CHILLING WITH HIS PEEPS

Jn.6:3 – And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Sometimes its good to just sit down and be with the Lord. There seems to be undue pressure that we put on ourselves to perform when it comes to religious matters. Did I get my prayer time in, did I finish my daily readings, is my cell group growing and multiplying. Actually all of those things are good things but they can’t be the driving force in our lives. Sometimes its good to just sit down and be with Jesus. That was one of the amazing characteristics of the River outpouring in the 1990’s. I found out it was okay to just lie on the floor in His presence and just enjoy the moment. The Lord actually likes being with us. After all we are His sons and daughters and will be in an amazing family relationship with Him in eternity. I love to take notice of seemingly insignificant phrases in the Bible. Today’s verse is like that, Jesus went up on a mountain and there He sat with His disciples. Nothing could be better than that. Here is how the German reformer Musculus describes this phrase.

“And he sat there,” he says, “with his disciples.” Who with whom? The teacher with his students, the shepherd with his sheep, the hen with her chicks. Let us consider this gathering not of such a kind as physical eyes would have been able to see but of the sort of gathering that they were establishing: that paternal love in Christ and the souls of the disciples clinging to Christ no differently than chicks who run up to and cling to a mother hen. And let us not doubt that there will always be that same love for us if we are disciples of Christ, such that he sits and rests among us, feeding us by his Spirit, no differently than when he sat and rested among his disciples and fed them. And where did he sit with them? On a desert mountain. Meanwhile, the scribes, Pharisees and priests were feasting in the crowded cities, especially in Jerusalem, while the Son of God sits with his disciples on a desert mountain.”

So maybe church is about more than doing or learning but maybe its about sitting down with Jesus and His disciples and just hanging out. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

REST

Exod. 33:14-16 – And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us?

Moses had had quite enough. He had been through the threats of Pharaoh, the challenge of the magicians, plagues of flies, frogs, rivers turning to blood. After that he dealt with doubting and complaining Israelites, rebellious leaders, and a drunken party that looked like Mardi Gras. He told the Lord I can deal with all of this stuff and even the threat of resistance of enemies but there was one thing Moses couldn’t do. He could not face another step of this journey without an assurance that God would go with him. The Lord reassured Moses that His Presence would go with him and the Lord would give Moses rest in the midst of the journey. Dick Mills breaks down the word rest from the Hebrew Bible. This gives us insight into God’s promise.

“give rest, nu’ach; To rest, settle down; to be soothed or quieted; to be secure; to be still; to dwell peacefully. This verb occurs about 65 times, first in Gen. 8:4, which states that the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. Nu’ach is the verb that describes the Spirit of God resting upon the Messiah (Is. 11:2), or upon the 70 elders of Israel (Num. 11:25). The name “Noah” (“Rest-Giver,” or “Comforter”) is derived from nu’ach. In the present reference, God’s presence will give rest to His people, that is, His presence soothes, comforts, settles, consoles, and quiets us.”

His presence soothes, comforts, settles, consoles, and quiets us. This is all Moses needed; that is all any of us need. Presently, we are all going through uncharted waters dealing with the Corona virus pandemic. If we are worried He soothes us, if we are hurting He comforts us, if we are disturbed He settles us, if we are anxious He consoles us, and if we are restless He quiets us. The Presence of God literally marks us as a people. The only difference between us and the rest of the Lord is that the Lord literally goes with us.

RHYTHM OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Mk.6:30-32 – The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.v

Come and rest awhile. Spiritual rest and renewal is critical if we want to effectively minister to people. Actually it was a form of spiritual exhaustion that brought me to a place of renewal. My spiritual resources were drained, in other words I was running on empty and didn’t know it. If we are always doing, doing, doing and giving, giving, giving we will have absolutely nothing left to give. This was what the Lord was trying to avoid when He took the disciples aside to rest. Sometimes all we really need is just time to be alone with Jesus. Here is the way William Barclay describes what he calls the rhythm of the Christian life.

