Silencing my own white noise


The world is noisy.

I like noise for the most part. I like energy and life running around me. Small children wailing means they are fighting to be heard, protests for injustice are right up my alley, and concerts with giant speakers and loud praise do not offend me in the least. What I don’t like is white noise. I don’t like prittle prattle, grumbling, and listening to the sound of my own voice for too long. My children know that 18 (out of 75) is a completely reasonable TV volume setting and not a notch higher. I don’t need to hear Star Wars for the 100+ time blasting at full volume. My phone alarm is barely audible, and Dave once bought one of those gurgling rock fountains at a yard sale and I wanted to throw it out the window. He took it to his office instead. Marriage saved. Have you been there?

So much of the noise in our world is meaningless. It sounds harsh of me, even judgmental, but please hear me differently: we can only take so much.

So many opinions to behold, so much FoxNews v. CNN babble, so much buy our stuff, you’re only cool if you, aren’t you hungry…eat this, do this, look like this.

God talks about trying to get our attention in the middle of all this in Isaiah 65. This passage may be familiar to some of you, from when we studied He Calls Me Rebel in our Live video. Let’s look at verses 1 and 2 from another vantage point- What to do with all the white noise?

Isaiah 65:1-2 –

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
    I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
    to a nation that was not called by my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
    to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
    following their own devices;

God doesn’t just seek us. He fights for us. He’s jumping up and down with the neon signs of creation and the miracle of life and the gift of restoration, while we give all of our attention to fuzzy tv screens and more white noise.

He says, “Here am I, Here am I.”

How often do we miss Him in the day to day of life because of all the other voices we are filtering through?

And then there is the internal white noise. This stuff is worse, in my opinion. The internal shame voice of “Not enough”, not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. I think I repeat it over and over again and you might be tired of me saying it, but I am convinced we have to say it until our internal selves get it. That voice is not of God. That is the voice of the Devil telling you lies. The Father of lies, Himself, berating you for never living up, never reaching out, never saying it right.

In the same vent, there is the internal voice of selfishness – I need, I want, I deserve; of greed – they have more, I need more, how do I get more; of discontent – my life’s so mediocre, I’m not like them, why isn’t God intervening?

Even the church has it’s own white noise, external and internal voices that put aside the Truth of the Word, prefer rules over mercy, and make hierarchies for grace. There are a million distractions from the objective of loving our God and loving our neighbor, justice and love going out, and bringing the message of restoration to the world.

BE QUIET, voices!

The beautiful thing is that God addresses this battle, this battle against powers and principalities that looks a lot like static and distraction all around.

First, look up Ephesians 6:10-18 in your Bibles. I’ll highlight verses 10-13 below –

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Put on the whole armor. Strap it on. It’s all richly supplied by God. We have a different wardrobe from the world. We have a different vantage point through that Helmet of Salvation. We are given tools that block out the white noise, that provide a filter. Let’s use them! List below for me the tools that you have been given, these free gifts for every day, found in Ephesians 6:14-18.

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Now, believing that Scripture interprets Scripture, look at Exodus 14:14 to find some wisdom in this battle, from above –

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Be QUIET, voices! Be quiet…me.

We strap on the armor and He does the work. We still our hearts and turn to Him in prayer, ready to listen to His song of Truth and Saving Grace. We hold the Sword of the Spirit, the Word. We ingest it with the pages open and He fills us with all knowledge and understanding and trust. We stand still with our shield. The junk from the world bounces off our shield and into nothingness. It has no part in this Child of God, Redeemed and Made Holy.

I think I have forever thought that I needed to strap on the armor and go charging forth. It’s partly my personality, but I don’t think I’m alone either. The idea of strapping on armor makes most of us think we have this huge responsibility to undertake.

Isaiah felt the same way. Read Isaiah 6:4-7 –

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

I’m unclean. I can’t battle. I’m world-weary. I’m incapable.

White noise, my friend. White noise.

Our task is to stand and let the coal touch our lips. Our sins are atoned for, our imperfections, our weaknesses are God’s greatest glories when we stand ready for His touch.

You need only be silent. You need only be still.

