Jesus, I am coming, coming...for rest!

images-2

images-2

Come to Me...and I will give you rest...Matthew 11:28

Rest is a fragile thing!

The thoughtless slight, the smallest disappointment, the embarrassing mistake, the insecure thought...as well as the big stuff of life, like health, marriage, family, financial crises...

All can dispel our peace and rest.  And anapausis, that inner tranquility of soul, can be gone in a flash!

Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers

Over the years, as I've "struggled" at times to be at rest, I have come back to several readings in O. Chambers' uplifing devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  All of the entries are based on Jesus' invitation and promise in Matthew 11:28.

As you read, may you be encouraged, as I always am, to respond to our Lord's COME and receive His anapausis (inner rest) for your soul. [Note: these are excerpts; to read the devotionals in their entirety, click on the title of each]:

Self-Consciousness

...Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him.

Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ.

...Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately.

Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one – Come unto Me....

peaceful walk

peaceful walk

Completeness

Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace.Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say – Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me, and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all.

Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up. Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute....

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself.

restful cross

restful cross

After Surrender— Then What?

True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will....

Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— Come to Me.  And it is a voluntary coming....

Jesus, I am resting, resting...or at least wanting to!

Ah! REST...what a glorious word!  I inhale and exhale deeply at just the sound of it!  And oh, how we humans need deep, glorious rest... Moms especially need it...as do dads.  Single folk need it; workers need it; retirees do too...even kids need it (although they would protest most loudly...especially after no-sleep sleepovers!).

I need it!

This is the time of the year that I begin to really drag, needing my rest!  The energy of summer has passed. (Maybe I'm really wanting to hibernate like the bears?)

But there is work to be done, students to teach, deadlines to meet, and of course, grandsons to love on...

So let me say it again -- we humans ALL (especially this writer!) need deep, glorious rest...no matter what our role in life.  And we need rest, not just for our bodies, but for our souls most of all!

I don't know about you, but I am going to the only Place I know to go for the rest I need...and that place is my Lord Jesus Christ!  HE is Rest!  I'm responding to His gracious invitation,

2 chairs...resting

2 chairs...resting

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

We can receive eternal, spiritual rest as we come to Jesus and receive eternal life as a free gift. We don't work to exhaustion for it (through good works, religious or otherwise) but embrace it for the taking when we come to Him who is our rest.

And we believers who are burdened and work to exhaustion can also findanapausis (RESTin Greek). But this is not just the "take a nap" kind of rest...it goes much deeper:

In Matthew 11:28-29, the Lord promises "anapausis" (inner tranquility) to the weary and heavy laden who come to HIM while they are engaged in necessary labor. Spiro Zodiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, p. 156

Isn't that good news, dear friend? Even when we cannot take a break from our duties, we can have inner tranquility because of our relationship with our Lord Christ.

And there's an interesting emphasis in that short phrase, Come to Me, in the original Greek.  Literally, Jesus says,

HERE (Hither, KJV)...to ME!

That's right, the word COME isn't found in the original!  It's just implied...and I think, for a reason.

I picture Jesus Himself beckoning to the battered and beleaguered crowd of ordinary people following Him.  He points to HIMSELF as the source of spiritual rest:  HERE...to ME...for rest!

The religious rulers, who hounded them, burdened them with duties above and beyond what God required.  Jesus, on the other hand, joins (yokes) Himself to His people to give them rest on every level.  So in a sense, He says,

Don't go to THEM! HERE...to ME!

And the same is true for you and me, dear friend.  What is hounding and harassing you?

Is it the pressures of mothering? ...the stress of financial needs? ...the guilt of not being spiritual enough: reading the Bible, praying enough? ...the confusion and grief of relational rifts? ...the concern for struggling/straying loved ones? ...the fatigue/uncertainties of your job? ...struggles with ill health? ______[fill in the blank]______?

In every situation and in every stage of life on this earth, He Himself is our Rest. Join me in responding to His invitation:   HERE...to ME!

yoked animals

yoked animals

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Suggestions for your COMING...from the mundane to the sublime [and I am practicing what I preach :) ]

Play instrumental hymns/praise/classical music softly in the background all day.  It's amazing how the music sets a peaceful atmosphere.  This is one of my favorite things to do when I'm home...keeping my music softly playing all day!

Memorize and recite often Psalm 23.  This is especially good when falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night! Visualize the scene, and let the peace of your Shepherd wash over you!

