Rewind – Part 2
“Listen and Live”
July 22, 2018
Pastor Ed Young
Think of someone you know so well that when you hear their voice, you immediately know who they are. In part two of Pastor Ed Young’s series “Rewind,” we will discover the importance of not only learning to recognize the voice of God, but the power and potential that comes with living out what He says.
Welcome to Rewind, part two. We’re going back into my life. This one was done, I think, 32 years ago in 1986. 1986 was the year I graduated from seminary. LeeBeth was born, our oldest, in 1986. I was one of the pastors on staff at a church called Second Baptist Houston. It’s still there today. Dad is 82 years old and still going strong. Even though I did this message in 1986, it relates to you and me today.
– I feel the need, the need for speed.
– Let’s pick it up, rewind, here we go. I did a message, and it happened to be a Sunday where we were honoring our young people in the church. It was Youth Sunday, that’s what we called it. This is at Second Baptist Houston, and this is before we built the gigantic complex that Second Baptist has today. This is in a sanctuary. It seated several thousand people. And you’re going to hear some songs, see some songs, see some crazy outfits. Obviously very, very 1980s. ♪ Oh mighty God ♪ ♪ His voice of cheer ♪ ♪ And just the time I need him ♪ ♪ He’s always near ♪ ♪ He lives, he lives ♪ ♪ Christ Jesus lives today ♪
I am no stranger to yard work. As a young boy, I remember vividly playing basketball, baseball in our yard with some of our friends. Dad bought that suit for me, it was all polyester, before I got married several years before this. So that was I think my only dark suit that I had. And you’re sort of supposed to wear dark suits in this context.
We’d be having a great time, maybe a Sunday afternoon, Saturday afternoon, and dad walking outside and saying these words: “Guys, Ed, Ben, our friends, it’s time for a party.” And we would always say, “Alright, it’s time for a party! We’re going to have ice cream, cake. Who all’s coming over?” Dad would say no, Ed, not that kind of party. We’re going to have a weed pulling party.”
– What you talkin’ bout Willis?
– And a weed pulling party was always bad news because it meant that myself and all of our friends had to go outside, and we lived way out in the country, and our front yard was an entire flowerbed. It only had like five flowers and trillions of weeds. And we would go out there and pick weeds for hours and hours and hours, and I’ll never forget as a young boy looking down at those flowers among weeds and even then, realizing what a contrast flowers and weeds are. You see a beautiful flower there among these brown, green, ugly weeds.
– [Man] Beautiful backswing. That’s, oh, he got all of that one!
– Now tonight, we’re going to look at a person, a man by the name of Samuel, who is definitely a flower among weeds. And the reason Samuel was able to be a flower among weeds was because he listened and obeyed the voice of God.
– I sound like Joel Osteen. It says, it says. Do I sound like Joel or am I just joking?
– “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. Amen.”
– Before we look at this section of scripture in the 3rd chapter of 1 Samuel, let’s bow for prayer together. Lord Jesus, I thank you for this opportunity to worship you, and I ask that you would speak through me and give me the words to say so that no one may leave this place unless they know you in a personal way, for we ask these things in your Son’s precious and holy name Jesus Christ, Amen. Turn to First Samuel, the third chapter. We’re going to look at a section of scripture that is very, very descriptive as far as the call of God, and that’s verses one through 11. 1 Samuel 3:1, “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli, and word from the Lord was rare in those days. Visions were infrequent.” Now the first part of the first sentence there, “Now the boy Samuel,” that shows Samuel’s youth. We feel that Samuel is around 10 to 12 years of age, and you know the story. His mother, Hannah, had dedicated him to the Lord before he was born, and she gave him to Eli who was the priest of the tabernacle at Shiloh.
Now you think well, what an ideal place for a person to grow up, in a church. That’s where Samuel grew up, with Eli. It says here in the second part, “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli.” Now Eli was a man of God. He was a good man, but he was a terrible, terrible parent. He had two sons, Hophni and Phineas that were priests with him, and these sons were the worst preacher’s kids you’ve ever seen in your life. Hophni and Phineas, they first of all, abused the sacrifices of God, and secondly, they had sexual relationships with the women who worked there in the temple. So, Samuel, as he was growing up, had these influences around him, and it’s amazing that he emerged as the great man of God that he was. Now the reason Eli was a terrible parent was because he put his work before his family.
