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Disciplines For Sabbath-Rest (3): Silence And Solitude 30 MAY 2021 | PRAYER & PRAISE SERVICES | REV RAYMOND FONG

SERMON SERIES | DISCIPLINES FOR SABBATH-REST (3)

Silence And Solitude

30 MAY 2021 | PRAYER & PRAISE SERVICES

Rev Raymond Fong

Scripture Passage: Mark 1:35-39 (NIV)

WATCH | SERMON (VIDEO)

READ | SERMON NOTES

Summary | Jesus is saying, “Come with Me to a quiet place and get some rest.”

The apostle Mark pauses, amid breathless enthusiasm throughout his writing, with at least 16 references to highlight the very heart of Jesus - to be alone, quiet, and resting with His Father. Since the act of being silent and alone is not a natural response for most, it requires us therefore to be deliberate.

1. Intentional – Jesus’ ministry was unceasingly busy and tiring. All the more, He got up early, when it was still dark, heading to desolate places to pray (v35), intentional about making His time with God inconspicuous, where no one else would be present. He withdrew from the crowds (Luke 5:15-16), climbed up mountainsides to pray alone till late into the evening (Matthew 14:23), walking extensively for days alone to commune with His Father (John 7:10).

2. Discernment – Jesus came away from deliberately quiet times of reflection to perceive afresh His purpose, choosing to do the needful instead of the popular. Highly sought after in big, thriving Capernaum, He went instead to smaller neglected villages in Galilee to preach there also (v38). Descending after a time of mountainside solitude with His Father, He received fresh revelation and specifically chose 12 apostles out of the many disciples He had (Luke 6:12-14).

In SILENCE we create space to be attentive to God. We allow God to speak when we stop speaking. We choose to listen that we might discern from Him. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise (Proverbs 17:28). “In the silence of the heart, God speaks. God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.” (Mother Teresa)

SOLITUDE is “aloneness” that grows our dependency on God, where we stop relying on anything else but God. Device-dependent, we keep ourselves busy to feel needed, worthy and important. The thought of “nothingness”- being vulnerable, weak, sinful nothings without God, is frightening. So, we accomplish achievements, schedule upon schedule, to keep us fully occupied. But it is in being nothing before God in silence and solitude that we experience our true worth. Our anxious, weary, God-shaped hearts are ever only satisfied when we allow our Maker to fill it.

Practical Handles to Cultivate the Discipline of Silence and Solitude

1. Be humble to seek God’s grace and strength – confess we don’t want to be silent and alone, but acknowledge we need God’s help to be quiet, not fearful of what He has to say to us.

2. Intentionally set aside time and space – sans devices, seek God’s direction to apply His Word, tune in to commune with Him while commuting to work.

3. Start small but persevere – keep silent even for 30 seconds to hear God speak. Expect interruption but persevere. Centre our hearts on Jesus - not emptying our thoughts, but giving them over to Him.

4. Discern God’s promptings – To discern God’s whisper, and not our own thoughts or the Devil’s tempting words, we need to:

  • Confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness so no sinful prompting will trouble us
  • Plead the blood of Christ to cover us in our solitude before holy God so we do not fall into temptation
  • Take every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • Invite God’s Spirit to speak for we are listening as His servant.

5. Delight and rest in God’s goodness – let Him quiet you with His love (Zephaniah 3:17).

6. Obey and serve in love – obey God’s prompting to do or be what He wants. Obedience is the discerning fruit of silent solitude that delights the LORD. We become increasingly sensitive and compassionate toward others - with new freedom, new attentiveness, new responsiveness to meet their needs and hurts. (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)

7. Practice in community – regularly experience 30 seconds of dedicated discipline with friends, family and in small groups to be silently solitary before God.

Progressively growing the quality of our REST in Jesus determines how utterly satisfied we shall be in an increasingly restless world. Accept our Saviour’s call - to solitarily and silently revel and refresh in His love. And emerge truly rested - to live God-purposed lives as God intended for us in Jesus, our source of genuine Hope.

(Sermon notes by Marjorie Tan)

PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS

1. Take time to read and reflect on Mark 1:35 - 39. What do you observe about the intentionality of Jesus to be in silence and solitude before God?

2. Do you struggle with being quiet and alone with God? Why?

3. In these challenging times with rising fear and helplessness, how may the discipline of silence and solitude help you find rest in God?

4. What are some practical ways you can engage in the discipline of silence and solitude? Pray for each other to be faithful to do that.