Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For Cryin' OUT LOUD...be quiet

According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 the purpose of spiritual discipline is godliness. If we are to be like Christ—that is what Godliness means—then we must discipline ourselves in the area of silence and solitude. This lesson will focus on our need of the twin disciplines silence and solitude.

Explanation of Silence & Solitude

The discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking to achieve certain spiritual goals. At times there may be no outward speaking, but there will be internal conversation between you and God. At other times, you may simply “be still” and hear God’s voice through His Word.

Likewise, the discipline of solitude is the voluntary and temporary withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes. As with silence, solitude may be sought in order to participate without interruption in other spiritual disciplines, or just to be alone with God.

Before we delve into the valuable reasons for these twin disciplines, briefly consider these three thoughts.

  1. Silence & Solitude complement fellowship. Without silence we are shallow. Without fellowship we stagnate. Be balanced.
  2. Silence & Solitude usually go together.
  3. Silence & Solitude are antithetical to our culture. Our culture conditions us to be comfortable with noise and/or crowds. Most people have an aversion to quietness and an uneasiness with being alone.

WARNING: This is not a call to isolation or disengagement from your church or Christian friends. Biblical reality calls us to be involved in the lives of others. Balance is necessary so that time is given to serious silence and solitude.

There are many Biblical reasons for making priorities of the disciplines of silence and solitude.

Reasons for Silence & Solitude

1) To follow Jesus’ example

Mark 1:35— “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Matthew 4:1; 14:23; Luke 4:42)

Jesus knew the importance of silence and solitude. Christ’s on behavior demonstrates that the desert and the closet are places of strength for the Christian—just as they were for Christ (Psalm 46:10).

2) To hear the voice of God better.

  • 1 Kings 19:11-13; Habakkuk 2:1; Galatians 1:7

An obvious reason for silence from earthly voices and noise is to better hear from the Voice of heaven. It is good to be alone to hear the voice of Him whose presence is unseen yet more real than any other.

3) To express worship to God.

Habakkuk 2:20— “The LORD [is] in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Zephaniah1:7; Kings 6:7)

Worship does not always require words, sounds, or actions. Sometimes worship consists of a God-focused stillness. Our Silence can show reverence for God.

4) To express faith in God.

Isaiah 30:15— “Thus saith the Lord GOD...in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”

5) To be physically and spiritually restored.

Mark 6:31— “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”

You will "come apart" one way or another. Better to come apart to rest in and be refreshed by the Spirit than to come apart because you haven't.

6) To regain a spiritual perspective.

  • Luke 1:20; 63-64

The verses above provide an example, albeit a negative one, of how closing our mouths can help open our minds. There is no better way to get a more balanced, less worldly perspective on matters than through the twin disciplines of silence and solitude.

7) To seek the will of God.

Luke 6:12-13— “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.And when it was day, he called [unto him] his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.”

Perhaps one of the most common reasons believers have a time of silence and solitude with God, at least on occasion, is to discern His will in a matter. Again, Jesus is our example.

8) To learn to control your tongue.

Proverbs 17:27-28— “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: [and] a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7; James 1:19)

Learn to hold your tongue in private will enable us to better hold your tongue in public. The disciplines of silence and solitude will remind us that we are able to get by on fewer words.

“We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be alone with God.” - Austin Phelps

Unless you plan for daily times of solitary silence before God other things will rush in to fill your time like water into the Titanic.

Stop and Consider

  • Set a goal of daily silence and solitude.
  • Establish a place for daily silence and solitude.

Stop and Answer

  • Will you seek daily times of silence and solitude?
  • Will you start now?

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