Locations of visitors to this page
Solitude, Quietness, Obscurity
Scripture: Job 3:26; Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 32:17; Ga...
Track 4 of 15 in the Paul: Grace & Strength Mixed Together series
Running time: 1 hour, 11 minutes, 22 seconds.
The deeper life is a subject greatly admired but rarely experienced. In fact, when was the last time you ever talked about acquiring a deeper life even though many consider it of the highest importance Often times we sing of its virtues in worship but for many of us, we dont embrace it. We long for the peace that it brings to our souls but rarely dip our toes into its deep waters. We would love to receive the benefits it promises us but are way too busy and our crazy lifestyles crowd out its significance. But it is in this hidden life called solitude where God chooses to speak to us the most. In the quiet places, His voice is heard.

Click above to listen in this window.
Right-click to download MP3. With one-button mouse, control-click.

Be sure to scroll down to read the transcript.

Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Solitude, Quietness and Obscurity

I think one of the hardest things to do in life today is to get away, be alone, be quiet and hide from the world to just reflect and be still. I don’t know about you but I am finding it easier to do nothing in life, relax and enjoy time away from the office, my busy schedule and often times, other people. I never use to be like that. I use to be the type of person that if I wasn’t busy doing something, I felt guilty that I actually wasn’t being productive. Being still, just thinking for long hours and enjoying quiet is not natural for me. However, scripture teaches that life without the adequate time to be still is not good for the soul.

Is solitude today looked upon as good, helpful, questionable, unhealthy, laziness? What do you think?

What a commentary on civilization, when being alone is being suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it - like a secret vice. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Job with all his problems said it this way:

Job 3:26 I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

How many of you feel like Job at times? Are there times when all you want is just a little peace and quiet; a little time to think and relax and to regroup yourself to get ready for the next series of events to hit your busy life? Why do we find ourselves in situations when there is no time to be quiet, be still, to spend time away a lone for hours at a time, not just minutes?

Isaiah 30:15: This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…

saiah 32:17 The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

The Bible talks a lot about solitude and the advantages found there. More importantly we find examples of solitude, quietness and obscurity, all actions and attitudes that lead to a deeper life. One thing the world is in desperate need of today are people who have great depth to their lives. Our society today is built on the here and now and instant self-gratification. The result of this is a shallow lifestyle. In our fast age of information, we can have our questions answered almost instantly, yet much of that information is lost because the question was asked, not for deeper understanding, but to satisfy a fleeting thought. Within seconds the reason for asking the question in the first place is forgotten thus the value of the answer is spent for no reason.

The deeper life is a subject greatly admired but rarely experienced. In fact, when was the last time you ever talked about acquiring a deeper life even though many consider it of the highest importance? Often times we sing of its virtues in worship but for many of us, we don’t embrace it. We long for the peace that it brings to our souls but rarely dip our toes into its deep waters. We would love to receive the benefits it promises us but are way to busy and our crazy lifestyles crowd out its significance. But it is in this hidden life called solitude where God chooses to speak to us the most. In the quiet places, His voice is heard.

I want you to be honest with yourself; when was the last time you carved out time to be absolutely alone with God. You made an appointment, you arranged your schedule, you set aside your responsibilities and said no to family, friends and stuff, all the things that eat up your time so you could go to a quiet place and just listen to God speak to you?

A survey of scripture reveals that those God used greatly were often prepared for those exploits during periods of solitude, quietness and obscurity. Here are some examples:

Moses: For 40 years God allowed Moses to sit in obscurity, quietly waiting, alone to himself until at the age of 80 called to him and charged him with an awesome task.

David: Even though David was anointed King as a young boy, he didn’t become king until the age of 30. After his victory over Goliath he spent the next 13 years as a fugitive hiding out in caves away from Saul. Some of David’s greatest Psalms came from that time when he was alone in solitude and obscurity trying to survive the wilderness.

Joseph: here was a man honest to the core and yet was treated as a deceitful man. He spent two years in prison wondering if he’d every get out of his solitary cell. Yet, though his imprisonment was unfair, Joseph’s character was forged in that quiet existence.

