Steven Furtick — Silent Sermons
Anytime I preach, there are two sermons happening, the one that I'm preaching, and the one that you're hearing, and sometimes those two are not the same. So, I wanna talk to you for a few moments today about silent sermons. Silent sermons. And what we'll do is we'll read the whole Psalm, Psalm 19, we'll read the whole thing. I want to ask you to stand to your feet in honor of the reading of God's word Many say this is David's greatest hit. Of all of his psalms this is — some of his finest work. C.S. Lewis said it's one of the greatest lyrics in human history, and who are you to argue with C.S. Lewis? Touch somebody and say, "This must be a good one". It really is.
Listen to all 14 verses. "The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech. Night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words. No sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth". What a paradox this is. He said they have no vocal cords, no esophagus, no larynx, yet they speak so loudly the skies declare the glory of God and the heavens show forth his power in such a way that it reaches the end of the earth. It's a silent sermon.
Their words go to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It's like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. Like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other. Nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Touch somebody and say, "God's word works". The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold. They are sweeter than..". Krispy Kreme — North Carolina translation — "...than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned in keeping them..".
In keeping them. Not just in hearing them, but in retaining them, in keeping them. "...there is a great reward, but who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins. May they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression". And here comes Pastor Mickey's verse. "May the words of my mouth," — He said it in the King James English 'cause Pastor Mickey is 78. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart," take it down, "be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer". And now that I said the scripture, we can get the sermon started. Have a seat. It matters where you start. You agree with me, it matters how you start your day?
Let's use a few examples with your spouse. Holly and I were very happy on our honeymoon night and the next morning. I'm not going with this where you think I'm going with this. When she looked at me and I looked at her, and we had both been up, and we had both brushed our teeth, and we had both been awake for 15 minutes and we had not said a word. And she looked at me and I looked at her and we knew that we had made the right decision, because she looked at me and she said to me, "You don't like to talk in the morning either"? And I said, "No, I hate people in the morning". And we knew it was meant to be. Because we can start our morning without saying a word. We can start our morning without saying a word.
And I found out that you can preach a sermon without saying a word. Some of the loudest sermons I will preach will be with my life, not with my lips. In fact, if I preach one sermon with my lips and another with my life, it won't be long before nobody wants to hear what I have to say, no matter how loud I say it. Silent sermons. There's the one that I preach, and then there's the one that I live.
My grandfather was a preacher. I only heard him preach one time that I remember. Probably heard him preach other times that I don't remember, but I remember only one sermon that I ever heard him preach. Can't remember what he preached but remember hearing him preach one time. I saw him preach hundreds of times, there's a difference. I saw him comb my grandmother's hair when she didn't even know his name anymore, because Alzheimer's had completely erased her memory of him, but it didn't matter because, like you've heard so many times before, he would say, "She might not know... who I am, but I know. I know who I am... even if she doesn't". And so, I am the kind of husband that will comb her hair and show up every morning when visiting hours start, and not leave until they kick me out and take her to Wendy's every day for lunch". And he had no integrity because they would share a diet coke every day at Wendy's and get free refills and only pay for one instead of two.
But see, he was preaching a silent sermon. He wasn't the first one to preach a silent sermon, because Moses was a man that God wanted to use, but he wasn't very good with words, so God said, "Don't worry about what you're gonna say, I'm gonna give you a stick". If you take the stick and stretch it out. Touch somebody say, "Stretch it out". It's always in the stretch that you discover the supply. It's always in the stretch that you discover the strength. It's always in the stretch that you discover the supernatural. You oughtta be getting warmed up by now. Somebody shout, "Stretch". God said, "Moses if you'll stretch you'll staff over the waters you won't have to say a word. I'll make the waters part, and the people will know what kind of God I am, not by the words that you speak, but I'll make the waters preach for you". It's a silent sermon.
