It’s amazing how much feedback, questions and comments I received last summer when I preached on the topic of angels and demons. The wild thing is that I still get comments even today. In fact, recently I was at an Archbishop Spalding varsity boys basketball game and before I went in to meet my friend, I stopped at the concession stand for a bottle of water. One of the ladies behind the counter said, “You look really familiar, do I know you?”
I’d never seen her before but I told her, “I’m the executive pastor at Bay Area Community Church; perhaps that’s where you’ve seen me.” She said, “That’s right! This last summer you did a sermon on angels.” She proceeded to tell me how that impacted her and her friends, as there had been so much myth surrounding the topic. She said they’d talked about that for weeks.
As most of you know I preached the last sermon of 2017 and took the angle of what the key words were that the angels delivered to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus. In that sermon, I mentioned that I’ve done 10,000+ sermons/talks in my lifetime and had never had so much feedback/interest as I did with that one sermon last summer about angels and demons. Amazing. Even now.
As a follow-up to the December 31 sermon about the four messages of the angels to the shepherds (good news, great joy, glory to God and peace on earth), I wanted to write about one additional point regarding a bit of an object lesson that I did in that sermon. In the middle of a point about how God had been silent for 400 years to the nation of Israel (the period between Malachi and Matthew) – for God had not raised up a prophet, king or leader to speak for Him – I stopped. I stopped talking completely. For 40 seconds. Totally awkward.
It took people by completely by surprise. People were shuffling their feet, coughing nervously, looking at each other – even the safety team was heading forward to see if I was all right. But it was an illustration of how hard it would be if God just stopped talking to us (in our case we have the Bible, but then, in Israel, they had prophets, kings, dreams, visions, etc.).
He just stopped communicating to mankind.
Then I was talking with my good friend Kurt Parsons and he made a point that really resonates with me. During God’s 400 years of silence it must have been extremely difficult for the religious leaders or the moms/dads to pass down their faith. Silence on one side of a relationship is just impossible to stand. But today...
Our only experience with God’s silence is when we do not read the Bible. Right?
The Bible is God speaking. His words. His final communication to man. How is God silent to mankind today? Well, that happens when we don’t involve the Bible in our daily lives.
Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “God spoke to man in various ways and through many people but now He speaks through his son.” He speaks through the Bible – Jesus speaks there, as well as Paul, Moses and every one of God’s leaders. So, when we don’t have time, wherewithal or intentionality to study the scripture, we’re saying we want God to be quiet – to be silent.
This hit me like a thunderbolt. Everyone wants to hear from God, right? Or do they? Perhaps it’s just lip service. Perhaps some would rather be spoon fed their entire adult life because they’re used to God being silent in their life. After all, I can stay in my blissful ignorance and in control of my life and not be convicted about anything (or taught) because God is silent. I’ve made Him so by being aloof from my Bible.
Amazing thought. So, if you don’t want God to be silent, let me suggest a few things:
1. Choose a book of the Bible and study it for 30 days. Read the notes, the cross-references, everything. Same book. Study it over and over for 30 days. See what happens.
2. Find someone to read the Bible with. Read it, then talk about what you’ve read, trying to find the meaning of the author. Sometimes having a friend or three can really help drive one’s intentionality.
3. Start slow. A chapter a day. Every day. Go to biblegateway.com and hit the audio playback – have it read it to you! One chapter. Every day. Read it, then meditate on the content all day.
Here’s to 2018, where we don’t make God silent for 40 seconds, 400 years or one more day of 2018.