Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

The Still Small Voice

February 21, 2021 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 5 Episode 10
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
The Still Small Voice
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
The Still Small Voice
Feb 21, 2021 Season 5 Episode 10
Pastor Dave Tucker

Scripture tells us that there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces, but YHWH was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but YHWH was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but YHWH was not in the fire; and after the fire a “sound of sheer silence.” When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

The link to the Brother Lawrence PDF Book referenced in the sermon is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xksvym788lkhkpf/Brother%20Lawrence.pdf?dl=0
(The book is public domain) 

Based on 1 Kings 19:11-13

Originally Preached February 21, 2021 
at St Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church 

Show Notes Transcript

Scripture tells us that there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces, but YHWH was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but YHWH was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but YHWH was not in the fire; and after the fire a “sound of sheer silence.” When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

The link to the Brother Lawrence PDF Book referenced in the sermon is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xksvym788lkhkpf/Brother%20Lawrence.pdf?dl=0
(The book is public domain) 

Based on 1 Kings 19:11-13

Originally Preached February 21, 2021 
at St Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church 

Unknown:

Wherever there is singing, and wherever there is praising of God, and wherever there is gratitude, we are standing on holy ground. We're starting our first sermon in Lent. And yes, I will be in the fellowship hall with the ashes, if anybody wants to partake in that. The weather kind of prohibited us from doing that. On Wednesday, I didn't want anybody to get out, I couldn't get out of my driveway, it was a solid sheet of ice. If I don't get the message across to you, if you don't get anything else than this, that God is everywhere. That I haven't done my job during this Lenten season. My goal during this season of Lent is to help us find God, I was going to preach a sermon on an ancient monk by the name of brother Lawrence, how many of you have heard of brother Lawrence, it's just me. One day, I'll share that. And maybe I'll squeeze that in somewhere because I was gonna do that. And Wednesday, brother Lawrence, could talk with God. And brother Lawrence, wanted to be a monk. And he wanted to do the things that needed to be done in this monastery. But he had a limp that he got in a war. And he was knocking things over. And people were like, just go into the kitchen. Just Just wash the dishes, just fix the meals for everybody. And you'll be out of everybody's way. And at first brother Lawrence was like, I don't want to do dishes. I don't like being in the kitchen. I want to be with the other monks praying and, and working and doing these other things. And then he realized something. God was in the kitchen. God was in the dirty dishes. God was in the food that he was preparing. He discovered God and brother Lawrence. And there was a wonderful if I was going to read some of the letters that he wrote, it was, in fact, I'm going to put a link on Facebook, that you can click through. It's a small little book, like a pamphlet size. So it's a PDF. And it's in the public domain, so I can share it. But one thing he said was, we don't have to look far to find God. Because God lives within us. And that's profound. The God who created the universe, the God who put the cosmos in orbit, knows how many hairs are on my head knows the sound of my voice longs to hear me call him. And it chooses to live inside of this shell with me. We don't have far to look for God. And that is going to be the thrust of what we're going to be doing during this Lenten season. Because honestly, you know, I really wrestled with let you know, last year at Lent, do you remember what happened last year at lint, we gave everything up. That's when the pandemic became a real thing. We realized this is bad. And we went into isolation, we gave everything up we gave, we gave up being with people, and the hugs, and the touches and the handshakes and all these things that we as humans need that personal connection, I lost my ability to go into hospitals and nursing homes and, and and pray with people and hold their hands as we're praying and provide that healing touch. I kind of talked about that the last time I The last time I preached. So we've given up a lot. This, this, this idea of fasting may be I really don't want to stress that too much because we already are. Now, if you find something that you feel like, Hey, listen, I need to get closer to God, I need to fast from this or that or the other. That's fine. I'm not saying that. Don't do that. Okay, don't misunderstand me with that. But But as far as, as me preaching that from the pulpit, I'm not comfortable with that, because we were already in the still in the middle of a pandemic, and, you know, then Snowmageddon hit, you know, and more isolation. So, there's that. And then, you know, what is what are the words that we say when we put the ashes on the forehead and on the hand, and I'll say this again, when you get your ashes from dust you are created to dust you will return? It's a time for us to understand our mortality. Well, guess what? I get it. You get it. I lost a loved one. I've lost friends to COVID and I know