Speak. Your Servant is Listening.

By Tanja

Samuel turned in his bed. The soft sheets smoothed his body. The room was homelike and warm. His mother Hannah, under no circumstances would have allowed Samuel to stay in a cold, un-inviting home. Hannah had given Samuel to the Lord’s service; Samuel lived in the Lord’s house. He was under the care of Eli, the priest.

Samuel was a devoted student of Eli, and he followed Eli’s instruction carefully.

Lying in his bed, with a light cover to keep him warm; the sounds of the night started announcing their presence. There were not many sounds. Some light breathing from Eli’s nostrils, he was close by in the joining room. But there were no dripping water sounds of any sort. The birds had stopped chirping for the day. There was only an odd sound, and the volume of the place was comfortable.

The light from the Lord’s lamp was beaming and formed light shades and grey shades here and there. The ceiling rose high in the room, which would have provided a nice echo when voices spoke. Samuel found comfort in the light that shone from the Lord’s lamp. It was the Lord’s lamp, that was undoubtedly the reason for this comfort.

Samuel’s mother had always told him:

“It is the Lord who has given you life! It is the Lord who has favour on you. Your life is dedicated to the Lord!” He felt so special knowing he was set apart for the Lord. He felt doubly loved. To his mother, he was a gift. To the Lord, he was set apart, and he was devoted to the Lord.

His room was also close to the ark of the Lord. Hence the house he lived in was the house of the Lord.

In the sweet, familiar surroundings of Samuel’s room, Samuel soon closed his eyes. Ready to seep into a world of dreams, at least for the night.

The serenity of sleep was meeting him sweetly when all of a sudden, something broke the perfect silence.

“Samuel, my son!” The voice of the Lord spoke to Samuel that night.

Samuel heard the sound. He listened to the voice. Listened to his name being tenderly spoken by…Eli, Was it Eli? He wondered. Was Eli calling his name? How strange.

“Here I am,” Samuel spoke into the dimly lit room. Eyes hazily

squinting around.

Jumping out of bed, he popped by Eli’s bedside.

“Here I am. You called?”

Samuel spoke ever so loudly, his volume interrupting Eli’s slumber.

Tired eyes peek out to see young Samuel.

What was the young boy thinking? Would Eli call his name out in the middle of the night? He had not needed anything.

A little annoyed, Eli said. “Go back to bed, Samuel. It wasn’t me!”

Why it was 11:15 at night. Eli was thinking of all the rest they both needed. They had a big day ahead. Another day to serve the Lord.

Samuel felt a little down.

Admittedly, it had been a voice. Noisy neighbours, perhaps? When had they moved in? Surely not!

Maybe. Was Samuel getting carried away with his imagination?

Eli wanted him back in bed. He had to obey. Was it silly of him to inquire of the voice calling out his name? Samuel.

He tiptoed to his section of the room. Back under the covers. Resting on the sheets. Soft. Silky. Well, somewhat.

Once again, Samuel felt the comfort of the night. A warm breeze from a small opening of the window brushed his thin, sweepy hair. Eyes closed. Dreams enveloped his mind.

“Samuel, my son!” The voice of the Lord was ever so glorious. So touching. So kind. So liquid. So fine. So sure.

Samuel listened to the sound. He heard the voice. Must someone be speaking to me? He thought as he awakened once again.

Was it Eli? It just had to be?

Repeating his previous scenario, he jumped out of bed. Again. After a few steps of running like an obedient dog, he was by the bedside of Eli.

“Here I am. You called me!”

Samuel announced to Eli. The older man was trying to sleep. He opened his eyes wide open.

The boy was back. What now? Was he hungry? Maybe he needed a glass of milk.

“Samuel, I didn’t call you? Won’t you go back to bed? It’s already quite late.” Eli said.

Samuel felt disappointed. No, Eli hadn’t called his name? What was the matter with him? What on earth was going on? Who was calling?

Samuel went back to bed.

A third time the Lord called. Samuel didn’t know what else to do, but to go to Eli. This time he strolled. He tapped Eli, who was trying to sleep.

“It happened again,” Samuel muttered.

Eli, stared at the ceiling wondering how to respond.

Yes, what was going on?

Eli had a sense of what it could be. It could be that the Lord was calling Samuel.

“Samuel, I know what’s happening! Sorry, I didn’t recognise what was going on. But you see. The Lord wants to speak to you. So when the Lord calls your name again. I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you say? ‘Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.’ Okay, Samuel, back to bed for now.” Eli said to Samuel.

Samuel slipped off to bed yet another time. It had turned out to be a lengthy bedtime.

Samuel comfortably lay down and waited for the voice of the Lord to speak. He would be ready to say, ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening.’ Yes, he would.