– You spend time with your family?
– Sure, I do.
– Good, because a man that doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.
– As I said, he was a good man, a man of God, but he put his work before his family. I know some people very well in another state, and this husband and wife are the finest Christian people you would ever want to meet. They love people. They would give you things. Man, those choir people are really engaged, aren’t they? They’re happy. They’re happy to listen, wow. They’d have Bible studies in their home. They share their faith, but they have four children who do not know the Lord, and they’re away from God. The reason is they spent so much time doing things for other people and so much time at the church every time the doors were open that they’ve neglected one of the most important things in their life, and that is their family. You know, I think it’s important to talk about the family. I think that as a pastor, you know, the greatest sermon you’ll ever preach is your relationship with your spouse and your family, so goes your family, so goes the rest of your life.
– So, if I don’t have my family act together, I’m in serious trouble. So, Samuel grew up in a very godless society. The people around him, I’m sure, tried to pull him down, but Samuel was able to emerge a strong man. That second part in the first verse says, “…and word from the Lord was rare in those days. Visions were infrequent…” That means people were not really listening to the voice of the Lord. God was trying to speak, but the men and women were not receptive. Verse 2 tells us, “…and it happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place. Now his eyesight had begun to grow dim, and he could not see well), and the lamp of God,’ verse 3, “had not gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was.” Now Samuel, as I said, was living in the temple, and I’m sure you’ve seen ministers, priests, rabbis, some live in their parsonage, they live there in the church, and that’s where Samuel and Eli were. And in verse 3 it says, “and the lamp of God had not yet gone out.” Now that was a seven-branch lamp that sat right before the veil of the temple. Now Samuel was asleep there, and that lamp was dimly lit. It was lit at sundown and stayed lit until sun up. So, Samuel was asleep there right by the ark, and all of a sudden something woke him up. In verse 4, he tells us that, “The Lord called Samuel and he said here am I.” Now automatically, when Samuel heard ‘Samuel,’ his name, he thought of his old friend, this man who had taught him so much, Eli. He thought Eli was calling for him.
-You know the guy right to my right behind my elbow, the guy in the choir, back row? That’s John Milliero. He’s still is active at Second Baptist Houston to this day. What a great, great story of commitment. I used to lift weights with him, and he was a big, you know, weightlifter, and he used to wear this shirt, this black shirt that had 38 on the back, and I nicknamed him the 38 special.
-So, in verse 5, it says, “Then he ran to Eli and said here am I for you called me, but he said I did not call, lie down again. So he went and lay down.” Verse 6, “And the Lord called yet again, ‘Samuel’. So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here am I for you called me, but he answered I did not call my son. Lie down again.” Verse seven, the same thing. “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him. Now that word “now Samuel did not yet know the Lord.” Samuel knew the Lord, he knew about the Lord, but he did not know God in a personal way.
I talk to people all the time that say oh, Ed, yes. I’m a Christian. I believe in God. I do good things. I act in appropriate ways, but these people, many times, do not personally have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is asking Jesus into your life, and it’s a relationship. A relationship with the Father, and this is the mark of Samuel’s first point of relationship with God. This is when he first met God in a personal way in his life.
So, verse 8 says, “So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time, and he arose and went to Eli and said here am I for you called me. Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy,” and verse nine says “… and Eli said to Samuel go lie down, and it shall be if he calls you that you shall say speak Lord, for thy servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” Now can’t you imagine Samuel asleep? I doubt he was asleep. His eyes were probably wide-open waiting, straining his ears to hear the word of the Lord. He knew God was talking to him in an audible voice. What an awesome thing, Samuel getting ready to hear instructions from God.
-I had a mullet going, a little bit of mullet. Look at the mullet. Hello! Man, that’s a pretty good mullet isn’t it? That’s how we roll.
