He is a liar. He is deadly seeking to devour anyone he can just like a lion in sheep’s clothing. If he can fill you with pride he’ll do it. If he can fill you with low-self esteem to keep you from using your gifts he’ll do it. If he can keep you preoccupied with unimportant things he’ll do it.

There are times when the evil one will smack us in the face with adversity and outright temptation, but more cunningly he attacks while we are asleep spiritually, not dependent, not praying, not seeking God’s will for today. We cannot stand on yesterday’s victories.

What can we do to utilize the power and protection of the Lord? There is strength given by God if we really want it and are ready to do what we can to resist temptation when it comes our way. We cannot always live on an emotional high, but spiritual growth is a walk of faith regardless of our emotional ups and downs. It is obeying God in good times and bad times.

This is why we are instructed to be sober, or self-controlled. We must have our minds under control. How we are thinking makes a difference as to our protection against Satan whose job it is to destroy you and me. We must be vigilant and always on guard. His strategy is to counterfeit whatever God does. According to the Parable of the Tares, wherever God plants a true Christian, Satan seeks to plant a counterfeit. He could deceive us were it not for the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The better we know God’s Word, the keener our spiritual senses will be to detect Satan at work.

The Biblical way to protect ourselves is to resist him. Take our stand on the Word of God and refuse to be moved. Our weapons are the Bible, prayer, and the armor of God. Stand firm believing God, not your emotions. With a steadfast determination trust Him and follow Him and believe Him, for Satan will do everything he can in his power to cause you to fall, fail, and quit. God will give you a way out and strength to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)


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