[00:00:00] Well, what a beautiful time to get to worship together. And, uh, if you have a Bible, we're going to read a story together. So turn to Luke chapter five, if you could. Um, and we'll get to that story here before too long. If you can believe it, we're only a few days away from 2020. I know that if you're like me at all, you, you're still trying to adequately process 2020 and all that, that meant for our world and your world.
[00:00:26] But lo and behold, here we are. And we're within a week from 2022 is insane. What if this year, what if this year as we turn the corner into 2022, what if this year was your quietest year? I think about that. What if this was your quietest year yet? Like your, your inner life, like your relationship with God, your ability to step out of the noise and, and quiet yourself down.
[00:00:56] I don't mean quiet in the sense of impact, like, like that God doesn't want you to do really impactful things for his kingdom this year. No, just what, what would it look like if this was your quietest year? If you really prioritize. Similarly, what would it look like if this year was your slowest year yet?
[00:01:15] And I don't mean necessarily your schedule, although all of us could probably use slow on our schedule down, but, but I mean like a slowness in your spirit, like, like an ability to, to slow down, to be intentional, to be present, I'm really challenged by this idea of quieting down and slowing down because our culture gives us the exact opposite of that.
[00:01:38] Like, everything that we see is go as fast as you can, as loud as you can, as chaotic as you can. It kind of reminds me of that movie mad max fury road, where they're just like driving through a wasteland, going as fast as possible. It's loud, there's rock music and explosions. And like, it's just insane. And sometimes I feel like we're a little bit like that.
[00:01:59] Just how fast can we go? How loud can we go? And maybe you get to this place in your. I'm not sure if I can sustain this any longer. I'm not sure if I can really continue to live at this speed or at this volume, I, this isn't really going to work out for me. Then maybe you have this yearning in your spirit to go, oh man, I want something different.
[00:02:24] I want a different way to live. I want to jump into another lane. I'm sick of just going fast and loud as, as fast and loud as I can go. No, I want to slow down. I want to quiet down. And that's what this story in Luke five is going to be about. It's Jesus setting this example for us. And I think we're going to have to be really intentional because I know I don't have to tell you this, but all indications are that our culture just going to get louder, right?
[00:02:50] Like that there's more noise than ever. There's more voices speaking into everything disagreeing about everything now is as much as ever. I mean, it's a noisy time for us. And all indications are that our culture is going to continue to get faster and faster paced. And we want things instantly, and we don't want to wait and we don't want it to load.
[00:03:11] We don't want it to buffer. We don't want to be patient. We don't want to plant anything because we're, we're just too impatient to let it be thing grow. We're going to have to be intentional about this. We're going to have to really focus on this because I think it's worth it. We need this. We need. The spirit of slowness.
[00:03:31] We need this inner life. That's quiet. Here's the problem with fast and loud, like, like you've never been driving on a road trip or going through a town that you're not as familiar with and you turn to the person next to you and you're like, Hey, speed up, go as fast as you can. Cause I need to read that road sign.
[00:03:48] That's not what we do, right. Because when you're going fast, you often can't see the signs that you need to see when you're going too fast. A lot of times you can't even see what's right in front of you in the same way. Like if you were waiting on a really important phone call and maybe it's medical news, or maybe, you know, it's, it's a job opportunity and you're like just staring at your phone.
[00:04:10] Like, man, I really need to make sure that I hear the phone when it rings. You wouldn't turn your TV up as loud as it goes and Blair all your music. Why? Because when it's loud, It's really hard to hear what we need to hear. And I think we need direction from God and we need to hear from God now as much as we ever have, but I'm just, I'm worried that sometimes we're going too fast and too loud.
[00:04:37] And we, we miss the signs and we miss the calls. So it's my prayer that out of Luke five, Jesus can show us a different way to live. So let's read this together, Luke five and verse 16. It says this, but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. It's simple enough. Right. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
[00:05:01] And maybe you read that and if you're anything cynical, like I am, you're like, well, yeah, no kidding. He's Jesus. Like, oh, you're telling me the son of the living, God, like really prioritizes his devotional life. That's so surprising. Right? Sometimes these stories of Jesus and the things that he models for us can feel kind of intimidating because we're like, he's perfect.
