(9/1) The world we live in seems to be more and more unstable. There seems to be no end to war and violence. Our hearts go out to the families of the two young men whose sons were brutally executed by ISIS. People are still dying in Afghanistan. Islam seems to be growing stronger and stronger. I saw a news report on one of the major networks about
Americans joining and fighting with ISIS.
We worry about the Russian President Putin and his land and territory grabbing. North Korea and Iran are ever un-stable. The Sudan is still seeing killings and Christians being displaced. Israel and the Palestinians launch bombs and missiles at each other and we wonder if this will ever end or will there be more war for our military to fight? We will
remember 9-11 this Thursday and the war on terror that continues 13 years later.
And then there is the violence of Nature. We never know when another earthquake, hurricane, tornado, fire, flood, or tsunami will devastate life as we know it.
While we donít hear as much about it as we did 20 years ago, AIDS is still a pandemic in Africa and now we are worried about the Ebola virus.
And, then there is the economy and taxes and government health care
Add to these, the move away from truth and the embracing of lies in America like Gay is okay, Abortion is the way, and more, and to know that our children and grandchildren will have to struggle in this world and we have a lot to worry about and a lot to fear. We could live in constant state of paranoia.
Some of the song writers for Godís hymnbook, the Sons of Korah, had all of this mind when they wrote Psalm 46. By the way, it was this Psalm the inspired Martin Luther to write, A Mighty Fortress is our God. Letís look at it together.
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
- Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
- Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
- There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
- God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
- The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
- The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
- Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth.
- He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.
- Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
- The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Look at verse 1. The child of God knows this for sure. No matter what happens, God is in control. And God has a plan even when we donít understand. For His children, we know that even if the worse seems to happen. We have a permanent promise of God. We will be with Him forever, and He will keep His word about this world. He will come back someday and
make all things new. Verses 1-3 remind us that even if nature throws her worse at us, God is in control.
Verses 6-10 remind the Jew that no matter what their enemies try to do. God will protect His city (Jerusalem) and will one day put an end to war. Until then wars will not cease, and nature will continue to be violent, but our security is in our Father.
So to all you worriers out there and all of you who are fearful of the future and life, look at verse 10 and, "Stop it!" And know that He is God. He is the Almighty and though He allows tough times, He is in control. Look at verse 10. The line, "Be Still," means stop striving, cease worrying and stop being afraid, just Stop it, now, and know that He is
God and in control."
I introduce todayís life lesson with this because. I believe that if we are going to morph to become like Jesus we must do this intentionally and regularly. We must intentionally, be still, quiet, stop everything, and focus on God.
50 years ago, most of society took a day, modeled it after the Sabbath, and our nation rested on Sundays. Families went to church, and then spent time with family. Very few stores were open, and few businesses were open on Sunday. People would not cut grass, or do laundry or even sew a button on Sunday.
But someone thought we could do more business and get greater production if we operated 7 days a week. Add to that, we now have incredible time saving devices. Micro waves, cell phones, 4 G networks, notebooks and tablets, and I things and we have instant access to the world wherever we are. Little Caesarís and
McDonaldsí are all about fast food. Yet for all the time saving and instant devices we have, we seem to have less time. Itís kind of like the old Amish or Mennonite saying, "The Hurrier I go the Behinder I get."
On top of that, we have TVs and Facebook, and Instagram, text messages, tweets and twitters and we are always in a hurry. When I get into my car I want to get to where I am going quickly and I donít want some slow poke to get in my way. When I order lunch I want to get it immediately. I donít want to wait with a number. Geico says, "You can save 15% in
15 minutes." and another says, you can save more than that in half the time. Can I ask you, "What sane person buys an insurance policy in just 7 1/2 minutes?" The world renowned psychiatrist of the 20th century, Car Jung said, "Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil." I must have instant communication and connection with the world. Debbie and I went out the other day,
and a mile away from home, I panicked because I did not have my cell phone.
And sometimes I get upset at myself and then others, for not being able to sit quietly without channel surfing or staring at a cell phone. Simon and Garfunkel wrote the 59th Street Bridge Song in the 60ís. Does anyone remember the words?
Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones. Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.
And I can just imagine that sometimes our Father is saying, "I want you to Stop it, be still for a minute."
Jesus, our Lord, was a very busy man whose life was a constant barrage of interruptions, but He made certain that He took the time to be still. Look at Mark 1:29ff. How late in the evening did He minister, we donít know, but He could have said, I am sleeping in. It has been a long day. But he got up long before the sun came up, and went to a solitary
place, an alone place, a quiet place to pray.
Luke 5:16 says, that "Jesus often withdrew into the wilderness to pray" He actually began His ministry by spending 40 days alone in the wilderness, and yes He was tested by Satan, but donít you imagine that He spent much of that time, remembering the scriptures and praying for the strength to live them out?
Look at Mark 6:30-32. And He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. He had sent the disciples on a mission trip to Mexico and while they were gone, John the Baptist was
killed. The 12 came back to a bitter -sweet situation. They were excited and pumped about the success of their trip but sad about John, so our Lord says, letís take some quiet time. Verse 31 says that the demands on their time was so great that they didnít even have time to eat.
One of the late great preachers of the 20th century Vance Havner said, "If you donít come apart, you will come apart."
I read once about a man who wanted to reach someplace in Africa but had to travel by foot through the Jungle. He hired some people who knew the way and they started out. He pushed them, and made them travel when they needed to rest and go further than they planned to each day. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, until one day, the team refused to move. They sat under
some shade. When the man complained, the team leader said, "We will not travel today, we have to let our souls catch up with our bodies." Folks that is Godís purpose for a weekly Sabbath, and the need that you have to take time periodically to let your souls catch up with your body.
Today, I want to suggest to you, the absolute necessity of what we call quiet time. It is important to the total health of your life, mind, body, and spirit. You need regular time to stop, and listen to God. I am not talking about vacation time. I am a huge proponent of family vacations. What I am talking about is the need to intentionally schedule
alone time with God. A time to be still. A time to be quiet. A time to listen for the voice of God. A little disclaimer, I am not talking about having some mystical experience or getting extra-biblical information from God, but a time for the Holy Spirit to speak Godís written word into your heart.
Art DeMoss, father of womenís speaker, Nancy Lee DeMoss, became an extremely wealthy man in the insurance industry and wrote a little pamphlet describing his secret of success that took him from working 7 days a week and being 10ís of thousands of dollars in debt to being extremely wealthy and this is what He said, (1) give God the first day of each
week; (2) give God the first hour of each day; (3) give God the first part of each dollar which we earn; (4) put God first in all our habits; and (5) put God first in our homes.
I am not going to ask you to raise your hand but I wonder how many have a daily quiet time?
Years ago, Mother Teresa was being interviewed by Dan Rather. Rather asked her, "When you pray, what do you say to God?" She replied, "I donít say anything, I just listen." Rather was a little perplexed and said, "Okay, well, what does God say?" The Little nun replied, "He doesnít say anything He just listens and if you donít understand that, I canít
explain it to you."
Our problem is that we donít know what to do with quiet time. Our lives are wrapped around devices and music and noise. We canít even go to sleep unless the TV is on.
Jesus needed quiet time before selecting the 12 Apostles, (Luke 6:12)
After He fed the 5000, He sent the 12 on the boat and He went to the mountain to have alone time and pray. (Mark 6:42)
He needed quiet time in the garden of Gethsemane before the cross. (Luke 22:41) If we are going to become more like Jesus we must learn to stop and take the time to listen for the voice of God.
