faithful

Called - 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 17-21

      We started our study of 1 Samuel last Sunday with a look at Hannah and her broken heart over her barrenness. We saw her pray consistently and fervently for a son and vowed to give the son to God as His servant. During one of her prayers, she was observed by Eli, the temple priest, who assumed her to be drunk. After Hannah explained her anguish and prayer, Eli encouraged her by validating her prayer with a blessing. After giving birth to a son, Hannah fulfilled her vow by presenting her son, Samuel, to Eli. Eli responded by worshiping God. We learned that, like Hannah, we can approach God with our frustrations and heartfelt desires, knowing we can trust Him to do what is best. We can encourage others by praying with them in agreement, sympathizing with their heartaches.

   Our authors have skipped chapter 2 which starts with a prayer from Hannah as she dedicates Samuel to the Lord and leaves him with Eli. Then we learn of the wickedness and corruption of Eli’s sons, Samuel’s childhood ministry and the yearly visits from his parents. Chapter 2 ends with a prophecy against Eli’s household brought on by his failure to control his sons.

   Today, we are in chapter 3 of 1 Samuel with a lesson titled “Called”, in which we see God call on a faithful follower to deliver His message. As Samuel grew, Eli helped him learn to recognize God’s voice. Today we will be looking at the importance of recognizing God’s voice when He calls.

 

Read “A Voice” 1 Samuel 3:1-10

   How many times did God call before Eli and Samuel recognized the Lord was speaking?

   Why do you think it took three times for Eli to recognize the Lord was speaking to Samuel? Eli was out of touch with God and therefore deaf to God’s voice. Evidently God had not been speaking very often. God was determined to make contact with the boy.

   Why was Samuel confused about whose voice was talking to him? Samuel had never heard God calling him before.

   Why was Samuel lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord? One of his jobs was to keep the lamp burning from sunset to sunrise.

   What are ways God spoke in the Old Testament? The Torah or law of God as revealed to Moses, sometimes audibly or through visions given to prophets. During the time of Samuel, revelation from God was rare.

   Why do you suppose God had stopped speaking as frequently to the Hebrew people? The priest, Eli, had turned from God, his sons, priests themselves, abused the office of priest and lived in complete disobedience to God.

   What do we do if we want to hear God’s voice? We seek his voice and test it through Scripture. We must be diligent in studying God’s Word and listening for His voice.

   When we hear His word and are satisfied it is His word, what must we do? Obey! 

   Do we ever have trouble separating God’s voice from our own desires? We can desire something so much that we come to view it as God’s desire for our lives too. There is God’s will for our lives and our heart’s desire for our lives and God’s will is always the best prayer.

   Where was the Lord in verse 10? He was standing there.

   What was the significance of how the Lord called to Samuel? Read Gen 22:11 and Ex 3:4.

   Why is Samuel’s response, “Speak, for Your servant is listening,” so important: Sometimes we want to speak more than listen. We must listen so we can hear.

 

Read 1 Samuel 3:11-16 to see what the Lord told Samuel.

   Eli’s family would be destroyed because of the evil actions of his sons. These sons, priests like their father, abused the office of priest and lived in complete disobedience to God.

   Eli had heard this same message of judgment from another man of God in 1 Sam. 2:27-34. 

   Eli would be punished because he knew of his sons’ disobedience and did nothing to curb their evil deeds. 

   Why would Samuel not want to share the details of God’s message with Eli, his guardian and mentor? Samuel would have to tell Eli that bad things would happen to his family because of their conduct. Samuel did not know how Eli would respond.

 

Read “A Message” 1 Samuel 3:17-18

   Why is “not hide anything”, in verse 17, an important aspect of a prophetic and preaching ministry? Identifying a false teacher by obvious statements or error and heresy is relatively easy. More challenging are the true but difficult expressions of truth omitted from a preacher’s or teacher’s message out of fear. False prophets are found to be so not simply by what they say, but also what they don’t say.

   How did Eli respond to this hard message? Eli did not protest or reject God’s hard message of judgment that was coming to his family. He accepted that God is Lord and that God’s decisions are right.

   What disqualified Eli from effective leadership in Israel? His lack of faithfulness. Actually there were times he acted with devotion to God: he did pray for and bless Hannah, he evidently was a good mentor to Samuel, he got out of the way so God could speak to Samuel and he did protect the Ark of the Covenant.

 

Read “A Prophet” 1 Samuel 3:19-21

   What must we do to have verse 19 reflected in our life? Samuel was willing to receive and follow God’s Word, so too, must we.

   What does from “Dan to Beer-sheba” indicate? All of Israel, from the northern border to the southern border.

   Was Samuel’s success based on his own abilities? No, God blessed him.

   What is one of the defining characteristics of God in contrast to the false idols of pagans? God spoke, the idols could not.

 

Conclusion:

·         Samuel’s first revelation from the Lord was a difficult message to share. What parts of the gospel message are you tempted to omit when sharing with a friend?

·         What impact does God’s Word have on situations that seem desperate or bleak?

·         How does God use His Word to bring hope and direction?

