Scripture: So Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and it shall be that if He calls you, you shall say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening,” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Then the LORD came and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” (1 Sam. 3:9-10 Amp. Bible).
THE BOOK OF HEBREWS BEGINS WITH THIS ANNOUNCEMENT,
“GOD, WHO at sundry times and divers manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets. Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).
God is not limited in communicating. God spoke to the ancients in many ways, sometimes by dreams and visions, sometimes by divine influence and revelation. God’s message is also spoken through angels.
Here are a few examples of divine manifestations given in the Bible. Mary, the mother of Jesus, received a message from God delivered by the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:28). Jacob (Israel) wrestled with an angel demanding his blessing (Gen. 32:22-31). God spoke to Moses through a burning bush (Ex. 3:2-3). The burning bush was a supernatural phenomenon. The bush was on fire, but the flames didn’t consume the bush. So likewise, God is described as a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29).
1 Kings 19:12 tells us that God spoke in a still small voice. God can communicate through a whirlwind. His voice thunders in marvelous ways (Job 37:5). He announces His presence by earthquakes (Ex. 19:18). At times God speaks audibly, He speaks through his written Word, and his voice never contradicts his Word. Most graciously, God speaks through His Son Jesus Christ, Who is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). The more we read the Word of God, the better our discernment of God’s voice becomes.
The enemy is a master at deception, manipulation, and distractions (1 Peter 5:8). Therefore, we must learn to discern God’s Word by casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and Christians are endowed with His presence. It is by Him that we can discern all matters.
As a child, I had a friend whose family were members of a popular gospel group. Every Sunday morning, they were on TV, on the only channel that hosted Gospel music at that time. One day, my friend and I talked, and she shared something that she thought I should know. She warned me that if I heard someone call my name and I was at home alone, not to answer. I was shocked by the warning; however, I believed her because of her family’s religious background. Keep in mind that children can be impressed by people in the limelight at this tender age. Unfortunately, I lacked good judgment at that age, and I had no knowledge of spiritual things.
In Samuel’s story, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, made a vow to the LORD, saying if He would look upon her and remember her and give her a son, she would dedicate the child to him all the days of his life (1 Samuel 1:11).
In Chapter 2:11, Samuel was dedicated to the LORD, and he was serving in the LORD house, ministered unto the Lord before Eli the Priest. The Lord called Samuel on three separate occasions, but Samuel thought Eli called him.
After the third call, Eli realized that God was calling Samuel. So he told Samuel, the next time you hear the voice of the LORD, say, “Speak LORD; for thy servant hears.” The LORD came and called Samuel again, “Samuel, Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for thy servant hears.”
Though Samuel lived in the house of the LORD, he didn’t know the voice of the LORD, not until Eli told him the LORD called him.
Testimony #2 – My First Call / Home Alone in the Wilderness
One day, I was at home alone. I was in my bedroom, doing my homework. Adjacent to my bedroom was my brothers’ bedroom and in their bedroom was a dark closet that had no light. My brothers and I heard noises from the closet before, so we believed a ghost was there. On this particular day, I was anxiously waiting for one of my siblings to come home from school. I was afraid because I believed something unsavory was hiding in that closet.
Suddenly I heard a voice call my name, but I didn’t answer because my friend warned me not to answer. So, I ran down the stairs and out the front door; I sat on the front stoop, waiting until someone came home. I don’t remember which of my siblings came home first, but I remember my sibling asking me why I was waiting on the porch?
I never told anyone about that day, but I still wonder what would have happened if I answered the call instead of running away.
Years later, after reading Samuel’s story, I understood why he dwelt in the LORD’s house, but why didn’t he recognize the LORD’s voice? Why did he think Eli was calling him? He lived with Eli every day, it was Eli’s assignment to educate Samuel on spiritual things. It wasn’t until after Eli realized the LORD was calling Samuel that he told him how to respond to the call.
Like Samuel, I didn’t know the LORD’s voice. I didn’t realize that the enemy used my friend to sow seeds of fear in me when she told me not to answer the call. That wasn’t the LORD’s voice speaking from my friend’s mouth.
*The PLACE, The TIMING, and DISCERNMENT
As I pondered the matter, I asked myself was it the place of the call? The time of the call or discerning the call?
I believe that the place, the timing, and discernment are vital in recognizing the LORD’s voice. Where you are mentally, and spiritually have a place before the call is answered. There should be a level of spiritual awareness, meaning you are spiritually and mentally aware of the caller before answering the call.
*Born with a Purpose (Exodus Chapters 1-2 / Background history)
The Hebrew people were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. At the end of this time, God began to set His people free from their bondage. *Moses just happened to be born at the time when Ramses II was the Pharaoh of Egypt. He gave orders to the midwives to kill the male Hebrew children at birth to control the Hebrew population. The midwives refused to comply with Pharaoh’s plan (Ex. 1:8-19).
