Listen – God is Calling!

1 Samuel 3:1-21


Samuel’s Calling and Prophetic Activity

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God,[b] and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”
15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” 17 Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”
19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

There are many, many stories about people who hear God’s call to do something special. We hear of one such story today. From the Old Testament we heard about the little boy, Samuel. Remember that his mother, Hannah, had prayed in the temple that if God would give her a child, she would dedicate that child to God. God answered her prayer and gave her a son. When Samuel was still quite young, she took him to the temple to assist Eli, the aging temple priest.


Little Samuel was fast asleep one night, and he heard a voice calling him. He thought it was old blind Eli calling for help. But it was not. This happened three times, and by the fourth time, he realized that this voice came from God. Samuel was still a little boy, but God was about to use him to carry out his work and we know what a significant role he played in choosing the first two kings for Israel – Saul and David.


So, what about you? Do you consider yourself called? Where does God call you, and what is God calling YOU to do? 


In many churches people experience a “disconnect” between the world of faith and their vocational callings. We tend to speak of work done in the church or for the church as “sacred.” Work not directly associated with the church is often referred to as “secular.” This ought not to be. We need to help people connect Sunday to Monday.


“Vocation” is the Latin word for “calling.” In Luther’s day the word “vocation” or “calling” had become associated almost exclusively with religious activities. It was common to think that if you really heard the “call” of God you did something that supposedly brought you closer to God. You withdrew from the world, entered some cloister, and devoted yourself to a life of study and prayer. Parental responsibilities, household duties, manual labor and all other types of occupations were at the bottom of the ladder. They weren’t even on the ladder; they counted for nothing. Luther completely reversed this way of thinking.


Luther’s new understanding of “calling” came from his rediscovery of the Gospel. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ and not by doing good works for God. Good works have no role in gaining our salvation or in drawing us closer to God. Christ does it all. He graciously forgives our sins, gives us the faith to so believe. Through that faith, God gives us life and salvation.


What then is the role of good works? If they count for nothing with respect to our salvation or drawing closer to God, why do them? Because our neighbor needs them. God doesn’t need our good works.


And where do we serve our neighbors? We serve them in our “callings.” Luther removed “vocation” or “calling” from the religious realm where it applied only to the few and declared that ALL Christians already had “vocations” or “callings” right where they are:
How is it possible that you are not called? You have always been in some state or station; you have always been a husband or a wife, or boy or girl, or servant…. Are you a husband, and you think you have not enough to do in that sphere to govern your wife, children, domestics, and property so that all may be obedient to God and you do no one any harm? Yea, if you had five heads and ten hands, even then you would be too weak for your task, so that you would never dare to think of making a pilgrimage or doing any kind of saintly work.

WHERE does God call you? Right where you are!


Excerpts from a sermon by Bob Ericson, Trinity Lutheran Church, Watertown, MN: “Where Am I Called?”


Let Us Pray

Almighty God, tune our ears to hear your calling, and empower us to do what you have equipped us to do – loving your Son and serving our neighbor. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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