Turn in your Bibles to 1 Kings 19. Elijah had been hiding from Ahab and Jezebel for over 3 years. It had been 3 years since God told him to tell Ahab, it ainít a gonna rain no more, until I say so. Three years later Elijah shows himself to Ahab and they have the great showdown at the OK corral, actually on Mt. Carmel. God shows up and honors Elijah and
he kills the prophets of Baal. Then He prays and the floodgates of heaven were opened up and it rained. Elijah runs for miles and miles to Jezreel. Ahab tells Jezebel what Elijah has done and she puts the word out on the street that there is a contract on Elijahís head. Elijah is totally spent. He is exhausted, mentally, physically and spiritually, He is depressed and so He
says, "I have had enough, I quit. I am leaving town, I really want to die. (Read vv. 4-13). Verse 12 literally says, "out of the sound of silence God spoke." (Some of you are having flashbacks to Simon and Garfunkel). After a tornado, there was an earthquake, followed by a fire. Nature was loud and boisterous. And when they were all finished, there was silence and then God
spoke to His servant out of that silence.
I believe that our Lord wants to spend some quiet time with you. In fact I will be bold, and not to scare you but to tell you that if you donít take the time to be quiet, He may just arrange it for you. Like the sheep in Psalm 23 He makes us to lie down so we can hear Him. Donít wait for your body, or your mind, or your soul to break down before you
get quiet before God. Stop it! Take the time to listen.
Here is what I want to suggest to you.
A. Pick a time and a place to meet God every day. Maybe for just 10 minutes.. Just find a place where you can be quiet and hear God. Your basement, garage, easy chair, closet, etc. A stump in the woods, a huge rock where you can sit and think and pray.
1. Simply ask God to speak to you. Mediate on the scripture, Use the ACCEPTS questions. And then ask God to tell you how to apply the answer to your life. Pour your heart out to God and Then Listen
2. Ask God to search your life and review what you did yesterday and clean up any sin or attitude, or action that he wants you to change. Then Listen. Almost every sport now videos their games and then the team watches them to learn what they did wrong and what they did right to help them to play better the next time. Thatís the value of soul
3. After you have listened, pray back to God what He has revealed to you.
B. Take a Sabbath every week. Take a day, or part of the day, whether it is Sunday, or Thursday to rest and talk to God and to listen. God gave us the Sabbath as a time in the rhythm of life to not be refreshed in your body but in your soul. Gather with your church family. Sing and listen and pray as you seek Godís will.
C. Plan a periodic prayer retreat. That is, a day or weekend, or week, that is not a vacation, but a time to concentrate on God and His will for your life. Go to the ocean, or the mountains, or the desert, the forest, or beside Mikeís pond. This is a time without cell phones, or tablets or notebooks, and no TV. Every once in a while, Debbie will say,
we need to go away and pray. Just your Bible, and have paper and pen. You may want to journal your time with God.
Ask some deep questions to God.
Psalm 90:12 says, So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. If you live to be 80 or 90 how many days is that? If I live to be 80 that is only about 6200 days. If I live to be 90, that is about 9800 days. That pales to the 23,000 days that are behind me.
Lord Jesus; the Great I Am:
- What do you want to me to accomplish in those days?
- What in my life needs to change so I can accomplish those things?
- What are important things that I need to start doing?
- What habits do I need to start?
- What habits do I need to stop?
- What do you want me to do?
- How can I demonstrate my love to you Father in Heaven?
- How can I love my family and church better?
- How can I reach the world with the Gospel?
- What will my legacy be if I die today?
- What do I want my legacy to be?
After you ask each question pause for at least 60 seconds and listen to what is being said to your soul.
Ask the ACCEPTS questions
Then listen as you mediate on the words of scripture.
He may direct your eyes to a portion of Scripture that you need to see, or He may remind your soul and mind of the words you read at another time, or that the preacher shared at one point. But donít be deceived, make sure that what you hear is Godís voice and not your own desires. Make sure that whatever you hear has a Bible reference.
Worry and fear; hurry and multitasking, busyness and noise, will make you come apart if you donít intentionally take the time to focus on God, draw closer with God, and seek His direction for your life. Take the time to stop it and know that God is on control.
Do you know Him? Do you know Him personally, intimately? He wants you to (Jeremiah 9:23-24; John 17:3; Phil. 3:7-10).
He wants you to be His child (John 1:12)
And He wants you to grow to become like Jesus (Rom. 8:28-29)
Letís pray about it.
If this life lesson has encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman