Knowing and Honouring The Lord 1Sam 1-8

1Samuel 2:26 RSV
Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and with men.

1Samuel 3:7 RSV
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

After coming to the Lord in an intimate way I realized that many people in the church weren’t like me. They were sincerely trying to be good Christians, but didn’t know the Lord. The Lord revealed Himself to me before I ever tried to be a good Christian”. I walked with Him in my early years as a Christian. It didn’t stay that way forever. In my ministry training years I lost a connection with the Lord. I wanted to be good Christian” and to fulfill my calling. Failure after failure convinced me that this route was utterly futile. Eventually I turned began to trust in the Lord to make me what He wanted me to be.

Ever since that time I really never knew what to the think of those in the Church who didn’t know the Lord. I’ve noticed a few commonalities in those that know the Lord today and those that new Him in the scriptures.

The Lord reveals Himself to who He wants when He wants. He is sovereign and cannot be manipulated or invoked by people.

There are things we do that make it difficult or impossible for the Lord to reveal Himself to us. If we harden our heart against Him, like the Egyptians in the book of Exodus we will not see or hear Him. Like the time of the Exodus the Lord may be doing great works around us, but if are hardened will not see them for what they are worth.

There are we things we can do that make ourselves much more available to receiving form the Lord. Many parables, like the pearl of great price, or the lost coin, illustrate the inward desire to find the Lord. This effort cannot be a selfish effort. The lost coin you seek must not be ministry or religious success. It must be God! When we seek the Lord for ourselves we cut ourselves off from His mighty power.

Samuel grew in stature and favour with the Lord and men even though he didn’t know the Lord or the word of the Lord. He followed the Lord and made himself available to Him. But he didn’t know the Lord yet. This is a very interesting point. It’s comforting in that the Lord uses and blesses those that have yet to come to know Him. It’s also challenging because it says to many Christians You have found favour in my eyes, now come and know Me intimately. There is much more you have to discover.”

In the story of 1 Samuel the Israelites went to battle the philistines and lost. The second time they were to battle they took along the Ark of the Covenant hoping that the strength of the Lord would go with them. They were utterly defeated and the Ark was captured.
After some supernatural persuasion the Philistines sent the Ark back.

Samuel addressed the nation of Israel. He said If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ash’taroth from among you, and direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Even though the people of Israel were His, the Lord would not give them victory over the Philistines, worshippers of Dagon. They tried to invoke His power by bringing the Ark. That didn’t work either. The Lord made sure nothing happened to his Ark, but Israel was embarrassed.

I believe the reason why we walk in such a limited amount of power is we refuse to serve the Lord only. We don’t know the Lord because our motivations for knowing Him come from our own selfishness. It may be our desire to lead a great church, or have a powerful ministry, or some other religious success. The Lord will refuse to endow us with power unless we stop worshipping our other gods and serve the Lord only.

The current priest Eli raised Samuel. Eli had sons Hophni and Phinehas who served as priests as well. The Lord and the people were very upset with these priests because they took the choicest parts of the meat offerings for themselves, and sacrificed the rest to God. They were serving the Lord, but they took just a little bit for themselves.
In the end the Lord punished the entire family and the blessings destined for them were given to Samuel. The Lord endured Eli’s sons, but only for so long. It’s kind of odd the Lord says that those that honour him will be honoured but those that despise Him will be lightly esteemed. I believe many of our ministries are lightly esteemed” because we honour ourselves before we honour God. God didn’t punish the family right away, but it did come.

Notice that Hophni and Phinehas’s actions are equated with despising the Lord. They didn’t despise God in bitterness and rebellion. They just didn’t offer God the respect that He was due. (They also slept with the some of the women that hung around the tabernacle.)

This story parallels much of what is happening in worship today. Worship is a very big deal. Worship materials and music have become significant part of the Christian music and book industry. Worship itself has become an object of worship, an idol. If we continue to split our devotion between the Lord, and ourselves eventually our ministries will suffer the same fate as Hophni and Phinehas.

My friend Scott was in the midst of a spiritual darkness when he wrote a bible school essay on motivations for ministry. In his study he came to the conclusion that there were two things that motivated people in scripture. They did things for God because of who He is and what He has done. This truth shattered one piece of his religion. It was a first major step in growing to know the Lord. It is a truth that the Lord imparted to me through him.

Regardless of our doctrine or denomination, if we do things because of who God is or what He has done, it will bear fruit. When we seek to honour God, God honours us. I believe this is why so many of us with all our faults and distorted doctrine can recognize the fruit of the Lord in our midst. We see the Lord work when we seek to serve Him only. It is also why we see so many ministries become fruitless, or lightly esteemed”.

These are some of the things I learned from the first 8 or so chapters of 1Samuel. I’m kind of a Paul” man and don’t often foray in to the Old Testament but this trip was worth it! I believe the most challenging aspect of this is the absolute necessity of knowing the Lord. We can all be like little Samuel, growing in stature and in honour. In a sense we can be Christians all of our lives faithfully serving the Lord without really knowing Him. This isn’t the ideal. This isn’t what God wants. God wants to reveal Himself to us. God wants us to know, fear, honour, love and trust Him. We can stay where it is safe and simply serve, but our inheritance, our precious gift is that we can know Him. Lets be like Samuel and say Yes Lord, what would you like from me!”.

Grace and Peace to you!

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