Explore the Bible Study: Called

7:00 AM

How many of you ignore phone calls? If I don't see a name or recognize the number when I receive a phone call, I usually ignore it. My thought is, if it is important, they will leave a voice mail. But what if God was speaking or "calling" me? How would I respond? Would I recognize that He was speaking? Would I even care? This is the focus of this week's Explore the Bible Study: Called. We will be focusing on the call of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1-21.

What are we looking for anyway? 
The Explore the Bible Leader Commentary has a very profound statement that I think we should all consider:
“If what we want is the thrill of hearing a heavenly voice or of seeing an angel, then we are not seeking the Word of God but a spectacular experience.” – ETB Leader Commentary
Many people today are looking for God to speak in some grand and spectacular way. But, if we are believers, then we only have to listen. God is waiting to speak to us, to guide us, and to direct our paths on a daily basis. He also speaks to us for very specific tasks as well.

We have the Word of God to help us know if it is truly God speaking and His Holy Spirit residing in us to help us know what it is He is saying. All we have to do is listen and obey.

Something Extra for the Nostalgic
Here is an audio option to use as you choose from an old recording entitled, Phone Call from God. It is 14 minutes long so plan accordingly. Even if you don't use it, you might enjoy listening to it.  CLICK TO LISTEN 

Some ideas from my teaching plan you might want to utilize:

LOOK UP ACTIVITY (Getting focused on the text.)
  • Display (on Markerboard): Top 10 Reasons We Don’t Answer the Phone.
  • Direct: As adults enter, ask them to think of one reason they don’t answer the phone; list responses on the markerboard.  As more adults enter begin compiling a list of 10 reasons.
  • Discuss: While we know God doesn’t use a phone to call us, what are some reasons why we might not respond when God “calls” or speaks to us?
  • State: We will focus on 1 Samuel 3 today as we look at a time when God spoke audibly to someone and how he responded. His name was Samuel. 
LOOK IN (Unpacking the text.)

Ideas for Discussing 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Discuss Eli’s Response:
  • Why do you think it took three times for Eli to recognize the Lord was speaking to Samuel
  • How would you characterize Eli’s response to Samuel?
  • What are some other ways Eli could have responded when he realized God was speaking to Samuel?
  • Have you ever encountered individuals who misdirected or criticized people who felt God was speaking to them?
  • How should we respond when someone feels God is speaking to them?
Discuss Samuel’s Response:
  • Why do you think Samuel didn’t recognize that God was speaking?
  • Explain: In the Old Testament, God spoke in different ways. In addition to speaking through the Torah, at times God spoke audibly or through visions given to the prophets. However, during the time of Samuel, revelation from God was rare.
  • Read: 1 Samuel 3:7
  • State: Consider the culture through which God was speaking. Even Samuel had not learned from the priest, Eli, about how to listen for the voice of God. It was absent in the culture at the time. Even though Samuel was serving under the guidance of a priest, he had not yet experienced the Lord because “the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” This is an indictment against Eli as a spiritual leader.
Discuss Our Response:
  • How can we prepare our hearts to hear God speak today?
  • How do we hear God’s voice today? (His Word, Holy Spirit prompting our spirit, prayer, etc.)
  • How do we confirm that it is God speaking? (Through His Word. If it is contrary to God’s Word it is not the voice of God.)
  • Action: List the names of two or three people you can help to recognize God’s voice, just as others have helped you. You might be the only person who helps them understand the very basic yet most important calling of all – the call to salvation.
Ideas for Discussing 1 Samuel 3:11-18 (Expanded verses from ETB passages)
  • What would be going through your mind if you were Samuel preparing to give the message to Eli?
  • How would you summarize what God was going to do to Eli’s family?
  • How would you characterize Eli’s response? (Even in his submission to God’s verdict, he showed respect for God’s sovereignty and justice, and he did not rebel or complain: He is the Lord. He will do what He thinks is good.)
  • What sins had his family committed? He knew about his son's iniquity, ignored it, and benefited from it – see 1 Samuel 2:29. The sacrificial offerings to God were treated with contempt – see 1 Samuel 2:12-17.
  • Answer Silently: Do you feel God’s punishment was harsh? (Be careful how you answer; it reveals how serious you take sin.)
  • Why were these sins so serious? (They defiled the sanctuary of God.)
  • Read: 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • Ask: What does this communicate to us as believers regarding how we should view the seriousness of sin?
For 1 Samuel 3:19-21
Briefly describe all that God did through Samuel as he gave the people divine guidance, comfort, and continuity after the sanctuary at Shiloh had been destroyed by the Philistines; emphase how God used Samuel because he listened to and obeyed Him.

LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.

  • Have you responded to His call to salvation?
  • As a believer, have you ever considered what God might be calling you to do? It can be something very simple or something very challenging. The size of the calling isn’t the issue. Hearing and obeying is.
  • As a believer, do you know the Bible enough in order to use it to discern if God is speaking
  • Would you even know if He was speaking?
  • Evaluate whether you have compromised your Christian life with sin so much that you don’t even care if God speaks.
  • Evaluate how your sins might be causing those around you to not hear God’s calling.
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