Take a break from social media for a period of time...however the Lord leads.  Call it a fast if you like and slow down the inner craziness to focus on the Lord.  Maybe just fast from it each day until after you meet with the Lord :) And if you are a blogger and hit bloggers block, let it be for awhile until the Lord breaks through with something fresh :)

Moms...get up earlier than your children, even if that means putting the coffee pot in the garage to brew (my son as a toddler/preschooler would wake up within 15 minutes of brewing my morning Joe).  Have your Bible, journal, devotional, &/or hymnbook in a handy spot.  And commune with your God...COME to HIM for your anapausis (rest while you go about your needful work) for your day! If little people do interrupt your time, let them join you...with their own Bible and journal :)

Home-school moms...when I was homeschooling and hit exhaustion, I would "take to my bed" for a whole day... homeschooling my son and daughter from the place of rest (my bed!).  They were a bit older and worked well on their own.  So I'd give them assignments, read with them, checked work (or have them check their own) etc. with them sitting next to me on the bed.  Then they would go off to complete assignments on their own.  Trust me, it really worked.  Then I'd be refreshed to continue on normally the next school-day!

Singthis wonderful hymn...focusing on the words to help in focusing on the Lord:

Jesus! I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness Of Thy loving heart.

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, And Thy beauty fills my soul, For, by Thy transforming power, Thou hast made me whole.

Jesus! I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness Of Thy loving heart.

Oh, how great Thy loving kindness, Vaster, broader than the sea: Oh, how marvelous Thy goodness, Lavished all on me!

Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved, Know what wealth of grace is Thine, Know Thy certainty of promise, And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art, And Thy love, so pure, so changeless, Satisfies my heart,

Satisfies its deepest longings, Meets, supplies its every need, Compasseth me round with blessings, Thine is love indeed.

Ever lift Thy face upon me, As I work and wait for Thee; Resting 'neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus, Earth's dark shadows flee.

Brightness of my Father's glory, Sunshine of my Father's face, Keep me ever trusting, resting, Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am coming, coming...

Come to Me...and I will give you rest...Matthew 11:28

Rest is a fragile thing!

The thoughtless slight, the smallest disappointment, the embarrassing mistake, the insecure thought...as well as the big stuff of life, like health, marriage, family, financial crises...

All can dispel our peace and rest.  And anapausis, that inner tranquility of soul, can be gone in a flash!

Over the years, as I've "struggled" at times to be at rest, I have come back to several readings in O. Chambers' uplifing devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  All of the entries are based on Jesus' invitation and promise in Matthew 11:28.

As you read, may you be encouraged, as I always am, to respond to our Lord's COME and receive His anapausis (inner rest) for your soul. [Note: these are excerpts; to read the devotionals in their entirety, click on the title of each]:

Self-Consciousness

...Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him.

Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ.

...Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately.

Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one – Come unto Me....

Completeness

Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace.Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say – Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me, and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all.

Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up. Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute....

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself.

After Surrender— Then What?

True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will....

Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— Come to Me.  And it is a voluntary coming....

Jesus, I am working, working

Come to Me...and I will give you rest...Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me...and you will find rest for your souls... Matthew 11:28-29

I'm such a worker bee...how about you?  I get great satisfaction out of accomplishing something.  It can be a "driven" thing if I'm not careful. By the time I realize it, I'm really dragging! And rather than being satisfied, I'm disgruntled and out of sorts!

Being the worker bee is especially dangerous when it comes to the spiritual life.  I lived for a long time under the yoke of what I call "to do list" Christianity.  What a bondage!  Self-effort doesn't work when it comes to doing what only God can do...which is anything and and everything of any spiritual value.

That's why I love the Lord's invitation,

Take my yoke upon you...and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30

Rest is a gift.  Anapausis, the inner tranquility of soul while engaged in our necessary labors, can only be mine when I respond to Jesus' gracious words, Come...Take...

But how can rest be mine while I am working...doing what needs to be done?  It's all wrapped up in the image of the yoke.

A yoke is a bar or frame of wood to attach two animals (such as oxen or other draft animals) together for work.

I love this image of being yoked to Christ.  Notice who takes on Whose yoke -- Jesus calls me to take on HIS yoke...I don't try to get Him to take on MY yoke.

But isn't that what we often do?  We "invite" Him to take on OUR yoke...we take on a project and then ask the Lord to bless and prosper it!  But the question always needs to be...is it HIS yoke?  He is the source of the work and the power behind it all.  He invites me to join Him in HIS work because of my union with Him. 