White noise, you just met your worst enemy. I call Him Savior.

Thank you, Lord, for Your great faithfulness, for always, always being ready on our behalf. Calm my troubled spirit when the world reaches in. Refresh my soul with Your Word. Be in every day, every moment, and every heartbeat. In Jesus we pray, Amen. 

 

Exploration:

Chose one tool given to us by God as a gift of His grace, that we strap on daily in the Spirit, from the list in Ephesians 6:10-18. How does this tool serve you in your daily life, with you family, in your marriage, with friends, or in the church, or your community? Help us see some examples of the Armor of God at work in real life.

Who do you have in your life that helps you to filter out the noise, whether internal or external, and helps you discern Truth from untruth?

You are never forsaken

Have you ever loaned out a book and never received it back? Or maybe you’ve been on the other end and stopped borrowing books from friends because a borrowed book is as good as lost in your house? What is it with loaned books? We return them to the library, but if a friend loans us a book it suddenly goes MIA overnight. I have been on both the receiving and the losing end of this strange book conundrum.

I have one book I loan out like candy. I hand it out like a grandma hands out butterscotch candies, just waiting for their rightful recipient in the bottom of her purse for a good three years. I don’t honestly care if I ever get this particular book back, it’s that important to me that people read it. (Shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our secret.) I may keep Amazon in business with the number of copies I have bought and “lost” to people over the years. But in the end, who cares. The message of this book for me was so powerful, that I press it on people,

“You must read it.”

“It’s life changing.”

“Let me send it to you.”

What was the message? The same as our passage in Isaiah for today. Please read Isaiah 62:12.

And they shall be called The Holy People,
    The Redeemed of the Lord;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
    A City Not Forsaken.

Circle the titles listed below in your Bible, if you have it out.

Holy
Redeemed
Sought Out
Not Forsaken

My book, mentioned earlier, is a historical retelling of the message, life, and writings of the prophet Hosea, a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. Their messages overlap and are in concordance with one another, but just as each of us have a different testimony of Christ written through our lives, so does the work and words of each prophet. It’s helpful to dig into them side by side when we get the opportunity.

Hosea has something to say about Sought Out. My personal opinion is that His message of sought out, of not forsaken, is stronger than any other Biblical book. But maybe that’s just because my book found me at just the right place, at the right time, with the message I needed to know more than any other:

You are sought out.
You are not forsaken.

You see, this is the message of redemption, of the Holy One not only coming to us in His Son and His Word, but seeking us out, searching our hearts and our lives until He gets ahold of us, literally chasing us down with His Son and His Word.

Read the following verses from Hosea to piece together his story. Rather, it’s the story of his family and God’s great forgiveness working in all of it:

Hosea 1:2-3

Hosea 3:1-3

Hosea 6:1-3

Sometimes, I need to know that at my worst, I am sought out. This message…this, is what brings me up from the ash heap. It brings me back from ugly sin and creating messes wherever I travel. It finally shuts my mouth when words are flying left and right and edification is far from my heart and mind. While we were still sinners, Christ Jesus died for us. He died for me and you and Gomer and Israel, at our worst.

Read Isaiah 62:12 again, adding 63:1 this time. Remember, there’s no chapter and verse numbers in the original Hebrew. It is a fluid passage.

And they shall be called The Holy People,
    The Redeemed of the Lord;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
    A City Not Forsaken.

Who is this who comes from Edom,
    in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
    marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
    mighty to save.”

Mighty to Save.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

1 Timothy 1:15

Mighty to seek. Mighty to Save.

You are Sought Out is the message that you are worthy of saving, worthy of seeking, finding, and showering with Grace, not because you look like you have it together, but because you don’t.

Hosea loved in the hardest circumstances, in unimaginable grace and mercy, he sought out his wife because she was precious to him, because God seeks in places you and I wouldn’t even think of it going.

He is mighty to save.

You are Sought Out.

