Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 5 of 5: Stillness
Scriptures: Psalm 46
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/23/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire contemporary worship service, including the message.
From Screens to Stillness: Challenge of the Screens, a selection from Becky Eldredge’s terrific blog
Our world drastically changed on January 9, 2007. What happened on this date? Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, stood at a press conference and announced that Apple had reinvented the phone. He said it had software for everything, the world’s best media player, the world’s best telephone, and the world’s best way to get on the web, and in addition to that, it had a camera.
Just a few months prior to this announcement in January 2007, Facebook opened its doors to all above the age of thirteen in September 2006. Later in 2007, Twitter began. Google launched the Android phone in 2007 as well. Amazon came out with the Kindle. Mobile traffic drastically increased- 100,000% from 2007 to 2014.
So much changed in a short amount of time about how we communicate, how we interact, and how we go about building relationships. An article I read once in Forbes magazine stated that on average we get 121 emails a day, and we check our phones every twelve minutes. That’s over 80 times a day! The article said that for every interruption it takes us fifteen minutes to refocus. Our brains are exhausted from continually pulling in and out of focus all day….
While there is a gift to technology, the advent of the handheld screen is impacting our bodies, our health, our creativity, our mental health, and so much more. As I follow business literature I am seeing more and more being written about the value of pausing, of silence, and of being still. Every time I read a new book or article about this, I chuckle. The “medicine” they are offering people is the tried and true contemplative prayer practices our Christian faith has lauded for hundreds of years. It’s the medicine people taught me these past two decades, and I passionately want to share with others. I believe people are longing to live a different way and to have tools to help them combat the busyness and embrace the gift of stillness and silence.
I believe this, too. In the midst of trouble, stress, need, and a big pile of work, my last instinct is to be still. God invites me to cultivate stillness as my first instinct.
I’m learning how to do this and I hope you are learning right along with me. Since we began this sermon series, I established a new morning rhythm of Sacred Reading, Scripture, and Stillness. Already it’s making a huge difference.
I am different on the days I practice my morning rhythm than when I don’t. It’s simple. It’s classically Christian. It is Biblical and available for all of us.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge
Definition of Contemplative Prayer by Becky Eldredge, From Screens to Stillness: Embracing Silence and Stillness in the Day-to-Day
Contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition is about being still and silent with someone-God. We do not enter silence, stillness, and solitude alone. We go to be with someone.
For me, stillness is about recognizing the presence of God who is already there. This is what makes our practice of stillness different than practices outside the Christian tradition. Other practices seek answers within a person’s own self or seek to connect to larger energies or “universe.”
We seek the person and presence of God. We become still enough to realize the Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is not angry or distant but is our refuge.
Jennifer Gehman’s Testimony. Find Jenny at www.jennygehman.com
I’m part of an online group of Christian authors know as Bookwifery. We meet for an hour on Fridays to encourage one another, resource one another and pray for one another.
Jenny and her family have been praying about a major life change for her family- moving to a new city and a new job. Her word for the year is SOAR, yet all she could visualize was an eagle protecting its young. The wings folded over, wrapped around.
It makes sense. She cares for an adult child with special needs. She also has a strong hospitality calling, so she’s constantly welcoming people into her home.
She kept going to God in stillness. The Holy Host as she describes God. This past week this is what she heard- SOAR, Sweetheart, open and rise.
Do you hear the invitation in that? The affirmation. Not condemnation or mocking. An invitation to a new adventure, a new perspective, a bigger picture. They have decided to move and take on the new job.
There are a zillion questions yet to be answered, yet as she told the story her face lit up. She was almost giggling giddy. We all felt the lift, the soar of it.
It all came from stillness. This is for all of us.
God’s Defense of His City and People. To the leader. Of the Korahites. According to Alamoth. A Song.
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
Selah-(See-lah), it’s like breath. We’re not sure exactly what it means, but we suspect it means “stop and listen.” Stop and listen to the instruments? Stop and listen in the silence? Whatever it was, it was “stop and listen to God and let this promise sink in.”
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 the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought 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 shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Three times the Psalmist reminds us that God is our refuge and strength. (Psalm 46:1, 7, and 11) Our Deliverer. Our Savior.
Three times the Psalmist reminds us God is near. A very present help- well proved.
Knowing this we can be still and know God is God
I AM, exalted among the nations
I AM, exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10)
Knowing this we can be still
There’s no need to self-medicate with busyness and distraction
There’s no need to hustle for our self-worth or salvation
There’s no need to fear our dependence on God
There’s no need to fear what might come up in the stillness
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Knowing this about God brings us to stillness and brings us stillness.
Sermon- Stillness © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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