most of you did, too. So we're very alert. I'm very aware of our mortality. So to continue to preach on that, we get it. Now, what I want to do is I want for us to get down to the essence of what lint really is. The essence of lint, is to find God, the essence of lint is to become so close to God that nothing can get in between us. That's why we that's literally why we fast. It's not to say, Well, you know, I gave up oatmeal. I don't know. It's, it's giving up something that will help you become closer to God. And so that's what I'm going to be doing with the sermon series, during Lent up to up to Easter, almost a Christmas, up to Easter. And we're going to be looking at scriptures, and looking at the appearances of God in the ordinary through scriptures. I trust everybody has gotten the book, every moment holy. If you haven't yet, please get it. And and this is more of a self study kind of thing. If you've read it, I know that people are reading it because they're posting on Facebook. Oh, you should see this prayer. And this prayer is a prayer for everything in your life. We did one of the prayers today for the call to worship for snow. So there's a prayer for for changing diapers, there's a prayer for waiting in rush hour traffic, there's a prayer for everything in that book. And I don't want us to get into this habit of, of relying on an external resource for our prayers. But I want this book to be a book that jumpstarts us to where we literally see God in everything. Because God is everywhere. But before we get started, and today, we're going to start with God appearing in the simple in the everyday in, in the unexpected today. And we'll continue through but before we open God's word, I would like for us to pray the prayer of eliminate elimination. Divine teacher, teach us through the example of your life, bringer of good news. Call out good news to us again. reign of God break into our lives and into our world right now. Amen. Our first scripture reading is found in Psalms 103, the whole chapter. This is probably one of my most favorite songs, Psalm 103. I'm reading from the New Revised Standard Version. Psalm 103, bless the Lord, oh my soul. And all that is within me, it's a song, you know, somebody was saying, I, I it's a song. It'll get stuck in your head. It's a wonderful thing. Bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, oh my soul and to not forget all His benefits, who forgives your iniquity, who heals all your diseases? who is who redeems you, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's is a reason why there's Eagles in my office. The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his axe to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not, he will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is a steadfast love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us, as a father has compassion for his children. So the Lord has compassion for those who fear Him. For he knows how we were made and remembers we are dust. As for mortals, their days are like grass. They flourish like flowers in a field, for the wind passes over it and it has gone and its place knows no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do His commandments. The Lord has established this stone in the heavens In his kingdom rules over all, bless the Lord, oh you angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word. Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do His will bless the Lord, all the works in all the places of his dominion, bless the Lord. Oh, my soul. And our second scripture reading is where we'll be spending most of our time today is found in First Kings, chapter 19, verses one through 13. Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord for the Lord is about to pass by. Now there was a great wind and so strong there was splitting mountains and breaking rocks and pieces before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, it after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after fire, the sound of sheer silence. Then, when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in a mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then they came a voice to said, What are you doing here, Elijah. This is the word of God for the people of God. powerful story. Elijah was arguably the most powerful prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Except for Elijah, who asked God for a double portion. The story begins with God's chosen people had fallen into idolatry and were worshipping other gods, primarily God by the name of bale. And as a result, God's prophet Elijah came in and I can see this in my mind, mind's eye, and this guy was this guy, this guy was tough. He had no fear, he burst open the doors to the to the palace room, and ran in unannounced and uninvited, to the king. And I can, I can see the soldiers chasing after him. And he walks up to the cane, he says, because of the idolatry of this nation, it's not gonna rain until I say it's gonna rain. That's how much trust Elijah had in God. And just like that, Elijah turns around, and marches back out and goes into God's witness protection program. He goes off the grid. And God provides for Elijah, God provided food by ravens, God provided water, a stream of water. And when that ran out, God sent him to a with a woman who fed him from her last bit of oil and, and then she had a bottomless jar of oil, like going to restaurants and getting bottomless sodas, you know. So hers was much more important, because that meant she gets, she got to feed her, her and her son through the duration of the famine. So God provided for Elijah, as Elijah was off the grid. So at the end of three years, God told Elijah, it's time for the Famine to be over. And so three years later, long story short, there's a lot of different ways how, you know, Elijah met this person, this person eventually wound up back to the king, Elijah standing before the king, King Ahab and said, I'm gonna make you a deal. Because I'll make you a deal. You and your prophets of bale set up an altar. And I'm going to set up I'm going to rebuild the altar that has been torn down to the Almighty God, the one who created heaven and earth. And let's do this, whichever God brings down fire from heaven to consume the offering on the altar. That's the god we're going to worship. And for whatever reason, they have thought this was a good idea. Do you ever think about that, you know, how is that going to happen? But Ahab's like, oh, okay, cool. Yeah. So they go up on this mountain, and they build two altars, one altar to bail the other altar to God. And they, they were going to have barbecue. They killed fatted calves, and they put them on the altar. And Elijah being the gentleman that he was said, You guys go first. He wasn't so much gentlemen. Because as as the people started dancing around this altar, and they started cutting themselves, they started begging bale to bring down fire from heaven. And as they were doing this Elijah the greatest Gentlemen that he was, was like, maybe you should yell a little louder. Maybe he's maybe bail asleeping, or some trans, some literal translations of the Bible says, maybe, maybe God, maybe your God is using the toilet. You know, maybe your God is busy doing something else keep going. And he was kind of egging him on. And they kept cutting themselves and wearing themselves out and going around around around and And finally, when they were wiped out, they were just, they couldn't go anymore. Elijah stood up. And I don't know where they found all this water. But they found these big jugs of water and poured it on top of the altar with the sacrifice three jugs, big jugs of water so much that the water was spilling out over the sides of the altar. And Elijah's prayer was simple. Elijah prayed, oh, Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac in Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant. And then I have done all these things that you're bidding. Answer me, Oh, God, answer me so that these people will know, oh, Lord, that You are God. And that you have turned their hearts back. And just like that, fire came from heaven. And the Bible tells us it didn't just consume the offering. But it consumed the altar. And it consumed the trench around the altar that was filled with water. Now that is a huge humongous display of Gods showing up. And oftentimes we stop right there with the story, man, that's great. But really, the story doesn't end there. The story continues, King Ahab was so excited that he ran and told his wife, Queens Isabelle about everything that happened And oh, by the way, your all your profits of Baylor dead because Elijah killed them all. She wasn't as happy. And she swore on her life. She swore. I'm going to find this guy, and I'm going to kill it. And you know what big strong Elijah did? He ran away. Elijah fled into the wilderness. He was terrified. How is it that you can go from being able to stop and start rain? How is it you can go from being this bold man and entering into the palace? And this is how it's going to be king ahead? How is it that a man that that allowed God for three years to provide for his needs? while he was on the run? How is it that all of a sudden he's afraid of jessieville? Scripture tells us that Elijah fled into the wilderness and sat under a tree and begged God that he could die. Didn't want to live anymore. How Elijah got to this point, we'll take another sermon. There are reasons why Elijah was burned out. He was lonely. He was tired. He was hangry. beyond the point of what a snicker bar could help, and if you'll allow me to chase a rabbit just real quick. I've been a minister most of my life in some form shape or another. I've been there. I've been there. I've been burned out in ministry. Did you know that according to the Burma, the Barbara Barna, Barna research group 1500 clergy leave pastoral ministry each month. A lot. pastoring isn't easy. And I want to assure you that I have people in my life ministers in my life who minister to me and I'm okay. I'm okay. So I want you to think I'm ready to fill the towel and I'm ready to go. I love this church. You guys are so wonderful. But all that to say is the best thing that you can do for your pastor. And the best thing you can do for the elders of session is pray for us. Every day, pray for us. But let's get back to Elijah, he fell asleep under that tree twice. And each time an angel woke him up with food and water, saying, you have a long journey to go get some rest, eat, drink, freshen up before you go. And when Elijah was nourished and rested, he was led up to Horeb, the mount of God, a 40 day journey, that's quite a hike. And I think it's a hike for me to go from my house to the mailbox and snow. It is uphill both ways. That's to my defense 40 days. And at the end of this 40 day journey, Elijah found a cave where he spent a night more arrests. And in the morning, God appeared to Elijah, and said, What are you doing here? Elijah? Why would God have to ask that question? Maybe it was a question that Elijah needed to hear. Where are you? Do you remember the story about Adam and Eve in the garden and God come into the garden and say, where are you? I think it was a spiritual question. As as it wasn't the garden as it was for Elijah. God's literally asking Elijah, how'd you get here? How did you get to this place of such deep depression? What are you doing here? And here's the