Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

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Now the boy Samuel was attending to the service of the Lord under the supervision of Eli. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread.
Yet it happened at that time, as Eli was lying down in his own place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well). and the [oil] lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, that the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call you; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know [or personally experience] the Lord, and the word of the Lord was not yet revealed [directly] to him. So the Lord called Samuel a third time. And he stood and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli understood that it was the Lord [who was] calling the boy. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and it shall be that if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening”

1 Samuel 3:1-10 AMP

It is a desire of most faithful parents to pass on a spiritual legacy to their children. The high priest Eli had a deep desire to pass on his love for the God’s house and his spiritual responsibilities to his own sons, Hophni and Phinehas. But the weakness and spiritual disposition of the sons of Eli led them to a pathway of wickedness. Not only did they not listen to God’s voice, their wicked disposition prompted God to cut off their bloodline completely.

Eli had begun to pour his time and attention toward Hannah’s son, Samuel. Samuel had given himself to tending to the chores around the house of God even though the Bible says at this time Samuel did not know God personally. The lesson here is that God is willing to walk with you slowly, if necessary, to allow a spiritual yearning and passion to develop. Would that the church should be so patient with those visiting the house of the Lord.

Life was difficult for an Israelite in these days of Levi. Scripture says that the word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days. Eli’s sons were scoundrels, showing no regard for the Lord whatsoever. Without strong spiritual leadership, the rest of the nation was left to flounder on their own. It is vital to understand that God did not cease to work simply because of Israel’s anemic faith or deaf ears. God just waited until there was someone willing to listen.

Samuel was about to hear a voice that He had no idea was the voice of God. God spoke to Samuel as the boy was sleeping. God did not shout. He did not accentuate His presence or His voice because few were paying attention. He did not speak with signs and miracles to arrest the attention of the masses. He spoke in such a soft way that Samuel thought it was Eli who was calling him.

In a world where we hear the sound of knees falling to the ground on a football field, rather than the sound of diplomats trying to disarm bombs that could wipe out countries; where we hear the sound of those complaining about standing in lines, rather than the sound of those in the medical field warning us of contagious diseases; and where the platform of the official voices of politics have become a loud speaker for the profane; let me assure you that God is still here and He is not silent.

The world wants to convince you that God is not speaking. Don’t ever let the tension of the times scare you so that it lulls you into thinking that God is absent.

Give God a life that He can trust His words to. Be still, know God and listen. You will be surprised at what you hear.

When the apostles returned, they told Him all that they had done. He took them with Him and He privately withdrew [across the Jordan] to a city called Bethsaida. But when the crowds learned of it, they followed Him; and He welcomed them and He began talking to them about the kingdom of God, and healing those who needed to be healed. Now the day was ending, and the twelve [disciples] came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging, and get provisions; because here we are in an isolated place.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.” (For there were about 5,000 men.) And He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each.” They did so, and had them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and He looked up to heaven [and gave thanks] and blessed them, and broke them and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were [completely] satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were [abundant and were] picked up—twelve baskets full .

Luke 9:10-17 AMP

On this day, the ministry of Jesus was directed to a crowd. We don’t always know what to do with a crowd, do we? According to recent studies, about 20 million Americans are afraid to be out in a crowd. The fear affects women about twice as often as men. The fear is closely related to a general fear of being out in a public place.

The disciples knew what they wanted to do with this crowd. They offered Jesus a quick suggestion. “Jesus, dismiss this crowd. Finish your teaching. Offer a benediction. Send the crowd away.” The disciples had practical reasons for wanting to get rid of the crowd. It was getting late in the day. Many of the people were far enough from home they couldn’t make it home before dark. They were hungry. Something needed to be done before the crowd would get out of hand.

We don’t want the responsibility for what is going to happen to this crowd. We have provided for their spiritual nourishment, a foundation for their theology. We have helped provide for their spiritual conversion. We don’t need to provide for their social integration.

Instead of sending the crowd away, Jesus takes an action that presents a lesson for everyone who wants to be a disciple. “We won’t be sending anyone away. You feed them.” This is what is expected of a disciple. Jesus challenged His twelve followers to move beyond spiritual absorption and to join Him in ministry.

Jesus did not dismiss the crowd, allowing them to search for a solution. The disciples needed to understand followers of Jesus are the solution. The spiritual transformation of individuals is Jesus’ ministry, but the care and nurturing and connection of people is the concern of the disciples. Too often we behave like it is the other way around.

The disciples present the only food they had to Jesus – the lunch of a small lad. Jesus blesses their food. He breaks their food.

Jesus gives the disciples the provisions to pass out and every time they run out, they return to Him. He keeps giving them provisions from the meager first offering they gave to Him. After all had been fed and filled, there were baskets left over, far more food than what they had originally given.

On that day, the disciples worked the ministry. It is time for us to do the same.

Job 2:1-8 AMP

The day started for Job just like any other day. There were duties to perform. There was family to enjoy. But Job’s life changed in an instant. All of a sudden Job’s life was turned upside down over a conversation that he knew nothing about.

