REST A WHILE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

REST A WHILE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on June 24, 2017)

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31)

Summer is here. Those who can are taking every opportunity to get away to the lake, beach, mountains, or some place other than home. But will they truly rest? Most don’t. Many complain on returning that they need a vacation to recuperate from their vacation! Then there are those who are staying home and getting caught up on all the unfinished projects. No rest for the weary. I confess that I fall into the latter category. I enjoy work! It energizes me. It bothers me to see able-bodied people being lazy.

So who is better? The ones who get away or the ones who keep going? Neither, because both are still failing to rest. Here’s why:

God’s idea of rest is to cease from labor. In the Book of Genesis he set the pattern for us. After creating the world and everything in it in six days, he rested on the seventh day, and even blessed and sanctified it as a Day of Rest. Of course, God didn’t need to rest. “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4) He did it to remind us that without adequate rest we will fail to function to the level of our abilities and even fall apart. As the old Greco-Roman saying goes, “If you keep your bow tightly strung at all times, it will quickly break, but if you let it rest, it will be ready to use whenever you need it.” True rest is complete cessation of work.

While it is obvious that those who stay home and keep working are failing to follow God’s mandate, it is not as apparent but many who are getting away are also just as guilty. The culprit is our world of hyper-connectivity. It’s no secret that technology has changed our world radically in the past decade or so, in some ways to our detriment. I’m not advocating abandoning our smart phones or deleting our social media accounts. We’re way past the exit ramp. What I am suggesting is taking breaks from our statuses and stories and allowing our minds to rest. Constantly checking and scrolling through updates is just disguised labor. Just like Jesus and his disciples were constantly bombarded by people coming and going, we too have people dropping in every moment, albeit behind a touch screen.

So, whether you get away or stay home, truly rest. If you’re on the beach or the lake, post pictures of how amazing it is to be you! But then put it away. Enjoy nature, God’s natural relaxant. Take the time to connect with the loved ones near you, especially the young. They’re not as addicted to social media as you may think. In the absence of genuine, fun, and meaningful interactions with the adults in their lives, they have defaulted to poor but enticing substitutes. I fear that if we don’t break our addiction, we’re headed towards a relationship precipice that will be much worse than Harry Chapin ever imagined in “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

By the way, don’t neglect the more essential spiritual rest which only Christ can provide, as he said – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Called to the Harvest by Pastor Abidan Shah

CALLED TO THE HARVEST by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

calledtotheharvestIntroduction: Today we are in part 3 of our series “NO BENCH WARMERS,” encouraging and challenging all of us to find a place somewhere at Clearview. This message is titled “CALLED TO THE HARVEST.”

Luke 10 1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. 2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Bridge: This is a very busy time of the year for farmers. We have several farmers in our church and they will tell you that harvest time is incredibly hectic and tiring for them – getting up at 4am and working until dark, so much has to get done, and time is of the essence. To neglect one critical thing could lead to severe crop damage and irrecoverable financial loss. They also tell me that one of the hardest things they have to deal with is not the weather or the bugs and the pests, or even the market, which are all important, but good labor – finding and keeping good help especially during harvest time.

Context: Not much was different two thousand years ago. In the passage we just read, Jesus brought up this harvest imagery to inspire and motivate His disciples. Listen again to verse 2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” It is very interesting to me how Jesus told His disciples to visualize the multitude of lost souls as a large field ready to be harvested. It is also fascinating to me how He compared His Heavenly Father to the farmer and His disciples to the laborers working in the field. Then He told them – “Don’t just be content with going and doing your part in the field but pray and ask your Heavenly Father to send more help. The job is too big!”

Question: When you look around this world (your family, your neighborhood, your workplace), what do you see? Don’t misunderstand that question. I’m not asking – “Can you see the lostness of people?” I’m asking – “Can you see the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of men and women, boys and girls to Christ?” “Can you see hearts awakening to gospel just the way the grain heads awaken to the sun? Are you a laborer in the field? Are you praying for God to send more laborers in the field? Are you saved?

4 things that stand out in this passage:

I. THE MINISTRY OF JESUS 

1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.

