The Restored Orchard

Magnifying God’s Voice

Happy Friday Restored Orchard Family!

The past few Fridays I have been on somewhat of a hiatus, but we are back and ready to continue growing. For about 3 weeks prior to the break, we had been discussing how to hear from God and how to know when he is speaking to you and what he is saying. I pray that this has been a blessing for you and that you have been able to more clearly hear the voice of God in your life. Today I want to touch one final topic. In the past weeks we have looked at a more internal approach to hearing God. As a matter of fact, in the second week we discussed tuning out the noise that surrounds you. But this week there is an external aspect that is important in your communication with God. This of course, comes in the form of our community specifically as it pertains to our spouse, friends and pastors. The community you surround yourself with is vital in what you can hear. A couple weeks ago we used the example of a farmer and his seed and the importance of the quality of the soil that you sow into to as it pertains to the growth that you see. Even more basic than that, is WHAT you sow. You can’t plant apples and expect a banana tree to sprout. In that same way, what you sow into and what is sown into you is what will harvest. If your friends like to gossip that becomes static, and if your spouse is argumentative, that becomes static, and if your pastor is self-serving meaning they preach what fits their narrative rather than what God is speaking, that is probably the most literal form of static as it pertains to hearing directly from God. It is up to us, again to tune our ear to know what is healthy for our relationship with God.

This week I want to look at 1 Samuel chapter 3. Some back story is that Samuel’s mother Hannah was barren and for the longest, lived in shame because she couldn’t have a child. She prayed to God that if he gave her a child, she would give him back to the Lord. God of course, heard her and blessed her with a son and about the time that she weened him, she took him to the temple to live there and serve there. As we approach chapter 3, Samuel is living in the temple and serving Eli. One night while Samuel is sleeping, he hears a voice call his name. He, thinking it is the only other human there with him, rushes to Eli and asks did Eli call him. Eli sends him back saying that it wasn’t him and for him to go back to bed. This happens two more times but on the third time Eli realizes that it must be God calling Samuel. Eli gives Samuel the instructions that if he is called again, to respond with “speak, your servant is listening”. From that moment on, Samuel had his own connection to hear from God and his relationship grew immensely with God. For the benefit of brevity, I will let you all read that chapter yourselves, but I urge you to do so to see how Samuel’s life changed when he became tuned into what God wanted to say to him. For today though, I want to look at Eli’s role in this situation.

Eli was the priest. Although Eli was a righteous man, his sons were evil. They literally stole from God. They would take right from the burnt offerings before they were finished. In this time the priests could eat the meat of the offerings after they are accepted by God, but Eli’s sons would send a servant with a pitchfork to steal the offering before it was finished. Why is this important? This caused a curse to come on Eli’s lineage. The blessing that he had of being part of the tribe of Levi and having the promise of his family always being the priests was getting ready to be snuffed out and God speaking directly to Samuel was the first act of Eli being replaced. Even still, Eli directs Samuel on how to speak to God. The question I would pose today is does your community strengthen your connection with God? I heard a comment recently that “everybody that came with you, can’t go with you” simply saying that as we grow, we sometimes have to shed weight and if those in your circle aren’t headed in the same direction as you, then they begin to weigh you down. I don’t want this to seem like I am saying to cut your friends off, but the reality is that if the things they are saying to you and wanting you to do and pulling you towards is in direct conflict with what God has for your life, then you are ultimately allowing a distraction that can create a wedge in the connection between you and God. You have your own flesh to contend with without someone else’s helping to make your choices harder. And while this is a slight tangent from where I was going, the reality is, in this passage of scripture, Eli had the opportunity to discipline his sons and that would have changed the outcome of what eventually happened. Instead, he let their actions destroy the blessing that was on his lineage and ultimately it caused all three of their deaths.

Eli was in an interesting position within this story because on one hand he was so in tune with Gods voice that he heard him directly and even taught Samuel how to respond but he, himself, didn’t heed the warnings that were given to him by that same voice. What if Eli would have responded the way he told Samuel to? God was already speaking but Eli wasn’t listening. Your community is extremely important, they can either push you towards what God has for your life or they can be a distraction. Eli just happened to be sandwiched between these two realities. This week I urge you to look at the connections in your life, do they magnify or minimize the voice of God in your life?

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