-Verse 10, I love this verse. This is a beautiful verse of scripture. It says, “Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel, Samuel,’ and Samuel said, ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant is listening.’” Now I’ve just read you a very descriptive passage in the Old Testament of a calling of God on a man’s life, and I want us to look back at this section of scripture and pick out some important aspects that relate to our lives in a miraculous and supernatural way. First of all, if we look at this section of scripture, we see that God called Samuel repeatedly. He called him over and over and over and over again. He called him four times, and God calls us, God calls me, he calls you repeatedly.
Every single day of our life, God has something to say to me. He has something to say to you, but many times, I go around, and you go around with wax in our ears. I have horrendous earwax problems.
– Oh, my.
– Yeah, this could be really gross. That’s the earwax.
– You’re clean.
– Amen. We’re dull to the voice of the Lord, but Samuel was ready. He was listening. He heard the voice of the Lord, and he obeyed it. What if you had an important phone call every single day of your life? I guarantee you, if I had an important call, I would sit by the phone just like Batman and Robin used to sit by the Bat Phone. Oh, I used to love Batman and Robin by the Bat Phone, yeah.
– Yes, Commissioner.
– I would sit right there by the phone, waiting for that important call. When I would pick it up and say yes, and I would strain my ears to hear for it. Well, God has a much more important call on our life than a phone call, and we get involved in so many other things and think about so many other things that we fail to be sensitive and listen to his voice. Whenever I say God has spoken to me, I don’t mean that I hear his audible voice. He speaks to my spirit. He speaks to me through his word. He speaks to me in prayer. It’s an impression, but it always has to be confirmed and in sync with God’s word. God can use people. He uses situations. He uses all sorts of things, even discipline, the good times and the bad times, to speak into our lives. But God never ever, ever speaks contrary to Scripture. He’s never going to speak the opposite of what he said in his word, so when people say oh, God spoke to me. No, no, no, not an audible voice. Through his word, through spending time with prayer, through life events and through people.
So, we see that God calls Samuel repeatedly, and also as we read this, we know that God calls Samuel by name. He used his name, Samuel. Isn’t that great, that God cares about us personally? He cares what my name is, what your name is. Have you ever seen the genealogies in the Bible? Sam, the brother of Joe, or brother of him, brother of that, the cousin of him, the grandfather of that? I always wondered as a small child why in the world is all that stuff in the Bible, the genealogies, what does that say to me? Well, one great thing is it shows us that God is a personal God. He cares about us. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows what we’re doing, and he wants us to follow him and listen to his voice. So, God calls us repeatedly.
God calls us by name, and we can learn a lot from Samuel, and we should work on having the same attitude that Samuel had, and those words are this in verse 10: “Speak Lord, for thy servant is listening.” That should be our words when God is calling. Speak Lord, for thy servant is listening. In verse 10, it says, “Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel, Samuel,’ and Samuel said, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant is listening.’” Now those words are words of attention. Those words are words of listening, and when God calls, the kind of attitude that we should have is one of attention. We should be ready. Our ears should be perked up.
– I have 116lb Rottweiler. That’s a large dog, and his name is Bear. He looks like a bear. He’s a gargantuan sized animal. That dog was so scary. We had like a six-foot fence in our backyard and would like watch people. If they would run down the street, because we lived on the corner, he would jump, and you could see his head just right over the top of that six-foot fence. Woo, Rottweiler. And he stands by our fence. We have a little fence, and there’s little cracks in the fence, and he watches for people to walk down our street. He watches for little dogs and our cat to come across, and his ears will kind of be down, but when he sees a person or sees an animal, his ears will perk up and he’ll look.
– Lassie, Lassie.
– And he’ll be very quiet and just wait for them, and when I think about waiting, when I think about the word “attention,” that’s what I think about. Well, when we pray to God, our ears ought to be strained, we ought to be listening, we ought to be hanging on everything to hear the voice of the Lord. But like I said earlier, some of us are dull. Our hearing is kind of impaired. You know, the people who live on the banks of Niagara Falls, if you come up to them and ask them, “Hey, sir, can you hear the falls? Can you hear the rush of that huge water coming down?” They’ll say no. The reason is because they’ve become accustomed, they’ve become dull to that huge noise. We come to church, read the Bible, we’ve heard the story of Samuel before. We’ve heard John 3:16. We’ve heard that beautiful music before, and we’ve become dull in our hearing. Satan loves to make our hearing dull. I remember as a boy living in the mountains of North Carolina. I lived in a place called Canton, North Carolina that had a huge paper mill, and this place stunk worse than any city or any town you’ve ever smelled.
