Sr. Pastor Darrell G Vaughn

                                                                      Faithfulness – A Key Step to Happiness

Dec 30 2012:                                 “A Pathetic or Prophetic Generation!”

Sun AM Worship     I know who I am and I know who God say I am and what God says I can do.                    

Text 1 Sam 3:1-21 (King James Version) 

  “Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people.”

                                           The Fields are white and the laborers are few!
C.H. Spurgeon said, “If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if

the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival;”

 

Opening illustration: A. W. Tozer pastored in the city of Chicago for many years. On one occasion when a new minister arrived in Chicago, Tozer called him and described the difficulty and spiritual warfare involved in pastoring in such a city. He said, “If you ever want to pray with me, I’m at the lakeside every morning at five-thirty. Just make your way down and we can pray together.” A day came when the other minister was troubled in his soul. He made his way to the lakeside at about six o’clock. There he found Tozer prostrate in the sand worshiping God. Years after his death A. W. Tozer continued to be a prophetic voice to the twentieth century church because he was serious about his private intimacy with God which also had public repercussions.

Let us turn to 1 Samuel 3 in our Bibles and see the role of Samuel the prophetic voice of his time.

1Sa 3:1  And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

1Sa 3:2  And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

1Sa 3:3  And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;

1Sa 3:4  That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

1Sa 3:5  And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.

1Sa 3:6  And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.

1Sa 3:7  Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

1Sa 3:8  And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.

1Sa 3:9  Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

1Sa 3:10  And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

1Sa 3:11  And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.

1Sa 3:12  In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.

1Sa 3:13  For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

1Sa 3:14  And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

1Sa 3:15  And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

1Sa 3:16  Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.

1Sa 3:17  And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.

1Sa 3:18  And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

1Sa 3:19  And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

1Sa 3:20  And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

1Sa 3:21  And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

 

Let’s pray. Father,  Open my eyes so I can see Your truth.  

Open my ears so I can hear Your voice. Open my mind so I can understand Your Word.
And open my heart so I may receive all that You want me to receive. AMEN


Introduction: There was a time in Israel that parallels our current cultural climate. That time is described in what we have just read in 1 Samuel 3. It was a time when the lamp of God went out, the Ark of the Covenant was lost in chapter 4, and the presence of God departed the land. The priesthood of the nation, under Eli and his sons Hophni and Phineas, was corrupt and morally weak and soon came under God’s judgment.

All un-confessed Sin will come under the judgment of God’s fury.

                                       Their future appeared very dismal.

The priests of God were already dead in 1 Samuel 4. The Ark of the Covenant had been captured. After hearing the news of the ark and the death of her father-in-law and husband, Eli’s daughter-in-law (and wife of Phineas, the priest) named her newborn son Ichabod, meaning “the glory of God has departed.

 

 What was it that led to this dark hour? How did it come to be that the presence of God departed the land? And what can we in the church today learn from this sobering time in Israel’s history?

The spiritual and cultural outlook in our own nation appears much the same today. Our nation’s leaders are either corrupt or standing idly by while others lead us down a morally compromised path.

 

 Our religious institutions have allowed their light to dim. Our churches are without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We have scarcely noticed that God’s presence is departing the land.

I cannot express the gravity of our current state strongly enough. There is a warning sounding within my spirit to prepare for the days ahead.

 But even as God prepared to bring judgment to the house of Eli, He was putting into place His redemptive plan. And I know that the same redemptive plan is at work today.

What is the ‘Plan of Action’ for the new Samuel generation?

1. Private Disobedience and Public Powerlessness [vs. 11-14]

As I reflected on all that had happened in Shiloh, I was struck with this sobering truth: Private disobedience causes public powerlessness. Hophni and Phineas were engaged in private disobedience.

 

They were profaning the holy things of God, neglecting their responsibilities to steward that which was entrusted to them. They abused their priestly authority and took advantage of the people. It is likely these sons of Eli thought they could continue in their sin with no repercussions.

Like Israel, many in the church are just going through the motions, relying on traditions and practicing an institutional Christianity. But God’s presence is no longer there and our institution are powerless. We have been fooled into thinking our private sin goes unnoticed, but what we do in private has a public, corporate effect.

The enemy continues to win battles and take ground in our nation, largely while the church goes about our business as usual. We blame our losses on the government, politicians or those who disagree with us, with little understanding of the role we’ve played in our own defeat.

The key to victory is not the ark, nor our Christian institutions, but obedience. Disobedience causes the lamp to go out and the presence of God to depart. Without His presence, there can be no victory.

2. Restoring Covenant [v. 20]
God always has a thread of redemption. Even when He is in the middle of correcting His people, He has a plan of redemption and restoration. We see this in 1 Samuel 1-4, as well as in Jeremiah 33.

Most of us are familiar with Jeremiah 33: 3: “Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NASB).

 

What some may not know is that this was spoken during a time of judgment on the nation of Israel. Israel and Judah had broken ties with the Lord and had been taken into captivity as punishment for their sins. And yet in the midst of judgment upon the nation, God had something “great and mighty” to tell Jeremiah—the reconfirming of His covenant and the restoration of a nation.

