This sermon was written by Sam Thomsen for the 2008 Leadership Training for Christ conference in Kansas City, Mo., and later delivered to the congregation here at Southwest.
Do you ever like giving bad news? I sure don't. Sure, you probably love giving good news, like "We just got married" or "I just got a pay raise and a new house." Do you ever like telling someone bad news? Think about it! It takes a lot of guts to tell someone really bad news. It's not like telling your mother that the toilet overflowed. I mean REALLY bad news like, "A tornado hit your house and everything's gone." Samuel did that.
If you will turn with me to 1 Sam chapter 3, verse 10-18:
"The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' Then Samuel said, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.' And the Lord said to Samuel: 'See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family - from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, 'The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.' Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called him and said, 'Samuel, my son.' Samuel answered, 'Here I am.' 'What was it he said to you?' Eli asked. 'Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.' So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, 'He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.' "
That took guts to tell a priest that, especially a priest who turned a blind eye to what his sons were doing. Luckily for Samuel, Eli said, "He is the Lord, let him do what he wants."
This message is not about the guts that Samuel had, but the way he said, "Here am I" throughout his long life.
Samuel said "Here am I" in really tough situations. When Israel asked for a king while Samuel was the prophet. How do you think he felt? Being the prophet was LIKE being the king. Israel rejected Samuel and God. God said, "Let them have a king." It only says Samuel was displeased. If I was Samuel, I would be mad and would try and punish them for rejecting me.
If you will turn with me to 1 Samuel 15: 13-23, you will hear of another hard trial of his life:
"When Samuel reached him, Saul said, 'The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord's instructions.' But Samuel said, 'What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?...Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out. Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?' 'But I did obey the Lord,' Saul said. 'I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.' But Samuel replied: 'Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.'
Samuel basically said to the king, "You sinned and you're rejected as king." Saul could have had Samuel killed, but Samuel did it anyway and said "Here am I, Lord, use me."
Samuel did what the Lord commanded, even when he could be killed. That's what we need to do everyday. Listen for God's voice and do what he commands. The youth group went on a thing, Urban Plunge, where we went to our downtown poor community. We went to an apartment complex where we prayed and talked to the people there. They were all very poor and most, if not all of them, didn't go to church. The things we saw there was eye-opening and heart wrenching.
We met with an organization called Angels on Wheels. They go to poor neighborhoods where crime and drugs are practically everywhere, and talk and pray with the people on the streets. THEY do that every Friday night. I don't know about you, but if I did that not just once but every Friday, I would have a lot better attitude towards everything. In a way that's how you can say, " Here I am, Lord, USE ME."
Even in most difficult times, let's try to be like Samuel and say "Here am I Lord, use me." God only uses people when they want to be used. If you just come to church, stand up, sit down, listen to the sermon, and you don't do any thing else throughout the week, God's not going to use you. It's people with faith that he's going to use, that pray and listen for what God's trying to tell them. God loves you and he showed that on the cross. But you can show that love back by doing his will. You can listen for God and say, "Here am I, send me." You may think that he's not going to hear your prayers; well, let me tell you, if you think that, you're sadly mistaken. Maybe you think that he won't talk to you. It might take time, but he will. It could be a service opportunity, a job, giving money to the poor, or standing up for what is right.
But when the time comes, say, "Here am I, Lord, use me."
- Sam Thomsen