TEXT: 1 Sam 3:1-21; John 10:27
KEY VERSE: John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (NIV)
Every day, the students in your class confront challenges that could have profound impact on their lives – for good or bad. And in the years ahead, they will yet face many major decisions. If your students can learn to recognize God’s voice, they can avoid a lot of confusion and stress.
God speaks in diverse ways: audible voice, inward witness, His Word, signs and wonders, fulfilled prophecies, and His Holy Spirit. But no matter how He chooses to speak, what matters is that your students know the voice of God and choose to obey. Samuel was probably much younger than your students when God’s voice awakened him. So, they, too, can learn to recognize God’s voice.
Perhaps your life has become overcrowded with distractions and you find it hard to “tune in” God’s voice. As you prepare for this study, take time to not only speak to God but to listen. Trust Him to help you and your students to hear His voice more clearly as He speaks.
The Basic Message: Explain to students…
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
Christ’s followers can learn to hear and recognize God’s voice.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Christians who learn to discern God’s voice and confirm it with His Word can avoid being misled.
HOW DO I LIVE IT?
Spend time away from distractions, listen to God, then confirm His instructions and obey them.
Illustration Option: TUNING IN
Bring a radio to class and tune it to static. Set the volume just loud enough to be distracting while you greet students, give announcements, and introduce the study. Then adjust the radio to get a clear signal. (Be sure to select a station that is appropriate to play in class.) Explain that distractions or being “out of tune” spiritually can keep us from hearing God’s voice clearly. We stay in tune with God by spending time with Him and listening to what He says.
Study Overview: Explain that today’s study considers…
• What we can learn from Samuel’s response to God’s voice.
• Ways God speaks to us and ways He confirms His message to us.
• How we must be bold in delivering God’s message.
Inform and Discuss
a). It’s for You
1. Read or have volunteers read 1 Sam 3:1-5. How did Samuel respond when he heard his name? What did his response reveal about him? [Hint: Samuel responded immediately – he ran to Eli, and this was sometimes in the middle of the night. Samuel was a willing, responsive, and quick-to-obey servant.
Guide: Explain that our response to requests, especially under less-than-ideal circumstances, can reveal a lot about our hearts. Some requests don’t come at convenient times or involve things we are particularly interested in. Samuel’s actions showed he was ready to serve.
2. What qualities does God look for when choosing a person to speak to?(Hint: Obedience, a willingness to listen, and a servant’s heart are characteristics often found in those God calls. Although God graciously calls out as well to those who oppose Him.
3. In what ways would it have been more difficult to live for God then than it is now?
Guide: Point out that God speaks today in most of the same ways He always has. The advantage we have now is access to his written Word the Bible – and the examples and instructions He provides in it. The people in Samuel’s time didn’t have the Bible in the form we do today.
b). Who’s There?
1. Read or have volunteers read 1 Sam 3:6-10. How can we become accustomed to God’s voice?
Hint: After mistaking God’s voice for Eli’s three times in a row, Samuel may have felt nervous, excited, or even doubtful, since messages from God were rare – 1 Sam 3:1. But he later got it right. Spiritually, we become accustomed to God’s voice in much the same way we become familiar with a friend’s voice on the phone. At first, however, we can feel a lot like Samuel, mistaking it for another person’s voice because we can’t figure out who is calling us.
2. What are some common distractions that can prevent people from hearing God? Hint: These could include busyness, stubbornness, preoccupation with other things, persistent in sin, etc.
Guide: Explain that when you’re praying about a particular need – especially for wisdom or direction – God often says the same thing repeatedly to make sure we know He’s behind it. Some refer to having a “growing knowing” on the inside as a person becomes more sure that they’re hearing from God.
3. What are some of the ways God confirms He is speaking to us?
Hint: God never contradicts the directions He has revealed through His Word – the Bible. God also uses other believers to guide us and confirm that we’ve heard correctly. Situations also may reveal the way God wants us to go, but God can override circumstances.
4. Read or have a volunteer read John 10:27. Why is it important for us to act on what we already know God has told us?
Hint: God wants us to do more than learn to hear His voice. He expects us to respond with obedience. Sometimes that means learning to follow the example of our spiritual mentors.
Guide: Explain that it was good that Samuel had Eli as a mentor. Eli, in spite of some personal failures, was the person who helped Samuel recognize God’s voice. As such, he had a big influence on the future prophet.
c). Speak Up
1. Read or have volunteers read 1 Sam 3:11-21. How do you think Samuel felt having to tell Eli God’s judgment on his family?
Note: God’s message from Samuel confirmed an earlier message to Eli from another man of God (1 Sam 2:27.) Eli knew that it was God who had spoken to Samuel and it was futile to resist.
2. Why are we sometimes afraid to tell people the truth?
Hint: We’re Scared of how they will react. Or, maybe we’re not sure that we are Correct.]
3 Why does God challenge, rebuke, and punish people?
Hint: We may not know God’s reasons for each of His actions, but we can be sure that He has a purpose. It is His desire that all would know Him.
Guide: Explain that God will continue to speak to trustworthy people. If we comply with His plan, God will continue to use us for His glory. If, however, we fold our arms stubbornly and resist, He will look for someone else who is willing to be used.
Inspire Them: Remind students “The Basic Message” of this study (pg. 103), explain WHAT the Big Idea behind the study is; WHY it matters; and HOW we can live the lesson captured in the study.
Ministry Activity: LISTEN
Challenge your students to make a habit of spending a few moments alone with God. Although the classroom may not be the ideal location, have them close their eyes and silently ask God to speak to them, and then to quietly focus on Him. If a thought or idea keeps recurring, they can ask God if it’s of Him. They may want to write it down, so that if God confirms it, they will have a record of when He spoke to them and what they thought they heard. Encourage them to do the same outside the class as well. They might take a walk somewhere they can get away from distractions.
Invitation Option: ANSWERING THE CALL
If you have students who don’t have a relationship with God, take time to pray with any who would like to answer God’s call to follow His Son, Jesus. Lead them in prayer as they confess their faith in Jesus and begin to have a personal relationship with Him.
Conclude by praying that students will desire to spend more time learning to hear God’s voice and obediently carrying out His will.
Teacher Hint: Ask Yourself…
1. Do students understand that they can learn and prepare to hear from God?
2. Can they identify some common distractions?
3. Could they recognize some of the ways God confirms His directions to us?
4. Have they had opportunity to listen to God for themselves in class today?
Daily Dew Drops:
Mon: God Still Speaks – Hebrews 1:1-2
Tue: This Is How to Find God – Jeremiah 29:13
Wed: Learn to Hear Him – Psalms 32:8-9
Thu: A Devoted Heart – Psalms 16:8
Fri: Willing Heart – Psalms 119:112
Sat: Speak for the King – Jeremiah 1:7
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