The rest of Jeremiah 33 shares God’s intentions toward this wayward nation if they would return to Him. His promises included health, healing, an abundance of peace and truth, restoration of their fortunes, cleansing from their iniquity, joy and gladness, fame throughout the nations, and safety from their enemies. All of this was promised if only they would return to the Lord and reconfirm their covenant with Him!

3. A Redemptive Thread [v. 11]
We have been the beneficiaries of the blessings of God in the United States of America. Our nation was founded on godly principles, with a strong Judeo-Christian ethic, and as a result we have known God’s blessings. Even those who are not Christians have become beneficiaries of these blessings. And God’s intention for us, just as with Abraham’s promise, was that we would in turn be a blessing to other nations.

Throughout our history, we have been a blessing to other nations. And it is my belief that from a benevolent standpoint, the church in America has made America great. No matter what difficulties we have gone through, we have always been a generous people.

 We give to those who are suffering from disasters or hard times, both in our own country and in other nations.

I believe this generosity allows us to hold onto God’s redemptive thread as a nation. By caring for those in need, the church has given the nation access to God’s promise in Isaiah 58: 8, that in our time of need for healing, our “recovery would speedily spring forth.”

4. A Samuel Generation [vs. 1-4]

Samuel was instrumental to the reconfirming of God’s covenant with Israel following Hophni and Phineas’ destructive leadership tenure. Samuel represented a new generation—a righteous priesthood to replace that which was profaned.

He was an uncompromised, prophetic voice of courage used by God to call the people back to His ways.

I believe in our own nation, God is going to raise up a new, prophetic voice of courage, one that will call our nation back to God. This Samuel generation will challenge the unjust judiciaries and corrupt politicians. They will refill the lamp of God with the oil of the Spirit and restore His light within the church.

Our restoration as a nation, however, requires that we take an honest look at our true state. We cannot continue on as we have been and expect different results. To remain on the same path will only mean a further moral decline.


God used Samuel to show Israel their true state. His predecessor, Eli, had lost his eyesight. Eli had allowed the evil his sons were committing to continue. He maintained the status quo. As a result, the Lord had to raise up Samuel to expose the true state of Israel’s leadership.

I believe God wants to empower a generation in our land who will serve this same purpose. They are unwilling to allow the evil that is being committed to continue unchecked. They are not interested in maintaining the status quo. Their concern is for the true state of the church and of the nation, and they will be courageous in speaking forth God’s truth.

5. Who Will Save America? [v. 4]

My question to you is, “Will you be a Samuel in your generation?” Will you be one whose life is dedicated and set apart to the Lord? Will you be one who listens to hear the voice of God and who answers in obedience? Will you be a voice of courage to a wayward generation?
I am privy to Prophets in our nation having dreams and visions where they wake up with the following words echoing in their spirit, over and over. “Save America! Save America! Save America!” Who will save America? Who will answer the cry?

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope for our wayward nation. He alone is Savior and it is only by His blood that our redemption and restoration comes. But God is looking for a generation to partner with Him in his restorative work. He is looking for a people who will be part of his redemptive work to save America. The Lord is looking for Samuels in this generation. Our nation needs their voice, now more than ever.

6. In Search of the Faithful [v. 18]

Ezekiel 22 describes a disobedient Israel that reminds me of much of what I see in our culture today. It describes five kinds of people—we call them the five Ps, I call them—who had turned from the ways of the Lord. The Lord calls out the Princes, the Politicians, the Prophets, the Priests (pastors), and the People for turning from the Lord and allowing the shedding of innocent blood in the land, allowing corruption and unrighteousness to prevail. Many overlooking what was going on around them for personal preference and profit.

Sound familiar? In verse 30, the Lord says, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (NKJV). God was looking for a faithful priest, prophet and judge who, like Samuel, who would follow His commands.

I believe God is issuing this same warning to us today. Like Israel before us, we are unaware that the lamp of God is growing dim, the oil is about to run out and the presence of the Almighty is departing the land. God is looking for a righteous remnant that will follow His commands and honor His word. Our politicians and princes are corrupt. Our prophets and priests lack moral clarity. The people are drowning in a sea of iniquity and perversion. What can we do?

7. Prepare, prepare, prepare [v. 19]

For those who will heed God’s warning, there is a call to prepare for the days ahead. There is a three-fold call - to prepare the Bride, to prepare the Ark, and to prepare the way of the Lord.

One man who heeded God’s warning and prepared was Noah. Hebrews 11: 7 tells us that “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear [and] prepared an ark for the saving of his household.”

Noah lived in dark days full of corruption and immorality. But he heeded God’s warning that judgment was coming and prepared accordingly. As a result, his household was saved, as were all the living things that came with him on the ark.

Likewise, God wants His church to prepare for the days ahead and be an ark of refuge in times of trouble. By preparing and getting in alignment to God’s kingdom principles, both individually and corporately, we can be ready to be a help to others. When disaster strikes, we will have an opportunity for our testimony (Luke 21: 13).

Today in many Christian circles the Holy Spirit is neglected, forgotten, or misunderstood. The One given to unite the body of Christ is the center of controversy
So often Christian work is so rigidly programmed that it seems we need no longer depend on Him--yet Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing." ...

The late Dr. A. W. Tozer, author and pastor, said, "If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference."