Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


12 Rest in the Rock

Psalm 62:1-2 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

As David wrote this Psalm He was dealing with the rebellion of his son, Absalom who was trying to take over the kingdom. This was a pit experience, a low place in his life, the king running for his life from his own son, yet we see his attitude anchored in the Almighty not his terrible situation. Davids focus was on his Father, and because God was his defense he was not destroyed. David speaks of that sweet soul rest that is found only in Christ regardless of the circumstances. He could rest because he was in the refuge of the Redeemer. So often we focus on the forces against us and our own failure instead of the Father yet when we remember His hand of power we too can hold on because we know help is on the way. If you have ever worried, and I know just like me there have probably been plenty of worry warts in your walk, then you know that nothing wears us out more than worry. Worry leaves us worked up and worn down and the only antidote I know to worry is worship. Yet true worship finds itself resting in the Redeemer not the results. So many of us try to worship God by wrestling in prayer for the results, missing the Redeemer and consequently the rest. We pray for God to change this or heal that, for Him to fix this or remove that, but rest is not found in the results it is found in the Redeemer alone. David didn’t just rest he rested in God alone because rest is found in the Redeemer alone. Trust in anything other than Christ is a counterfeit trust. Only a confident trust in Christ will allow your soul to find rest in the trouble and turmoil.
David understood that God alone is the Rock, our only real refuge, He is our only security in an unsafe world. God alone is our salvation, our only deliverer, not possessions or people. So often we try to trust in money and material things instead of the Messiah but God alone is our fortress He is our only security in the storm. Resting in our Savior allows us to be steadfast and stable regardless of the situation. Today we need to remember that the Redeemer is not just a good shelter in the storm He is the only secure shelter. The word rest in this verse refers to a quiet waiting on God. When we are worried and worked up it seems that the last thing we want to do is wait, yet its in the waiting that we learn to depend on Him alone to deliver. Often instead of quiet waiting in the presence of the Father our lives are characterized by a frantic restlessness. We see waiting as a waste yet its in the waiting that our soul gets to stop and experience that peace place of rest. Isaiah 40:31 says that those who “WAIT” upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Do you worry or wait? Our Redeemer is our only source of real rest and Isaiah paints for us the incredible contrast between trusting in Christ verses circumstance. One is worn out filled with worry the other soars effortlessly on wings like an eagle. Rest involves a renewal of strength, real rest, what I have come to call Redeemer rest, allows us to run and not grow weary, to walk without fainting and falling, even to soar on wings. Trusting in our circumstances leads to us crashing, but trusting in Christ allows us to continue regardless of the circumstance. Today what is your reality, worn or wings? Turning to Christ, resting in Him regardless of the circumstance results in a confident trust in the trials. Our Redeemer is our Rock and our Refuge, that inaccessible place to problems, our refuge and release from the worry. Yet so often we chose to surround ourselves with our own solutions instead of spending time with the Savior. We choose the struggle instead of the still calm of Christ. I love the words to the hymn “lead me to the Rock” it says, “…when my heart is overwhelmed… lead me to the rock, lead me to the rock that’s higher than I.” Let me remind all of us and especially those in spiritual leadership that we will all be overwhelmed during various stages of our lives. Even you the super spiritual leader, there will be situations in this life that will reveal that your not the super pastor you might think you are. As I write this devotion I am sitting on the beach listing to the endless crash of the waves. Those relentless waves of water, receding only to come rushing back again and again. At first they seem inviting even invigorating, but those beautiful blue waters can be deceptively deep, as we find ourselves being pulled further out in their powerful undertow. Only to be overwhelmed, surged over in the strong surf. We struggle with each pounding wave, pulling and pushing us under, swallowing and submerging us. Maybe today you find yourself engulfed inundated in emotional confusion, sinking in the hurts and disappointment, deadlines, financial burdens, illness. It seems like the endless waves just keep coming, crashing into you, unrelenting, one trial after another. In the currents of our circumstances we fight, we strategize, we cry and at times we want to give up. In our crushing circumstances when we feel overwhelmed and overcome, God has a place that He wants to lead us to. You don’t have to sink in the sea of your circumstance, when the pressure seems to much to bear, when you’re far out and floundering remember that your Father is there. It is the reassuring rest of our Rock and Redeemer that rescues us from the relentless rip tides of life. Maybe today you need to stop struggling and simply sing “lead me to the rock” the Rock that is higher than me. Today are you resting in the refuge of your Redeemer?

