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Established May 2009, Little Rock, AR

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The Voice. Sermon by: LaVante Pettigrew

October 22, 2017

The Voice Scripture

1 Samuel 3:1-19 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 

Samuel’s Calling and Prophetic Activity
3 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.

2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3 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. 4 Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!”[a] and he said, “Here I am!” 5 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. 6 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.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 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. 9 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.

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Message

Good morning. The scripture which we read this morning speaks about a very crucial time in the life of a young boy named Samuel. Of course, most of you who are gathered here today know this story but for the benefit of those who will watch the recording of today’s message and are not familiar with it, allow me to give you a brief summary.

This story begins with an elder of the church, if you will, called Eli and a young boy named Samuel. At this stage of the game, preaching and the prophetic word became scarce and rare, which made its occurrence that much more precious, that much more treasured. Samuel does not yet know the Lord. and Eli is beginning to show the signs of his age, as the text records for us that his eyesight had begun to diminish. At this point Samuel is laying in his bed and he hears the voice of God calling “ Samuel, Samuel” He runs to Eli and Eli says “I didn’t call you go lay down” This happens a second time and Eli once again says “I did not call you go lay down” Around the third time, Eli in his wisdom, recognizes that God is calling the boy. He says to Samuel, “Go lay down and if you hear the voice again say “Speak Lord, for Your servant Heareth.” And the Lord proceeded to tell Samuel everything that was to come.

And thus ends the story.

We live in a world where everything is trying to get our attention. Imagine you are in a classroom and a ruckus breaks out in the class and the teacher wraps her pencil on a board or on her desk and she says “I need your undivided attention.” We live in a day and age that to give anyone even partial attention at any given time is a miracle. And the issue with this is that it becomes hard to hear and discern the voice of God. Some of the voices though are ones we need. When you were about to do something you knew you shouldn’t have done thank God there was the voice of your momma saying I taught you better than that. Thank God for the voice of your father that said son that’s not how I trained you.

But I want to ask you about some of the other voices. When they say” you’re just like your daddy, and your daddy wasn’t nothing so you not gonna be nothing” Who’s voice is that? When the voice says “you should just throw in the towel and wave the white flag of surrender” Who’s voice is that?

The crux of the issue is that Samuel got God’s voice confused with Eli’s voice and that’s a dangerous place when you get the voice of the providential confused with the voice of a man. I know that sometimes you won’t bowl down everyone’s alley when you preach but I need to find

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out what going on between your ears. Who’s voice are you listening to? We live in a time where the voice of the subconscious and the talking heads can be so prevalent and so influential but as powerful as these voice are, and as moving as these voices may sound, I’m here to tell you they still ain’t God. You see because men choose but God decides. It reminds me of a baseball game I went to a few years ago. The pitcher pitched the ball and the batter hit it and the pitcher picked it up and ran to first base and it was a close play. When he ran to first base the runner said “I/m safe” the first baseman said “You’re out.” The runner said “I’m safe” the first baseman said “You’re out.” The runner said “I’m safe.” The first baseman said “You’re out” Then the umpire showed up. And he said “He ain’t nothin till I call it. And I need you to understand that it doesn’t matter what the world says about you. They might say you’re bad, they might say you’re slow, they might say you’re dumb, they might say you’re ignorant but I’m here to tell you that men choose but God decides. If God says I’m blessed I’m blessed. If God says I’m saved, I’m saved. If God says I’m good, I’m good. Many of you can testify that you ain’t nothin’ till God calls it.

I remember the story of a preacher (who shall remain nameless). He was in worship and the spirit was just so high. People were passing out, falling out, crying, screaming, what have you, the whole 9 yards. There was a church mother who had been going to his church for some time and she had been gravely ill for a while. Well he proceeds to say that he could hear God speaking. The Spirit was so strong that he could just hear something. And so he tells her in front of the congregation, “Mother, God says you ain’t gonna die.” He said, “I feel it in my spirit that God says you’re gonna live.” Well at the funeral, he had to explain why what he thought God said did not come to pass. And let me clue you in on something. You need to be careful when you invoke the name of God in something you verbalize. You better check to make sure you’re absolutely certain when you put something on the lips of the all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing God.

In fact, you will know better what God actually said by what God didn’t say. See there are some things that you think God is speaking and if you just step out on it without first checking to see if what you think is what actually is then you will, as my watch care pastor says, be tore up from the floor up, messed up from the chest up, beat up from the knee up, and jacked up from the back up.But those of you who are approaching 30, 40, 50, years old or have 50 in the rearview mirror, can testify that there were some things you knew without consulting “God ain’t talkin about that.” Now I’m on good theological territory because this is known in theology as the via negativa. The via negativa says that you can understand more clearly what God says by first checking out what God does not say. See you don’t have to know the will of God. But if you know the ways of God, you’ll understand that there’s a way that God does stuff, and God doesn’t like ugly and God doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes God will do something and explain it later.

God does not say, “you outta lose your mind” God does not say “you oughta go up a brick wall” God does not say “You should let this drive you crazy” I don’t know what he is saying but I know what he ain’t saying.

And so Samuel thinks it is Eli who’s calling him. Eli in his wisdom recognizes that God is calling the boy. This then introduces the wisdom of the elder. And Samuel is told to give the response, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” And God proceeds to tell him about the absolute pandemonium that has been happening in Eli’s house and that God is planning to rain down judgment on Eli’s house. Can somebody please call DC or march on up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and tell that man in the White House that judgment is real? That one day he’ll have to give an account for everything he ever did, claiming to do it not only in the name of the state but also in the name of God. And get this, sweeping it under the rug isn’t gonna cut it. If he doesn’t reconcile now, he’ll do it later.

There are things that he is doing in office and policies he is proposing and comments that he is making, that you can listen and know, God didn’t tell him that. He ain’t listening to the voice of God. He may be listening to the voice of HIS God but it isn’t THE God. I can promise you that. Last time I checked, God wasn’t disrespectful towards women. Last time I checked, God didn’t disenfranchise the least of these. Last time I checked, Jesus didn’t promote war and warmongering. Last time I checked, God didn’t take our meals on wheels and our health care from those who desperately needed it. The BIBLE says,

Isaiah 10:1-2 New International Version (NIV) Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.

So somebody needs to go tell Mr. President, that he has angered the Lord God, and not heeded to the voice of divine reason, and that decision will cost him dearly. The job of every person in here is to know beyond the shadow of a doubt, when God is speaking and when God is not. Stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and it will keep you from listening to the wrong voice. Amen.