[00:05:21] He's the son of God. I mean, of course he has the right perspective. Of course he, he knows how to slow his life down and quiet his life down. If, if Jesus knew how busy. If you knew how full my schedule was, if he knew how many people need something from me, but, but let's read the verses that proceed verse 16, because I think it gives us a clear picture of the setting that verse 16 comes out of.
[00:05:46] And, and it might be a little bit closer to home for you. And for me, Luke five, starting in verse 12, says this while Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him. Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.
[00:06:06] Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing. He said, be clear. And then immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him. Don't tell anyone, but go show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing. As a testimony to them. Look at verse 15, yet the news about him spread all the more.
[00:06:26] So the crowds of people came to hear him and be healed of their sicknesses, but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Um, so maybe neither of us have ever healed somebody from leprosy, but, but doesn't, that sound a lot, like our lives that everywhere that we go, we just feel like people are, are, are taking our time and filling our schedule with stuff.
[00:06:47] Somebody always needs something from us. Right. And I look at Jesus' life and ministry and everywhere that he went, he was just mobbed with people who needed something. Who asked him to teach, who asked him to he'll ask them to perform some miracle. There's even stories of people coming to Jesus and going, man, my, my daughter's dad, I need you to come and bring her back to life.
[00:07:10] Can you imagine like the toll that this takes on Jesus as he's walking from town to town, as he's working out this ministry, it occurs to me that in the midst of his busy-ness in the midst of how loud and how fast paced his life. That actually pushed him closer to God. See, unlike some of us were like the busier, we get the louder things, get the crazier.
[00:07:36] The season gets, we move God down the priority list, right? Like, like we tend to go I'll, I'll reach out. I'll I'll prioritize this. I'll focus on my relationship with God when my life slows down or when stuff gets less crazy or whatever it might be. But the crazier stuff got for Jesus. The more full his schedule.
[00:07:54] Got it. Pushed him to. See, I think Jesus knew that if he was going to be able to sustain this level of impact, if he was going to keep going at this, at this pace, with his ministry, with the things that he was doing with the purpose, why he was here, he was going to need to withdraw. He was going to need to quiet down and slow down and pray to his heavenly father.
[00:08:18] Man, this is so challenging. C w we're so worried that if we, if we slow down, if we quiet down, then our, our impact, our ability to impact anything is going to be effected. But Jesus would show us that his impact was actually strengthened by his ability to withdraw, regardless of what you think about Jesus, if you believe in him and he's your Lord and savior, if you think he's just some crazy carpenter from 2000 years ago, and you don't believe any of this stuff, wherever you are on that spectrum, you can't deny his impact.
[00:08:48] Jesus has the most impactful human movement in the history of mankind. And he started in a little blue collar no-name town in Israel with 12 people who really weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, to be honest. And he only had a three-year ministry. And from that the most impressive, most impactful human movement in our history was formed.
[00:09:11] See, Jesus knew that his impact came from his ability to slow down and quiet. So I think Jesus knew two things that I, that I want us to know in our hearts. I think we know this in our head, but, but I want this to actually start to take root in us. If you wait for your life to slow down, to slow your life down, you're going to miss a lot of roads.
[00:09:39] If you wait for your life to slow down, to slow your life down, you're going to miss a lot of road signs. There's going to be a lot of direction. There's going to be a lot of turns that God wants you to take. There's going to be a lot of purpose and meaning and things that God has for you. That you're just going to be going too fast to see.
[00:09:56] And there's this illusion that may maybe in a month, maybe in a year, maybe after this stage of life, everything will slow down, but we know it's not true. If we're not intentional about slowing our life down and taking a step out of the fast paced, busy schedule, badge of honor life that so many of us live, we're just going to miss road signs.
[00:10:16] We're going to miss things that God has for us. We're going to miss clarity and we're going to miss direction. The second thing that Jesus knew that I hope we can know if we wait for our life to quiet down, to quiet our life down, we're going to miss a lot of important calls. If you're waiting for this quiet season where everybody leaves you alone and you just get to kind of focus on the things you care about to quiet your life down.
[00:10:40] There's going to be so many calls that you miss. There's going to be so much of that relationship that God has made you for that you're going to miss because yeah, he's calling. Yeah. He has things for you. Yeah. He wants to be close to you, but the TV's too loud. The news is too loud. The job is too. There is no such thing as, oh, life's really quiet right now.
