In this worship gathering for the second Sunday of Advent, we hear a message (inspired by the work of Craig Groeschel) based on 1 Kings 19 that helps us understand that God is with us, even in the wilderness times of our lives. You can watch the message below, or the whole worship gathering below that.
“The sound of silence.”
Some of us may think of the old Simon and Garfunkel song when we hear those words. That song may not give the most solid advertisement for the value of silence!
The reality, today, is that most of us do not know the sound of silence, because we hear so little of it.
For some, it’s simply a mindless habit: when we get up, we turn on the radio or the TV or a streaming device, and sound motivates the start (and maybe middle and end) of our day.
For others, it’s an intentional act to avoid silence because they fear what they will encounter in the silence.
Understand this: silence is where God may want to reach you. Silence may be where you have the best opportunity to hear from God.
Elijah learned this. He had conquered the prophets of Baal, with God’s help, and was now running from Queen Jezebel. He stopped to rest, basically parking under a broom tree saying that he’d had enough of life. God sent an angel to feed him and give him strength for the journey ahead (that he didn’t want to take). God said he would speak to Elijah, so Elijah went into a cave at Mount Sinai, as if to hide.
God asked him what he was doing there. Elijah offered an excuse. God sent him to the edge of a mountain, and along came a windstorm, and then an earthquake, and then a fire. But God was not in those phenomena. We read in 1 Kings 19.12b-13 (NLT), “And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”
God spoke in the gentle whisper. It was not the booming sounds of windstorm, earthquake or fire in which the voice of God was to be heard, but in the quiet.
When you spend time with God, do you set aside time in silence? Who knows how the Lord might speak if you set aside all the noise of life even for a few minutes.
I’ve been blogging a bit while I’m in India, reflecting on the work I’m seeing God do in this most interesting country. In a recent post, I reflected on the fact that India, while one-third the size of Canada geographically, has 36 times the population! What’s more, only about 2% of India comprises Christians, so the church here plays a very minor role, both presently and historically.
However, what I see in the people I am meeting at SAIACS does not reflect the statistics. One might think that a faith group that is such a minority might just barely be holding on, but the church in India thinks big. I am meeting people whose heart for mission and evangelism is as big as the nation itself.
There are parts of India that are already thoroughly evangelized; one area in northeast India, I’m told, is 100% Christian. By contrast, there are parts of south India where hardly a church is to be found. Clearly, the need is great, but at the same time, there is great zeal for the work to be done.
I wish that in Canada we had the same passion for mission and evangelism that I see in my Indian sisters and brothers. They have a willingness to sacrifice much – including the admiration of their friends and sometimes even connections with their families – to reach people for Jesus Christ. And when they see God work in power, these people receive the Lord. In some cases, they have experienced the complete inaction of their own gods in contrast to the powerful action of the Lord, and they respond. It’s a bit like Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18: the prophets of Baal keep pleading with their god to act, but he never responds. Elijah, by contrast, throws buckets and buckets of water on the altar, and God still sends fire from heaven.
We serve an awesome God who loves to be in relationship with us. We all know people who are far from God. True, their life circumstances may be so different from those of the people of India that they feel their own affluence is sufficient to carry them, but if they are shown the care and compassion of God, who loved us so much he gave his only Son, they, too, will come into a love relationship with the Lord.
What will you do today to demonstrate the love of Jesus to someone in need?
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25.40, NIV).