Summer Getaways, Quiet Retreats

Peace, be still! Mark 4:39

Last year, officials of Washington’s Reagan National Airport received more than 8,600 complaints about noise. Imagine their surprise when they discovered 6,500 of them came from the same person! Some unidentified neighbor was incensed enough to call, on average, 18 times every day of the year.

Airports are some of the loudest places on earth, but they don’t have a corner on noise pollution. We live in a loud society and it’s hard to find peace and quiet anywhere. That’s why noise-cancelling headphones are so popular.

We need a quiet retreat—that is, we need to retreat to zones of silence every day. Zephaniah 1:7 says, “Be silent in the presence of the Lord God.” The psalmist said, “My soul, wait silently for God alone” (Psalm 62:5). Habakkuk 2:20 says, “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

It takes discipline to find a quiet place, turn off our electronics, and meditate quietly on the Lord. We have to work at quietness, but it makes “quiet” a difference in our lives. Our souls are strengthened by stillness and steadied by solitude.

Be still and know that He is God.

I cannot be the man I should be without times of quietness. Charles R. Swindoll

How to Bear One Another’s Burdens

Galatians 6:2-5

Our quiet presence during someone else’s time of pain says more than any words of advice ever can. A grieving widow, for example, doesn’t need to hear our own tale of loss; she needs an arm around her shoulder so she realizes that she is not alone.

Think about the times that we bring our burdens before the Lord in prayer. Simply experiencing His presence lightens the weight we have been carrying. God’s response to our pain is a clear demonstration of how important it is to make ourselves available and listen to our neighbors. No matter how inadequate we might feel, we all can share a burden by spending time with a friend who is enduring hardship.

The Holy Spirit will let us know when words are not necessary and when it’s the right moment to speak. That oftentimes becomes our opportunity to share how the Lord has worked in our life during a painful period. When we give the Holy Spirit total control, He will bring to mind situations, emotions, and the ways God helped us. We can use those things to minister to others: Hurting people grab onto kindred stories as if to a lifeline. It gives them hope to reason that since the Lord shepherded one person through a valley of darkness, He will surely be faithful to do the same for another.

Our Spirit-developed compassion may require us to give our burdened neighbor other types of help—even material aid. It’s easy to pray for a friend or share our story with a church member, but we cannot limit ourselves to those things. If we are willing to be used by our heavenly Father, we must be open to His leading about how to offer assistance.

Worship the Master Designer

“Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” (Acts 17:22-23)

As the apostle Paul once declared to the scholars in Athens, the whole universe declares the evidence of a Master Designer (Psalm 19:1-4).

Even the most uneducated person knows that things don’t just happen. All of our experience in life verifies somebody made the things we use and play with. Red wagons and rag dolls do not pop out of raw dirt. Somewhere, someone makes them. There is a manufacturing process. Even if it is little more than our mother or father, somebody makes the things we come in contact with every day.

Once we enter formal schooling, and ultimately when we enter the workforce, we become more and more aware that the houses we live in, the food we eat, the tools we use, the cars we drive, and the clothes we wear all come from a source, a place, a store, a company, and even a specific person or persons who are responsible for making them. Everybody knows that!

The common denominator among all the various religious systems and the sequence of empires and tributary nations was this: The reality of our world is so complex, so intertwined with order and purpose, so obviously full of observable cause and effect relationships that supernatural power was required to create it in the first place and to keep it from falling apart over time.

Today, we would recognize such observation as a key part of the scientific method! “All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee” (Psalm 145:10). HMM III

The Blows Fell upon Him

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. —Isaiah 53:3

A chastisement fell upon Him so that we as individual humans could experience peace with God if we so desired. But the chastisement was upon Him. Rebuke, discipline and correction—these are found in chastisement. He was beaten and scourged in public by the decree of the Romans. They lashed Him in public view as they later lashed Paul. They whipped and punished Him in full view of the jeering public, and His bruised and bleeding and swollen person was the answer to the peace of the world and to the peace of the human heart. He was chastised for our peace; the blows fell upon Him….

I think I speak for a great host of forgiven and born-again men and women, when I say that in our repentance we sensed just a fraction and just a token of the wounding and chastisement which fell upon Jesus Christ as He stood in our place and in our behalf…. He was publicly humiliated and disgraced as a common thief, wounded and bruised and bleeding under the lash for sins He did not commit, for rebellions in which He had no part, for iniquity in the human stream that was an outrage to a loving God and Creator.

Lord, I don’t have any concept of Christ’s humiliation on the cross, not even a fraction. Thank You, Gracious Father, for the depth of the love of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

God Does Not Need Pity

Who would not fear thee, O King of nations?… there is none like unto thee. (Jeremiah 10:7)

I do not think I could ever worship a God who was suddenly caught off guard, unaware of circumstances in His world around me!

I could never offer myself to a God that actually needed me, brethren. If He needed me, I could not respect Him, and if I could not respect Him, I could not worship Him!

Some of our missionary appeals are getting close to that same error: that we should engage in missionary work because God needs us so badly!

The fact is that God is riding above this world and the clouds are the dust of His feet and if you do not follow Him, you will lose all and God will lose nothing. He will still be glorified in His saints and admired of all those who fear Him. To bring ourselves into a place where God will be eternally pleased with us should be the first responsible act of every man!

All of these considerations are based upon the character and worthiness of God. Not a man or woman anywhere should ever try to come to God as a gesture of pity because poor God needs you!

He first findeth his own brother Simon

He first findeth his own brother Simon.” Let thy religion begin at home, have a care to put forth the sweetest fruit of spiritual life and testimony in thine own family. You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in grace and service. Ah! dear friend, you little know the possibilities which are in you. You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come. Andrew has only two talents, but he finds Peter. Go thou and do likewise.