The Lord did call on the name of Samuel for the fourth time. Samuel was delighted to answer, and he was extra excited to know that the Lord had chosen to speak with him. It was a privilege. The Lord had a lot to say to Samuel. Essential things, hard things. Even things that the Lord wanted Samuel to retell Eli about. They were tough issues. But maybe God found that Samuel clearly understood God’s secrets. Samuel was childlike, pure and had no intentions of condemning Eli about his sins.

But the Lord would use Samuel to tell Eli about the things He was not happy about concerning him and his family.

LRG_DSC01541
Modern day Shiloh, the area where Samuel’s story takes place.

 

God speaks to us today. This true story is a great illustration that God can speak to people. In Christian life, God wants and desires to talk with us even more today. Don’t miss out to hear the voice of the Lord when He speaks to you. What will He tell you? Secret things? Wonderful things? Hard things? Listen to His voice; it is worth it. You might hear the audible voice of God, and that will be wonderful for you. However, you can learn to hear God’s voice as He speaks through His Holy Spirit. It is a reassuring voice.

 

Read Samuel’s story 1 Samuel 3 in the Bible.

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Let me Worship You

By Tanja

 

Making the most of God’s beautiful creation

Take a breath

Take a walk

Stay close to Him in the good times and the bad

Was it a hard day? An easy one?

 

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A lonely day?

A strange one?

He is near. Can you feel Him?

Rest

Breathe

Some days ago

Or were they close?

Hiding places

Oh, where can I go from Your Spirit?

Have I learned?

Nowhere

Find me here

Let me worship You another day longer

Another day longer

Yes

Ah ha

 

 

Verse:

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.”

Psalm 139:7-12

Her Name Was Changed

By Tanja

God had promises for Abraham and (Sarai) to have offspring, but at this point, their hope was not coming true. Despite this, God kept on talking about the promise of a son and God continued to show Abraham and Sarai that He meant for them to be parents together.

“You are going to be a mother, Sarai.” God would say and remind the couple.

Hey, God is God, isn’t He? He could have provided the opportunity for the miracle, at any time. Their miracle did not occur immediately. Some time had passed, and for the couple, it seemed like literally, a space of eternity had passed. Not kidding.

In the meantime, Sarai had abhorred her situation, and she had irritable feelings towards Haggai, the mother of Ishmael. Jealous as ever.

Even though Sarai had had those rough moments and moments that would have made her look like she didn’t deserve anything favourable anymore, God had not forgotten Sarai, nor had He forgotten His promise for her and her husband.

God talked with Abraham and said that He hadn’t forgotten Sarai. “She’ll be the mother of your child, Abraham. Watch and see. Your baby will be born! Abraham, I’ll change her name. She is now Sarah.”

It was something so beautiful that God did for Sarah. He had remembered her. Sarah had done a lot of wrestling concerning her circumstances as she had lived through difficult situations. She had looked like she was a cruel woman with some of the reactions she made. With changing her name, He’d given her a fresh start and a new identity. Everything would be restored. New life was on the way. That day, hope was on the road for you and me because of her dreams coming true.

Sarah did laugh at the prospect of being a mother, and she giggled till her stomach ached. Despite her laughter and lack of complete belief that God was going to make her parenting dreams come true, her dreams would be a reality.

LRG_DSC01934Genesis 17:15 

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.”

 

Who Will Lead the Way Home?

By Tanja

Recently I went to visit a church that I don’t usually go to, and the pastor preached a message. One of the real-life experiences that he told was similar to what I had experienced in my life too. His story involved getting lost when he was a young boy, and on the way to finding his destination of being found, he was helped by the police and got ice cream. The reason he told this story was to show that when people are lost without God- their feelings of being lost are evident, it is a sinking feeling.

I understood precisely this feeling of being lost, for I felt the same in my story.  Can I tell you my story?

I was a child of eight or nine living in Japan. There was a place that the kids loved to go, and this site was called “Pom- Pom- Yama”, it was a mountain that had rock pools, the water was crisp and fresh.

I think all of us kids knew the town we were in very well; I think there still are traces of the map of the place in my mind even today.

Sometimes we would go to the mountain for our swim with our bikes.

One day, after a swim on at Pom Pom Yama, I was riding my bike confidently with everyone else. I must have been a little ahead of everyone else because I took a turn and was left on my own.

I kept riding my bike down the mountain. It was strange no one was coming after me, but I kept riding hoping I had my directions right. When I got down to the village below, I could not recognise the place.

I am lost?

I just don’t know where to turn!

The feeling was frightening.

I had come to a Japanese lady’s house and possibly tried to explain I was lost. She gave me ice cream and called the police. Even though I had ice cream. I was scared, uncomfortable and not happy. But I was comforted just little by ice cream.

I’m not sure how the policeman knew how to bring me home. I lived near the shopping street. I suppose that’s all the information I knew how to give. No address. But I did get back. The policeman got me home.

When I heard the message of the pastor I mentioned at the beginning, I could relate to an experience of being lost. The experience of being lost, especially as a child is not comfortable.

