The word of the Lord

I was reading the book of first Samuel this morning and was struck by this verse: “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.” 1 Samuel 3 v 7 KJV If you’re not familiar with the story, Samuel was a young boy who had been conceived after his barren mother had prayed at the temple. After he had been weaned, his mother had given the boy back to God to serve him in the temple.

I love the way God is sometimes described as The Word. The first verse of the book of John especially uses this description to associate Jesus as being The Word of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1 v 1 KJV

I relate this to the first chapter in Genesis where God said… And then there was. Without God’s words, nothing around us would exist. Without God’s words, we would not have life. Without The Word of God, without Jesus, we would not be able to know God, to talk to him, to hear him.

Until this point in Samuel’s life, the word of the Lord had not been revealed to him… Which seems really important to me. Samuel had been living in God’s temple, had been sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant. It seems inconceivable that Samuel did not know of God, did not know who he was. Samuel must have hear about God from the priest Eli, must have heard and maybe even read some of the books of the law. Yet the word of the Lord had not been revealed to him…

Reading on, we see that after Samuel had been told to tell the Lord that he was listening, the Lord – the Word of the Lord – came and stood next to him. The Lord spoke and Samuel listened and finally we read “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 3 v 21 KJV

It seems to me that it is not enough to know about God, not enough to read his word and hear about him. If we don’t have a relationship with God where we are able to talk, where we are listening and waiting for him to speak, then we do not know him.

God is speaking to us, to me, to you. Will you take time to listen, to hear what he has to say?

Who runs your life?

I’m writing this on Thursday as an exit poll has just predicted a Conservative win which may lead to a hung parliament. By the time this post is published on Saturday, we’ll know who is supposed to be running the country… Or if no-one is…

Earlier today – Thursday – for the first time in my life, I took advantage of my right to spoil my ballot paper. Of the five political parties on our local ballot, I rejected all of them.

The government doesn’t run my life and I hope you realise it doesn’t run yours either. Scottish Independence, BREXIT, the economy, they might impact our lives, but they do not determine our future.

In Scotland, I understand the desire to declare independence and control our future as a nation – I wrote the story of how Scotland became independent after all – but regardless of whether Scotland was independent or not, each of us would still be solely responsible for what that future is like. Independence would not be a miracle cure.

Much was made of the magic money tree during the campaigning in this 2017 election. It seems likely that fears over what would happen to Scotland’s economy lost the first Independence Referendum. Yet, while banks may threaten to jump ship and industry bluster about pulling out, the fact remains that in an independent Scotland, each adult would still be an economic force, both earning and spending. We would still need jobs, would still pay taxes and even if some business did abandon us, we would still be able to attract other banks and other industry and whatever we needed to manage our economy.

Yet so many were afraid and put their trust in the UK government.

In Scotland, twice now, a majority has voted to turn away from independence, first from the UK and then from Europe. Yet a sizable minority of my fellow countrymen took a contrary position, rejecting union with the UK while they sought to remain governed in large part by Europe. (Ironically, all the arguments both for and against Scottish Independence could be applied to BREXIT…)

Most of us, it seems, desperately want a government in some location, to run our lives for us. To make decisions that we don’t understand or are overwhelmed by.

I’ve been reading the book of First Samuel recently. Israel was originally intended to be a theocracy, governed ultimately by God and managed on a daily basis by prophets and judges. But the people grew jealous of the neighbouring tribes who had kings to lead them. They didn’t trust the judges (and to give them their due, some of those judges were utterly corrupt.) Eventually they rejected both the judges and God in favour of a king.

I believe we were meant for more than being governed by other people. That God created us with the capacity to rule. Yet to rule, even in our small sphere of influence, takes great courage. It’s much easier to hand off to someone else that we can then blame when they get it wrong.

This week Heather Tomlinson wrote an article on Why Christians need to stop blaming the government for everything. Of course people of every faith and none blame their government. The real challenge though is to stop blaming government and start taking responsibility for our own lives. To seek to stop living off of someone else’s charity, to be the provider for others, to be the carer, the defender in our communities.

While I believe God wants us to seek his help and protection, I also believe he made us to govern ourselves. Will you live as God intended you to, or will you let others run your life?

We can all prophesy

I’ve always had a hankering to be a prophet. Being able to know the future, have the power to perform miracles… The prophets were the original super-heroes.

Skip ahead a few hundred years and prophecy was redefined: “the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”

Prophecy is still a gift from God when it comes to knowing the exact words to say that will strengthen, encourage and comfort someone in need.

Each time we choose to speak strength, encouragement and comfort, could it be that we are taking God’s gift and using it as intended?