40 Days of Discipline

40 Days of Discipline: Day 2 – Group Bible Study


1The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.  One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.  Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.  Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”  Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”  15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”  Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”  19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.  (1 Samuel 3)


Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Yesterday, in our Group Bible Study we considered the Call.  Today we will consider the Confusion.  Samuel seemed to have been in the “perfect” place to hear from God (“in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was.”).  However, in verses 4 – 10 we observe Samuel and Eli being initially confused.  Samuel thought he knew who was calling him, but he was mistaken.  Clearly, we can’t put God in a box as it relates to the ways He elects to call us into action but there may be some general lessons for us to take away from this passage.

If you haven’t already read the comments posted yesterday, I encourage you to do so.  They are excellent and add a lot to this journey.  In fact, some of the responders have anticipated the questions below, which I encourage all of you to consider and comment on if you feel led.


  • Do you ever feel uncertain about what God’s marching orders are for you, or even if he is talking to you?
  • What are some potential sources of confusion and how can we avoid them?


10 thoughts on “40 Days of Discipline: Day 2 – Group Bible Study

  1. Sometimes God speaks clearly to me. I may have something on my heart or dream about it, and the next day’s devotional speaks specifically to it. The challenge for me is now to act on it. However, there are times when I’m uncertain if God is speaking to me and guiding me. This occurs in challenging and difficult situations. These are times when I must resist being impatient and focus on Him more. I must strive to remain humble and prayerful.

  2. In the overall scheme of things, God’s Word tells us what our “marching orders” are as Christians, so I don’t feel uncertain in that respect. However, when I hear stories from other individuals hearing that God wants them to move to another country to be a missionary, or that God told them to bless someone with a car, or some other “major” call, I wonder if I have received one of those, and just don’t know it.

    If there’s a tug on my heart to help someone, there isn’t hesitation from me. One of my desires is to one day be blessed by God in order to bless others more than I can at this point in my life. I have no problem sharing and giving what I have.

    There are times however, when I have prayed about something, and the answer, which I assume is from God, is some thing I feel I can’t handle. At that point, I wonder if it was God answering or not. Here’s an example: In my business, I need a certain amount of clients to be “successful”. I have had a difficult time of finding employees, so I’ve been the sole employee for months. The problem is that I have been asked to accommodate clients that I couldn’t possibly help without having a staff. I wonder if God actually sent those clients my way, and if He did, why? I can’t possibly help them. Would God answer my prayer and send me those potential clients, knowing I couldn’t accept them, even if I wanted to?

    The Bible tells us of circumstances when God has called someone (Moses and the Ten Commandments come to mind), and the person didn’t think they were “qualified” to do what God asked of them. God equipped them, and everything worked out. My situation isn’t a calling per se, but it is circumstance where I’m thinking, “Hmmm. If it’s God answering my prayer, why would He do that?” I end up wondering if I’ve done something “wrong” on my end.

    Potential sources of confusion can come from listening to others, and even from listening to ourselves, and a lot of times from a lack of faith. We can avoid confusion by praying and taking time to really listen out for God, then acting on his message to us, in faith.

  3. I posted my comments yesterday repeatedly, but no matter what I did they just wouldn’t show up. I’m going to try again here, posting yesterday’s comments again (somewhat applicable today also) and hope for the best…

    Good morning all, and thank you so much Norman for this wonderful labour of love once again..

    In terms of God’s calling, I think there is both the general and the specific. We are inclined to ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” A better question would drop the last three words… less ‘me-centric’, more about Him, and thus more open to exploration and hearing from Him. This would be “the general”, but inevitably leads to “the specific.” Of course in our passage, we see God making the first move, directly, but Samuel does demonstrate wonderful responsiveness, despite already being in bed, and repeatedly so, without even the slightest sign of frustration. This is something he brings to the table, without even knowing the Lord yet (verse 7). Oh, to always be so willing to listen.

    Of course, God clearly has a word for Eli here, through Samuel, which in itself would have been super humbling for the high priest… could he no longer hear directly from the Lord? Did God need to use young Samuel, who didn’t even know the Lord yet? Did young Samuel ‘show him up’? Does he show us up? I know he shows me up.

  4. I think if I’m obeying God’s word and humbling myself I can hear what my marching oder is. But if my heart is not tuned with God and I’m stubborn, and wanting my own way/plan, then it’s difficult to hear the Lord, and cannot even realize that he is talking to me.

    Some potential source of confusion is when we allow the enemy ( satan) to interfere or tempt us. His motive and scheme is to destroy so we should be careful, like for example, anger can bring confusion and division. We have to be vigilant in prayer so we can be sure our focused is fix on Jesus.

  5. I have felt uncertain many times. I think that will be my spiritual status for the rest of my life. 🙂 I am confident in my salvation but often unsure of the daily decision I make and if they align with God’s perfect will for my life.

    I believe He’s always talking to me. Like Samuel I don’t always know if His voice is the one I hear. At times my desires are louder than His voice and the main source of my confusion. I can avoid that by being still, waiting for His prompting. Being in personal relationship so I know His voice. Inviting Him into the conversation of my life. I can surround myself with Godly fellowship to help guide me on the journey of listening for His guidance.

    • “ At times my desires are louder than His voice and the main source of my confusion.”
      Isn’t that the truth, and more often than I suspect we’re willing to believe. I really agree with your proposed actions too Bridget, to better equip us to discern His voice. I thought I’d add one more, that is memorably stated as “obey what you know.” Otherwise we risk the situation in which God, quite reasonably, would be saying something like, “I’ve already told you ‘x’ and you’re not listening, why should I now tell you ‘y’? I will reply to you when you start listening to Me.” (Jer.29:12-13)

  6. I initially did not view God’s call as direct to Samuel, but reading the responses from others yesterday definitely helped to clarify for me! My hope is that when God calls me that I’m able to immediately identify and discern that it is Him (especially with my experience with Him), but I know that it is not always so cut and dry. I think the confusion comes in when I allow other distractions to also compete with “calling me.” Sometimes, I can say with surety that “this is God!” Other times, that statement is transformed into a question, and requires much more prayer for wisdom and discernment.

  7. Another day of great comments. There was a lot of commonality in your responses about sources of confusion. A strong theme related to the need to align our desires with God or in another sense to get on his “frequency”. This requires prayer and Bible study and sometimes, consulting with others. Thanks again for these insightful and transparent posts!

  8. Yes, especially when He’s moving me from the familiar and the known to the unknown, away from my “comfort zone” but someone said God does not work well in our “comfort zone: He has to move us out!” I learn to trust Him even more even if I fall short of the remarkable faith of Abraham!

    Some potential sources of confusion include: (1) making decisions based on people’s expectations of us, instead of heeding God’s call. (2) being torn between legitimate everyday concerns and what God has told us not to worry about, even though we should be responsible stewards/stewardesses. We can remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and the fact that He always knows best as well as what’s best for us, even from before we were born. (Jeremiah 29:11)

  9. Notation: I think God works well anywhere but maybe what is
    meant is that God has to move us out of our “comfort zone” sometimes for us to realize our full potential in Him.

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