– Incredible, now you’ve discovered.
– And when I was a small child, when I would go out and play in the yard, when I would come back, I would literally have a black film on my skin from the pollution in the air. When my friends would come to visit me, they would say, “Ed, how can you stand it here? This place stinks so badly, I can’t take it any longer!” But see, I was accustomed to it. My nostrils had become dull. It’s the same way with our ears. God tries to speak to us. He’s searching for us. He’s knocking on the door, but we’re saying no, uh-uh. We might hear his voice, but it floats on out. Some say, “Well, hey, I can’t know that the voice of the Lord is talking to me until it’s a huge, miraculous thing.” I have to hear somebody say something like this, “Ed Young, take that path,” and people will say, “Well, if I can hear that, I know that’ll be the voice of God.” I talk to people like that all the time that tell me, hey I want to hear God’s voice. Well, definitely, God does speak to some people like that. He really does. But I want us to turn over to the book of 1 Kings, the 19th chapter, and look at the 11th verse, and I want to read these verses for you. 1 Kings 19:11, “Now the angel of the Lord told Elijah. He said, ‘Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord, and behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and strong wind was rendering the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.’”
Now can you imagine that? A huge wind’s coming by. Boulders and stuff are knocking around Elijah, but the Lord wasn’t in the strong wind. The second part of the verse says an earthquake comes by. It’s shaking all the land around it, but the Lord was not there. Look down at verse 12. It says, “…after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire, a sound of a gentle blowing…” The King James version tells us, “… a still, small voice.”
– Yeah, there was a band that was very popular back in the day. I used to love them, Earth, Wind, and Fire. ♪ Ah, say that you remember ♪
– And this is an Earth, Wind, and Fire verse because the earthquake, no, the great wind, then the fire, earth, wind, and fire, then the still small voice of God. Isn’t that exciting? That God uses the same method he used to speak to Elijah and Samuel that he uses with us? A still small voice.
-Psalm 37 tells us to wait patiently upon the Lord, to be still. God speaks to us in a still, small voice. So, we’re to be attentive when God speaks to us, and we know that God calls us repeatedly, and we know that God calls us by name, but also, if we’ll turn back to 1 Samuel, we’ll find out that not only was Samuel attentive to God’s voice, but he was obedient. He did exactly what God told him to do.
-What I’m talking about here is what I’ve dealt with for three decades. If you had to ask me what would be one of the most frustrating things of being a pastor, I would have to tell you what I’m talking about now. It’s talking to people. It is giving biblical advice and people listening and doing the exact opposite. There’s no doubt about it. It can make you crazy, so that’s a major, major frustration that I’ve dealt with. Thankfully though, a lot of people listen and obey like Samuel, they say speak, your servant’s listening. Others say speak, but I’m not listening, and that’s, that can cause a lot of consternation. And this is where we mess up in so many circumstances.
– Verse 18 says, “So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him.” Now you remember earlier, we talked about Hophni and Phineas. They were terrible people, and God told Samuel to warn Eli that destruction was going to come to his house because his sons, his family, was making a mockery of God, and Samuel told Eli every single thing the Lord told him to tell him, every single thing, and we need to have that attitude. When God tells us something, we don’t just hear it. We need to do it.
– [Man] Just do it.
– We need to obey, and again, some take this to an extreme. I’ve seen some monks and I’ve heard of people who withdraw from society. They live way over here on a cave, and they sit there by themselves, and they, oh yes, they listen to the voice of God. They hear God’s voice, but they’re so withdrawn from the world that they can’t obey. They’re so far away, they’re just removed. Jesus Christ tells us that we are to be in the world, but not of the world. We’re to be in a position where we can use what God’s telling us. We’re to apply it. A person can know a lot about a sport. A person can know a lot about history. A person can know a lot about a lot of things, but until they apply it where they are living, it’s no good. It is no good.