The late Maj. W Ian Thomas describes this taking on Jesus' yoke as the faith-rest life:

...Christ is in action, and you in your humanity are simply the clothes of His divine activity.  This is the rest of faith...it is your hands with which He is at work, your lips with which He is speaking, your eyes with which He sees the need, your ears with which He hears the cry, and your heart with which He loves the lost. The Indwelling Life of Christ, p 99

Fellow worker bees, join me in responding in a new way today to Jesus gracious invitation:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:29-30

RESTING

Once my hands were always trying,

Trying hard to do my best,

Now my heart is sweetly trusting,

And my soul is all at rest.

Once my brain was always planning,

And my heart, with cares oppressed,

Now I trust the Lord to lead me,

And my life is all at rest.

Once my life was full of effort,

Now ‘tis full of joy and zest;

Since I took His yoke upon me

Jesus gives to me His rest.

A.B.Simpson

Jesus, I am resting, resting...

Ah! REST...what a glorious word!  I inhale and exhale deeply at just the sound of it!  And oh, how we humans need deep, glorious rest... Moms especially need it...as do dads.  Single folk need it; workers need it; retirees do too...even kids need it (although they would protest most loudly...especially after no-sleep sleepovers!)

This is the time of the year that I begin to really drag, needing my rest!  I'm a teacher, not really looking forward to the beginning of the new school-year. But I'm also a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, sister, etc.   And right now, as an author, I'm hitting Blogger's Block/ Writer's Block -- that brain-draining fatigue that hits everyone (including students) who has put pen to paper regularly.

So let me say it again -- we humans ALL need deep, gloriousrest...no matter what our role in life.  And we need rest, not just for our bodies, but for our souls most of all!

I don't know about you, but I am going to the only Place I know to go for the rest I need...and that place is my Lord Jesus Christ!  HE is Rest!  I'm responding to His gracious invitation, 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

We who are burdened and work to exhaustion can find anapausis (RESTin Greek). But this is not just the "take a nap" kind of rest...it goes much deeper:

In Matthew 11:28-29, the Lord promises "anapausis" (inner tranquility) to the weary and heavy laden who come to HIM while they are engaged in necessary labor. Spiro Zodiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, p. 156

Isn't that good news, dear friend? Even when we cannot take a break from our duties, we can have inner tranquility because of our relationship with our Lord Christ.

And there's an interesting emphasis in that short phrase, Come to Me, in the original Greek.  Literally, Jesus says,

HERE (Hither, KJV)...to ME!

That's right, the word COME isn't found in the original!  It's just implied...and I think, for a reason.

I picture Jesus Himself beckoning to the battered and beleaguered crowd of ordinary people following Him.  He points to HIMSELF as the source of spiritual rest:  HERE...to ME...for rest!

The religious rulers, who hounded them, burdened them with duties above and beyond what God required.  Jesus, on the other hand, joins (yokes) Himself to His people to give them rest on every level.  So in a sense, He says,

Don't go to THEM! HERE...to ME!

And the same is true for you and me, dear friend.  What is hounding and harassing you?

Is it the pressures of mothering? ...the stress of financial needs? ...the guilt of not being spiritual enough: reading the Bible, praying enough? ...the confusion and grief of relational rifts? ...the concern for struggling/straying loved ones? ...the fatigue/uncertainties of your job? ...struggles with ill health? ______[fill in the blank]______?

In every situation and in every stage of life on this earth, He Himself is our Rest. Join me in responding to His invitation:   HERE...to ME!

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Suggestions for your COMING...from the mundane to the sublime [and I am practicing what I preach :) ]

Play instrumental hymns/praise/classical music softly in the background all day.  It's amazing how the music sets a peaceful atmosphere.  This is one of my favorite things to do when I'm home...keeping my music softly playing all day!

Memorize and recite often Psalm 23.  This is especially good when falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night! Visualize the scene, and let the peace of your Shepherd wash over you!