“There are two dangers in life. First, there is the danger of a too constant activity. No man can work without rest; and no man can live the Christian life unless he gives himself times with God. It may well be that the whole trouble in our lives is that we give God no opportunity to speak to us, because we do not know how to be still and to listen; we give God no time to recharge us with spiritual energy and strength, because there is no time when we wait upon him….Second, there is the danger of too much withdrawal. Devotion that does not issue in action is not real devotion. Prayer that does not issue in work is not real prayer….The rhythm of the Christian life is the alternate meeting with God in the secret place and serving men in the market place.”

The first danger is working on empty and never stopping to receive. The other danger is a little more subtle. It could be described as overly spiritual and even monastic. Setting yourself into a rigid routine of spirituality without actually ministering to people is the ditch on the other side of the road. We have to learn to practice the rhythm of the Christian life. Receiving and giving is the way of a disciple of Jesus.

COME TO THE OASIS

Matt. 11:28-30 – TPT – Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.

This verse reminds me of the services Pastor John Osteen used to conduct at Lakewood Church on Thanksgiving week. Pastor John was a full on Holy Ghost guy. As a matter of fact his famous book was “The Confessions of a Baptist Preacher”. It was his story of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Those services were a place of refreshment for ministers and Christian leaders from all over the world. In those days they fondly called their church I Houston an oasis of love. What a great name! It was a place of spiritual rest and refreshing in the spiritual desert our world had become. We all need a place of spiritual refreshing, a place to recharge and recover from the heat of the day. In the Passion Translation, quoted above, it uses the two pictures of rest. It speaks of an oasis and being yoked to Jesus. Here is what the notes from the Passion say about this verse.

“Or “Bend your neck to my yoke.” The metaphor of a yoke is that it joins two animals to work as one. It is not simply work or toil that is the focus here, but union with Christ.

As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. The Aramaic could be translated “Come to me and I will cheer [refresh] you. I am cheerful [refreshing] and humble in heart, and you will find cheer [refreshing] for your soul.”

All of us need refreshing, as David often said, “we are traveling through a dry and dusty land”. I have to agree, even many churches have become quite dry in recent years. I remember driving through the Mojave desert back in the seventies with an evangelism team headed to Phoenix. Our air conditioning was broken and it was really hot. We crossed over the Colorado River and made a decision. We got out and went for a swim. We had found an oasis for our journey. A time of refreshing was needed that day, we needed God’s Oasis of Love. Maybe you feel dry in your journey today, its time to drink from His well of living water, it is a refreshing oasis that travels with us every where we go. I

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD – Part 1

Ps.23:1-2 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

This may be the most known passage in all scripture, Psalm 23. This is the passage Jesus was referring to in John 10 when He refered to Himself as the Good Shepherd. Today I want to take another look and drink deeply from this Psalm.

The Lord is my Shepherd. The Passion Bible has an interesting observation in this first verse. It says that the Lord is my Shepherd and my best friend. This is a footnote from the Passion Translation, “The word most commonly used for “shepherd” is taken from the root word ra‘ah, which is also the Hebrew word for “best friend.” So what is David’s point in the beginning of His famous Shepherd’s Psalm? Knowing Christ intimately is everything. This is the beginning of our Christian life. The Lord is my Shepherd and my closest friend. I am one of His sheep and I hear His voice.

The results of this friendship? I shall not want. He not only provides for my daily needs, He also satisfies the longing of my heart. He is my greatest need. He is my treasure and my portion in life. This is the key to freedom from addictions and sinful behavior; the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Next David says He makes me to lie down. When the Lord is my Shepherd I can begin to enter into a place of rest. Rather than always doing, I begin to practice a lifestyle of receiving. If the Lord is my best friend and Shepherd, I can rest in Him, He has me covered. This resting is connected to two powerful provisions. First, He makes me lie down in green pastures. What are these pastures for a sheep? Green grass, all I could ever eat. For the Christian this grass is the written word of God. We can take our daily rest feasting on the green grass of God’s promises, this is rest for our soul. Next, He leads me beside still waters. These are the waters of rest and peace, the living water of the Holy Spirit. I can lay me down in His presence and find rest and renewal for my soul. This is our place of renewal, this is my place of rest.

