Sunday, September 09, 2007

Getting To Know God: Silence
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Getting To Know God: Silence

Intro.: I want to start today's sermon a bit differently than other sermons. In fact, it would be an even worse idea if any of you fall asleep.

  1. I want you to close your eyes and relax. Relax you toes, legs, fingers, arms, shoulders, face. Just relax ... and listen to the word of God.

Ps 46: 10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Zech 2:13 Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

Mark 4:39 Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

I Kings 19:10-13 The Lord said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here?”

  1. I, like you, would like to see God do wonderful things. I would like him to do wonderful miracles.

  2. But sometimes God is not in the big things. He is not always in the excitement of a thunderstorm; He is not always in crowds. But as Elijah, David, Zechariah, and Jesus showed us, he can also be found in the still moments.


T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to suggest three principles that will help us find God in times of stillness.

  1. Principle #1: Find time to be still.

    1. It may seem obvious – but I know in the midst of my busy life, it is easy to forget to slow down to hear God.

(Ill.) I was surprised to find on CNNs web site yesterday an article discussing stress – it seems that most of us don't use the most obvious means of relieving stress in our lives. We live way up here, we need to find times to live down here.

    1. The incident we read about this morning should help us remember this point. Elijah is looking for God – but is having a hard time finding Him. He was not in the wind that tore the mountains. He was not in the earthquake. He was not in the fire. Those things are scary, those things get our attention, But God was not there that day.

    2. But it was only in the whisper, the small voice that Elijah finally found God present.

    3. I cannot but wonder what God first whispered to Elijah – what was said by God that got Elijah's attention? I could make some guesses, but that would be missing the point.

    4. Which leads us to our second principle.

  1. Principle #2: We need to listen for God

    1. Elijah was listening. I expect, like us, he was disappointed when he didn't find God. Whether it was the wind, the earthquake, the fire – he did not see God. He was looking, He was waiting. But he did not see God.

    2. But though he did not see God, he never stopped looking. It must have been hard.

(Ill.) I love the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grow in silence; see how the stars, the moon and sun, how they move in silence …1

    1. And that is where Elijah did hear God. But if he had not been listening, then he would not have heard God.

(Ill.) Waiting to be interviewed for a job as a wireless operator, a group of applicants paid little attention to the sound of the dots and dashes which began coming over a loud speaker. Suddenly one of them rushed into the employer’s office. Soon he returned smiling. “I got it!” he exclaimed. “How did you get ahead of us?” they asked. “You might have been considered if you hadn’t been so busy talking that you didn’t hear the manager’s coded message,” he replied. “It said, “The man I need must always be on the alert. The first one who interprets this and comes directly into my private office will be hired.”” The lesson is clear: Too many Christians are not really tuned in, so they do not hear God’s directives.2 They are not listening for God.

    1. Are you tuned in? Are you listening for God?

  1. Principle #3: Respond to God

    1. I want to be careful here – because I have no idea what God will say to you when you do hear Him.

    2. He may merely remind you that he loves you. He may encourage you to serve him. Or he may give you some responsibility something to say or something to do..

    3. But when you encounter God, you cannot ignore Him. When you encounter God will respond: you will either ignore Him or you will be empowered by Him

    4. Twice the Psalmist tells us that “the fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'” If we ignore God, the result is just as if we were saying that “there is no God”.

    5. I did not read the end of the story of Elijah's encounter with God. Elijah was one the earliest prophets in Israel. And he felt like he was the last remaining believer in Israel. But when he met God that day, God had something for Elijah to do. – he was to go back from where he came and meet the 7000 other believers in Israel.

    6. Elijah could have refused – but he did not. He was no fool. For he wanted what all believers should want:

Conclusion: But as believers we all want

  1. Find time to be still

  2. Listen for God

  3. Respond to Him – whatever He may say or ask


1Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985), 126. Quoted in Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (708). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2H. G. Bosch in Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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