Hello Church Devotion Sept. 17, 2013
“Q” is for “Quiet”
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6
It has been a long time since I had to use the raised parental voice to compete with children who had created the sounds that could drown out an airplane’s engine roar. Even as I sit at the dining room table writing this tonight, there is music in the background from my wife’s iphone as she works on stuff for her workplace.
It almost seems as if the library is the only place where quietness is expected and accepted anymore. Anywhere else you go, there is music. Or there are voices of other people involved in conversations. There is the sound of traffic and the sirens of emergency vehicles. There are the comfortable noises of cooling systems and fans. The sounds of people and crowds and their incumbent noises encroach upon our conscience state and can drain us of peace and tranquility.
Is it any wonder that people are nearing their breaking point and lose control so quickly in this day and age? Perhaps the lack of quietness is a part of the problem. I’ve known folks who can’t fall asleep unless the television is playing or music is sounding. What is it about silence that is so frightening? Is it that our own thoughts are so bad and evil that we don’t want to think deeply or hear them? Is that why we are so shallow minded and spiritually blighted? Is it because we don’t spend enough time being quiet and listening to our thoughts as well as the desires and promptings of the Holy Spirit?
I was driving back from Milledgeville by myself in the car last Sunday evening. It was beautiful outside and the on the back roads of Georgia, it can be almost magical. No one else was on the streets and as I made my way home I took a different route than usual. My car told me I was heading Northeast, which meant that I would eventually come upon I-20. While in this area, there was no phone service. My phone GPS wouldn’t load. I could have listened to the radio for company, but elected instead to be quiet. As I focused more intently upon the countryside, I felt myself relaxing… The pine trees and the green fields looks undeniably rich and verdant. At one point, I stopped and pulled over to the shoulder (not an actual shoulder to the road mind you, but rather a patch of reasonably level grass). I turned off the engine and for 10 full minutes I stood outside the car looking and absorbing the quiet peacefulness of that area.
Zechariah 3:16-17 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Oh, how I could have stayed longer. I had a vision of blessed un-rush-ed-ness. A holy quietness settled in my soul and led me into a silent conversation with our Creator God. How thankful I was for the few minutes of respite. How rested and blessed I felt after that time. For the remainder of the trip, I was silent. No radio. No news broadcast. No phone calls. Just me and my God. It was wonderful. How long has it been since you spent any amount of time being quiet and listening?
Psalm 46 - 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Do we notice His presence among us? Or are we too busy and noisy to pay much attention?
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
These are noisy things, waters roaring, mountains trembling. Even creation gets loud! Are we too distracted by the noise of creation to hear the quiet voice of our God?
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
God provides for us. For those who trust in Him, He provides and is always faithful. In our frantic pace and schedule, do we remember that promise He gave us?
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
The nations cause tumults. They clang and bang around with unrelenting noise and violence. Yet, where does our strength come from? It comes from our God as He speaks forgiveness through the violence of the cross. With quiet words, Jesus prayed. “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do”. God is with us.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
Calamities and desolations will occur around us. But in the end, all the sinful noises will be extinguished. We would be reminded that God alone provides the word of welcome by grace. Not our works, but rather His work in the obedience of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God.
Be still and quiet. Stop what you are doing. Take a 10 minute break with God. Even better, spend an hour being quiet each day and listening to His word. By so doing, you will find the renewal of your mind and your spirit. And because of God’s work of renewing you, you will find reason to exalt God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
God is indeed with us. He is awaiting us. Patiently calling to us and listen and obey.
Our original text today was from 1Timothy 2 where Paul calls upon us to pray. He exhorts us to pray for many things including the rulers and authorities in our governments. In the context of St. Paul, it was the Caesar Nero for whom he was telling the Christians to pray. Nero, you may remember, is the man who cruelly punished Christians and made sport of killing them. But let us remember why we are to pray for our kings and presidents. We do this so that God will work through them to provide us with peaceable and quiet lives. Our lives lived out in ways that can fully appreciate the redemptive work of our God without struggles or undue hardships.
Praying is also a quiet time with the Lord. So, when you are stressed over something, try taking a God break. God will break into your life at these God breaks which are planned times so He can provide the peace and quietness that we so often need and don’t take the time usually to enjoy. It can be the absolute great time of fulfillment and joy.
Even now, I wonder when I can get back to the road to Milledgeville… Of course, we don’t have to go anywhere, but can stay right where we are to spend quiet time with God. We can also go to the Church. The Sanctuary stays quiet most of the time, so come on by and spend some time.
Prayer: Lord, refresh me by Your calming presence. Relieve me of my burdens of supposed necessity and refocus me on Your word and voice. Take away the clanging cymbals of dissonance that continually wail around me. Take me by the hand and lead me to the place of quiet reflection and meditation. Help me to hear Your still quiet voice. Assist me in taking time to be quiet and at peace. Renew my heart and mind so that when I return to the noise and distractions of the world, I may not be immediately agitated. Grant me Your peace and quiet stillness that provides a sacred space in my heart and in my life. In the name of my Savior Jesus, I pray. Amen.
1. How can I find a place to be uninterrupted for 10 minutes? Try early morning or late at night if no other time can be found.
2. Is it possible to still my thoughts that race around my brain so that I can set them aside to be renewed? Yes, but it may take a few times to learn how to set those busy thoughts aside and be truly quiet.
3. What example did Jesus provide when He was constantly on the move and providing healing and miracles? Answer: He went away alone to pray.