RESTING BY THE RIVER

Psa. 23:1,2  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

This is a beautiful picture of the spiritual rest the Lord gives His sons and daughters. The Amplified Bible says it like this, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters”. That is one of the beautiful functions of the wonderful Holy Spirit, He gives us rest for our souls. This is one of the greatest of all needs in today’s crazy world. Stress seems to be the order of the day; seasons of earthquakes and national disasters, political chaos, racial contention, economic tsunamis, and incurable pandemics. Without this place of rest to run to, we can easily be overwhelmed by the troubles of this life. Have you learned the importance of following the Shepherd daily to the waters of rest? I think I would have shipwrecked long ago without learning the blessing of resting in the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry of the waters of rest.

“The still waters by which he leads them yield them, not only a pleasant prospect, but many a cooling draught, many a reviving cordial, when they are thirsty and weary. God provides for his people not only food and rest, but refreshment also and pleasure. The consolations of God, the joys of the Holy Ghost, are these still waters, by which the saints are led, streams which flow from the fountain of living waters and make glad the city of our God. God leads his people, not to the standing waters which corrupt and gather filth, not to the troubled sea, nor to the rapid rolling floods, but to the silent purling waters; for the still but running waters agree best with those spirits that flow out towards God and yet do it silently.”

I can remember very clearly the first time I found myself in this semi-conscious state resting in the Holy Ghost. I was prayed for and fell under the power of the Spirit for the first time. I found myself totally caught by surprise as I was overtaken by the restful waters of joy. Resting, laughing, and overcome by love; that’s the very place the Shepherd wants to takes us. This is the beautiful place of restoration, cleansing, and empowering. Go ahead and take a break in the River, this is the place you have been looking for all of your life.

RESTING

Isa.11:10 – In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

In this prophetic word from the prophet Isaiah we see the fruit of the work of Jesus on the cross. He has canceled the debt of sin against us and opened up a place of rest for us. I love the phrasing of this verse, “His resting place shall be glorious”.

In Isaiah 28, the prophet speaks of our access to this place of rest in the latter days. He speaks of stammering lips. This prayer language, given to us by the Holy Spirit, enables us to access this supernatural rest. Here is Isaiah’s prophesy.

Isa.28:11,12 – “For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people,

To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear.”

David also discovered this amazing resting place. In the Shepherd’s Psalm David speaks of resting beside the living water of the Spirit. Here is Psalm 23:2 from the Passion Translation.

“He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.

His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.”

The common denominator in all of these passages is the beautiful Hebrew word for rest. It is the word menuchah. Here is the definition from Dick Mills.

“menuchah — Resting place; place of stillness, repose, consolation, peace, rest; a quiet place; also the condition of restfulness. Menuchah is derived from nuach, a verb meaning “to rest, soothe, settle down, comfort.” Because Noah’s parents foresaw comfort “through his life (Gen. 5:29), they named him “Noah,” which comes from this root. Is. 28:12 states, “This is the resting place; let the weary rest!” Menuchah is greatly soothing, comforting, and settling, as in Ps. 23:2, “He leads me beside the waters of menuchah [the waters of quietness.”

The world and all of its pressures tend to get us out of rest into stress. Everything from bills, children issues, work problems, marital stress, to problems on the job; all of these things can bring us into a veritable meltdown. The rest of God is essential. Learning to drink from the river and rest in His love cannot be overestimated.

WATERS OF REST

Ps.23:2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

This classic passage gives us a glimpse into the beautiful work of the River of the Holy Spirit. He feeds us with His rich word by the waters of rest. The presence of the Lord is like lying down next to a river. As we wait quietly in His presence there is a great and powerful influence over our soul. Here is a passage from Spurgeon on this verse.

“What are these “still waters” but the influences and graces of his blessed Spirit? His Spirit attends us in various operations, like waters—in the plural—to cleanse, to refresh, to fertilize, to cherish. They are “still waters,” for the Holy Ghost loves peace, and sounds no trumpet of ostentation in his operations.”