Moses wasn't the only one who preached a silence sermon. One woman in the Bible was so taken by the presence of Jesus Christ that she snuck in a room with some perfume, some really expensive perfume, the Bible says it was worth a year's wages, and people knew that she loved Jesus, not because of her speech, but because of the smell of the fragrance that she poured out at his feet. Now I can't find one time where she said a word in the passage, but Jesus said, "Wherever the gospel is preached, the memory of what this woman has done will be told". Because some sermons are preached through smell, rather than by sound.
I'll prove it to you. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went down in a fiery furnace. I'm preaching now. We past the introduction. And they turned up the heat seven times hotter than normal, and they thought it would kill 'em, but when they came out, they didn't even smell like smoke, and when you don't smell like what you've been through, and when you've been through the fire, but you're not bitter about it, and you... it's a silent sermon.
Jesus got down in the dirt one day, and a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was about to get stoned. Jesus said, "If you've never done anything deserving of becoming human target practice, go ahead and fire away". And then He knelt down in the dirt, said not another word, and everybody started walking away, and He said not a word, He was writing in the dirt. I think He was writing their names and what they did on prom night. But I don't know what He wrote. Maybe just the essence of His presence was enough. That His perfection became a reflection of their need for grace.
Some of the greatest sermons are silent sermons, silent sermons. Those guys preached one today before I ever opened my mouth, the preaching started. Sam and Brian, you don't know them. They brought my pulpit up. They said something before I said something. First of all, they said that this is a heavy pulpit they've been lifting. By the way, when you're really strong you don't have to talk about how strong you are. Real strength shows. And when you really love God, sometimes it's something that's a seemingly insignificant act of service. I wonder if their sermon will actually mean more to God than mine because nobody will download Sam's podcast, but he preached. It's a silent sermon.
People ask me often, "When are you gonna let Holly preach more"? Well first of all, she told me two times a year, any more than that and she's leaving me. Like she doesn't like it that much. But she preaches every week. Every week she preaches. Every week, if you don't believe me just look over at her right now, she's got her notebook open, and this is the second time she's heard this sermon. And she's still... pretending to take notes and writing her grocery list. That's not true. She gets something new out of it every time. It's a silent sermon, a silent sermon. Can you preach a silent sermon?
Lazarus did. The Bible says that Jesus needed some way to reveal that He was not only healer, but He was resurrection. But if he said it, people might doubt it. But if He did it, somebody had to die. Sometimes the greatest sermon of your life will be by the things that you went through. In fact, I love it. Because that same passage where the woman broke the perfume, her name was Mary, she was Lazarus' sister, and while she was pouring out perfume, Lazarus was chillin', leaned back at the table. He didn't have to say a word. The fact that he was dead and now alive. The fact that he was in the ground and was now sitting at the table was proof of the power of God.
How many know just the fact that you showed up for church today, makes the devil sick? He can't stand to see you in the house of God. I'm preaching by my very presence and it's a silent sermon. So, when David says the sun makes a circuit, he's not giving us a science lesson. He's showing us something about how creation preaches silent sermons. Day after day and night after night he said they pour forth the glory of God. They speak, but you can't hear it. Some of God's greatest work is seen, not heard, not heard. The skies preach a silent sermon. The consistency of the solar system says something to us about the nature of life, that it is cyclical. Some of the things that you think are circumstantial in your life are actually cyclical.
I think that's a big part of maturity, is learning what's cyclical, and not just running around from situation to situation, but understanding the cycles that create the situations. Because if you don't understand the cycle that creates a situation, you will be dealing with situation after situation after situation after situation. I don't need to be a science teacher to explain to you that the solar system operates on cycles. You understand we're making a trip right now. We do it every 365, sometimes it takes us 366 on those leap years, but we're making a cycle. David said that the heavens are declaring the glory of God and they keep on doing it. Consistently in a cycle.
