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.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Getting To Know God: Knowing Ourselves
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Getting To Know God: Knowing Ourselves

Intro.: I took another week to come to the church without my computer. As we continue our examination of the tools that God provides so we can know Him better – it became obvious to me that one of those tools is the need to see our world like He sees it.

  1. That means we need to see our jobs like he sees it.

  2. It means that we need to see our recreation like he sees it.

  3. It means that we need to see our friends like he sees them.

  4. And it means that we need to see ourselves like he sees us.

  5. And when I came to that point, I stumbled on a Psalm that I must have read many times before; but this week it found a home in my heart.

Read: Psalm 32:1-11


T.S. Psalm 32 gives us a glimpse of how one man learned to look at himself as God saw him.

Trans: The origin of this passage is not clear.

  1. Some think it is a response to David's sin with Bathsheba.

  2. But David makes it clear that the 51st Psalm was written in response to his encounter with Nathan and coming to see what he did was a sin against God.

  3. There are some think it was written during the period that David was hiding from King Saul and had to time to reflect.

  4. But regardless of when he wrote the Psalm, it was clear that he has grown to appreciate that God sees him as he really is.

  5. God sees the good, the bad, and the ugly – and he accepts as we are. David learned that – so can we.

T.S. Psalm 32 is a five point argument for opening ourselves to see ourselves as God sees us.

  1. God's Plan Stated Psalm 32:1-2

    1. David begins by stating the principle that will underlie this entire Psalm - Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

    2. Forgiveness does not mean we did not sin. Forgiveness does not mean that sin is forgotten. Rather it means that our sin is not held against us.

(Ill.) I remember as a child dying Easter Eggs – there would be coffee cups of red, blue, green, and yellow dye. Now, it was mother's hope that the dye would only get onto the eggs. But you certainly understand an eight year old boy. He wants to find out what happens when I, I mean he, dips his finger into the little containers sitting on the kitchen table. Of course my mom spend a few minutes trying to clean the finger, but it was stained. But you know what, the next day, though the stained remained, everybody treated me just as if I had never dyed my finger.

    1. As broken people, we have sinned. But God will look at us as if we had never sinned.

  1. God's Plan Applied Psalm 32:3-5

    1. Now, as an academic, I know when I write something I am suppose to site my source.

    2. David does – for he is his own source: When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

    3. David makes three distinct statements:

      1. Sin has consequences – physical and mental

      2. David chose to confess his sin

      3. Confession leads to forgiveness

(Ill.) Ronald Reagan understand this principle when he quoted II Chronicles 7:14: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land.1

    1. It is a principle that is as true for individuals as it is for nations.

  1. God's Plan Offered Psalm 32:6-7

    1. David had experienced God's grace. But he also knew it was not his alone. It was for everybody and David offers an invitation: Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

(Ill.) I suppose that there are a number of ways to respond to an invitation. For example Oscar Wilde the author and playwright, had an aunt who chose to host a grand ball – with all the glitter and pomp that you might expect. She was devastated when nobody showed up. She died without ever knowing that she had failed to mail the invitations.2 God has sent His invitations – we need only respond.

(Ill.) This week I came across another story about an invitation.

Sir Leonard Wood once visited the King of France and the King was so pleased with him he was invited for dinner the next day.

Sir Leonard went to the palace and the King meeting him in one of the halls, said, “Why, Sir Leonard, I did not expect to see you. How is it that you are here?”

“Did not your majesty invite me to dine with you?” said the astonished guest.

“Yes,” replied the King, “but you did not answer my invitation.”

Then it was that Sir Leonard Wood uttered one of the choicest sentences of his life. He replied, “A king’s invitation is never to be answered, but to be obeyed.”

    1. “Let everyone who is godly pray to you, while you may be found.” We must obey the king.

  1. God's Plan Defended Psalm 32:8-10

    1. Beginning with verse 8, David changes his tone. Rather than addressing God, he now assumes the voice God: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

    2. Why confess? Why turn to God? Because he will guide you.

(Ill.) Woodrow Wilson was the President who led us through World War I. In the midst of President Wilson’s difficulties in international negotiations he, too, felt the need of divine guidance. When Mr. Wilson arrived at a cabinet meeting his face wore a solemn look. It was evident that serious affairs of the nation were on his mind. He said to the cabinet members: “I don’t know whether you men believe in prayer or not. I do. Let us pray and ask the help of God.” The President of the United States fell upon his knees with the members of the cabinet, and offered a prayer to the Almighty for help. He had learned to turn to God when things got tough. 3

  1. God's Plan – Our Response Psalm 32:11

    1. There is one more point – our response: Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;

      sing, all you who are upright in heart!

    2. Lets conclude with a song that will allow us to leave with joy.


1Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.

2Tan, 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.

3Aquilla Webb 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.