Jesus is the one who leads and brings us home, in a spiritual sense. Jesus is said to be the way, the truth and the life.

John 14:6

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.””

Maybe we don’t understand how Jesus does it. Like in my story; my policeman was able to save me from being lost in a village in Japan, even though I didn’t give him much detail.

Isaiah 53:6

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus might be like that strong, brave policeman, who can guide us home to the Father where we belong. He is the good Shephard of your soul. If you’re lost, let Him help you find your way back home.

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Christmas

By Tanja

Do you like receiving gifts? Do you like giving gifts?  It’s that time of the year again, Christmas. I love to receive gifts, but I also love to give gifts. Which is easier, to give or to receive?  Children love gifts too, I can remember a few moments in my childhood where I felt ‘picky’ as a gift receiver, because it wasn’t exactly the favourite toy I wanted. Despite feelings like this I always accepted gifts even if there were some disappointments. I could say that generally I was a happy gift receiver. I still am today! Relationships mean more to me than the actual gift. Gift giving is a sign of one of the love languages. (Read: Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages.”) I am all for being loved and being shown love. The greatest story of love that I know of is: The Father God sending His only Son into the world that all may have eternal life.

Just before the first Christmas ever, it was announced to a young woman in Israel, Mary, that she would have a baby. To Mary this could have been like a gift to her. She was chosen to be the one to bring the Saviour into the world. She considered herself blessed and felt that the Mighty One had done great things for her. (Luke 1:49) Indeed He did.

Jesus was born to Mary on that first Christmas. He would be the Saviour of the world. He was God who came to dwell with us and to reveal the Father God to all people. No one had seen God, but Jesus came to reveal God. The man Jesus, was with the Father God at the beginning of creation and for all time, so He knew what God was truly like, in fact He knew what it was like to be God, because He was God. Jesus was human, yet divine, and came to show us the true reality of God. We can see God through Jesus. Just think, not only has God made this world and everything that exists, but He also has walked on this earth we all live in.

Jesus is truly a gift for us, straight from heaven. He is ours if we are willing to receive Him. The reason He came was because the Father God loved us. He was a gift of love and still is today. It is your choice if you receive Jesus and His gift of eternal life. In my opinion it is gift too good to miss. Jesus is a gift, will you receive?

Aroma of Christ

I noticed something about fragrance twice while on a walk recently. On the first day I was walking past a woman at a bus stop. Immediately, I could sense that she was wearing a strong, pretty, flowery, perfume. I walked past her and the bus stop. What I did not expect is that her scent kept on trailing on for another meter, and then another one or two meters after that. She definitely had come to the bus stop from the way I was now headed. She had created such a strong trail of scent, like she had left invisible flowers in the air.

The second time I had gone on a walk, I was walking up a hilly part of the road and a man with his cap flicked back and his mind engaged in his phone conversation walked past me. After he had walked past he too left the remains of his scent. It was nothing like the woman’s scent that lingered on the first day.

We are the aroma of Christ. How much more are we leaving our scent in the places we travel? May it be anywhere we’ve stepped, in an airport, in a shopping centre, in a school, in a church, in a home or in a workplace. What do people know about Christ because we were around them? Don’t we leave a special presence because we belong to Jesus? Have you ever had people ask you out of the blue, “So do you go to church?” or “Why do you smile so much?” or simply, “Are you a Christian?” Those are great questions and wonderful opportunities to share our faith.

I was thinking about being the aroma of Christ. I thought we just ‘are’ the aroma of Christ, there’s nothing we can do more to have more of the aroma of Christ. We can’t say I want more of Christ’s ‘Christian Dior’ range please, I can’t smell the other stuff I just put on!! So be encouraged that you are the aroma of Christ. On the other hand, the more we spend time with Jesus the more we become like Him.

Here are two points I have about being the aroma of Christ:
1. Being the aroma of Christ means people get ‘knowledge’ about Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14).Everywhere that Christians go they bring with them an awareness of who Christ is. People get to know a little more of who Christ is through the lives of Christians.

2. Because we are the aroma of Christ, the smell of that varies to individuals (2 Corinthians 2:15). When non- Christians meet us they are either encouraged about our faith in Jesus and really want the life we have or when non-Christians meet us they feel condemned and disgusted with their life.

Returning back to my walk, yes so I did walk past two people that had a good fragrance on them. However, I also walked further down the road, not past anyone, but an awful, horrible, disgusting, smelly garbage bin (trash bin). Let me tell you that I did not want to be near that smell for a second! In fact that is the smell that can be protested about. Could my point be that there are definite smells or fragrances, be it natural or spiritual?

I know that God’s heart is that everyone senses the aroma of Christ in those that are His and wants the eternal life that He can give through His son Jesus Christ. What Jesus has to offer is available for all who ask!

Read 2 Corinthians 2:14-16