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Exploration:

In our culture, “I’m not worthwhile” or “I’m not enough” is a difficult lie of Satan for people to overcome. What message would you share with a friend struggling with not being good enough for Jesus? (May I suggest sharing our image for today as a message of hope, online or privately?)
What “least of these” people do you have a heart for?
When has God ministered to you and sought you out or hunted you down to show you His grace?

sought-out

Sought Out Scripture Engagement Tool

*My book = Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, check it out at your local library

He saves me, and saves me, and saves me some more…



Session 2 – He saves me, and saves me, and saves me some more…

Jesus is a once and for all kind of God. He tells us in His Word that the battle is over, the fight has been won. The cross paid the full price for our sin. The resurrection gave us eternal life. It is finished, it is done. (See Romans 8:37-39, John 16:33)
But he’s also an every day kind of God, a not quite done with me God. (See Philippians 1:4-6, 2 Timothy 4:6-8) We are still in this race, still slapping our armor on each day. He is still working out His plan on our lives, every day.
2 Samuel 22 is filled with David’s words of exultation and thanksgiving for God’s salvation. This beautiful testimony to God’s saving action in our lives is repeated again in Psalm 18. And it is indeed worthy of repeat. Let’s read at least 2 Samuel 22:1-7. Feel free to look up the whole chapter. It’s beautiful!
“And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said,
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my 
God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
    my stronghold and my refuge,
    my savior; you save me from violence.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.
“For the waves of death encompassed me,
    the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
 “In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry came to his ears.”
David was miraculously saved from Saul’s torment of him, through an enemy. God’s ways of rescue and salvation are ceaselessly amazing. He used a manger and a cross to save us. Who would have seen that coming?
But David’s days of battle were far from over with Saul’s death. 2ndSamuel is packed with battles and there is a reason that the passage above goes on for 51 more verses! God continued to save David, to shelter and protect him, as well as to discipline and forgive him, for His whole life, day in and day out.
That is the message of 2nd Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 – an almost endless praise for the saving works of God, both those done and those he continues to do.
What has God saved you from? Maybe you were premature at birth, maybe you were in a terrible auto accident, maybe adolescence almost got the best of you. Maybe hopelessness seeped in at one point in your life, maybe you are struggling with the loss of a child. Perhaps mental illness, anxiety, or depression has walked in your front door. Where ever you have been and whatever battles lie ahead, He is the same Savior.
He saves us yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He died once for all, but we are daily made new.
Lord God, I don’t know what battle each person faces, but I pray for each and every battle. Jesus, you are our salvation. You rescue, you heal, you set us on a solid rock. We praise you today. Thank you for your goodness, your love, and your mercy. In Jesus name, Amen.
He’s not done with you yet, sister!

A reminder of the victory for the journey ahead

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
Christus Victor, Christ the victor, on the cross, risen, ascended. All the power of death and the devil, completely defeated once and for all! It is finished! That is the beautiful message of Easter morning.
            Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
            The strife is o’er the battle done;
            Now is the victor’s triumph won;
            Now be the song of praise begun. Alleluia! (LSB 464)
We are the conquerors. Vicariously we have the victory through Christ’s death and resurrection. Sometimes we relegate the victory to Christ and forget that He has given the victory to us in His atoning sacrifice. Death, the devil, the world, our sinful flesh…all defeated in our own lives.
This verse tells us that we are more than conquerors. The victory has been won and is continuously won, everyday in our own lives, as Christ lives and works in our hearts and our homes. ‘More than’, hupernikáo, utilizes an “intensive prefix” in Greek. We are exceedingly or overwhelmingly conquerors.
God’s work is powerful and real. We live in a powerful and real battle on this Earth. Satan tries to infiltrate our hearts, our marriages, our families, our churches. But we are exceedingly and overwhelmingly victorious. What a difference it makes to know the outcome of the war! We fight differently. We hold on tight as the battle rages. We hunker down and protect our family. We hurl the Living Word at Satan and fight the good fight to keep our hearts, our families, and our lives, because we know that Christ has already won. At times it doesn’t feel like you’re winning the battle, much less the war, but hold on to Biblical Truth. You are more than conquerors. Christ is in any and every situation in our lives with His victor crown.

Lord, You love us. You know what each day holds for our lives. Keep us in your Word. Remind us of your complete victory in every situation. We trust in You. In Jesus name, Amen.