Posted on 05/22/2016 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
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*** SONG LYRICS ***
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Last week, Mariposa talked about setting aside time to get alone with God. She reminded us that God is never too busy; rather, it is WE who don't set aside the time to be with HIM.
If you missed that, I encourage you, after this service, to go to almcyberchurch.org, click the "Service Audio Archives" link, and listen to the service dated 05/15/2016 called "God's Never too Busy."
Today, I'd like to pick up from where she left off, and I'd like for us to discuss the fact that we are Never Alone.
In Deuteronomy 31:6, we read these words of reassurance:
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)
6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
Most of us know this verse well. Personally, I was expecting to find a verse in which Jesus was saying, "I will never leave you nor forsake you, I will be
with you 'til the very end."
Maybe I didn't search well enough, but all I found were verses in the Old Testament, later quoted by New Testament writers. But the sentiment is consistent throughout Scripture. And in Matthew 28:20, Jesus says this:
Matthew 28:20b (NKJV)
20 Teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
"I am with you always."
What does that mean? Was He talking about a concept?
"In theory, I am always with you."
"In your mind and heart, I am always with you."
"This physical body I'm wearing, this temporary form that people will hang on their walls and erect statues of to which they will pray, THAT will be with you until the end of time."
Or, perhaps, could Jesus have simply been acting as the earthly mouthpiece for the timeless promise, essence, and nature of God?
"He will never leave you nor forsake you. Even to the very end of time."
When we are busy, when we are distracted, when we are like Martha, busy with so many things, when we are lost in our mental noise, we just might find that He does not seem to be with us. At least not literally, but only in our heads, or in a concept, or in a belief.
We try to muster up a stronger belief that He is with us right here and right now. But in the stillness, in the inner quiet, when we let go of all the noise, we just might hear that still small voice.
And just as faith is not a belief, and is not something we can create if we only believe strongly enough, so the faith that He is with you everywhere and always, is not just an idea in the head, or a strong belief that might grow with time; instead, it is as sure and solid to you as the computer display or the sounds that are coming out of your speakers right now as you listen to my voice.
It is as solid as the chair on which you are sitting, and it is as real to you as the floor beneath you. Or even more so. For when all these forms fade away, as they all will certainly do, His Presence will remain.
And while you can "know this" or "believe this" in the head, directly experiencing it is altogether different. THAT is what faith really is, and "blind faith" is an oxymoron.
There is plenty of "blind BELIEF," but TRUE faith is a direct experience that is neither interested in nor touched by the mind's best doubts.
1 Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV)
11 Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
When you are at work, incredibly busy, dealing with coworkers or phone calls or customers face-to-face, His Presence is no different than when you are in your prayer closet at home, or in a worship service at church, or at a retreat in the moutains. He is equally there in all those places all the time.
He may not be in the wind, in the earthquake, or in the fire. But underneath all these things, is the Still Small Voice. And there He is.
The wind just attracts our attention. The earthquake draws our awareness. The fire consumes our focus. And we get lost in those things, those things that come, and then go; like vapors that quickly vanish. While all the while, He is there, behind it all, in the stillness, in the quiet, the quiet still that does not require there be no earthly movement or earthly noise.
Sure, removing yourself from the noise can help you become aware of the silence, the still small voice, and that is a great place to start. But He is with you ALWAYS. In the quiet, and in the noise. In the stillness, and in the movement of form.
That Life, that Presence, that Power, that Love, sees the thoughts of your mind; is with you as you walk and as you lie down; it is behind you, before you, above you, beneath you, all around you, and completely filling every single cell of your body and the space between every atom.
Psalm 139:1-18 (NKJV)
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me,"
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
Where can you go from His Spirit? Where can you flee from His Presence?
In the heavens or the depths of earth and sea, in the bright light of the noontime sun, or the deep dark of a starless night, in the prime of life, the last days of old age, or the first moments of life in the womb, when you awaken, He is still with you, "STILL" with you, because He is with you even while you are fast asleep.
So while your mind is churning numbers or lists or names and dates, step back and see it for what it is: a movement of form. A wind, an earthquake, a fire. It comes and goes. It has a tiny bit of importance relatively speaking, but ultimately, it matters very little. It is but a blip in time.
And while your story plays out, and you are doing this and going there, step back and observe that all these things are just winds, earthquakes, and fires. There are here for a brief moment, for a mere instant, and then they all vanish away.
And underneath, there is stillness. Underneath, there is silence. And underneath, there is the Still Small Voice, where He is: everywhere, all the time, regardless of where you are or what you're doing or what is going on around you.
All those things are just minor details, and they all come, go, and change with time. But underneath, there is the Solid Rock, the Firm Foundation. There is stillness, quietness, and vast, unending Peace.
If you step out of the noise in the head, and bring your attention into the Temple of God, your Body, you can feel the Life there, the very Breath of God.
And it is moving yet still; it is singing yet silent; And it is One with the Still Small Voice.
So my invitation to you today is this:
Dwell with Him. Rest with Him. Let go of the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, and, beyond all these temporary things, make your home in the still, silent, eternal, which is always Here and is always Now.
And you will not have to believe that He is always with you and that you are Never Alone; instead, you will know it first hand, with TRUE Faith, more solid and sure than your faith that the floor will hold you up or the air will flow into your lungs.
So Rest Now in His Eternal Presence, for You Truly are Never Alone.