Sermon 17 January 2021

1 Samuel 3:1-10, Psalm 139, Revelation 5:1-10, John 1:43 – end ,Sunday 17th January 2021

Every day we see with our eyes

We hear and listen with our ears

We feel and sense with our hearts and hands and feet with our body soul and mind.

Every day we know things, good and bad

And each day we get a choice about who and what to believe

From today’s four readings we learn: From 1 Samuel 3 about the young Samuel who learnt to listen to God. From Psalm 139 we see how God understands us from the inside out and from the outside in. The psalmist says about God you have searched me Lord and you know me. In Johns Gospel chapter One, the latter part, Nathanael says to Jesus How do you know me? In Revelation five the older John, now wiser and bolder says “I saw the Lamb” …….So in all four readings we have that sense of human beings who see, hear, sense, and know God and whom above all are themselves known by God.

We are made as human beings to see and hear, and taste and feel to watch, think, stop, decide, to act ; in a word to be alive. In all today’s Bible readings, the God who knows us and who speaks and who one day we will see face to face is communicated to us through little Samuel, through John the Apostle in his recollections in his Gospel, and in his Revelation .And sitting in the middle is the majestic Psalm 139, you cannot read Psalm 139 or hear it and say that God is remote, the writer was known by God and he knew God. To be known by God is that unique Judeo-Christian truth because it is about grace. John Piper said  “ Deeper than knowing God is being known by God. What defines us a Christian is not most profoundly that we came to know him but that he took note of us and made us his own. Ezekiel 38:25 says, “ And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations .Then they will know that I am the Lord”,  that verse is written in the context of battle and conquest .For most of us that is not our reality but we battle to realize that God knows us and we can know him. Oh, that we would know him now and be known by him; Stephen Williams in a brilliant book called “ The election of grace wrote this “ We believe that we will truly see in Jesus Christ the merciful face of God, and nothing in that face is deformed and distorted, save by the pain of the cross where justice and mercy meet. We must ever keep in mind the way scripture brings to our attention the glad election of grace and the sad reality of resistance. To know much more, we must wait until we “know and are known

Samuel as a little boy did not yet know God but he was a much prayed for and hoped  for child, born as a result of promise.1 Samuel 3 is a lesson in prayer , God spoke, but the little Samuel did not know who it was speaking who it was calling out to him in the night, he thought it was Eli. Maybe Samuel should have known, after all he was sleeping next to the Ark of God ,but he was only a young lad and Eli is patient with him and on his third report of a voice he tells Samuel to go back and say Speak Lord for your servant is listening, a good way for us to pray.( see Tricia’s film on You-tube about prayer) and God does speak, very severely, about his judgement on the house of Eli. For me this is proof that God does not consign children to a “Disney” level of faith but takes them seriously and gives them responsibility from a young age. At any age if we can but quiet our soul, and listen, he will speak

Now to Psalm 139 David declares about God you have searched me, and you know me, you know when I sit and when I rise, and then in verse 13 you created me you knit me together in my mother’s womb, and then in verse 23 search me and know my heart, and verse 24, lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139 is a real prayer for our times, a plea to be known by God and an intimate statement that he saw us when we were made in our woman’s womb.

It is this amazing knowledge that God has of us that stuns Nathanael in John 1;47 and to the end of the chapter, when Jesus says to the surprised Nathaniel, “here is a true Israelite in whom there is no guile no deceit “How do you know me says Nathaniel”  “I saw you says Jesus when you were under the fig tree before Philip called you” this knowledge has an amazing effect on him and he declares of Jesus you are the Son of God the King of Israel.

This truth that God who made us comes to us, and  also knows us is the start of the healing of our souls. So, in all four readings today we see that Samuel listened, The Psalmist knew that God knew him, Nathanael realised he was known by Jesus and was now called by him.

 John in Revelation saw and heard things beyond his imagination, he sees a Lion who in fact is the Lamb (and the Lamb that was slain), and this Lamb is able to open the seal of the scroll. John is given a vision of the slaughtered and now victorious Lamb (who is Jesus) and  before whom elders kneel,and 10,000 times 10,000 angels sing and this is what we do in worship (as much as can in lockdown) to be alive in Christ is to be




To feel

To sing

to Pray

and though this and more we can have an intimate relationship with God

John wept at the sight of the scroll that coudent be opened ,many have wept over the suffering that Covid brings,  there are no easy answers for our present pandemic and the suffering it brings, but being known my God is the basis of our approach to him in prayer and like Samuel ,David, Nathanial, and John we can approach him confidently knowing that He knows us better than we are now ourselves, and as John experienced through suffering, he is able to bring us ultimate victory

Eternal Lord,

our beginning and our end:

bring us with the whole creation

to your glory,hidden through past ages

and made known 

in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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