PRAYER & LORD'S PRAYER:
0 God of the still, small voice, quiet our inner spirit. Help
us to focus upon You, and You alone, to hear Your voice within. There are so many other voices demanding our attentions, but we cannot attend to them without You. Be still and know that I am God, You say to us as You said to Elijah. May Your voice speak through us.
In weakness, be our strength. In poverty, be our wealth. In depression, be our joy. In apathy, be our love. We cannot sing Love's song, 0 Lord, unless it be Your voice singing in us. Take this heart, and with this mouth make Your praise and thanksgiving a reality here and now.
Gathering all of our prayers and praise into one, let us pray as Jesus taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
The Offertory Prayer: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and so in faith
and assurance we give our offering this morning. We hope in a generous God who meets our needs. We hope in a creative God who multiplies our gifts. We hope in a mysterious God who invites us to live in His kingdom. God of grace, accept these gifts and accept us in Your service, Amen.
Ahab came to his palace and told Jezebel how Elijah had called down fire from heaven and proved that Jehovah is God. He also told her how all the prophets of Baal had been slain. He was greatly shaken himself, and perhaps he thought that those things which had occured would convince Jezebel, too. What a triumph that would be, to convert the queen who upheld Baal and Ashtoreth, and make her a servant of Jehovah!
Jezebel, however, had no such thought. She was filled with anger. She sent a messenger to Elijah with a terrible threat. The messenger came, awoke him, and told him that the queen, Jezebel, said: "You have slain my prophets. The gods do so to me
and more also, if I don't make your life as one of theirs by this time tomorrow!"
Suddenly, Elijah s faith failed. He knew what the terrible wrath of Jezebel could do. He was worn out, tired and felt faint. His spirit was extremely low. Instead of meeting the threat as he had bravely met all other dangers before, he took his servant and fled for his life. He headed south, through Israel and Judah. He came to Beersheba at the edge of the desert, and there he left his servant and fled into the wilderness. All his work and sacrifice and all God's great works had come to nothing! Israel had not been converted — he was the only one left, so he thought. He lay down under a tree and asked that he might die. "It is enough," he said. "Now, 0 Lord, take away my life, for am not better than my fathers." And then he fell asleep.
Elijah was awakened by a touch upon his face. He was startled, thinking it might be an enemy. But it was an angel, beckoning him to get up and eat. He looked, and there on a bed of live coals was a baked loaf of bread and some water. So he arose and ate and drank, and lay down again to sleep.
After a while the angel came again and wakened him, saying, "Arise, and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you." So Elijah ate and drank, and in the strength of that food, he went for forty days into the wilderness, to Horeb, the mount of God. And there he went and lived in a cave.
The Lord came to him and said, "What are you doing, Elijah?" Elijah answered, "I have worked very hard for the Lord God of heaven, but the people of Israel have broken their covenant with You. They have torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets, and only I am left, and now they are trying to kill me, too."
"Come out," said the Lord, "and stand upon the mountain before Me."
As Elijah came out of the cave, the Lord passed by, A mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then, there was a great earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his scarf. And the Lord said to him in that still, small voice, "Go back by the desert road to Damascus, and when you arrive, anoint Hazael to be king of Syria. Then anoint Jehu to be King of Israel and Elisha to be prophet in your place. And, for your information, there are 7000 men in Israel who have NEVER bowed down to Baal."
So Elijah turned back and went through the wilderness to the land of Israel. There he found Elisha, the son of a wealthy farmer. The Lord knew that Elisha was fit to be Elijah's successor.
Elijah went by and silently threw his scarf over the shoulders of Elisha. Elijah never said a word, and went on his way. But Elisha knew that by that act he was called to take up the work of Elijah. And when he had caught up with him, he said, "Let me go and say goodbye to my father and mother, and then I'll go with you."
To test him. Elijah appeared cold and distant. "Go back," he said, "why all the excitement?" But Elisha knew that he had heard his call, and nothing would turn him aside. He did go back, but not to stay. He offered a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, said good bye to his father and mother, and then he followed Elijah and became his servant.
This story of Elijah and Elisha is found in I Kings, chapter 19. Perhaps you've been asking yourself what in the world does it have to do with the title "Noise". Well, the inspiration actually comes from verse 12: "And after the fire, a still, small voice."
Let's take a moment to think of all the noisy things we can — thunder, explosions, guns, the rushing wind of a tornado. Now, think of things that move quietly — growing grass, a flower blooming, the stars. Now, I want you to think about both lists. Do you notice that the noisy things are destructive, while the quietly moving ones are things which help us along. This shows us that many important things are quiet and many good deeds are quietly done.
Some people make the mistake of thinking if they make a noise, that they are actually doing something, but that isn't always the case, is it? Think of this — which makes more noise on the road, and empty wagon or a wagon that is loaded? Which is more dangerous, the noisy thunder or the quiet lightning? Which motor can do the better work, a noisy, rattling one or a quiet one?
There are some quiet places in our lives which are more important than the noisy ones. Those times when we are alone, away from family and friends, or when we're dreaming about things we want to do or want to have. These are the times that are going to be either helpful or dangerous to us. What's in our daydreams — wonderful things or sneaky little things? These daydreams can crop out in deeds and manners after awhile. Then, they'll be out in the open where people can see them. Do we really want people to know about some of the daydreams we have when we're alone?
Then, there are those times when we have to work alone. If we work well, then those times are good for us. All inventors, all great musicians and artists, all great doctors, preachers and teachers, have worked much of their time alone. But beware of poor work when you're alone, for thieves, counterfeiters, embezzlers and even terrorists have worked alone, but theirs is the wrong kind of work!
Your quiet times are largely the times which will advance you or set you back. The quiet times are your test times. In those test times remember these words: "Be still and know that I am God." Be still. God can see the real you, the one underneath all the dark clouds and disappointment in your life. Be still.
If we are bound, if we are hiding in fear, if we are sitting under a tree, like Elijah, wishing our lives could be over, remember, no matter what is going on in our lives, God is with us. God knows us, and God calls us to be still and know that we belong to Him. Our lives are part of something larger than what we can define or see. God has the power to release us from whatever our 'something' is, in order for us to live the abundant life Jesus came to give us. May this be so for each of us!
Let us pray: Dear God, we've heard how you cared for Elijah when he was running for his life. We pray to know Your presence and Your power now. Some of us have wandered a long way, and wonder how to get back. Some of us have squandered our lives and wonder if they have lasting meaning. Some of us find ourselves overwhelmed by anxiety or pain. Please help us to hear Your voice call our name. Help us to put our lives into Your hands; and help us to trust that You will give back just what we can handle. In Your name, we pray, Amen.
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN:
Blessed is the path on which you travel.
Blessed is the body that carries you upon it. Blessed is your heart that has heard the call. Blessed is your mind that discerns the way. Blessed is the gift that you will receive by going.
Truly blessed is the gift that you will become on the journey.
May you go forth in peace.
The Holy Spirit whispers With a still. small voice