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”

COME TO ME

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Matt. 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Augustine famously said it like this, “Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you”. This world can really beat you up. Everything from terrorist attacks to political chaos, from financial drama to unexpected health issues; the world is a volatile place. All the daily, relentless adversity tends to take its toll on everyone. No wonder so many people cover their problems with meds or find themselves wasting away in Margaritaville. Restless and troubled hearts are apparently the norm rather than the exception. That’s why these words of Jesus are so inviting. Is their a place of rest in the midst of chaos that brings peace into our souls? I think there is; actually I know that there is. That rest is in the relationship of intimacy that the Lord has called us to. All our hearts are restless until we find rest in His arms. Here are the words of a song from Bethel that captures this beautiful place of rest Jesus is calling us to.

“I stand beside you, I’m all around you

Though you feel I’m far away, I’m closer than your breath

I am with you, more than you know

I am the Lord your peace, no evil will conquer you

Steady now your heart and mind, come into My rest

Oh, let your faith arise, lift up your weary head

I am with you wherever you go

I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves

I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid

Though your heart and flesh may fail you, I’m your faithful strength

I am with you wherever you go

Come to Me, I’m all you need.

Come to Me, I’m your everything

Come to Me, I’m all you need.

Come to Me, I’m your everything

Don’t look to the right or to the left but keep your eyes on Me

You will not be shaken, you will not be moved ooh

I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way

Just come to Me, come to Me, cause I’m all that you need inside you, I’m all around you.”

So if you are finally tired of all the drama and exhausted from trying to find peace in the midst of all life’s struggles maybe its finally time for complete surrender. Surrender to His love, answer His sweet invitation, come into His arms of rest.

WHO CAN APPROACH GOD ?

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Psa. 24:3,4 ¶ Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

At the end of all our decisions and arguments, “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You” Augustine. That’s what we all long for though most of us have no idea. Our sins have clouded our vision of God and they have also clouded our understanding of what we really want in life. David cuts through all the smoke and just says it, “who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord”. That is what the whole Bible is about, returning to what we lost in the garden, intimate fellowship with the Lord. So how do we approach the Lord, man has struggled with this question and the answer was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. Here are some thoughts from Luther and Spurgeon.

“It is not he who sings so well or so many Psalms, nor he who fasts or watches so many days, nor he who divides his own among the poor, nor he who preaches to others, nor he who lives quietly, kindly, and friendly; nor is it he who knows all sciences and languages, nor he who works all virtuous and all good works that ever any man spoke or read of, but it is he alone, who is pure within and without.” —Martin Luther

“Who shall be able to “stand” or continue there? He casteth away the wicked, who then can abide in his house? Who is he that can gaze upon the Holy One, and can abide in the blaze of his glory? Certainly none may venture to commune with God upon the footing of the law, but grace can make us meet to behold the vision of the divine presence. The question before us is one which all should ask for themselves, and none should be at ease till they have received an answer of peace. With careful self-examination let us enquire, “Lord, is it I.” — Spurgeon

So how do we become one who approaches and lives on God’s holy hill? There is only one way, having our sins washed away by faith in the blood of Jesus. It’s faith in the blood that makes us that righteous man that can come to the holy hill, no one else can abide in His holy presence.

REST IN THE SPIRIT

Mark 6:31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves ….and rest a while.”

One of the beautiful ministries of the Holy Spirit is to give us renewal and rest. This crazy world can get us really wound up with all of its challenges, temptations, and pressures that we all endure on a daily basis. The Holy Spirit’s very nature is one of refreshing and rest. He alone can renew us in our spirit, emotions, and our body. We have to be willing to be still and allow Him to do that work in us. One of the strange works of the Holy Spirit often happens through the ministry of laying on of hands. When we are prayed for like this, oftentimes the Holy Spirit will come upon us and bring us to a state of rest laying in His presence on the floor. During these time of resting in the Spirit we experience the renewal and rest that Jesus spoke of in today’s verse. Here is a word study from Dick Mills on resting in the Lord.

“The key word here is rest. In the original Greek text, it is anapauo. This word has three possibilities that speak to us today in our pressure-laden, stress filled world:

Anapauo is the word used to describe an intermission in a play, an opera, a concert, or a stage production. This cessation is not only to give the audience a break in the action, but also so the artists and performers can have a moment to recuperate.

Anapauo also indicates recreation. This word can also be spelled re-creation. God created us originally, but from time to time we need to be physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally re-created. This can be accomplished through leisure time activities such as fishing, camping, golfing, hiking, or picnicking- anything, in fact, that is totally different from our usual daily routine.

Anapauo also refers to refreshment. The Lord wanted the disciples to have a break in the action, to take some physical and spiritual refreshment, and then go back to ministry with renewed strength and courage.”
Maybe this is unfamiliar territory for you. This used to make me uncomfortable until I tasted the benefits for myself. There is nothing in this life that can offer us this kind of rest like resting in the Spirit. Maybe you don’t have time or the money for a vacation; this is more effective because it touches every part of our lives. Go ahead, take some time to get aside and rest in the Spirit.