Encouragement From The Word

The Sound of Silence

The sound of silence.

For some, it is a reference to Simon and Garfunkel.

For others, it is the noise made by the refrigerator or the HVAC system.

For some, it is deafening.

For others, it is the most beautiful sound on earth.

Whatever it may mean to us, the sound of silence is a gift, whether we acknowledge it or not.  For it is in silence that we are most clearly able to commune with God as friend to Friend, as servant to Master, as disciple to Lord.  Think about it:  when you are having an intentional conversation with a close friend, you’re probably not having to shout over a loud racket, right?  When it’s a serious conversation, there’s probably no discernible noise in the background.

So why not do this with the Lord?

At times, we may wonder why we don’t hear from God; it’s less likely that God is silent, and more likely that we are not making space to listen.

As you read the Bible, as you pray – whatever shape that takes – consider doing it accompanied by the sound of silence.  You may be surprised how much you hear.

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 62.5-6, NRSV).

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Encouragement From The Word

The Sound of Silence

“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.

Encouragement From The Word

Let go of your concerns!

Last night, my small group was talking about the disciplines of solitude and silence. For many Christ-followers, these can be really challenging – perhaps more so today than in any other era. Why? Because we have so much more to stimulate – and over-stimulate – us all the time. What might seem the easiest of spiritual disciplines can be the most difficult.

The thought of even a half-day silent retreat scares many of us half to death, because, if we’re honest, we have a certain addiction to our external stimuli. And, as with most addictions, we don’t really know it’s there until we are deprived.

As Ruth Haley Barton has written, “Silence deepens our experience of solitude, because in silence we choose to unplug not only from the constant stimulation of life in the company of others but also from our own addiction to noise, words, and activity. It creates a space for listening to the knowings that go beyond words…. The most essential question in solitude is: How have I been wanting to be with God, and how has God been wanting to be with me?” (Sacred Rhythms)

Today, instead of giving you more to read, I want to encourage you to take the next few minutes in silence, by yourself – just you and God. Sit comfortably, with your feet on the floor, palms up to indicate your openness to receive from the Lord. Pay attention to your breathing; slow it down. Close your eyes. Express your deepest longing to God. Take as long as you can, free from external visual or aural stimuli, in the presence of your Creator who loves you.

Let go of your concerns!

    Then you will know that I am God.

        I rule the nations.

        I rule the earth.” (Psalm 46.10, God’s Word Translation)

Encouragement From The Word

The gift of silence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you enjoy that moment of silence?

 

Of course, if you’re like me, you probably scrolled through quickly and wondered what was wrong with the way I posted today’s Encouragement.  I did it intentionally!  I wanted to give you a moment of silence in your day.  Most of us don’t get that, do we?

 

In a world filled with noise, good and bad, silence is a foreign thing to us.  Some folks are afraid of silence; they feel the need to fill each moment with some sort of sound.  Silence, though, can be said to be God’s first language.  Certainly my experience is that I can hear from God best when I open myself to a time of silence.

 

Do you build time for silence into your day?  For those who are introverts or who live alone, it can be easier to do; irrespective of our preferences or living arrangements, though, God invites us to times of silence.

 

Be still, and know that I am God”, said the Lord through the Psalmist (Psalm 46.10a, NIV).  That phrase “Be still” can also be translated, “Let go of your grip.”  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look down and find my hands clenched into fists for no particular reason – it’s as if I’m holding on for dear life to something, but there’s nothing there!

 

When we let go of our grip, we can give up control to the God who made the world and made us for a relationship of love.  When we are still, then we can truly know that the Lord is God.  When we are quiet, we can engage in relationship with the Lord and hear him speaking into our souls.

 

Why not take a few minutes, right now, to be still, to let go of your grip, and to know that the Lord is God?  Give yourself five minutes; time it if you feel you need to.  Perhaps begin yours silence by inviting the Lord to speak, as Samuel did:  “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3.10b, NIV).  When you’re done, write down in a journal (or whatever scrap of paper is handy) how the Lord spoke to you through that time.

 

Here’s some more space for silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s best for your weekend.  Maybe you can set aside some time for silence again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…

Biblical Messages

God’s Invitation To Doing

Last week, I spoke about how God invites us simply to ‘be’ with him, to spend time with him in Sabbath, solitude and silence.  This week, the message is about how God invites us to ‘do’ – to put our faith to work, and to ensure that we ‘do’ for God out of the strength of our ‘being’ with God.  Based on Matthew 12.46-50, you can listen to the message by clicking here.

Biblical Messages

God’s Invitation To Being

In our busy world, we regularly forget that we were not made to go hard 24/7.  We were made to spend six days in our work, and one day in rest.  And that rest – that gift of Sabbath – should include availing ourselves of God’s gifts of solitude and silence.

Prior to this message, based on Matthew 11.25-30, this video was shown.  You can listen to the message by clicking here.