And although we know that technically he's not explaining how the universe works, he's giving us a picture of the sun and its circuit. The whole text kinda has this theme of it that we're goin' round and round and round and round. He ends the Psalm saying, "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer". He starts with the solar system. The heavens declare the glory of God and he ends with his soul. So, from the solar system to his soul, everything is on a cycle. Whatever you are thinking about right now, it's because of a cycle.
In fact, I think it's very, very good to start your day with God because it starts the cycle from the right place. I think that's why it's really important — if you can read a Bible verse before you read a Facebook post because it's just a better, purer cycle. And if it's possible, before you check email, check your knee mail. I just threw that in for the corny people. I would never say that. A lesser preacher would say something like that. Touch somebody say, "It's a cycle".
And he uses this phrase, "The meditation of my heart". Y'all get it together, it wasn't that bad. Meditation... it's not a hot yoga term. Meditation is not a term reserved exclusively for eastern religion. Meditation actually in Hebrew is a musical term. I bet you didn't know that, that's why I'm telling you. It's like David — okay, here's where I learned about what meditation is, 'cause for years and years and years and years I thought that what I said to God was my prayer life. And so, I would say a lot of stuff to God and I would say all the stuff that I need God to do and sometimes I would lose focus and I had prayer lists and prayer thoughts and all that and it felt real boring.
I didn't realize... that there were some things that God wanted to say to me. I didn't understand the power of the silent sermon... until I went to see Ed Sheeran in concert. And I have nothing against Ed Sheeran. In fact, I think Ed Sheeran has written some beautiful songs. How many would agree that Ed Sheeran has written some beautiful songs? Three of you. But I'm just saying this is not a rant against Ed Sheeran, but I went to see Ed Sheeran because Holly likes boring music and — and Ed Sheeran had an interesting way of doing a concert, and it was surprising to me. Because Ed Sheeran did a whole concert without a band. A whole 90 minutes set in an arena.
When I say it was boring, now maybe I'm just spoiled, because I pass through a church with the greatest musicians you will find anywhere in the city, the state, come on GTA, the continent, but not ED. No, not Ed. Ed Sheeran didn't even have a band. No bass player, no kick drum, no electric guitar, 90 minutes of him with his guitar and his accent. And he had this little pedal. Come here David, David's gonna help me. Yeah, give it up for David, this is the other King David. This is David, David Leotta the King of the Strings, the king of the six-string guitar.
David gonna do his best Ed Sheeran impersonation. Because what Ed Sheeran did, and I had to ask somebody the first time I saw Ed do this, I didn't know what it was. Because I saw him, he would play something, and then he would stop playing it, but it kept going, and that's because he had one of these, right? That's right. It's called a loop station. If you're taking notes you look like you're waiting for something to write down at some point in the sermon, write down the word loop, loop, loop. And shows us how the looping station works, because he doesn't have a drummer because apparently, he's cheap.
So instead of hiring a drummer, he made his own drums on the guitar. See what he did? He looped it. See, you can move to that... a little bit. But he's not doing anything, but he set something in motion, and there it is. Now put something on top of it. I like that jazzy, that Major7 stuff. Ooh! That's pretty soulful for a white boy. That's good David, do something else on it. All we're doing. Come on, that's too sexy for church, David. Take it all the way back down, Take that out. Started with a loop. Right. With a loop. Right. And what I found out — David — How do you make it stop? That one. 'Cause sometimes I wonder that about my heart, how do I make it stop? Yeah. Because I get stuck in a loop. Right, that's right. You ever been stuck in a loop? Yeah.
I'm talking about in your mind now, not the guitar or anything like that. You've ever been stuck in a loop where you find yourself in an absolute state of panic that started, watch this, with a silent sermon. Moses isn't the only one who preached silent sermons. Lazarus isn't the only one who preached silence sermons. Jesus isn't the only one who preached a silent sermon. David isn't the only one who preached a silent sermon. Not only do the stars and the sun and the skies and the solar system preach a silence sermon. I've got bad news for you: The devil preaches silent sermons.