For God’s sake, be still.
APRIL 24, 2023
For God’s sake, be still. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is all about God’s radical grace. Grace that has dirt under its fingernails and laugh lines on its face. If you want the Bible to be a book of rules, you may want to stop listening now, but if you’re hungry for the truth, that’ll make you free. Welcome to Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end, and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re just joining us, I wrote a book, I’m going to keep doing this until I get it right. The name of the book is Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. Whenever I do a book, I spend some time on the broadcast pursuing some of the themes. I mean, I’ve spent a lot, I’ve spent months on this and I don’t want to waste all of that research and all of that writing. So, I come on the broadcast and we pause in whatever study we were doing, and I spend some time on the book and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last few weeks. We’ve seen things like the surprising laughter and lament of God, life is hard and then you die. Now that was fun. Life is hard then you get angry, that was fun too. Life is hard then you repent. Life is hard and then you laugh. And then we spend some time on control, the mother of all addictions. And this week and next week, we’re going to be talking about the sound of silence. Before we do that, let’s pray and then we’ll get down. Father, when we come into your presence, we’re overwhelmed with your presence. You are awesome. You are big. You are sovereign. You’re in control. You are God. The only God, the only one worthy of our worship. And so, we worship you. We worship you of course because you’re kind and merciful and good and forgiving and generous and gentle and compassionate and forgiving. But Father, if you were none of those things, you’re still the sovereign Creator and you are worthy of our worship. But Father, you told us to call you Father, and we thank you for that. As a Father, you have redeemed us, you have loved us, and you’ll never let us go. Father, you know everybody who’s listening to this broadcast, the hard places and the soft places, remind us that you’re the God of both places. And then as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast. Forgive him his sins cause they are many. We would see Jesus and Him only, and we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. You have trouble being still? I do. And so, when I see that Psalm that says, it’s Psalm 46:10.
Be still and know that I’m God.
I have trouble with that. I was getting some tests at the local hospital not too long ago, and my wife and my assistant were sitting in the waiting room until I got the particular test. The nurse and the technician said, Mr. Brown, you have to be still and you have to be still for 15 minutes. And after about 20 minutes, the tech and the nurse came out to where my wife and assistant were and said, what am I going to do with him? And my wife said he doesn’t do still very well. I really don’t. I remember early in my ministry, one of the elders in the church said, Steve, you’ve got to be still sometimes. I said, I am still. He said, no you’re not. He said, listen, I’m going to give you a stopwatch. I want you to go back and just be still for two minutes and then you can do whatever you want to do cause I want to illustrate something with this stopwatch. So, after we had lunch, I went back to my study, started the stopwatch, closed my eyes, and sat there in the stillness and the quietness for at least a half an hour. And then I stopped the stopwatch and looked and I’d gone 30 seconds. And I found the elder and I said, point made. And then I went to the elder God himself and I said, you’ve got to help me with this. And he has, by the way. Things are better and sometimes in the stillness I hear his voice. Sometimes in the stillness of the early morning, I’m able to understand what this thing is all about. Sometimes in the stillness he comes, Psalm 46 begins with the words that are often read at funerals.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her and that right early.
You know something, Psalm 46 isn’t just for funerals. It is the essence of the peace and thus the freedom God’s people are to experience in the midst of the most heartbreaking and darkest of laments. It’s a statement of fact that becomes an anchor for the stillness the Psalmist calls for later in the Psalm. It is, if you will, the sound of silence. All that I’ve taught you on this broadcast and wrote in this book is what we all say to one another when the way is hard. If you’re a Christian, your appropriate response is, but of course I knew that. But can we talk? Actually, let me say something that you hardly ever hear at church or from me, by the way. Being still and knowing that God is God sounds good and it’s even true and wise, but if you think that pulling that off is easy, you are crazy. It’s like being told to forgive the person who just stuck a knife in your back, while that knife is still sticking out of the wound. Silence isn’t just an act, like forgiveness, it’s a process. Telling someone to be still and know that God is God is rarely helpful when you want to scream, and in fact, silence hardly ever happens until it’s all you’ve got left. There’s a common saying among Christians. Jesus and I’ve said it a number of times, and Christians say, Jesus is all I need, but you’ll never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you’ve got. And when Jesus is all you’ve got, you’ll know that Jesus is all you need. When I’m at the point of knowing that he’s all I’ve got, then and only then do I discover that Jesus is all I need. Being still and knowing that God is God usually never happens until that’s all we have left. It is a forced silence that becomes, believe it or not, a surprising grace. Let me give you some practical advice, and I’m going to do, I’m running out of time here, so I’ll continue with it tomorrow, but I’m going to give you some practical advice from an old preacher. I’m not particularly spiritual, but I’ve been there and I’ve done that. And after the advice, we’re going to define and listen to the sound of silence. First, let me mention it and we’ll talk more about it tomorrow. Before the silence, for heaven’s sake, make some noise. First, there’s silence, then make noise. Our lives kind of mimic Elijah’s experience in I Kings 19. Elijah experienced a tremendous victory over the prophets of Baal. Faced with depression after the victory, and that often happens after a win. Elijah is in need of a fresh word from the Lord. God had Elijah stand outside the cave where he was hiding, and God scared the spit out of him with strong hurricane winds, an earthquake, and a raging fire. And God wasn’t in any of that, but rather in the silence that followed in which Elijah heard the still small voice of God. The still small voice of God would not have been nearly as powerful, nor as helpful without the preceeding wind and earthquake and fire. Just so the silence we experience becomes powerful after the anger and the rejecting and the kicking and screaming of genuine retching lament. And so, don’t just say, I’m going to be silent before God. Instead, make some noise. Be angry, say what you think, and then see what happens in the silence when he comes. You think about that. Amen.
Be still and know that I am God. Good word. Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown resuming our survey of the Biblical truths that serve as the foundation of his latest book, Laughter and Lament. And we will pick up our exploration from right here tomorrow. Do hope you will join us for that. Speaking of still, it may be that you still don’t have a copy of Steve’s new book. Jeremy, I repent, that was an awful segue. Please, please, please click, set, and post. Okay. Alright. Anyway, we’ve been talking about Laughter and Lament. And you might not have a copy yet. It’s for you that we created the new Laughter and Lament booklet. It features several excerpts from the book. Can we send you a copy of that, for free? Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet. Or to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the Laughter and Lament booklet. And before you go, a question, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? You can give by charging a gift on your credit card or by including a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and even if you can’t give, please do pray for us. Okay? It really helps. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.