January 8, 2023 –  Pastor Mark Albrecht

Message Big Idea Our habits are formative. That is, they determine who we are becoming. So, we must examine our habits through a biblical lens, adapting to firmly keep ourselves in the grooves of grace God has provided for the Christian life. The first habit is stillness. Jesus habitually practiced stillness by escaping from noise, distraction and other voices. In turn, He received spiritual replenishment, ministry direction, and clarity about His calling.

Lean In: 

  • Take a moment to reflect (if you are going through this on your own) or share (if you are with others in a group setting): What are you grateful for today? What are you struggling with today?
  • Share some of your daily habits.  Are they good?  Are they bad?  Are they quirky?

Look Down:

  • Read Mark 1:21-38 (Read twice – ESV and either NLT or Message)
  • Take a moment to briefly retell the passage in your own words.
  • What words or phrases “jumped off the page” and intrigued you the most? Why?

Look Out: 

  • What habits do you observe as highly valued in our culture/society? How do they relate to the ideas of busyness, efficiency, and productivity?  
  • Now think about the habit or practice of stillness. How does stillness relate to the ideas of busyness, efficiency, and productivity? 
  • Which is the greatest enemy of stillness? 
    • Noise  –  “Before daybreak”
    • Distraction  –  “To an isolated place”
    • Other Voices – “Everyone is looking for you”

Look In:

  • In Mark 1:35-37, we observe Jesus seeking stillness away from noise, distraction, and other voices.  We can interpolate that this was a regular habit of Jesus which helped sustain him throughout His earthly ministry.  Do you have a habit of seeking stillness?  How do you protect that time from noise, distraction and other voices?  Have you had to change your strategy depending on your life situation? 
  • Reflect on how the stillness modeled by Jesus differs from that practiced by Buddhist monks or Yoga enthusiasts.  Certainly, there are some parallels which inform our understanding of humanity’s need for quiet and stillness.  But what makes Christ-like stillness distinct?  
  • Mark 1:38-39 shows that stillness, when prayerfully practiced, has deeply practical implications for the rest of our daily lives.  Not only was Jesus spiritually replenished but He also received direction and clarity in His ministry.
  • How do you view your daily quiet time?  Do you expect replenishment, direction and clarity?  How does this relate to the posture in which you enter that time of stillness?

Live It Out:

  • What is one thing God seems to be asking you to do in response to this passage? (i.e., “I will ….”)
  • Who can you tell about this “I will” statement in the next 48 hours?
  • Journal about your time in God’s Word this week. Stop to listen to what He might be telling you. Celebrate His presence through His Word!
  • Read through the “Practice of the Week” below. Journal and share your thoughts.

Practice for the Week:

How can I make STILLNESS (Silence and Solitude) a part of my life?

Start small by setting aside a few moments to intentionally spend in quiet with our God.  Claim the little solitudes that already exist in your day (showering, driving, exercising, watering…).

The challenge of a spirituality of everyday life is to maintain the crucial importance of moments of solitary silence and being alone with God, without giving up on the possibility that we can also be contemplatives in the midst of the noise, the hubbub and intense activity of our days.  E. Dyer 

Before choosing to enter into silence take time to become aware how silence was used during your childhood and how you perceive and use silence as an adult. Often silence has been/is used as a weapon, a punishment, a withdrawal of love by people. If this has been your experience, then silence may be difficult to intentionally enter into silence. This is important to know so you can give grace to yourself and be patient with yourself as you enter into this discipline. Remember to start where you are and build instead of putting unreal expectations on yourself that will in turn hinder your journey into silence rather than empower and encourage it.

Dealing with internal noise

Notice what voices, messages are rising within you. Silence can provide an opportunity to get in touch with the voices and messages that circulate in your mind that you are aware of but hinder your ability to accept God’s love and your value, worth and significance as God’s child. Initially silence can be a difficult time of being battered by the negative voices within but through God’s transform power and love these thoughts can be taken captive to Christ and healing can come as your mind and heart are

Dealing with troublesome thoughts in silence

  • Don’t be discouraged or even shocked at your thoughts. God knew them before
    you and is not surprised.
  • If sin is revealed, confess it, allowing God time to show you its source.
  • Be open to whatever God may bring your way.
  • God may lead to a passage, invite you to take a walk, nap, sing, dance, surface
    something to explore, ponder (passage of scripture, attribute of God, decision,
  • Let God take the lead during this time This can be a great time for journaling (what is surfacing within me, what am I hearing from God…).

Beware of embracing distractions

  • Music, reading ( even the bible) and/or journaling can be a hindrance to silence.
    When you employ something in addition to silence (music, reading, journaling)
    ask yourself why. Is this a result of God’s invitation or a clever means of escaping
    the discomfort of silence or out of fear of what God might surface within as you
    are in silence?

Dealing with troublesome thoughts in silence

  • Start by getting into a comfortable position.
  • Once you get into a comfortable position, begin to take slow, deep breaths.
    Breathe in enough air to expand your chest. Breathe in through your nose and out
    through your mouth.
  • As you continue taking slow, deep breaths, allow your mind to slow down, letting
    go of thoughts and worries. Release the tension of your body. Let the stress flow
    from your muscles. Allow your body to relax.
  • Continue taking slow, deep breaths: in through your nose and out through your
    mouth. As you continue breathing slowly, imagine that God is breathing life, love,
    and peace into you with each breath you take.
  • As you breathe out, imagine stress, anxiety, fear and any feelings that weigh you
    down leaving you. Feel yourself sinking deeper and deeper into the presence of
  • As you begin to settle down and settle into, spend some time meditating and
    praying in response to Matthew 11:28-30. Do this slowly and quietly, lingering
    over every portion. Let the verse become your request to King Jesus as it relates
    to your situation this week and this day.