-That is so, so true. So many people, so many people who go by the label of “Christians” think it is a knowledge game. It’s not a knowledge game. Yeah, you have to have some knowledge. It’s about application. That’s why 70% of Christ’s words were words of application. Just because you know the Bible, just because you know theology, just because you take notes and all that, I mean, are you living it out?
-So it’s my prayer that you’ll listen, that you’ll say, God, speak to me, your servant’s listening, and you’ll walk it out through everything you do, say, touch, and feel. God wants us to obey his voice, and that’s a beautiful thing that I’ve seen today, in this Youth Sunday. We have seen young people who have heard the voice of God, and not only have they heard it, but they are putting it into practice in every facet of their lives.
-You know, I’m talking, again, about the students that I had the opportunity to speak to. So many of those students obeyed the voice of God, and they’re world changers today. They are, and what’s so exciting was the fact that they obeyed God’s voice then, so if you’re a young person, listen to me, man. Listen to the voice of God. You can become a world changer if you will take advantage of those opportunities of what God’s saying to you. And that’s preaching a sermon to me, and I know it is to a lot of people here.
– Jay Adams, a minister in the Second Baptist Convention, tells a story of his son, Teddy, and Teddy, this man’s son would go with him to study on Saturday nights as he would prepare for his sermon, and as this man would study, this minister would study, his son would play. He would color little coloring books, take his dad’s pencils and draw around and do different things as little kids will do, and he would become bored after a while, and it would be night, and the church be very dark, and he would ask his dad. He would say, “Dad, can I go out down the hall and get a drink of water?” And his dad would say, “Sure, son. That’s not very far, just walk down the hall. Sure, you can go down there and get a drink of water.” And he said, “Well, Dad, will you go with me? I’m kind of scared. It’s dark out here in this church, and I’m kind of fearful.” And his dad said, “No, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I need to study here. I’ll just whistle, and as long as you can hear my whistle, you’ll know that I’m close by.” So little Teddy thought a second. He said, “That sounds like a great idea!” So, he would venture down the hall and look around and get some water. He’d hear his dad’s voice. His dad would maybe whistle Amazing Grace, and his son would play and run around, and when he’d get out of range of the whistle, he knew he might be in trouble, so he’d move back into the range where he could hear his father’s whistle.
Teddy grew up, was drafted, went to the Korean War. The first night he was there, bombs hit his bunker. Many of his friends were killed, but miraculously, he was spared, unharmed. He wrote his father a letter. He said, “Dear Dad, last night was the worst night of my life. Last night, I sure needed to hear your whistle. As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, what a comfort it is to hear the voice of our Father.” Do you know the voice of God? Are you obeying the voice of God in your life? If you are, you know what walking with him really means.
– It’s time that we walk with God, and you know, we’ve tried to make it so available and so easy for you, and one of the miracles of technology is the fact that you hold in your hand an opportunity to get our Fellowship Church app. Also, attending church. You know, you’re not going to hear the voice of God. You’re not going to hear the whistle showing up once every other week, once a month, or once every six weeks. If you look at the stats on church attendance in America, it’s dismal. No wonder people are not living for the Lord. You’re not staying in range of God’s whistle. Listen to the voice of God. Obey the voice of God. Stay in range of his whistle. With the right relationships. Involving yourself in church. Reading scripture. Listening to those situations, knowing that every opportunity is an opportunity where God wants to speak to you and with you. When you do that, you could become a world changer. You can become a Samuel.
-Dear Heavenly Father, you are speaking to some men and women here tonight, and I ask that they will open their hearts and hear your voice, and not only hear it, but may they obey it. Father, some of us here have become dull in our hearing. We have just gone through the motions, played the game, and we haven’t been the kind of people that you would have us to be. Lord Jesus, I pray that there’s someone here who does not know you, who is not truly obeying your voice, that they would take the step and start living for you. For we ask these things in your Son’s precious and holy name, amen.