Moses’ mother, Jochebed hid him for 3 months, and when she could no longer hide him, she made an ark of bulrushes and daubed it with slime and with pitch. She placed Moses in the ark and set it at the brink of the Nile River (Ex. 2:2-3).
Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, accompanied by her maids. She saw a basket floating down the Nile River as they were walking, so sent the maids to retrieve the basket. She found Moses inside and she knew that he was the son of a Hebrew; she wondered who he belonged to. Eventually, she adopted him and raised him in the Royal Court as the Prince of Egypt (Ex. 2:5-6). *The women just happened to be at the right place, at the right time to preserve and protect Moses, just as the ark made of bulrushes was designed to do.
Time passed and one day Moses being grown went out to see his brethren. He saw their burdens and he also saw an Egyptian taskmaster beating his brethren, a Hebrew slave. He became angry and got into a fight with the taskmaster and killed him. Then he buried him in the sand. News of the murder got back to Pharaoh, and he sought to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Egypt to the Land of Midian (Ex. 2:10-15). He remained in the desert for forty years.
The Backside of the Desert (Exodus Chapter 3)
Scripture tells us that Moses kept Jethro’s flock (his father-in-law), and he led the flock to the backside of the desert; there the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush. The bush was on fire. However, it wasn’t like Moses hadn’t seen bushes on fire before, nor was it unusual for bushes to catch fire in a scorching hot desert. But it was unusual to see a bush that didn’t burn completely as was expected. So, Moses decided to take a closer look at this phenomenon. At this point, the LORD had his undivided attention, and He revealed Himself. *Moses was at the right place, at the right time to discern the matter.
THE CALL / GOD THE REVEALER OF SECRETS
God called Moses out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, “HERE AM I,” and God introduced Himself saying, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God (Exodus 3:6-7).
THEN THE LORD SAID, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows. And I come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land.”
MOSES THE DELIVERER
Moses was chosen by God to deliver His people. Where was Moses? In the desert, which is a quiet, lonely place. The only voice came out of a burning bush; there were no other distractions. The call was designed to meet a specific purpose orchestrated by God.
GOD CONTINUED TO REVEAL HIMSELF IN OTHER WAYS
Testimony #3 – The Final Call
As I matured, God’s call came to me again by way of two dreams. In the first dream, I saw myself entering a strange house. As I approached the doorway, I saw a group of people behind me and I wondered who they were. I felt like they were following me. I crossed the threshold, and suddenly these same people were behind me. After I woke up I realized the dream was prophetic, and this left me with many unanswered questions. The dream stayed on my mind for a while mainly because I didn’t understand it.
The second dream was a continuation of the first dream. I entered a room located on the very top floor of a building. The room was fairly large in size and was surrounded by windows which gave the room a bright and airy feel. Inside the room were several long tables with a comparable number of chairs per table. There were people in the room already, sitting and conversing.
With my Bible in hand and I took a set at one of the tables. Shortly after setting down, someone who sat behind me got up and place a symbolic cloth on the back of my chair. I felt that the cloth was placed on the back of my seat to differentiated me from the rest. It was as though I had been chosen for some reason. At that moment I was baffled, and it made me feel odd.
After waking from the dream, I knew that I had to put the two dreams in proper perspective in order to discern the matter. The Place, the timing, and the people started to connect in my mind as I looked at the complete picture from the proper perspective. I was chosen, represented by a cloth on the back of my chair as I arrived at the place and sat down. The people were there and others were coming. I was chosen to be a teacher. Though God didn’t speak verbally to me, He got my attention through the dreams, it was the vehicle that he used. After realizing this I immediately acknowledged my calling and I accepted my assignment. I was chosen by the Master and He qualified me to be a teacher in His Kingdom. Since that day I haven’t had another dream pertaining to my assignment. The cloth on my chair represented a mantle. I thank God for the new garment and the mantle.
I received the answer to my question, yes, it’s vital that we are in the right place, at the right time, and have a level of discernment.
Were apt to hear his voice when we spend time alone reading, studying, and meditating on his Word. The more time we spend with God, the easier it becomes to recognize His voice. We should be intentional in listening, with a desire to hear the LORD’s voice. There should also be a readiness to attend to whenever the LORD speaks. As it was with Samuel, the call may be repeated until the call is answered.
The main point here is that we were chosen by God. So, whatever the assignment, when you’re called, trust God as your leader. Know and believe that the assignment comes with the necessary equipment. The Anointing! You may not feel adequate to fulfill the call, however sometimes we have to grow into the calling, and it may take time. Trust God despite what you see and what you don’t see or understand. God has the final say and His plan never fails. Your calling is pre-destined. Learn to discern the presence of the LORD and listen for his voice.
PLEASE NOTE: None of the photos belong to JeanieShepardMinistries; Burning Bush Photo via Pinterest