[00:11:01] We're going to have to be intentional about this. We're going to have to decide to step out of the fast, loud, mad max fury road and unlike Jesus withdraw and take a step back and be present where we are. So let me just give you a couple of things really, really quickly to apply to our lives. Kind of the, so what, why does this matter?
[00:11:23] How do we actually do this? And it's all found in verse six. It's just right here in the words, but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed the first question. What should we do with this? What should we do this year? Well, if we're going to follow his example, we should withdrawal to lonely places.
[00:11:41] What would this year look like? If you withdrew, if you not abandoned any responsibility, not, you know, didn't do things that you need to do, but if, if you intentionally, if you chose. To take a step out of the hustle and bustle and go, no, I'm going to willingly withdraw from time to time so that I can see God clearly so that I can see the road signs so that I can hear when he calls, what should we do?
[00:12:04] We, we should withdraw to lonely places. The second question, what should we do when we withdraw? Well, it's right here in the verse, but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and. I know this is like the most simple church answer of all time, but I love there's a pastor in Washington, DC, mark Batterson, and his definition of prayer is prayer is the difference between my best and God's best.
[00:12:29] I've always loved that definition. Prayer is the difference between my best and God's best. And if I want to have impact this year, if I want to do things that matter. If I want to be a part of meaningful stuff, man, wouldn't it. Wouldn't it be so much better if I used God's best to fill me in to send me out than my own best.
[00:12:48] I know that my best isn't that good? I know that I'm flawed. I know that I screw up. I know that I'm a broken person. That's just trying to figure this out. Wouldn't it be better if the impact in my life was up to God's best? Not my own. So we should withdraw to lonely places and pray the. How often should we do this?
[00:13:09] How often should we make this a part of our life? It's right there in the verse, but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. I know this is a frustrating answer. How often should I do that? You should do it often. You should do it often enough to be able to say that you do it often. This was a part of Jesus life.
[00:13:26] This was his rhythm. This was, this was the way he lived. It wasn't just for holidays. It wasn't just for special occasions. This is what he did. He did it often enough. Categorized as often. So what about you, maybe it's on purpose that Luke doesn't give us five times a week or every morning at this time, Jesus, with true, because then we would just make it about us.
[00:13:47] It turned into religion, it turned into pride and competition. But I think God wants to tell you today, you should do this often enough that you can say that you do it often. I know you know this man, but God has such an incredible purpose for you. And if you wait for your life to slow down and quiet down to slow your life down and quiet your life down, you're just going to miss some road signs.
[00:14:12] You're going to miss some important calls. And I want us to have an impactful year as a church. I want us to do incredible things for the kingdom of God. I want us to change the world and I think to do that, we're going to have to have the slowest quietest most present year. So now, as we transition into this time of communion, we get to practice what we just talked about, slowing down and quieting down.
[00:14:40] We have this moment now to remember what Jesus did for us to reflect on the sacrifice that he made for us. And I've always loved this so much about communion that we get to join it. And this tradition, this, this, this, uh, ritual that Jesus started with his disciples, the night that he would go on to get arrested and crucified for you.
[00:15:00] And for me, he sat down with them and you had a meal and, and he took the bread. And he said, when, when you break this bread, remember my body being broken for you. And when you drink of this cup, remember my blood being poured out for you. And so every time we get to take communion, it's this beautiful.
[00:15:19] Reminder for us. It's this beautiful time of worship. And we really get to join in with millions of followers of Jesus over all of these centuries that have remembered this exact same sacrifice in this way. So me and the worship team have our communion. If you have elements prepared at home, I would encourage you to take them.
[00:15:38] Now let's take communion together.
[00:15:44] Let me put it. God, we're so thankful for who you are. We're thankful for this sacrifice that we're reminded of that we get to celebrate because of that. We get life everlasting because of God, thanks for coming all this way to bring us home. And God, even now, as we try to slow down and quiet down our lives, Lord, I pray that each and every one of us could see clearly the direction that you want us to go.
[00:16:12] That you're sending us out from the cross, from the victory that we have over death and help us to remember this, not just during communion, not just during a church service God, but for our whole lives, that we might walk with a confidence and with a victory and with the joy, because of the sacrifice that you made for us.
[00:16:30] We love you so much, and it's in Jesus' name that we pray. Amen.