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11 Sabbath Rest Part 2

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”

After looking at the first and most obvious reason for keeping the Sabbath, because our creator did modeling for us His intended weekly rhythm, we come to the second reason. This one found in Deuteronomy 5:15 says, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” Here we are reminded that honoring Sabbath redeems us, rescues us or releases us from enslavement to work. Just as God redeemed, and brought release to his people who were enslaved to Pharaoh, allowing them to live liberated lives, free from his demands, so too does honoring a weekly Sabbath remind me that I don’t have to work to keep the world running. The truth is that it doesn’t all depend on me and when I rest in Him I am admitting this truth through living action. Today many Christians agree with truth they just don’t reveal it through living action. Why don’t we live out the truth that the world doesn’t revolve around us, because we love to be depended on, it makes us feel needed and fulfills our deepest need to be wanted. Today work has become our way of filling our want need, there are millions of people working to be wanted. The harder we run on this hamster wheel of deceit the deeper our desire to be wanted becomes and the harder we work. The sad truth is that many of us are working for what God has already given, Sabbath is all about being wanted. We have a creator that wants us so much that He has created a margin for us to do nothing but be with Him and be wanted. Sabbath is about being wanted, it is about relational rest. Many of us have trade His provision of Sabbath relational rest to pursue being wanted through work only to feel worn out and empty and our worth becomes wrapped up in our work. When we ignore this we put self at the center of the universe and everyone else takes a back seat to self. Self becomes significant, it becomes about me instead of the Master, no wonder we feel alone and unwanted. Our worth is not found in our work but our Father and Sabbath rest reminds me that I am not a machine. God tells us to honor the Sabbath because he longs for us to be able to have an orientation other than being enslaved by the work place and all our possessions. God’s plan is people not possessions. Today I think in our present culture possessions have become one of the greatest roadblocks to honoring His call to Sabbath rest. Many of our neighbors and many of us are over extended by what we own or said more truthfully what owns us. We have too many possessions to pay off and too many toys to take care of to take time to rest with our Redeemer. We accumulated more in a vain effort to satisfy our need for significance. So we turn to recreation to try and relax, today we have created a culture of recreation not rest. We are kidding ourselves into thinking that if we work harder we can rest through recreation. Recreation today is not about rest but running even harder, it’s working hard so we can play harder. The truth is that our recreation today is not resting its racing. Sabbath is about stopping not just shifting gears to a different activity. Its about being not doing. I’ve come to believe that the very things that we have and aspire to acquire have created a noose around our necks and are actually keep us from living the life God intended for us. Sabbath is part of God’s answer to this. When we honoring The Lord and take a day out to be with Him it helps to re-oriented us away from our consumer culture and toward our Creator. Sabbath was given to create an order to our lives, to give a weekly rhythm to life. It was meant to be a liberating weekly reality yet many of us see it as a restrictive necessity. Sabbath is what carves order out of the chaos, it brings peace into our present. Sabbath quiets the storms of self and circumstance stilling us before our Savior. Our God longs for you to be reminded weekly that He is in control and desires for you to remove yourself from steering of your life, your calendar and your schedule. It is a day of reassurance of His sovereignty in all things. A significant reason for me to honor Sabbath is because Sabbath is rooted in the Exodus, God’s Liberating release of his people from enslavement to work. God redeemed, He rescued and released, taking time and learning to honor Sabbath helps us to not be defined and confined to our work. Sabbath is about trading work for worship, to rest in the presence of our provider. Today we are more apt rush out to work before worship, we have become programmed to think that work worthwhile and resting in worship is a waste. Yet if we go back to the truth we find that the Sabbath was God’s final day of creation, but it was man’s first day of existence. This is significant because it reminds us that man begins his journey with worship before work! Worship is what makes us fit for work, without worship our work has no lasting value, it is only temporal. Nothing we do through work has any eternal significance unless it is done first out of a relationship with an eternal God. We are spiritual beings, and as such what we do must come from a spiritual perspective. Worship frames every aspect of our lives giving significance to everything we do. It allows us to break free from a temporary materialistic framework and experience His eternal one. God desired fellowship with Adam before He sent him into the garden to work it and He desires fellowship with you. Worship is what enables us to “rest” before God, not just a physical rest but also a spiritual one. It is resting in God’s love and cleansing power, resting in His work and resting from trying to save ourselves. The Sabbath is thus a “rest” in God, a time for our soul to be refresh in relationship. So what is Sabbath to you, is it a ritual or rest? What are you resting in?