Elijah: My all time favorite was when the mighty Elijah stood toe to toe against Ahab but shortly after that confrontation experienced a backlash that shook his confidence. Afraid Elijah went and hid in a cave and refused to come out, it was there that God spoke to him in a whisper, I that quiet, solitude place and set Elijah back on his feet.

Jesus: Yes, even Jesus often would go away by himself, away from the disciples and the people to be alone and experience God in prayer and meditation. Jesus deepest darkness was experienced in the quiet night air so He could know what God wanted, expected and for him to be obedient.

When Lady Lytton first met Winston Churchill, she described him this way, “When you first meet him you see all his faults, and the rest of your life you spend in discovering his virtues.”

In many respects this is a good description of Saul of Tarsus. We were first introduced to him as this raging bull persecuting the Christians and trying to stomp out the church. To the Christians of that time they too saw him this way with all his horrible traits and faults. In less than a week God transformed Saul of Tarsus into the man we know as Paul. It wasn’t until then did we see the Christ-born virtues that made this man truly great. Even though his heart was immediately transformed by the salvation through Jesus, he still had a lot to learn and needed to know Jesus better. In Galatians Paul writes of that experience in solitude.

Galatians 1:11-24 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth£ and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.

There are two very important things that Paul didn’t do? In fact, he deliberately mentions them to make a point. These are really big mistake Christians make sometimes. What are they?

FIRST: Didn’t immediately consult with flesh and blood, that is, other people. He didn’t go searching around in Damascus seeking others to help shape his belief.

SECOND: His didn’t rush to Jerusalem to present himself to the apostles-the very men who walked and talked with Jesus.

Why didn’t he do these things? What was the purpose and why was it important?

By not learning the Christian message from earlier Christians and by not knowing the Apostles before he first heard it from Jesus, Paul could state and did several times that He was commissioned by Jesus and not by men.

The question that is bounced around in Christian scholarship is why did Paul go to Arabia for three years?

Some say he did it to preach to the lost there. Only one problem, Paul never speaks or writes about it. Others think that after he converted to Christianity he had to run for his life because now he is a wanted man. Yet, Paul never mentions it. Others suggest that Paul spent the same amount of time with Jesus out in the wilderness as did the disciples. Again, Paul never mentions that reason. I think it is because God wanted Paul out there, alone, quiet and in obscurity, prayerfully preparing for what God had planned for him. He needed to know the heart of Jesus, he needed to hear the voice of Jesus.

In that period of delay, Saul learned the real Saul, the Saul God had uniquely called and chosen for a ministry of grace to the world. There he saw the darker side of himself and there he saw the greatness of God’s mercy and love. Many times he goes back to that theme and expresses it pulling from his own experience.

Ephesians 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

I want to end class today with this one question for consideration, how many of you truly have as a goal, sometime in life, to spend adequate time alone with God, quiet, in solitude? In order to do this, what do you need to change tomorrow to accomplish this goal? What are some of your ideas for escape? Where can you go? How do you steel away an hour, two maybe even three?

At the end of class I told you that I would include with my notes a method I use when spending quiet time with God. Not only do I pray and contemplate on God's will in my life, I try to listen to him talk to me through his Word. Not only do I read His Word but I also pray His Word trying to let His Spirit tell me where my faults are, areas I need to improve in and listen for His direction.

Many years ago a friend taught me the valuable practice of praying scripture. I use a simple study sheet titled, SPACEPETS. This acronym represents 9 questions to ask and apply to a passage of verses you plan to meditate on. Each question is a probing question looking for the true meanings found in the passage but more importantly, the answers can be made into a prayerful conversation with God as you answer and contemplate the meanings. I can spend hours talking and praying with God using scripture as my conversation script.

You can download SPACEPETS by copying the links below and pasting them into your browser.

PDF Version: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40339278/S-PETS.pdf
Word Version: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40339278/S-PETS.DOC

I like to use the Word version because I copy and paste my scripture text into the right hand column so my scripture text is printed on my sheets. I sometimes save my studies to review again months later. After doing this for 6 months, it is always interesting to go back and re-read the answers discovering how God's message affected my life days later after completing the study. It can become a record showing your spiritual growth.

Enjoy your quiet time with God. If you are unsure how to use this, feel free to call me and I'll try to explain it to you or set up a time for you and I to prayerfully study together.