October 28, 2012
God and a Quiet Mind
God and a Quiet Mind
Psalm 76, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 4:46-54
Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity
October 28, 2012
People who worship with us immediately notice the difference between our worship and the worship in other churches. If they will make the effort, they may learn why we are different. We are not trying to organise exciting worship events based on current trends in music and theology. We are not trying to entertain people or make them feel good about being here because that is not the purpose of worship. Our worship is quiet, reflective, contemplative, meditative. We believe it is more important to speak the truth than to get people excited. We believe it is the Holy Spirit, rather than a rock and roll beat in the music or the intensity in the speaker's voice, that moves souls, and we are more concerned about moving souls than moving emotions.
We do not worship this way because it suits our taste. We believe worship is far too important to be shaped by our personal preferences. We worship this way because we believe it is the way God wants to be worshiped, the way the Bible teaches us to worship. Likewise, I do not say these things to belittle anyone else. I say them because we need to be reminded of them often, lest we begin to desire the sensuality and excitement of other "worship styles," or attempt to pattern our worship after them.
We believe there is a time and place for exuberance. We also believe the Sunday worship of God should be characterised by reverence, and a kind of holy quietness before God. Therefore let us quiet our hearts and minds, and be still in God's presence as we worship the Living God.
The very thought of quietness is counter to the hectic activity and constant stimulation which characterise our media saturated culture. So to pray, as we do in the Collect for the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, that God would enable us to serve Him with a quiet mind, may seem odd to people today. A quiet mind is a mind free of hectic activities and distractions. A quiet mind is possessed by a sense of holy stillness before God, a stillness that is encouraged in us by passages like Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God." Rather than rushing from one hectic activity to another, or one amusement or stimulation to another, the quiet mind can take time to be still and listen for the still small voice of God.
But more than mere stillness, a quiet mind is a mind at peace through trust in God. This is what we are trying to emphasise in our Bible readings this morning. The quiet mind does not tremble in fear before the battles of temptation, the opposition of the world, the natural and figurative storms of life, or even the supernatural minions of evil. True, we wrestle against the powers and rulers of darkness, and against spiritual wickedness in high places, but our minds are at peace because we know we are able to withstand in the evil day. We are dressed in the full armour of God. We stand on the Gospel of peace. We wear the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of the righteousness of Christ. We carry the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. We stand watch in prayer, so we are not taken by a surprise attack. Our minds are at peace because we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and nothing can defeat Him or separate us from His everlasting love.
The nobleman in John 4 received a quiet mind. He apparently traveled for at least two days to find Jesus, and his mind was not quiet then. His mind was in anguish. His son was dying. A part of his life was dying. A person he loved more than he loved himself was dying, and his mind was frantic with fear and despair, so he went to Jesus. When will we learn to go to Jesus with our troubles? When will we learn to seek peace in Him rather than trinkets and distractions? When will we learn to trust and believe that God works all things work together for our good, if we love Him and are called, according to His purpose? This man came to Jesus in despair, but left in peace, because He trusted the word of the Lord.
Psalm 78 is about a collective quiet mind in the people of God. He is known in Judah and Israel. His Tabernacle is in the City of Peace, Jeru Shalom. We know Jerusalem has not always been a place of peace. It has been, and continues to be a battleground. But at the time of the writing of Psalm 76 it dwells in peace, why? Because God has broken the arrow, the shield, the sword, and the battle. It dwells in peace because God has defeated its enemies and established it in peace. At His rebuke that the chariot and the horse, the dreaded war machines of invading armies, are fallen. God protects the city, therefore His people dwell in peace and serve Him with a quiet mind.
The focal point of the Psalm is verse 11. It is the conclusion. The first ten verses recount the gracious actions of God , but verse 11 shows the natural response of those who receive and recognise God's grace: "Promise unto the Lord your God, and keep it." When you became a Christian you made vows and promises to God, just as He made vows and promises to you. He promised to forgive your sins, and fill you with His Spirit, to guide you with His Holy Bible, to watch over you, love you, and bring you at last to His home of everlasting peace. You promised to turn from sin and begin a life-long process of living more and more according to His law of love, and less and less for the things of sin and self. It is not easy to keep your promise. Living for Christ is the, most difficult, most trying, most exasperating, most humiliating thing you can do. At the same time it is the most fulfilling, the happiest, most exalting, most noble thing to which a human being can aspire. It only is the way of life. Therefore, in spite of the challenges and opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil, there is a peace in our hearts that the world cannot give or take away. We can serve God with a quiet mind.
From the Jerusalem of about 900 B.C., when this Psalm may have been written, let us look ahead to the city in about the year 33 A.D. The city is in turmoil. A vast, angry mob is torturing a Man to death on a cross. It is not a peaceful scene, yet it is the way our peace with God is secured forever. On the cross the Lamb of God is taking away our sins and making our peace with God. By His grace "The fierceness of man" is turned to God's praise (vs.10). Everything His enemies do is used by Him to His own glory and our salvation. Christianity did not die on the cross; it was born there. It is because of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross that we can serve God with a quiet mind. We have no need to fear life, or death, or even hell itself. He gave His life for our souls. We can serve Him with a quiet mind.