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January 17, 2021 



There was a young boy named Samuel whose parents had dedicated him to the Lord.  He lived in the temple and served the Lord under Eli.  The idea was that someday he might become a prophet. We are told that “prophesy from the Lord was rare, and visions were infrequent.”  Hopefully, someday Samuel might HEAR GOD’S CALL.  

Apparently, SOMEDAY came a little bit sooner than expected.  The Lord called Samuel.  “Here I am.”  Samuel responded and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am.  You called me.”  I didn’t call you,” Eli replied.  “Go back to bed.”  So Samuel went back and lay down.  This went on a couple of more times before Eli realized that it was God that was calling Samuel.

Eli said to young Samuel, “God lie down.  When he calls you say, “Speak, Lord.  I’m listening.”  The Lord came and stood by his bed and called as he had called the other times, “Samuel!  Samuel!”  And Samuel replied, “Speak, Lord.  I’m listening.”  That was a young person who listened to God and obeyed his call.

There was an old man named Abraham, who was married to an old woman named Sarah.  God promised him GREAT REWARDS IN THE PROMISED LAND, but he asked the Lord how this could be so, since God had given them no offspring.  God spoke to Abraham and told him that he and his wife would have a son and that they would be starting a lineage that would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.  Abraham believed the Lord and God credited that faith to him as righteousness.  They were  old people who listened to God and obeyed his call.

There was a young woman named Mary who was engaged to a young man named Joseph.  An angel of the Lord came to her and said she would get pregnant and bare a child whom she would call Jesus, which means Savior, because he would save God’s people.  Mary asked how this would be since she was a virgin.  The angel told her that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Mary believed him and after an angel visited him, so did Joseph.  That was a young woman and a young man who listened to God and obeyed his call.

There was a Jewish man named Saul who, though he professed to be VERY GOD FEARING, had made it his mission to have Christians arrested and even killed.  This man, while on a journey to get more arrest certificates, encountered a blinding light and had a Jesus say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me!?”  

In answer to his question, “Who are you Lord?”  The answer came, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!  Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”  Blinded by the light, Saul obeyed Jesus and went on to become his greatest disciple.  That was a man who listened to God and obeyed his call.

There was a man named John, who just so happened to be Jesus’ cousin.  He spent a lot of his time out in the desert eating locust and honey and fasting.  But, he also heard the call to be God’s messenger, the VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS.  Many heard about that voice and came out to see him, thinking that he might be THE ONE.  That was also a man who listened to God and obeyed his call.

This holiday weekend we are remembering a man named Martin Luther King, Jr., named out of the deep respect that his father had for the founder of our church, Martin Luther.  He heard the call to serve the Lord in ministry.  Despite being warned about possible violence against him, he heard God saying to preach a gospel of peace and equality, which people for and against him didn’t think was possible.  That was a black man who listened to God and obeyed his call.  

What do these famous people all have in common?  It’s not their age.  It’s not their gender.  It’s not their popularity.  It’s not their ethnicity.It’s that they all heard God’s call & LISTENED & BELIEVED & ACTED.  Each, in their own way, became FAMOUS, but not in the way that you might think.  

Yes, Samuel did become a well-regarded prophet.  But his greatest accomplishment was to go to a man in Bethlehem named Jesse, one of whose sons would become King of Israel.  Jesse was very surprised when Samuel passed over his older and sturdier sons and picked David, a shepherd boy.  David would become much more famous than Samuel.  But he wouldn’t have if he thought that his call from God was just a dream that interrupted his beauty rest.

Yes, Abraham and Sarah had a nice laugh at first when God told them they would have a son.  And yes, it was most probably a nervous laugh.  But they both took the PLUNGE OF FAITH and we are blessed that they did.

Yes, Mary and Joseph were young and hardly wise in the ways of the world.  But they were wise enough to listen to the angel’s surprising, yet enthralling message.

Yes, Saul who became Paul, was a most thorough and driven religious man.  But he knew enough to let Jesus do the talking when it came time to identify his TRUE CALLING, and he set an example for all of us to follow.

Yes, there was a man named John who ate locusts and wild honey and yelled at people to straighten up.  But he knew his limitations—where his ministry ended and where Jesus’ ministry took off to the cross.

Yes, there was a man named Martin Luther King Jr. who heard the call to preach peace, and was not afraid to ask Mahatma Ghandi for help.  But he knew that no matter how much he preached peace, giving up his life might be his following Jesus ministry.

What kind of a person does Jesus call to follow him in ministry?  They could be children, young adults, middle aged, seniors, male or female, and any color.  THEY COULD BE YOU!  THEY COULD BE ME!  In fact, they are you and they are me.  God calls each and every one of us to follow Jesus—to treat people the way Jesus did. 

I could finish right here and now, but I want to point out a man that we find in today’s Gospel named Nathanael.  He heard about Jesus through close and trusted friends, and boy were they JAZZED.  But when they said he was from Nazareth, his response was CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME FROM NAZARETH?!  

When his friend, Philip, told him to “Come and see”, he decided to check Jesus out.  Jesus praised him for being a “true Israelite who is sincere” and that he saw him sitting under a fig tree, Philip soaked up the compliment and gave in to a very simple observation.  Nathanael came to Jesus out of curiosity more than faith.  He was fortunate to become a true follower of Jesus when he became a loving disciple.

You and I can check Jesus out.  We can ASSOCIATE with him.  But will we LISTEN TO HIM AND FOLLOW IN HIS FOOSTEPS?  God can do so much with those who really listen to the CALL and LOVE LIKE JESUS.

There was and is a person whose name is YOURS.  Will we listen and follow?

And all of God’s CALLED CHILDREN said…AMEN!