 

Close with prayer asking the Lord to speak to us

Faithful - Acts 5:12-42

1.      What are some words or phrases you would use to define or illustrate the word “faithful”? (Constant, dedicated, devoted, devout, loyal, pious, staunch, steadfast, steady, true, dependable, reliable, responsible, solid, tried, trustworthy.

“Firm to one’s allegiance to someone or something!” “Following an original exactly.”)

2.      What motivates people to stand for a cause they believe in or will be faithful to? (People who take a stand are motivated by passion for their cause. It also takes courage to take a stand, particularly when standing up for our faith.)

3.      What are some ways a person willing to take a stand might respond to opposition? (Challenges to our faith are inevitable, as illustrated by today’s Scripture passage. The challenges sometimes involve persecution and physical pain.)

4.      What does faithfulness to Christ and His church look like?

 

The leaders in the early church in Jerusalem were bold in the proclamation of the gospel, even in the face of persecution, as we saw last week. But the persecution would only get worse as the Apostles’ boldness in sharing the gospel grew.

 

Luke records in Acts 5:12-16 that the church was growing by leaps and bounds. People were bringing the sick out into the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them. People were bringing the sick from surrounding towns and they were being healed.

The Jewish religious leaders were filled with jealousy so they arrested the Apostles and had them put in the city jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the jail doors and told the Apostles to go proclaim the Word of God in the temple complex and they obeyed.

Read Acts 5:21-24.

 

At this point you would think the Jewish leaders would simply repent and accept the truth of the gospel, but that didn’t happen.

 

Returning to the Scene! Read Acts 5:25-28

 

1.      Why do you think the Sanhedrin didn’t address the miraculous escape from jail?

2.      What motivated the religious leaders to silence the apostles?

3.      How is that motive seen in today’s world?

4.      What do these verses reveal about the apostles’ determination to share the gospel amid opposition?

5.      How does the apostles’ opposition compare with what most believers experience today?

6.      How faithful will we be in sharing the gospel when opposition comes?

 

Standing Their Ground! Read Acts 5:29-32

 

Peter did not deny that they had deliberately disobeyed the orders of the Sanhedrin; he did, however, indicate that they were following instructions from God.

1.      What is civil disobedience? (Refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.)

2.      When is it appropriate for believers to submit to earthly authorities?

3.      How can we know when it is appropriate to disobey our civil laws? (We should obey laws in general, but sometimes it’s necessary to disobey laws that are contrary to God’s directives. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right direction.)

Key Doctrine: God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word.

4.      What message did Peter choose to share before the Sanhedrin—again?

5.      Why was this message more powerful than other things he could have said? (The gospel is the power of God unto salvation!)

 

Waiting During Deliberations! Read Acts 5:33-39

 

1.      Why might their rage have caused them to consider killing these men? (The Jewish leaders almost lost control of their emotions by acting impulsively.)

2.      What do we know about Gamaliel from this passage and others? (Gamaliel took a bold stand by addressing the Sanhedrin. He was most likely one of the older members of the council. He was a highly respected Jewish teacher and a Pharisee. Paul learned at the feet of Gamaliel. He was a voice of reason.)

3.      What wisdom do you see in Gamaliel’s proposal to the council?

4.      How might his words help believers today who face opposition to the gospel?

5.      Have you ever been guilty of fighting against God?

6.      What was the result?

Gamaliel stated that the test of time would prove the apostles’ message as true or false, and it has!

 

Rejoicing for the Opportunity! Read Acts 5:40-42

 

1.      What would you say to give a recap of what happened in these verses? (The apostles were punished that day; they received a severe beating and were ordered once again to STOP teaching and preaching in the name of this man Jesus.)

2.      How did the apostles respond to their treatment by the council?

3.      How can opposition to the gospel produce encouragement and courage in believers? (Jesus was also opposed by those in power, so we are in good company when we are opposed for proclaiming the truth of Scripture.)

4.      How does opposition and persecution provide a platform for the gospel to be shared and lived? (Even today when Christians are told by the authorities to either do something that is against the teachings of the Bible or stop doing something that the Bible clearly teaches us to do WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MAN! Nothing has changed in the last 2000 years, we must be faithful to God, no matter what others say or do.)

5.      How can we turn opposition for our faith into an opportunity to speak up for Christ? (Remember that the truth of the gospel is trustworthy and can be shared with confidence. We, as believers, can rejoice when persecuted, realizing that the gospel was proclaimed in the process.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Self-evaluation:

1.      When has my faith been challenged or opposed by others?

2.      When have I boldly proclaimed the truth of the gospel in the face of persecution?

3.      Consider times in your life when someone challenged your faith. How did you respond?

4.      What can you learn from the response of the apostles to help you respond when facing opposition in the future?

 

We don’t actually know how many of the apostles were involved in this incident, but we do know it was more than one. We know from personal experience that it is much easier to stand for what is right when we are not standing alone! We need to stand together for the truth of God’s Word, but if the situation should come when we must stand alone know that the Holy Spirit is right there with you and will give you strength to do what is right in the face of opposition.

 

Rely on God’s strength to be faithful to Him in all circumstances.

 

Close with a prayer of commitment.