Sermon delivered 7/10/93 by Bob Beckett

This is a substitute sermon - see below

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.
(At times we have a service where the program would not be applicable for internet use. This morning was one of those times, and I have drawn from my past to put use this sermon instead. - Bob Beckett, Sermon editor for the McDonald Road Web Page. This sermon was give at the Saipan Seventh-day Advetist Church in the Mariana Islands on July 10, 1993, just before my wife and I returned from 4 years of voluntary mission service.)

Be Still and Know that I Am God

I'm reading this morning from Psalm 46 in the NIV. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

As I read through these verses, verse 10 seems to sum up the whole of the Psalm: "Be still, and know that I am God."

Some translations give the idea of stopping our strife, our fighting. And I suppose this text could be taken that way. I sort of like Be Still. It means to set aside all those things that trouble you.

Be still and know that I am God. How important is this message for us today. Be still and know that I am God.

What a rat race we live these days. So much noise, so much rushing around, so many deadlines to meet, so many demands on our time, so many things we want to do, so many things we just don't seem to find the time to do. What a busy world we're living in.

Some months ago, someone gave me these words:

Slow me down, Lord. I think you'll agree that the theme of the whole Bible, whether it be in the Old or the New Testament, is to know God. Well, here is one aspect the psalmist seeks to underscore, Be still, Be still and know that I am God.

Lord Dawson of Penn, who liked to go riding in his car with his children, one time said, "The most successful and serene people I have known, and those who keep youngest the longest, are those who know when to stop driving the car."

We see people on the freeway, on Lee Highway, on Apison Pike, on McDonald Road driving that car. They cut in and out on the highway, and they push, they literally push that car down the highway taking every advantage they can. And they're so obsessed with where they're going that they don't think of the other person on the highway. They don't take the time to see the scenery along the side of the road.

Taking group of teachers to an in-service meeting one time, I was driving the car and we had a schedule to meet. I was catching up on time and we were in a hurry. This was in Southeastern California in the Desert. Not much to see as we drove along,

Up ahead I spotted something just off the highway, just a little bit. As we got closer I saw that it was a desert lily just a short step or two from the highway. There it was!

I pulled over and stopped that car. And I got out and I went over and I looked at that desert lily, and so did the teachers. It was so beautiful. It looked a lot like an Easter lily except that it had a green stripe down the center of each petal. It was outstanding.

When all of us teachers got back in the car, one of them commented something about taking time to stop along the side of the road just to see a flower.

Be Still.

You know this life seems to be just one big round of doing and doing and doing and going, and going, and going. It seems like June and I are busy, busy, busy all the time. And we don't even have long distances to go.

Slow me down, Lord.

(Luke 10:38 cf.) Maybe that's what Martha's problem was. Remember how Jesus stopped at Mary and Martha's home one day. Here was a home in which Jesus could relax. A home in which He had real friends. A home in which He experienced true fellowship at the deepest level. And so Jesus stopped by.

Martha was busy getting out the best china, the best table cloth, spreading out a dinner. But Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, and Martha became a bit irritated. "This is unfair, Master. Send my sister to help me. Tell her to do something to help me."

But Jesus, loving her with a smile, and looking into her face, said, "Martha, you're so busy. Why don't you slow down? Martha, Mary has chosen the better part. Here is a wonderful opportunity to sit and let me talk to you. Here is a wonderful privilege of learning. Why don't you slow down, Martha?"

Could Jesus have been unfair to Martha? After all, if everyone in the world were a "Mary" how would the meals get prepared? We wouldn't get anything done. So, let's keep a balance. We must remember that Jesus was brought up in a working-class home. There were no servants to wait on Him and the members of His family. He knew how busy His mother had been. That she had done so many many things.

However, Mary had her priorities straight. She sat at the feet of Jesus. Have you ever stopped by to visit a friend? Just to have a chat. Only to have your friend rush off to the kitchen or to some other vital work because your friend wanted you to be especially welcome? They wanted to have things in order to make you comfortable. And there you sat - embarrassed. You must have put your friend to all that extra work. And then finally when the work was over, your friend returns. But your visit is nearly over.

Nowadays, we hear of visiting someone and they turn on the TV or they have the TV going and your visit has to be carried out with the sights and sounds of the TV. Very distracting! After all, who's going to turn the TV off, you know. A visitor's not going to.

Mary had her priorities straight. She took time to sit at the feet of Jesus. Be Still and Know that I am God.

I'm sure you've heard the story of the man who went up in an airplane for his very first ride. This is an old story. I remember reading this in Reader's Digest years ago, and I'm sure you've all heard it. They put him in the airplane and took him for a ride. When he got back and when he stepped out, they asked him, "Did you enjoy the flight?" "Oh yes!" he said, "I did. You see I didn't let all my weight down." We're like that, sometimes, aren't we?

We're so tied up, so tense, so busy, rushing here and there. And we just don't take time to let up, to let go and to relax.

You know, the Scriptures have quite a bit to say about this taking time to think about things. To be sure, there is much about battling, about fighting, building, running, and walking. But there's also the be still part, the quiet part.

You see, if we are going to work for the Lord we must be quiet first. We've got to wait quietly on the Lord if we're going to be involved in the work of the Lord. We've got to be still in the presence of God before we can go out and fight and run with patience the race that is set before us.

