Life is noisy. Kids are noisy. Co-workers are noisy. The news is noisy. Restaurants are noisy. Traffic is noisy.
We are so accustomed to noise that we often avoid silence. We have music playing while we read. We leave the tv on while we're at home. We sometimes turn on fans or even phone apps that make "white noise" so we can sleep with noise. Even our church services avoid silence.
When is the last time you were silent?
When is the last time you turned off the noise?
True, you aren't able to entirely avoid noise, but you can be much more intentional about times of silence.
There is a type of restoration to your soul that can only occur in silence. There is an aspect of healing and peace that comes only from quietness, waiting, listening, and trusting.
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”
Psalms 62:1-2 ESV
You may not be able to create an entirely noise-free environment, but you can take advantage of the moments of silence God gives you throughout the day – when the kids are asleep, when the co-workers are occupied, when you're alone.
Turn off the music, the tv, and your phone for a few minutes. Look at the sky, the scenery, and the sunset. Breathe deeply and receive the gift of silence, along with its accompanying gifts of healing, restoration, and peace.
Silence is not an enemy to be feared, but a friend to be trusted. The whispers of God can only be heard in the quiet places of the soul.
A good friend of mine, Pastor Jerry Dirmann, recently said, "If you change your prayer life, you'll change your life."
Prayer is a fundamental, but often under-utilized, difference maker in a believer's life. Not only is Prayer a privilege, it is our responsibility. Prayer invites and permits God's will to be done here "on earth as it is in heaven."
Peter admonished believers with these words:
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
1 Peter 4:7 ESV
Here are some simple, but essential principles of prayer:
- Pray out loud! I'm not sure why so many believers default to silence or "praying in my heart". While there may be a few occasions when an out-loud prayer may not be conducive, prayer is a verbal activity. God designed our words to be a creative force, and it is our words in prayer that release God's power. Death and life are not in the power of the mind, but in the power of the tongue! (Proverbs 18:21)
- Pray the Word! If our words are so powerful, then we need to be sure we are praying the right words. God's Word helps us pray His will. Find God's promises and principles that apply to your situation and use those Scriptures as a template for your prayers. His Word is the "sword of the Spirit" – our weapon of spiritual warfare! (Ephesians 6:17)
- Pray in the Spirit! Although Scripture helps us target our prayers, it is the Holy Spirit that brings those prayers into razor sharp focus. There are many times when we don't know exactly how to pray, or what the answers are, but the Holy Spirit helps us by praying with us, and through us (Romans 8:26). Prayer "in the Spirit" is a powerful gift available to all believers and will transform your prayer life. My recent series, Empowered, will provide biblical understanding and build your faith to receive God's promises in this area of your life.
- Pray without ceasing! This phrase, spoken by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thes. 5:17, simply means that we are to always be engaged in prayer, praying about everything, leaving nothing uncovered. We keep praying until we see breakthrough. We never give up!
Take a 10 day challenge. Set a reminder on your phone to pause three times each day for ten days. Take time to actually pause and give specific focus to prayer – even if for only five minutes. I expect that you will experience the presence and power of God like never before.
If you change your prayer life, you'll change your life!
How would you describe your pace of life? Is your mind overloaded? Is your heart overwhelmed? When is the last time you felt comepletely at peace? Do you have to escape from your daily life to find a sense of rest and refreshment?
Although God created us to be strong and resiliant, to work hard and to push through difficulties, He also created a rhythm of life that helps us live at an optimal level. That rhythm includes rest.
Musicians understand the value of a “rest”. Musical scores not only tell the musician what and when to play, it tells him or her when NOT to play. Rests allows the music (and the musicians) to breathe.
Life is often lived at a relentless pace, but when are we to breathe? Where are life’s rests?
Although vacations and occasional times of escape are wonderful and should be enjoyed, we must also find those moments of pause within our everyday lives! Each week we should find a time to pause. Each day we should stop and rest – and breathe.
“O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.” Isaiah 33:2 ESV
The Holy Spirit invites you today – maybe right now – to pause, to reflect, to breathe, to wait on the Lord.
