Noise to Signal
Here’s the lesson I gave for last night’s (2-17-10) invitation. Audio has been added.
1 Kings 19:11-13
“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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out.”
In order to hear a whisper — especially in a noisy environment — you have to get close to it and concentrate, and even remove the other sounds that are competing with it. On the other hand, a shout can be heard from quite a distance, and is heard whether or not we desire to listen to it.
God’s Word is a small, still voice. It’s a quiet, delicate whisper, not a shout. God doesn’t force his message on us, instead He expects us to focus and concentrate on it. Unfortunately when seeking God, we are often distracted by the noise and flash of our daily lives. We get so caught up in the business of being busy, that we forget to stop and listen to that still small voice by spending time with God in prayer and studying his Word.
I myself am guilty of letting other things distract me from studying on a daily basis. This weighs on my heart as I’ve urged people from this pulpit to study and don’t do it myself as often as I should.
Studying the Word daily is a great thing, an awesome concept, but until we actually do it, it just remains a concept. It remains something vague that we’ll “get around to” — like setting the clock on the VCR, or changing light bulbs around the house.
In order to make it real, we need to devise a plan, and apply this plan to our lives.
Christina and I know first hand how beneficial a plan can become in getting things done. When we first started talking about getting married, we decided that we would wait five years before we started having children. This was so that we could get to know each other better, and become financially stable. This July will be five years and we are just now starting to get out of debt.
Financial stability was just a grandiose concept to us that never got any application. Then last year my sister introduced us to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and we learned how to plan our finances. Having that plan enabled us to turn this concept, idea, what have you into a concrete application with results.
Lets make a plan and turn the concept of studying the Word into a concrete application.
With this in mind, I’m going to borrow from what I’ve learned while doing my finances. The most important thing we learned was the zero balance money budget where you account for every dollar you earn and spend in a month so you’ll know where all of your money is going.
Borrowing from this, I’ve created what I call the Zero Balance Time Budget, and it works the same way, you account for the time you earn –which by the way is the same for everyone, 1440 minutes per day– and allot it to the different activities in your life, making sure you account for every minute so that you’ll have 0 at the end. This will help us direct how we spend our time. Ephesians 5:15-16 says: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
On the sheet I’ve created, I’ve put down some of the basics that most people will have, and you’ll notice that Bible Study is first. We want to be like the Macedonians in 2 Corinthians 8, giving first to the Lord. I’ve also got several blanks here for you to fill in for you to customize to suit your needs.
I’ve also provided on the back a schedule to help plan things a little better. I’d like for you to take a sheet and go home and have a time budget meeting with your family. Try starting out with giving 15 minutes of uninterrupted personal time to God in the morning, then plan for another 15 minutes in the evening with the family together. When you do this, turn off your cell phones, your TVs, remove everything that could possibly distract you or drown out that quiet, delicate whisper.
And just to be clear, the idea behind this isn’t to section God off from the rest of your daily life. He is to be included in everything we do.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reads: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The intent of this time budget is to allow you time to give 100% of your attention to God and the study of His Word.
As you grow in study, you’ll find that you’ll want to give more time to God. Don’t hesitate to revisit your time budget and add to it. The 30 minutes a day is just a starting point. We can never give enough of our time and energy, or money, or anything to repay God’s gift to us.
By the way, since all this is a rather new idea, I’d appreciate any suggestions for improvement to my forms and such. I want this to be as useful as possible.
One other thing that we learned was to have an accountability partner. To have someone that will hold us to what we need to do. My sister is ours, and we are hers. God’s design of the church gives us our own accountability partners: each other.
James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses (or sins) to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Christians, if you haven’t been studying God’s word regularly, and you know that this is something that you should be doing, do something to change that tonight. James tells us, “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” I come to you tonight confessing that I need to study more regularly, and I need your help, encouragement and prayers that I’m able to start this and stay strong in doing it. Do you need the same?
If you are not a Christian yet, and you believe in God, then salvation is still just a concept, an idea. Fortunately God has a plan for you to help it become a concrete application with results in your life. His plan is this:
First you must repent of your sins, turn away from that old life that separates you from God. Luke 13:3 and Acts 2:38.
Confess His name. Matthew 10:32-33
And finally obtain forgiveness through baptism for the remission of your sins. Acts 2:38.
I’ve also attached the budget form I’ve created:
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