READ: 1 Samuel 3-7
THINK: How many times have you thought, "I wish God would just tell me what He wants me do"? You may never hear God speaking in an audible voice like He did to Samuel, but God still speaks today. He speaks through His Word, through His Holy Spirit, through fulfilled prophecies and through prayer. But no matter how He chooses to speak, what matters is that you learn to listen and recognize God's voice and respond obediently to what you hear. Throughout life, your level of victory will be directly related to your dependence on God as demonstrated through prayer. So if your life has become overcrowded with distractions and you find it hard to "tune in" God's voice, you must break away from the chaos and clutter, get alone with God and say, "Speak, for your servant is listening" (3:10).
RESPOND: How does 3:1 explain the trouble and turmoil that was prevalent in Israel up to Samuel's time? How is Samuel's response to God in 3:10 a prime example of how to respond to and interact with God? How was Samuel's role as "prophet of the LORD" unique, and why did God appoint him to this role? (See 3:20 note.) What did "the ark of the LORD'S covenant" represent, and why were the Israelites convinced it would guarantee victory over the Philistines? (See 4:3 note.) Why did the Israelites still lose the battle? In what way do people today sometimes rely on religious rituals and symbols to bring spiritual benefits? (See 4:3 note.) What does the "Ichabod" mean, and how did it relate to Israel's situation at the time? (See 4:21 note.) What was significant about what happened to the image of the Philistine "god," Dagon, when it was in the presence of the ark of God (5:1-5)? How did the men of Beth Shemesh show disrespect for God? (See 6:19 note.) What did the Israelites have to do to prove sincerity to God and receive His help? (See 7:3 note.) What made the difference in Israel's victory over the Philistines in chapter 7 compared to previous defeats (7:12-13)? (See 7:8 note.) What example does this set for Christ's followers today?
PRAY: Ask God to speak to you. Then take time to listen for His answers, insight, guidance and peace. Give God thanks for His constant presence and pray that you never take it for granted.
ACT: The most important part of prayer is not simply what we can say to God; it's what God can say to us. For this reason, continue in an attitude of prayer throughout the day-keeping an open ear more than an open mouth. Actively respond to what you sense God saying to you. Also, remove or readjust anything in your life that tends to detract from your relationship or service to God. This could involve how you use your time, money or energy.
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