“Speak, for your servant hears.” (Laura)

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The 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.

4 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 

 [The next 8 verses are the Lord sharing a vision with Samuel that was difficult for Samuel to tell others. But Samuel is faithful to share it with Eli and not hide God’s words—making him a true prophet.]

19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”

— 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-21

I LOVE this story of God working and I can see how God would work in parallel ways today. I’ll keep my own thoughts short though and encourage you to ask the Lord yourself to speak to you. Three short observations for you:  
1)   Eli knew the Lord well and was able to recognize His voice calling Samuel.
2)   Samuel came with a humble heart, ready to learn.
3)   Samuel treasured the Lord’s words and never let one go unheard.
I pray for each of us know the Lord so deeply that we readily recognize His working in our friends’ lives and I pray that we would be bold to point them to Christ. And I pray as we meet with the Lord, that we treasure His words so dearly that not a single one passes us by.
One last gem to share with you that was shared with me by my dear friend and mentor Robin…it is an acronym that can be used when reading scripture and making observations about a passage:
Sin to avoid
Promises to keep
Examples to follow
Actions to take
Knowledge to remember
Happy Monday!  

{Contentment & God’s Word} (Heather)

These last few weeks have admittedly been hard to really feel connected with God through His Word. It’s usually the most natural way for me to relate to God because I love to read. But so much is happening right now, and I too often let my circumstances rule my life. One thing that has been encouraging to me is the Psalms reading plan our church is doing together this year. Each week we read and think through a selected Psalm. This past week we read Psalm 19, and a few verses really stuck out to me.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the just decrees of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.

Psalm 19:7-9

I particularly love verses 7 and 8. It’s so easy for me to believe that other things will bring contentment. I often think if I can just get to a place where I am ready for the baby to come or more financially stable or [whatever is on my mind that day], then I’ll really be satisfied.

We all have those things that we think will really fulfill us—dating someone, marriage, having a baby, finishing college, maybe even just getting through this week. (Fill in your list here!) These are all good things, but the truth is that only Jesus can really revive our souls and cause our hearts to rejoice. Those other things can never hold the weight of fulfilling us because they were never meant to do so.

Knowing Jesus is real contentment whatever our circumstances may be. There’s so much peace in knowing that our lives don’t need to be dictated by what’s going on around us. We can rejoice that our Creator and Savior came to save us and He has made a way for us to know Him.

I’m praying that you will take some time today and let the Word of the Lord revive your soul.

Where is God when I am suffering? (Steph)

People often ask how God can be loving when there is so much pain in the world. From breakups and betrayal to pain and death, suffering is always a part of life. How do we reconcile this with a God who loves us and promises to care for us? Although God does not take away all of our pain and problems, I know one thing – we can be sure of His presence.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6 

Did you catch that great news? “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

Never: at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever.

A simple word but in this context – so powerful!

I saw God’s presence in the midst of extreme pain when I lost my first child to a miscarriage. It has been 9 months and 6 days since I found out my baby’s heart had stopped beating. It still brings tears to my eyes to remember the loss. In a matter of moments my world was flipped upside down as I realized I would never get to hold her, hear her voice, or see her run to me and hug me. I had no say in the matter and I knew God could have done something about this but chose not to. I had to trust that His plans were somehow good (Jer. 29:11).

The weeks and months following were full of grief. Where was my loving God in the midst of pain and heartache? 

God was there when He allowed Zach’s work schedule to work out so that I was not alone when I heard the news. God was there that night when my best friend brought me flowers and a giant chocolate bar. God was there as I received more cards, texts, e-mails, and gifts from family and friends than I had at any other time in my life.  God was there as other women shared their stories of miscarriage with me. God was there when my former roommate bought me redbox movie codes so I could take a break from crying and have some laughter in my life. God was there when He lead me to a book (at just the right time) that reminded me I would see my child in heaven someday. God was holding me on Dec. 26 (my original due date) as I woke up and cried. Again and again He poured out His love through the people He had placed in my life.

I can’t count the number of people who prayed for us. Zach and I were surrounded by encouragement and support and I knew it was from God. The God who promises to never leave us. The God who knows what it is like to lose a child. The God who gave His son for me so that I could have the hope of eternity. The God who walked the earth as Jesus and knows what it is to suffer loss. Thanks to the truth of the Gospel I will see my baby in heaven someday. I don’t know why we had to experience such loss but I know it drew us closer to Jesus, the ultimate Comforter. 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Cor. 1:3-5

Whatever you are suffering through right now, know that God will never leave you and His plans for you are good. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, financial situation, the unknown future, or a broken relationship, allow Him to be your comfort today and always. You are loved.