And I believe that is the secret that Jesus used. Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out into a solitary place and prayed.

You know, this is the secret which each one of us must have. Slow me down, Lord. Help me to take time. Help me to make time. Just to be quiet in your presence.

I love that hymn of Whittier's, and it's in our Hymnal, p.480 (Dear Lord and Father of mankind).

Drop thy still dews of quietness until all my strivings cease.  
Take from our souls the strain and stress 
And let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Thy peace. 

Do you feel that you're too busy? Do you feel that you've spread yourself out too thin? Do you feel that there are too many things you've got to do? No time to do them all? Wait upon the Lord. Come and get that rest Christ offers us.

Be still and Know.

Some time ago a gifted minister of England passed away at the very height of his career. After he died, one of his friends compiled a book of his sermons. In the introduction he gave a kind of biographical sketch of him. In it the friend said that for years this man had been struggling for holiness, trying so hard to be a better Christian, a better preacher, a better minister. Always torturing himself as he caught a vision of the kind of life he believed God wanted him to live. And then at the age of 36, his young wife died and left him with three boys. His friend writes in the memoir, "I think it is significant that he never entered another word in his diary after his wife's death. He recorded no more depressions, framed no more resolutions, scourged himself no more. He wrote to his sister, 'You and I both go wrong in feeling that we have to do it all ourselves. We go wrong in struggling and striving when we should be resting In God.'" He had discovered, and it took him a long time, it was a hard way, but he had discovered the secret of being still, and knowing God.

This is where so many of us go wrong in feeling that we have to do it all ourselves when we should be still and rest in God. Be Still, and know that I am God.

One of the things we took with us when we moved from California to Tennessee, was a clock. A wall clock and it still hangs in our home. It was given to us by our son-in-law, Mike, who had spent two years in Japan as a student missionary. He had collected clocks, all kinds of clocks, antique clocks, while he was in Japan. It's a strange clock and it won't go while straight. It's got to hang at an angle. I've tried several times to get it to run when it's hanging straight, but it doesn't work. One day I took the pendulum off to see if I could repair the thing. The moment I took off that pendulum it went "Tick tick tick tick tick tick...," real fast and the hands went round and round and round. Then when I put the pendulum back on again and hung it, it went correctly again when gravity came into action. But it still needed the slant. It had to hang at an angle, or it wouldn't run. You know, there's got to be a parable there. We need the pendulum if we're going to fulfill the purpose for which God made us. We're going to have to slow down and we need that staying, strengthening power of God.

Be still and know that I am God. This is what I am asking for this morning. And I speak to my own heart as I speak to you. I think we need increasingly to get away somewhere, quiet and alone away from all of these things that press around us. Take a Bible and perhaps a hymnal and sense His presence and talk to Him and let Him talk to us. Henry Drummond once said, "Two minutes, if it is heart to heart and face to face, can change a man's whole day."

Again, this is what I am pleading for. We must make some time where we can get quietly alone with God to talk with Him heart to heart and face to face. And realize that He is there with us. Listening to our prayers and answering according to His will. We need to take time to listen for His answer.

If we take that quiet time with God, I believe three things will happen.

Sometime we get so involved, so close to the situation that we need to withdraw into His presence and bathe our lives in prayer. When we do withdraw into His presence the tensions are released. His peace shows us the real situation and we are made more able to cope with all the demands that life brings to us. Then it is through prayer that God gives us strength.

I'm sure that's why Jesus prayed so often. He believed that this was the channel through which God's power came to Him. He was one hundred percent God. Yet He clothed Himself with human flesh and lived as a man among men. He couldn't do the things He did, He couldn't say the things He said, He couldn't accomplish His mission unless He had that power that God would give to Him.

And that power came through prayer. And so prayer relieves us of the tensions of life and gives us peace and enables us to cope with the demands of life and gives us power. Thus, prayer reveals to us the true meaning of life, gives us a purpose. How desperately we need to get closer to God.

If we're going to understand the world in which we live, if we're going to understand the kind of things that are happening today, if we're going be strong enough to stand and withstand all the kinds of testing that will come to us, even in our time of trouble, if we're going to fulfill our destiny, God's plan for our lives, we've got to wait in His presence quietly.

But talking to God is not enough. There's a place for talking when we come to pray, but there's also a place for listening. Be still, be still. and know that I am God. Slow me down, Lord. Amidst all of the hustle and rustle of life, be still. And in the stillness, and this is the promise, in the stillness you will know God.

Let us pray:

Oh God, our loving Father. You know all about us. We can't hide anything from view. You know all about our rushing here and there. You know about the things that demand our time. You know how often we go to bed at night and leave so many things undone. You know all about our frustrations, our disappointments, our discouragements. You know all things. Lord help us to look away from these things, at least for a time. Let us into your presence and in the stillness to know that you are God. And to be able through being in your presence to know that peace and that power and that meaning that you alone can bring to life.

Lord, give us grace to determine to do this and to do it for the praise and the glory of your name through Jesus Christ, our lord. Amen.

Given at Saipan July 10, 1993
Opening Hymn: #530,  When Peace Like a River
Scripture: Psalm 46:10
Closing Hymn: #461,  Be Still, My Soul
For meditation: #462,  Blessed Assurance

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