Page 127 was the first Sunday of the month so I was up early to spend time with God continuing to refine the sermon I would share this morning. I continued the “Living as the Lord’s Servant” series I’ve been working on and today was a look at the life of Samuel. I know it is God and His Spirit that carry me through each time I preach, yet this morning I was more acutely aware of that as it had been a rather restless night. While it seemed like I slept well for at least part of the night, I know I was up numerous times as my heart, mind, and spirit were full of concern and prayers.
The message I shared this morning from the life of Samuel was “The Lord’s Servant Shares Words of TRUTH:
- Trouble: Many times we avoid sharing words of trouble because people don’t like hearing them. We would much rather keep temporary peace than warn of the trouble that comes from a life that continually disobeys God. When God revealed to Samuel the trouble that He was about to bring on the house of Eli because of the disregard Eli’s sons had shown for God and His people, Samuel was afraid to share that news with Eli. Yet because he was a servant of the Lord, he shared truth even when that truth included news of trouble. We do no one a favor when we avoid sharing truth because it includes news of trouble.
- Respect: Our words of truth are always more effective when they are filled with words of respect. Even when Samuel found it necessary to share words of trouble, he did so with respect — both respect for God and for those he was speaking to. Samuel’s words conveyed to his hearers a respect for their ability to return to God. He spoke truth in a way that believed that God could change any heart that inclined itself to His Word. Our ability to speak effective truth hinges on our willingness to speak with respect. When we believe that God can transform anyone who turns to Him, we are more likely to speak truth to them with the respect that we ought to have.
- Understanding: Our words of truth must also be filled with an understanding that we can only receive from God. During Samuel’s lifetime of serving the Lord, the people of Israel decided they needed to be like all the nations around them and have a king to rule over them. As a leader that God was using to speak His truth to the people, Samuel took the nation’s demand for a king as a personal rejection of him. God helped Samuel to understand that He was the one being rejected, not Samuel. Knowing the truth helped Samuel speak to the people with an understanding that was able to explain fully what would happen if they continued pursuing something that was not good for them. It is very easy to get our feelings hurt which makes it tempting to speak without understanding. Truth, however, is shared when we seek understanding before speaking.
- Trust: Speaking words of truth requires trust. It begins with trusting that God desires to speak His truth to us and through us. It continues into our being trustworthy in the eyes of those we have opportunity to speak to. We can know more truth than anyone else but if no one trusts us, our words will generally fall on deaf ears. As Samuel prepares to deliver words of truth to the people of Israel, he reminds them of the integrity that he lived with as he served them. In this reminder, he calls them to stand as witnesses to how he treated everyone with fairness. As the people agreed with Samuel, a level of trust continued to grow which allowed the seeds of truth to be not only spoken, but heard. The old saying, “they won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”, is all about building trust so that the words of truth you speak have value.
- Honor: Words of truth are also words which are filled with honor. Truth honors God and it honors those we speak to. Samuel was faced with a choice of honor as Israel was confronted with their sin and rejection of God. When the realization of what they had done in demanding a king and rejecting God, the people asked Samuel to pray for them. While many of us may have pulled out the old phrase, “you made your bed, you lie in it”, Samuel lived and spoke with honor as his response not only indicated his willingness to pray but also that it would be a sin not to. We speak with honor when we choose to not write anyone off as unreachable. Our honor ought to compel us to pray even for those who reject and mistreat us. Our words are filled with honor when we offer the hope of God to the people who need it most.
After the church service we stopped by the hospital to see my mom. Dad was there with her as well as a number of my family members. Mom was looking a lot better and her improvement was also reflected in dad’s appearance. By this evening, it sounds like the doctors have settled on a plan to install a pacemaker to keep the heart rate from crashing as it had yesterday.
With the day being full, I took no new pictures. So, today’s photo is one that was in my Facebook memories feed from four years ago today. It reminded me of the peace that God offers to those who put their hope and trust in Him.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- God promises to supply our every need but we often have a very different idea of what we need compared to what He knows we need.
- Preaching the Word is an incredible responsibility. I don’t know how it could ever be done as it should be without fully seeking God in every aspect of preparation and delivery.
- Speaking the truth as a servant of the Lord involves more than just speaking true words. It involves speaking from a heart that is fully surrendered to God.
- Hope has a way of improving the way we look and feel.
- God’s peace and hope is His gift to all who would receive it.