Take a few moments to relax and whisper a prayer to God, and invite Him to be with you in each appointment of your day. Take a moment to meditate out loud on the promises of God’s Word. Lift up your own song of worship as you lift your eyes and hands toward your Father.
Isaiah later said:
“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 ESV
Maybe it’s time for a newer, healthier, Spirit-led rhythm of life. Your song will make more sense when it’s played at the right tempo. Remember, God sets the rhythm for your song.
Even though I know I’m forgiven, sometimes I don’t feel forgiven.
Satan loves to bring up the past and try to get us to wallow in shame, condemnation, and self-judgment. Old mindsets try to creep back in and we find ourselves vulnerable to temptations we thought we had overcome. Sin lurks at the door – as either a temptation or as a heavy shadow from the past.
But Jesus has conquered sin! Not only has He redeemed you from the shame of sin; He has freed you from the grip of sin. I heard Pastor Robert Morris say it like this: we have been saved from the penalty of sin; we are being saved from the power of sin; and one day we will be saved from the presence of sin.
Not only was Jesus the sacrifice for our sin, He was/is our High Priest who presented the sacrifice to God and who intercedes on our behalf. The book of Hebrews describes Jesus’ priestly role in great detail, including this powerful verse:
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:13-14 ESV
Old Testament sacrifices only provided temporary and limited atonement, but Jesus’ sacrifice – His new covenant in His own blood – provided a complete and eternal sacrifice for us.
Sin cannot be ignored, justified, or hidden. In fact, the Holy Spirit Himself will often bring up sin from your past, but remember, His motivation is to set you free from sin, not to chain you to it.
So, if there are unresolved sin issues in your life, you can simply:
- Confess, acknowledge and admit your sin to God.
- Repent from your sin. Turn away from it. Choose a different path, and get the accountability you need to be victorious.
- Receive forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ. Refuse to let shame and condemnation hover over you like a dark cloud. Rebuke the Accuser (Satan) and reject his lies.
Today you can not only walk in forgiveness, you can walk in freedom!
A few years ago I led a trip to Israel. On one of our free days I took a group to Hezekiah’s Tunnel. From entry to exit the tunnel is about 300 yards long, with a few bends along the way. It was (and is) primarily a way for water to flow from one part of Jerusalem to another. Water came up to my thighs at one point.
The tunnel is just wide enough for people to walk through in a single file line and, although sections of the tunnel have high levels of clearance, I had to stoop down to get through other parts of the tunnel. It would be a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare.
I led our group through the tunnel with Carrie right behind me. We were armed with nothing more than our phones as flashlights and a spirit of adventure!
We were barely in when my wife said, “Nope!” She turned and made everybody back out of the tunnel so she could get out. Haha! We finally talked her into doing it, but she was on the verge of “freak out” the whole time. As we started into the tunnel again, it only took a few steps for us to walk out of the light and into the darkness. And wow- it was dark!
At what we guessed was about the halfway point, I stopped and told everyone to turn their lights off. Carrie was not at all happy about that idea. Everyone turned their phone lights off and we found ourselves in the darkest darkness we had ever been in.
Genesis describes a time when “the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep.” Many people believe this particular darkness was caused by Lucifer’s prideful, rebellious fall from heaven to earth. He and one third of the Angels were cast to the earth, and we now refer to them as Satan and his demons.
Whatever your theological notions about when and how “darkness” (evil) came into the world, you wouldn’t argue the fact that our world is certainly evil and dark in many ways. Injustice, pride, hatred, intolerance, poverty, crime – these are all too prevalent. And all of these things are the result of Satan and sin and selfishness.
That is the world into which Jesus came. The Light of the world came into the world of darkness. This was something about which Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Jesus became flesh.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9:2 ESV
Darkness is expelled by light. Light always wins over darkness. Jesus conquered the darkness of Satan and the darkness of sin, but we must choose to invite His light to shine in our own lives in order for us to walk in the light!
The light Jesus of Jesus not only calls us out of darkness, it also makes us to be lights of the world as well! We become shining lights, reflecting the glory of God!
Today you can choose to allow the light of Jesus to dispel spiritual darkness! And His light can shine brightly through you to bring hope to others around you! If you are walking through a long, dark cave, remember that Jesus is the Light of the world!