Take a break from social media for a period of time...however the Lord leads.  Call it a fast if you like and slow down the inner craziness to focus on the Lord.  Maybe just fast from it each day until after you meet with the Lord :) And if you are a blogger and hit bloggers block, let it be for awhile until the Lord breaks through with something fresh :)

Moms...get up earlier than your children, even if that means putting the coffee pot in the garage to brew (my son as a toddler/preschooler would wake up within 15 minutes of brewing my morning Joe).  Have your Bible, journal, devotional, &/or hymnbook in a handy spot.  And commune with your God...COME to HIM for your anapausis (rest while you go about your needful work)for your day! If little people do interrupt your time, let them join you...with their own Bible and journal :)

Home-school moms...when I was homeschooling and hit exhaustion, I would "take to my bed" for a whole day... homeschooling my son and daughter from the place of rest (my bed!).  They were a bit older and worked well on their own.  So I'd give them assignments, read with them, checked work (or have them check their own) etc. with them sitting next to me on the bed.  Then they would go off to complete assignments on their own.  Trust me, it really worked.  Then I'd be refreshed to continue on normally the next school-day!

Sing this wonderful hymn...focusing on the words to help in focusing on the Lord:

Jesus! I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness Of Thy loving heart.

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, And Thy beauty fills my soul, For, by Thy transforming power, Thou hast made me whole.

Jesus! I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness Of Thy loving heart.

Oh, how great Thy loving kindness, Vaster, broader than the sea: Oh, how marvelous Thy goodness, Lavished all on me!

Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved, Know what wealth of grace is Thine, Know Thy certainty of promise, And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art, And Thy love, so pure, so changeless, Satisfies my heart,

Satisfies its deepest longings, Meets, supplies its every need, Compasseth me round with blessings, Thine is love indeed.

Ever lift Thy face upon me, As I work and wait for Thee; Resting 'neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus, Earth's dark shadows flee.

Brightness of my Father's glory, Sunshine of my Father's face, Keep me ever trusting, resting, Fill me with Thy grace.

I'm Sinking...Now What?

going under
going under

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.In God, whose word I praise,In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid... Psalm 56:3-4 NASB

Life is scary!

And as we move further and further into adulthood...and even on into old age, there's more to frighten us and cause us to panic*.

How do we handle these terrors of life -- whether they be greater (like death, disease, crises with loved ones,...) or lesser (like speaking in front of a group, doing something totally new, daily mothering,...)?

By faith!

The righteous will live by faith.  Romans 1:17d

Last week we looked talked about faith as responding to the Lord's gracious COME.  Jesus' zealous disciple Peter gives us a good example of what we present-day disciples go through in our faith-walk.  Look again at this familiar story in your Bible or click here: Matthew 14: 22 - 33.

Did you think about the questions from our last study?  Here they are again with some further thoughts for your meditation and reflection.  (I'd love to hear yours if you care to share in the comments below :)  ):

Jesus walking on the water
Jesus walking on the water

1.  Why didn’t Peter just jump out of the boat?  Why did he ask Jesus to command him “Come to Him”? (vs 27-29a)

*WHO HE IS: Peter needed to know that it was really the Lord.  When Jesus identified Himself, He said, "It is I."  Literally this is, "I AM," ego eimi.  Does this sound familiar...how about Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3?  How about Jesus' confrontation with the Pharisees in John 8? We too need to see Him for who He truly is...the GOD-Man, who walks with us on the chaos of our lives, don't we?  It can make all the difference in the world!

*WHAT HE WANTS: Perhaps Peter also wanted to know if it was Jesus' will for him to walk to Him. And isn't that true of us too.  We need to know that it's really the LORD calling us out "onto the waves"...that He's "in it" for us!

*WHAT PETER REALLY NEEDS: In a very real sense, Peter needed Jesus' call, His COME in order to be able to come. Without Jesus' call, none of us could come.  We wouldn't even want to!  Romans 3:10-11; Phil 2:13; John 6:44-45,65

This leads us to...

Truth #1 = God is always prevenient.

Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.

Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow.

We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. "No man can come to me," said our Lord, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him," and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the out working of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: "Thy right hand upholdeth me." AW Tozer, Pursuit of God

drawing...jesus and disciples
drawing...jesus and disciples

2. What decision did Peter face once he heard Jesus' come?  Do we face the same decision at times? (vs 29)

Peter needed to decide whether to go ahead and get out of the boat or play it safe, didn't he?  He needed to "believe and obey," as we would say in "spiritual talk." And believing and obeying are flip sides of the same coin, so to speak. (John 3:36; Jas 2:18; Heb 4:3-6 NASB)

So the God-Man Jesus also invites us to walk with Him...into new things (open doors, if you will), like the way my the Lord gave me my ESL teaching job 8 years ago.  Or it may be through dark, terrorizing things, like my then 20 year old son's cancer.