Job’s faith was about to be tested. Satan was about to throw his trilogy of torment – the ability to steal, kill and destroy – against Job with all of his force and with all of his might. “Test my servant Job. Only spare his life.”

How do you react when hardships and suffering and tribulation unexpectedly come? Most of us are tempted to do absolutely nothing.

Job sat down in the ashes. He sat with a piece of broken pottery and began to scrape his sores. The action and direction that Job decided to take would make no difference in his life at all. Job was caught in a state of emptiness, an emotional abyss, a moment of paralysis. He found himself stuck somewhere in the middle of the desire to not feel pain and the decision to move beyond the pain. Job wallowed in the ashes of unforgiveness.

It has been said that unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die. Unforgiveness is usually not a purposeful negative reaction. It is a failure to take any action. Unforgiveness is to sit in the ashes and do nothing.

Forgiveness requires you to act. God is not going to impose the ability to forgive upon you. It is not a gift you can receive from Him. It is not a virtue that will be miraculously bestowed upon you. Forgiveness demands that you exercise the discipline necessary to make the decision to forgive.

What brings us together as a people of faith is not our ecclesiology; it is not our eschatology; it is not our soteriology; it is not our demonology; it is not any aspect of our theology. What unites us and brings us all to our knees before the throne of Almighty God is the understanding that every single one of us carries the revelation that the only reason we are alive today is because a good and loving and gracious God forgave you of your sin.

I fight to forgive because I live forgiven.

Unforgiveness? I can’t sit here.

Then I came back down the mountain and put the tablets in the ark I had made, as the LORD commanded me, and they are there now.

Deuteronomy 10:5 NIV

While Moses was on the mountain in the presence of God, he received two stone tablets that God had written the law upon. This law would feed Israel’s ethical exchanges, but the people became so restless, rebellious, and self-absorbed that they forced Aaron to build them golden calves to worship.

Moses saw these calves as he came down from the mountain carrying the tablets that held the law of God. His nation was living recklessly. They were worshipping the gods of their own creations. So Moses threw the tablets to the ground in anger and they crumbled at his feet.

This was not how the plan was supposed to unfold. The plan had deliverance from slavery, a hard journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land—to a future of freedom and fellowship with God. Their borders would be protected. Their fields would produce crops. Their children would be taught about the God who delivered them from Egypt. That was the plan.

Instead, Moses looked at his people worshipping and dancing around golden calves. The plan was shattered and was in crushed pieces on the ground.

We all know this feeling well. We’ve all been in situations where our plans didn’t turn out how they were supposed to. Things that happen that we can’t control, and the clashing of competing agendas rear their heads. Then, our plans slip out of our hands—or we threw them down to the ground. If we’re honest, we do this often because we cannot believe that life and other people wouldn’t protect our plans or protect us in our attempts to fulfil our plans.

Moses teaches us that when plans haven’t worked out like we wanted them to, we still serve a God of such abundant grace that He makes sure that we have two new stones available to us. We don’t have to waste our lives standing over our crushed, shattered plans. God is waiting for and expecting us to grab two new stones and meet Him where it all began.

Plans don’t stop where they fail. We must use failure as a part of the plan. Failures don’t frustrate God’s grace, so our reaction must become different. When we survive a season when our plans don’t unfold as we imagined them, we have to mature from that place. We should emerge from that place and start asking different questions. We shouldn’t ask whose fault it is. We should ask how we could do better and what we should do next.

We cannot succeed without a plan. When we have the conviction to walk out our plans, even when our planning includes having a plan for when our plans have failed.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.

Proverbs 21:5 NIV

The chapter that this verse is a part of asks us “How do we live with purpose and on purpose in our homes, with our possessions, and as we prepare for battle?” The writer says that if we want to do all of this, we have to offer to God surrendered planning. If we want to live our lives happily, purposefully, and ethically, we have to have a plan—a plan that is combined with diligent work.

If we don’t have plans for our lives as we walk with God, our lives may produce something, but it may not lead to profit or prosperity. The writer of this Proverb invites us to understand what God’s more perfect will is. His will for our lives is to enjoy a harvest of plenty, but whether or not we have a plan can separate us from that.

There are many ways that living life without a plan can lead us to devastation, but when we are living a diligent life we will feel secure, and we will have a purpose. We will wake up every day knowing that our steps are intentional and ordered. We will find fulfillment in what we do because we will know our plans are connected to God’s purpose for our lives.

This is what the writer intends for us to consider, but this Godly profit only applies when we surrender to the well thought out plan that God has for our lives. Many of us think that we deserve to live light, unplanned lives, but we still want to reap from a heavy harvest. God honors our planning far more than he honors our excitement to reap a harvest. We cannot go around sowing no seeds and then blame God that there isn’t a harvest.

Living happy is a result of a plan. Living with purpose is a result of a plan. Changing our circumstances requires a plan. Living healthy requires a plan. Growing spiritually requires a plan. None of these things come by accident; they are a result of intentionality. We cannot let our lives drift because we are managing them without a plan. We walk by faith and not by sight, so we must exercise our ability to plan to ensure that we don’t stumble.

When we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to help us plan our lives, He creates a capacity in us to anticipate the action steps that we need to take to achieve the goals that God has revealed to us.