Friday, September 14, 2012

Speak Your Servant is Listening!!!

Psalm 106:40-48
40 Therefore the Lord was angry with his people
and abhorred his inheritance.
41 He gave them into the hands of the nations,
and their foes ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them
and subjected them to their power.
43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were bent on rebellion
and they wasted away in their sin.
44 Yet he took note of their distress
when he heard their cry;
45 for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented.
46 He caused all who held them captive
to show them mercy.
47 Save us, Lord our God,
and gather us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
48 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord.

Reflection: Here again we see the goodness of God, despite the rebellion and ramblings of His people. When they strayed, He allowed them to be judged by their enemies, but with the heart to bring them back into His stead. And yet, if they were willing to repent and turn back to Him, He was always quick to forgive and remember His covenant that He made with Abraham. Note the psalm begins and ends with Hallelujah, which means “Praise the Lord”. Despite our failings and God’s discipline because of it, we come back to the bedrock of our relationship with Him which is marked by prayer and praise!

1 Samuel 3,4
The Lord Calls Samuel

3 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

Reflection: Here we have the wonderful recounting of the call of the boy Samuel to be a prophet in Israel, thus beginning an era of prophetic ministry. As it said, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare.” What a sad reflection on that era, and it was due in part to the infidelity of Eli and his sons in the ministration of the temple as the appointed priests. Samuel was from the priestly line too, but God saw fit and saw in his heart, a man who could correctly handle and deliver His word. Samuel’s first prophecy was to Eli regarding the downfall of him and his sons due to their unfaithfulness. You could only imagine how hard this must have been for young Samuel to deliver this word to his mentor and elder. It would be like a young intern at a church telling the Senior Pastor of many years that his ministry was going ripped away from him. To Eli’s credit he accepts the words and submits to it. As Samuel grows in ministry, we see that his ministry grows in relationship to his faithfulness and obedience to it. God was renewing His people through this faithful young man who heard God’s call and responded, “Speak for your servant is listening!” May that be our response as we hear God’s call on our lives!

Luke 24:13-27
On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Reflection: Here we see a resurrection account this unique to Luke. In academic circles we call this “Lucan”. We see Jesus appearing to two of the disciples, but disguising himself so as to allow them to come to the conclusion of who He is and what He had told them earlier had come true. He could have obviously revealed himself to them right away, but chose to understand what their perception was first. Because they have heard of the women’s report about the empty tomb, they are curious but still far from convinced. Notice it is helpful to hear other’s stories of Jesus, but there is nothing like experiencing His grace and goodness personally. Importantly, as Jesus opens up the Scriptures (which at that time was the Law/Pentateuch/1st Five Books of the OT and the Prophets) and begins to show them that all the Scriptures point to Him.

As they begin to see Christ in the center of all Scripture their eyes begin to be opened as to the fact that the Messiah is right in front of them. As Christians today, we have the advantage of reading the Old Testament with the knowledge that all of the Old Testament points to Christ, the gospels give witness to the Good News of His life, death and resurrection, and then the rest of the bible is the Church’s proclamation of who Jesus is in word and deed. Makes sense doesn’t it! This is why it is so important to continue to study the Old Testament, as it reveals Jesus and helps us to relate to those who don’t yet know Jesus is the Messiah.

Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Psalm 85:9,10

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish. 2 Peter 3:14

You are our salvation, righteousness and peace, O Christ. While we await your coming, fulfill in us your holiness so others may see and know that you are God. The time is now for faith and a holy fear that binds us resolutely to you. O spotless Lamb, take away the sin in us as you have taken away the sin of the world. Amen.

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