And that leads us to...

Truth #2 = With His invitation comes His enablement.

Paul says it well: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].  Phil 4:13 AMP

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  1Cor 12:9-10 NIV

drawing Jesus & peter
drawing Jesus & peter

3. What ultimately happened to Peter and why?  What did he do in the midst of his dilemma?  How readily do we do the same in the midst of our doubt and fear? (vs 30-31a)

Of course, Peter began to sink.  Why?  Because he turned his focus to the tumultuous waves and wind all around him.  He had taken his eyes off of the stable, all-powerful Lord in front of him. And isn't that what we do also?  We may start out well, fixing our eyes on Jesus.  But then, when we realize "all hell is breaking loose" in &/or around us, we get our eyes off of HIM...and we begin to go down!

That leads us to...

Truth #3 = We become like what / who we focus on.

I love these verses:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. ...the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  2Cor 3:18; 4:6

Then all-too-human (and that's why we love him!) Peter, in his desperation, did what we all must do...he cried out to His Savior!

You wonder what to do when you feel attacked on all sides by seemingly irresistible forces, waves that cover you and want to sweep you off your feet.  sometimes these waves consist of feeling rejected, feeling forgotten, feeling misunderstood.  sometimes they consist of self-pity and self-rejection.  These waves make you feel like a powerless child abandoned by your parents.

What are you to do?  Make the conscious choice to move the attention of your anxious heart away from the waves and direct it to the One who walks on them and says, "It's me.  Don't be afraid!" (Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20).  Keep turning your eyes to him and go on trusting that he will bring peace to your heart.

Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

4. What did Peter learn as a result of the storm? (vs 31-33)

That Jesus is the SON of GOD!  That He is all powerful...that He is sovereign over the forces of nature...that He cares...that He challenges...that He responds to our cries...that He walks with us on the chaos of our lives!

So we can know along with Peter...

Truth #4 = Every storm of life is Christ’s invitation to come to Him and see Who He is & how all-sufficient He is in every situation.

Not long after this storm incident, Peter made this wonderful profession.  And we do too, when we walk with the Lord through trials and into new things...

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:68-69

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Consider the following for prayer and your journal:

1. Are you in circumstances right now where you know if you take your eyes off the Lord for even a split second, you’ll go “under”? Ask the Holy Spirit to fix your eyes firmly on Him who “walks with you on the chaos of your life.”

2. What is your focus as you go through your day? Do your emotions follow along the same line as your focus? Do you believe it’s true that “we become like what we focus on”? Pray about your need in this area.

3. Is the Lord asking you to take a step out of the comfort-zone of your life into a new thing? Can you trust that with His call (“invitation”) comes His enablement? Pray…”Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

*Click to read about how the Lord delivered me from panic attacks.

Coming Soon: After Father's Day...the rest of the story:  The Mystery of PRAYER...Inviting Jesus into my "Boat"

A Scripture on Saturday: Revelation 22

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life... He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Revelation 22:17,20-21

Getting out of the Boat {a.k.a. Comfort Zone}

Jesus walking on the water
Jesus walking on the water

Jesus walks with us on the chaos of our lives.  Oswald ChambersLast time we talked about what faith really is.  One tender (and biblical) thought is that faith is responding to Jesus' COME...His grace-filled invitation.

Often times, coming to Jesus when the storms of life are raging is the last thing we do.  That is, until all else has failed.

We rather go to friends, addictions (like social media, exercise, food), withdrawal, and one of my personal favorites, Christian self-help books.  All of these feel comfortable (and "safe") to us...at least for the time.  But eventually, we realize we need HIM!

Or sometimes the Lord may be calling us to something new and scarey.  Maybe a new job, a new home, a new stage of life, a new challenge.  We avoid the issue for as long as we can -- it's too uncomfortable and risky!  But if we want to grow, eventually we must get "out of our boat" and come to Him.  And that's faith.

That's what Peter did in the familiar and captivating story in Matthew 14 (Other parts of the story are in John 6 and Mark 6).  Let's pick up the story...

