June 24, 2011 Devotion Time

Submitted by Wilson Fong, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 3:1-10

What is the relationship between “[knowing] the Lord” and the “word of the Lord?”

The Word of the Lord is the vehicle by which people come to know the Lord.  Indeed, there are other ways to know the Lord, whether by observing creation (Romans 1) or searching their own conscience (Romans 2). However, the main way is through the revelation of God’s Word, and because Samuel did not have the word of the Lord revealed to him, he did not have a personal intimate knowledge of God and his will.  That is why when God called him, he could not discern his voice.

Am I growing in my intimacy with the LORD through His word?

While I am still growing in my rote Bible knowledge (what is actually contained in these 66 books), I am also growing in my appreciation of God’s Word, seeking God’s heart through its pages.  The more I reveal the word of the Lord to the people I am ministering to, the more I understand the heart of God and his loving desires and intentions for his people.

Reflect on the words: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  How frequently and sincerely do I bring this kind of attitude to God’s word?

As I have made it my practice to pray, “Speak to me, Lord, and open my heart to what You have to say to me,” before I even read the DT passage, I want to be personally addressed each day.  And not only with DT, I also want to be addressed when my wife or my leader or a fellow brother/sister brings a word from God to me.  I want to have that spirit of openness and approachability because I value my relationship with God and with people.

1 Samuel 3:11-14

God holds Eli responsible for “the sin he knew about” that his sons were committing.  In what ways does this challenge the prevailing notion that I am only responsible for myself?

That God holds Eli responsible for the sins he knew about – namely, the wicked deeds his sons had been committing – and for failing to restrain them shows me that I am responsible not only for myself but also for the people I have been entrusted with.  This is a disquieting reality, a very burdening fact that I need to embrace each day.  It is clear to me that I am responsible for my children, but not only for their physical welfare but also for their character development and spiritual health.  While it is clear with my children, I need to feel the daily pressure of the precious people God has entrusted me with.  God tells me that I am a watchman who needs to sound the warning trumpet when trouble looms in the horizon (Ezekiel 33), and that as a leader, I must give an account before God for the people I have been shepherding and disicpling (Hebrews 13).

There were specific facts that made Eli directly responsible for his sons’ sins.  Under what circumstances am I called to be responsible—if not directly, at least indirectly–for another’s sins, and what are some ways in which I can bear this responsibility?

I am called to be responsible for another person’s sins when I know about what they are doing and am convicted that it is wrong but remain silent and passive.  God calls me to see to it that none of my brothers has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God and is hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3), and if I do not speak truth against them, then I am committing a sin of omission, preferring to remain comfortable than to agitate the status quo and risk our relationship.  But that is utter selfishness, not wanting to take ownership of the people in my life.

1 Samuel 3:15-18

How might Samuel have felt after he heard God’s pronouncement of judgment upon Eli’s family?

I imagine Samuel feeling terrified and burdened by the news of God’s judgment upon Eli’s family.  First, God spoke with words of finality (“The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering…”).  This ominous pronouncement showed that God meant business, showing God to be a God of wrathful justice and holy indignation.  Second, God was referring to people that Samuel himself was close to and familiar with – Eli, who practically raised him.

Are there some situations where I am tempted to hold back from telling the truth?

I am tempted to hold back from telling the truth when the truth has to do with people’s sins, character flaws, and relational issues, and when the intended audience are people I am close to and don’t want to jeopardize our relationship.  Whether it is bringing up an issue with my wife, disciplining my children, or correcting a student, I am tempted to say nothing and let the whole thing pass.

Reflect on Eli’s passivity regarding his sons and now God’s impending judgment.  Are there ways in which I am passive about my relationship with God and with others in a similar way?

One way in which I am passive with people is that after I give a word of instruction and correction to one of my students, I tell myself that I fulfilled my responsibility and that they heard what they needed to hear.  However, there is no vigorous follow-through, thinking of ways for them to apply what I told them to their lives or practical steps for them to take to grow.  I simply leave them to figure things out on their own.  Not only is this poor leadership lacking in wisdom, but it is also extremely passive and lazy.  The justification I give myself is that I do not want to be overbearing and micro-managing, but what ends up happening is that they are floundering, having to figure things out on their own, and ultimately they do not change at all – and I get frustrated.  If I take their relationship with God and their discipleship seriously, then I need to be involved in their lives with love and care and wisdom – especially as they have given me the trust to properly lead them.

 

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