Sunday, August 26, 2007

Getting To Know God: Listening
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Getting To Know God: Listening

Intro.: Over the past few weeks we have been looking at a set of tools that have been gathered together under the term Spiritual Disciplines.

  1. As a group they provide us with a great number of ways that we can meet God.

  2. In an earlier generation, they were termed “means of grace” - that term was known to John and Charles Wesley.

  3. The list of tools is long – we are not exploring all of them, but trying to give you a broad picture of the tools that are available to us as believers to draw close to God.

Read: Psalm 81:8-16


Trans: Worship, our theme last week, allows us to turn toward God. There are times that focusing on ourselves can also let us better understand God.

  1. Rest prepares us to know God

    1. It may seem like a strange way to get to know God – but it really makes sense.

    2. We all will agree that building a relationship takes work. It was about 12 years ago that a friend of Sandra's noted that she had never seen a couple work so hard on their marriage. We have told you the story before. Our marriage was close to falling apart. And it was the hardest thing we ever did in our lives. Building a relationship is hard work.

    3. And it is as true when building a relationship with God as it is when building a relationship with a friend or spouse.

    4. And hard work in the spiritual life means not only being fit spiritually, but also being fit physically. And rest is a part of staying physically fit.

    5. Now, lest you think I am just full of hot air, it would be helpful to remember that Jesus calls us to rest: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.1

    6. Or maybe you remember the storm – the story is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. If you want to read about it, turn to Matthew 8:23-27. It comes shortly after the sermon on the mount. Jesus and the disciples have gotten into a boat. They begin to cross the sea of Galilee, but without warning, a furious storm came up. The waves were sweeping over the boat – the disciples were afraid they might be washed overboard. But do you remember what Jesus was doing in the midst of that storm – He was resting. Not just resting, He was sleeping. Rest, was part of His caring for Himself. The disciples woke Him up. Do you remember His words - “Peace be still.” He was rested, and he was ready to approach God.

    7. Rest will be part of a committed Christian life.

  2. Basking in the presence of God allows us to know God

    1. Paul writes in II Corinthians 4, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

    2. When we focus on the world, we will miss God. But when we live life in such a way that we see God at work wherever we may be, we will find ourselves living in God's presence whatever our lives may bring.

(Ill.) There is an island off the Southern coast of England known as the Isle of Wight. Over the years, it has been the summer home of a great many writers historical persons – Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll, Longfellow, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. In fact, it was not just a summer home of Lord Tennyson, the author of The Charge of the Light Brigade:

Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death. Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said:

Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.

The Isle of Wight is sort of diamond shaped – laying on its side. To the west, at one of the corners, lies an area known as Freshwater – It was Tennyson's home. Tennyson, walking with his niece over the breezy downs at Freshwater, began talking of God’s presence, and told her that he was as sure of it as were the disciples when they had the Christ with them on the road to Emmaus. His niece replied that she thought the presence of God would be awful to most people, but he replied, “I should be surely afraid to live my life without God’s presence.” The truly awful thing is to be without God, to be in the deepest sanctuary of our being terribly alone. And yet how many seem to battle in order to banish God—He is not, in all their thoughts.2

    1. Living in the presence of God is a wonderful goal. I remember my mother introducing me to a Brother Lawrence a dishwasher in Catholic Abby. He was called a “Contemplative” - a person who saw God in the ordinary things of life. His book The Practice of The Presence of God has become a classic of the Christian Church.

    2. Adele Calhoun3 suggests a method to help us to begin to experience God's Presense

      • Sit confortable with you feet on the floor and your hands in your lap. Relax

      • Turn your palms down and begin to drop your cares, worries, and expectations. Pray.

      • Turn your palms up, open your hands to experience God's presence, word, and love.

    1. An exercise that you can practice at home, at work, or on the go.

    2. We can learn to live in God's presence.

  1. Take time to listen to God

    1. Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God

    2. Zephaniah 1:7 “Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near.

    3. Psalm 23:2-3 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

    4. Sometimes the way we come get to know God is to take time to sit back and listen. Take a retreat.

    5. A retreat is not about a place – but about slowing down and listening to God

    6. It can take place in a quiet corner of your yard or house, it might be the zoo (one of my favorites), or on a hike.

    7. Its not about Bible Study, its not about worship, its not about doing it right.

    8. Its about setting aside a time in which you can meet Jesus

Conclusion: I don't know how you need to slow down and meet Jesus. But I do know we need to slow down and listen to God.


1The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Mt 11:28). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

3Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg (2005). Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books. Page 50.

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