Elijah's response. I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken their covenant, thrown down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword, I alone him left, and they are seeking my life to take it away. Now, if you'll read a little bit further, if you read that whole context, you'll discover that you'll discover that Elijah wasn't the last prophet, that there were people that were hiding profits in caves to keep them alive. So but but then again, have you ever been in a place where you felt like you're the only one going through this? You're in a crisis? You know, I am the only one going through this. It's a lonely place to be. And it's a fair question for God to say, how did you get here? So we can explore our hearts and really dig deep and say, you know, that's a good question. How did I get here? So Elijah's response. I mean, God's response was, go out, and stand on the mountain, and wait, for the one who's named to Holi to be pronounced YH. Wh. Wait for ya HWH to pass by. So Scripture tells us, as we read today, that first there was a great wind so strong, there was splitting mountains and breaking rocks into pieces. And I was walking by. And I heard you guys talking about the story in Sunday school, was I miss hearing things? Okay, so you talked to Okay, you, I was running, to make sure that there was no leaks in the CLC building once I got the water. Thank goodness, everything's working Well, anyway, I heard that. So y'all have already talked about this. So God was not in the wind. And then there was an earthquake. And it was a fire in God was not in any of that. And Elijah knew, because Elijah had a relationship with God. Elijah knew that when things got quiet, that's when you should pay attention. Did you catch that? Before Elijah encountered the still small voice, he pulled the veil across his face, and stepped out to the entrance of the cave to hear the still small voice. So often, we're looking for the fire from heaven. So often we look for God to appear in these big things like earthquakes and tornadoes and winds and and God's not there. Most of the time, God appears to us isn't still in the small in the quiet in the every day of our lives in the unexpected. And what did God say in that still small voice again? What are you doing here, Elijah? What are you doing? So yeah, God revealed God's self in a huge way. God consumed sacrifice and the altar to the ground with fire. And yet God wanted to communicate to Elijah. In the stillness, still small voice. We can't stop with just the fire. We had to finish the story. Because God speaks to us in the ordinary. As I put ashes on your forehead in your hands, it seems to be such a small and simple act. And in a couple weeks, we're going to be doing communion. And those cups are small. The little wafer tastes like styrofoam. I hope one day we can get to real bread again, soon. And a little juice. It seems so small. But yet God is in those things. God wants to speak to us through things. And again, I want to be very careful. I'm not talking about pantheism. I'm not talking about God being everything or everything being God, okay, you understand, I'm saying, but God wants to speak through us through these simple acts that we do. The things that we often take for granted, like the Lord's Supper, like the ashes on the forehead. And we go to the restaurant people look at us with this ashes in the forehead, and oh, yeah, they've been a church. But But what does that mean? It should mean that you're committing yourself to find God in everything is not an outward sign. It's a reminder to us that God is in the ashes, that God wants to speak to us through our minds to our thoughts and through our deeds. God is always there are our problem lies in our lack of awareness of God's presence? Can I say that again? God is always there. Our problem lies in our lack of awareness of God's presence. And I already told you that i SAT Writing a sermon, I was glancing out the window and a patio, covered patio with bird seed. And I was watching the birds chirping gratefully, as they devoured the seeds, my neighbor bought a big bag and it went in three days. They were hungry. And yet here they were praising God. They were praising God for the provision and singing praises to their Creator. And so if God so provides for the birds of the air, how much more will God provide for us? Oh, we have little faith. Amen. Our journal prompts there in your worship guide. Remember to do your five daily gratitudes every day. And familiarize yourself with that book every moment holy. It's a book, it's hard for me to put down it goes with me wherever I'm at. It's actually my office. I meant to bring it up here. But it's it's with me and encourage each other on social media. You know, there's so much junk on social media. Why don't we start encouraging each other. And everybody in this congregation should have this book. And well, the the, if you're watching this later, I understand the streaming is down if you're watching this later, I know that there are a lot of you out there who have the book as well. And I've already started seeing encouraging words, somebody comes up and says, oh, man, this happened in my life, and somebody else will come get your book and read this prayer and this person has prayer. It's amazing. Do that. Let's reclaim social media. Hmm. The other one is familiarize yourself with the book. And ask yourself, do any of the prayers speak directly to your soul? Which ones are they mark them and write about them in your journal. And the next journal prompt is write your own liturgy or prayer that speaks to you and what you're experiencing in life right now. Perhaps your prayer, maybe write it down anyway.