Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (Ephesians 5:14)
Prayer of Confession
Lord God, I’m sluggish in faith, thick of head, and
I need your Holy Spirit’s power to help me see Jesus in all the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread.
Kindle in me a burning heart of rich faith that opens my eyes and recognizes you as Lord. Amen.
*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
This reading plan will help you to develop the habit of being in God’s Word each morning and evening. Come to this time with expectation. Expect God to reveal himself to you. Expect that he delights in you being there, even when you’ve wandered away. Growing a spiritual habit is a slow, patient process. So be kind to yourself as you grow!
Readings are hyperlinked. Simply hover over the passage or click Morning/Evening Reading (email version).
Praying the Psalms: Read slowly. Take note of words and phrases. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and personalize the passage as you pray.
NT Context: “Paul is unswervingly confident that Christ occupies the center of creation and salvation. Writing with both humility and the energies of most considerate love, Paul exhibits again what Christians have come to appreciate so much in Paul—the wedding of a brilliant and uncompromising intellect with a heart that is warmly and wonderfully kind. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “The book of Deuteronomy is organized as a series of addresses given by Moses to the people of Israel in the land of Moab, where they had stopped at the end of the long wilderness journey and were about to enter and occupy Canaan…The great theme of the book is that God has saved and blessed his chosen people, whom he loves; so his people are to remember this, and love and obey him, so that they may have life and continued blessing. The key verses of the book are 6:4–6, and contain the words that Jesus called the greatest of all commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Read: 1 Samuel 2:11-3:21
Our passage today comes from a particularly dark moment in the history of God’s people. Influential people were doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Perfunctory homage was given to Yahweh, of course, but they were going through the motions. Bodies moving, but hearts asleep to the reality of the living God to whom they offered sacrifices.
God’s deliverance of their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt was old news. Now instead of directing God’s people toward worship of their great Redeemer, Eli’s children who didn’t care much what Yahweh thought, were using their social position to go after whatever enjoyment they could squeeze out of life. Even Eli is flawed because he honors his sons more than Yahweh (2:29).
I want us to pause for a moment to remember that we are exploring what it looks like to listen to God this week. Every wayward thing described in 1 Samuel 2-3 is the result of not listening to God. It is true that Eli’s sons did some egregious things but how different are their hearts from our own when we fail or refuse to listen to God’s words to us?
Enter Samuel who stands in stark contrast to Eli and his sons (and perhaps to us too!). Imagine what it must have been like to be sent to live with this elderly man and his wicked sons. What sort of confusion did he feel watching these scenes unfold, or at the very least hearing about them? This was the family chosen to lead God’s people in worship? To quote one of my children’s favorite cartoons: “How very dare they?!”
Now here’s what I want us to see next. Samuel patiently set his focus on God alone until one day God made plain his plans for Samuel. I love the way the narrator sets things up. Samuel has been sprinkled into the story all along and if you’ve been paying attention you’ve already gotten the idea that Samuel is going to be the one replacing Eli’s family, but the wording really communicates the drama of the situation: “Samuel served Yahweh in Eli’s presence…”
Picture it. Every day Samuel wakes up and serves Yahweh despitethe old man’s failings as a servant of Yahweh. He remains faithful to God even as everyone around him commits spiritual infidelity. He is attentive to God even when he could have become cynical…and it is in this place, this spiritually compromised household, where God speaks with Samuel.
You’ve read the story now. Remember Samuel’s response to the LORD calling him? “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Now it is our turn to respond. Samuel lived in a time when “the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread” (3:1) but we live after God “has spoken to us by His Son” who is the final word (Hebrews 1:1).
Don’t miss this! Jesus is God’s final word to us and through Jesus every word He has ever spoken is heard more clearly. This means that when we read Scripture we cannot come thinking, “Well, maybe I’ll hear something from this today.” No, we must come with Samuel’s obedient words already ringing true in our hearts and present on our lips: “Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.”
Reflect: Here’s a really simple way to put what you’ve just read into action: pray these words before you read Scripture. Ask God to humble your heart like Samuel and to make you ready to hear what he has to say.
Evening Prayer of Examen
Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)