When God Is Quiet

sunset bridge
As [Elijah] lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” —1 Kings 19:5

I love to take pictures of sunsets at Lake Michigan. Some are subtle shades of pastel. Others are bold strokes of bright color. Sometimes the sun sinks quietly behind the lake. Other times it goes down in what looks like a fiery explosion.

In pictures and in person, I prefer the latter. But both show the handiwork of God. When it comes to God’s work in the world, my preferences are the same. I would rather see dramatic answers to prayer than ordinary provisions of daily bread. But both are the work of God.

Elijah may have had similar preferences. He had grown accustomed to being the center of God’s grand displays of power. When he prayed, God showed up in dramatic ways—first in a miraculous defeat against the prophets of Baal and then in the end to a long and devastating drought (1 Kings 18). But then Elijah felt afraid and started to run. God sent an angel to feed him to strengthen him for his journey. After 40 days he arrived in Horeb. God showed him that He was now communicating in a still small voice, not in flashy miracles (19:11-12).

If you’re discouraged because God hasn’t shown up in a blaze of glory, perhaps He’s revealing Himself with His quiet presence.

Lord, may we see You today in the small
details of life in ways that we hadn’t noticed
before. Thank You for the gift of Your quiet
presence, wherever we may find it today.

God is in the small things as well as the great.

By Julie Ackerman Link

The Rewards of Waiting

Psalm 33:12-22

We have all experienced many times of waiting—in doctors’ offices, traffic jams, or checkout lines. While there, we have nothing to do but wait for our turn. In God’s kingdom, waiting is defined as an active stillness—active because we are continuing in our present situation, and still because we are focusing our attention on Him for guidance. A lifestyle of active stillness requires a purposeful and expectant attitude, a patient and determined frame of mind, and a prayerful and obedient heart.

There are rewards for waiting on the Lord. One involves receiving the supernatural strength needed for godly living. When we feel overwhelmed, we might be tempted to get out of step with God. Even though we know He is calling us to keep a steady pace, we may start lagging behind. At other times, our schedules leave us little time to think. So we make quick decisions, pushing ahead of Him. In either case, we risk becoming weary and emotionally spent because we are operating in our own strength. Patiently waiting on God will bring us the physical energy and emotional reserves we need to keep going.

Here are two additional benefits of waiting: discovering God’s will, which is always for our good (Rom. 8:28), and gaining spiritual victory in life’s trials.

Our omniscient and omnipotent God is always right on time. It is we who leave too early or arrive too late. Pick a situation in which you are tempted to overrule the Lord’s perfect timing. Then submit to Him, realizing the issue is a matter of trust.

God’s Work of Providence

“Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.” (Psalm 65:9)

The 65th Psalm speaks especially of God’s great work of “providence” as supplementing His primeval work of creation. The latter was completed in the six days of the creation week (Genesis 2:1-3). The work of providence, however, still goes on, perpetually reminding us of God’s care for His creatures. “He left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).

God’s providential concern, however, extends not only to men and women. “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle” (Psalm 104:14). “So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. . . . These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season” (vv. 25, 27). “Behold the fowls of the air: . . . your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matthew 6:26).

Note that He is not their heavenly Father, He is your heavenly Father—yet He feeds them! He is merely their maker and provider; yet a single sparrow “shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10:29).

He even provides for the inanimate creation, “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). The omnipotent God of creation is thus the ever-sustaining and ever-caring God of providence.

Still, some choose not to believe, even though “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen . . . so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). HMM

Personal Discipline

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. —1 Corinthians 9:25

Another trap into which the preacher is in danger of falling is that he may do what comes naturally and just take it easy. I know how ticklish this matter is and, while my writing this will not win me friends, I hope it may influence people in the right direction. It is easy for the minister to be turned into a privileged idler, a social parasite with an open palm and an expectant look. He has no boss within sight; he is not often required to keep regular hours, so he can work out a comfortable pattern of life that permits him to loaf, putter, play, doze and run about at his pleasure. And many do just that.

To avoid this danger the minister should voluntarily impose upon himself a life of labor as arduous as that of a farmer, a serious student or a scientist. No man has any right to a way of life less rugged than that of the workers who support him. No preacher has any right to die of old age if hard work will kill him.

Help us to work hard and faithfully, driven by a sense of passion. Amen.

Wisdom: Knowing the True Fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…. Proverbs 1:7

A truth fully taught in the Scriptures and verified in personal experience by countless numbers of holy men and women throughout the centuries might be condensed thus into a religious axiom:

“No one can know the true grace of God who has not first known the fear of God!”

The first announcement of God’s redemptive intention toward mankind was made to a man and a woman hiding in mortal fear from the presence of the Lord.

The Law of God was given to a man trembling in terror amid fire and smoke, quaking at the voice of thunder and sound of the divine trumpet.

Even the famous annunciation, “On earth peace, good will toward men,” was given to shepherds who were “sore afraid” by reason of the sudden overwhelming presence of the heavenly host.

The presence of the divine always brought fear to the hearts of sinful men, a terror having no relation to mere fear of bodily harm.

I do not believe that any lasting good can come from religious activities that do not root in this quality of creature-fear. The animal in us is very strong and altogether self-confident. Until it has been defeated God will not show Himself to the eyes of our faith.

It is sad but true that the love of God affects a carnal heart not at all; or if at all, then adversely, for the knowledge that God loves us may simply confirm us in our self-righteousness!

God’s Faithful Voice

And take heed to yourselves… and cares of this life. LUKE 21:34

In a day when judgments are soon to come upon the earth, we are often warned by doctors that we eat too much—and that we worry too much. More of us suffer from mental illness than suffer from major physical illnesses.

In our self-centered lives, even those who are professing believers are prone to think they will hear the trumpets of woe in time to do something about all this. But at that time, it will be too late!

The voice of God is a quiet voice. The voice of God’s love and grace is constant— never strident, never compulsive. God has sent His messengers to every generation. He has spoken urgently and faithfully through His prophets, through the concerns of preachers and evangelists, even through the sweet voices of the gospel singers. Further, God has spoken through witnessing men and women: plain, sincere, loving men and women transformed by a spiritual birth which is from above.

This is the voice of God we hear in this day of grace—the voice of the Savior calling wandering sinners home.

Loving Father, I am humbled that You have called me, a hopeless sinner, to Yourself. Enable me to reach out today to someone who has been putting You off.