That is amazing; as we are still in His presence these refreshing waters bring life to us. There is cleansing in this river, we are washed clean from every haunting thought and accusation from our past. These waters are cleansing us from everything that remains from our past. These waters refresh us. Even if you are emotionally, physically, and spiritually burned out; there is a refreshing and renewing of His strength in us as we rest beside this mighty river. Spurgeon says that we are fertilized by the waters of rest. The most fruitful land is always by the river. Our soul is being nourished as we take in the richness that is found in His presence. Spurgeon also mentions being cherished or loved by God. It is in the atmosphere of the River of God that we are overtaken by His love. Nothing compares to the impact the love of God has on our soul.

John Trappe has an interesting comparison of fresh water of the Spirit and the fouled water that comes from the religious world. Check this out.

“Waters of rest such as sheep love to drink of, being void of danger, and yielding a refreshing air. Religious clergymen are called the “inhabitants of the sea,” Revelation 12:12, because they set abroach gross, troubled, brackish, and sourish doctrine, which rather brings barrenness to their hearers, and gnaws the entrails than quenches their thirst, or cools their heat. The doctrine of the gospel, like the waters of Siloe (Isaiah 8:8), run gently, but taste pleasantly.”

I love the River. That’s where we can feast on the green grass of the revelation of God’s word and recover in the healing waters of the Spirit. I think I am going to lie down in the grass for awhile and then take a long dip in the River of God.

NO WANT

Psa.23:1 – The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

How much of our lives are spent pursuing our wants. From pre-school through college and often beyond we are preparing ourselves to make a living so that we and our family will not want. We then often spend our working years in preparing for retirement so we will suffer no want in our latter years. Sounds like an exercise in futility. Like Solomon said, “All is vanity, vanity of vanities and striving after wind”. If you think about it, Solomon had a handle on man’s life without God. Chasing Don Quixote’s windmills and running hard after the “Impossible Dream”, that pretty much describes life in the fast lane. That is exactly what set me on my search as a young man that landed me in the Shepherd’s arms. Here is how Spurgeon describes today’s verse.

“I might want otherwise (want), but when the Lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore “I shall not want.” I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve?… I may not possess all that I wish for, but “I shall not want.” Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but “I shall not.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want.” Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because ‘The Lord is my shepherd’.”

So where does this rest come from? It comes from knowing the Lord for yourself and trusting Him. David was a shepherd himself and knew he would risk his own life to care for his sheep. How could the Chief Shepherd ever forget or neglect the sheep of His pasture? Impossible !!! If the Lord is your Shepherd, you shall not want!

SLEEP TIGHT

Ps.3:5 – I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.

There is nothing fun about sleepless nights. Sometimes sleeplessness comes from stress, not sure of what tomorrow holds for you. Today’s verse is a tremendous promise, a promise that you too can sleep well tonight. David’s life was full of stress; lions, giants, backslidden king, betrayal by friends and sons, yet David said he was going to lay down and sleep. What was David’s secret? It lies in the word ‘sustains’ David could rest because he was literally resting in the Lord. The Lord was sustaining him. Here is how Dick Mills describes this promise.

“The big word here is sustained. It is a word that speaks volumes. The Hebrew word is SAMAK. It has a wide range of meanings like, to lean upon, to prop up, to bear up, to uphold. God sustains and upholds His people. The verb translated ‘sustained’ means to provide security and safety, to protect, support and uphold. When he wakes up the next morning, he discovers that nothing has bothered or threatened him during the night.”

Here are some ways Bible translators translate this verse.

God’s Word Translation

I lie down and sleep. I wake up again because the LORD continues to support me.

The Message

I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady,

New Living Translation

I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me.

The Bible in Basic English

I took my rest in sleep, and then again I was awake; for the Lord was my support.

Septuagint

I lay down and slept; I woke again, because the Lord will support me.

I love the different flavors found in Bible translations. From God’s Word Translation I am reminded that the Lord is my support. The Message Bible reminds me that I can find my rest in the Lord. The NLT reminds me that I literally have a Watchman watching over me when I sleep, what an incredible benefit.

What is keeping you up at night? I have a feeling if you will reach out to the God of David, the One Who never slumbers, you too will find sweet rest. Ps.121:3 – “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.”

I have a word from the Lord for you

“SLEEP TIGHT”