Jesus reaching out to Peter
Jesus reaching out to Peter

22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." 28 Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, " O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!" Matthew 14: 27 - 33

Here are some questions to explore as you read through this passage.  Next time we'll share some thoughts about these questions:

1.  Why didn’t Peter just jump out of the boat?  Why did he ask Jesus to command him “Come to Him”? (vs 27-29a)

2.  What decision did Peter face once he heard Jesus' come?  Do we face the same decision at times? (vs 29)

3.  What ultimately happened to Peter and why?  What did he do in the midst of his dilemma?  How readily do we do the same in the midst of our doubt and fear? (vs 30-31a)

4.  What did Peter learn as a result of the storm? (vs 31-33)

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PART THE WATERS/ I NEED THEE Selah

When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea When I cry for help, oh, hear meLord and hold out Your hand Touch my life Still the raging storm in me

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord No tender voice like Thine can peace afford I need Thee, O I need Thee Every hour I need Thee O bless me now, my Savior I come to Thee

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain Come quickly and abide, or life is vain


A Word on Wednesday: COME to___________

come, verb1.to approach or move toward a particular person or place. 2.to arrive by movement or in the course of progress. 3.to approach or arrive in time, in succession, etc. 4.to move into view; appear. 5.to extend; reach

come New Testament Greek = erchomai, to go + pros, to/toward (by marking out the object toward which something/someone moves)

Mark HIM out...no matter your circumstances! Get other people and things out of your focus! And COME to, GO to, MOVE toward HIM today!

 

 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39

 

FAITH...responding to Jesus' Invitation

invitations
invitations

I love invitations, don't you?  I mean, that someone would like the pleasure of my company...or may need my help or input...or may just want to welcome me into the group (or family, or community, if you will)!  What a pleasure and honor!  And it's all good, as far as I'm concerned. Jesus loves invitations too...He is the Divine Initiator.  Without His call...His invitation, we would be lost! And that's what faith is...responding to the Lord's invitation.

Years ago, I was teaching through the gospel of John.  John's purpose in writing his gospel is stated in the closing chapters of that intimate, devotional gospel:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

Notice the key word believe And as you read through this gospel, you see believe/belief and faith throughout.

There are also metaphors, describing who Jesus is to His people, scattered all through the gospel.  So I set out on a quest to see if there might also be synonyms, even metaphors, for the the concept of faith.

But first I asked the question:  What is true faith? It's not a work we drum up...not just intellectual assent (the devil "believes" and trembles, the Bible says).  Without it, we can't please God! So what is it?

Here are some synonyms that I found (see if you can find these and others in the gospel of John as well as the other gospels):

eat Him, the Bread of Life -- John 6 drink Him, the Living water --John 3, 6, 7 hear and follow Him, the Good Shepherd -- John 10 believe in Him, the Resurrection & Life -- John 11 abide in Him the True Vine -- John 15

and my favorite of all...COME to Him --  throughout the gospel but especially John 5, 6, 7, and 11.

jesus and child, come
jesus and child, come

What a simple word, come.  Even a small child understands come.  Why?  Because usually there's definite body language associated with it...a beckoning, a welcoming...

...and there's a certain facial expression -- a YES face, if you will.

Jesus, with His YES face, is always calling, welcoming, beckoning...COME to ME!  Not just one time for eternal salvation, but all the time...

Come to Me in your grief and loss Come to Me in your anxiety

Come to me when you are happy Come to Me when you are sad

Come to Me when you've failed Come to me when you've succeeded

Come to Me when you've been left out and rejectedCome to Me when you've been included and accepted

Cometo Me when you are struggling with jealousy, comparison, gluttony, idolatry... Come to Me whenever...

So in the good times and the bad...and especially when the storms of life are raging, come to Christ!

And in the coming is faith...and He really loves that!

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. James 2:23

Next time we'll look at another friend of Jesus...one we all can identify with, Peter.

Until then, bask in the metaphors for faith in this moving song... COME to your LORD in the exact circumstances you find yourself! His invitation is always open!

Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus) Chris Rice

Weak and wounded sinner Lost and left to die O, raise your head, for love is passing by Come to Jesus Come to Jesus Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted And carried far away And precious blood has washed away the stain, so Sing to Jesus Sing to Jesus Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby Don't be afraid to crawl And remember when you walk Sometimes we fall...so Fall on Jesus Fall on Jesus Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely And steep and filled with pain So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then Cry to Jesus Cry to Jesus Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over And music fills the night And when you can't contain your joy inside, then Dance for Jesus Dance for Jesus Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat Kiss the world goodbye Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and Fly to Jesus Fly to Jesus Fly to Jesus and live!