Background: Many of us have a misguided portrait of the ministry of Jesus. We picture Him as a solitary man surrounded by a vast multitude of people, going from place to place, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and touching lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we read the gospels carefully, a wholly different picture begins to emerge. Jesus was not this one-man show, trying to change the world all by Himself but He was constantly calling more disciples and sending them out to replicate His ministry, to do what He was doing:

  • In Luke 5 Jesus called James and John and Simon Peter to be His disciples. In verse 10 He told Peter, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
  • In Luke 6 it says, 12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
    Jesus and His disciples

    Jesus and His disciples

    13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:

  • In Luke 9   1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick…6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
  • But even this was not enough. So in Luke 10:1 it says, “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.”

The point is this – As Jesus’ ministry expanded, He had to enlist more and more people to help Him do what He was doing. You know where I am going with this – If Jesus, the Son of God, needed help to keep up with the growing demands of His ministry, how much more do you and I need help to keep up with the growing demands of church?

Application: How would you have responded if Jesus had called you to join Him in the work of the gospel? What’s the difference? Are you responding to His call to join Him? What is keeping you from obeying the call of the Holy Spirit to join the ministry?

II. THE VISION OF JESUS

2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great…”

Background: Think about the world in which Jesus spoke those words:

  1. Tiberius Caesar

    Tiberius Caesar

    Tiberius Caesar was the Emperor of Rome, the ruler of the world – What kind of man was he? He was the stepson of Augustus, a great general but a horrible individual – a cruel man, openly homosexual, perverse beyond your wildest imaginations. In fact, the Roman historian Suetonius describes some of the heinous things that he did for pleasure that I cannot even mention from the pulpit.

  2. Pontius Pilate was the procurator, the arm of Tiberius – Tiberius ruled through prefects or procurators who were financial officers in charge of keeping peace and collecting taxes. What kind of a man was Pontius Pilate? Not a good man. He repeatedly agitated the Jewish people by putting up images of the Emperor in Jerusalem (for which Tiberius got onto him). He took money from the Temple to build an aqueduct and when the Jewish people protested, he had his soldiers in the crowd attack and kill them.
  3. Herod’s sons were in charge of the local regions – Herod Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee and Philip was the tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis – Antipas took Herodias his own brother Philip’s wife (By the way, this is a different Philip). Later, he was so swept away by the provocative dance of Salome, Herodias’ daughter that he gave the order to cut off John the Baptist’s head. He had no conscience.
  4. Annas and Caiaphas

    Annas and Caiaphas

    Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests in the temple – Annas was the father-in-law who was removed from being the high priest but he held onto the title. Caiaphas married his daughter and kept the family business going. They were not the least concerned about holiness and righteousness. It was all about money, politics, and power. By the way, they were the ones who later condemned Jesus to be crucified.

And what does Jesus say? Listen again to verse 2 “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few…” If I were living back then, I would have called him to the side and reminded Him about the messed up world that He was talking about.

There are 2 ways to see this world – Hopeless or ready for harvest. Have you ever heard the adage – “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” So is HOPE!

Application: What do you see in this world? If you don’t see any hope, no wonder you don’t volunteer. Why rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?! It’s going down anyways! Do you have the vision of Jesus?

III. THE COMMISSION OF JESUS 

This is a long section:

2 “…therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Meaning: It’s not enough for you to work but pray and ask for more help. That’s what I am doing through this series. That’s what the Prayer Vigil was all about.

3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.

Meaning: Jesus was no starry eyed, possibility thinking optimist. He knew there were wolves out there. The answer was not to be a counter wolf but to bring the nature of the lamb.

I don’t have time to go through every verse – 8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 “The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ 12 But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.

Meaning: When you go in Jesus’ name, expect rejection but don’t let it discourage you. This is part of ministry. God will deal with that person and that city on Judgment Day. Don’t worry about that.

16 He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”

Meaning: When we go out into the harvest for Jesus, we become His representatives before the lost world.

Application: Are you a representative of Jesus? What are you doing for Him?

IV. THE JOY OF JESUS

Luke 10:17   Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

When you get off the bench and get in the game or when you get into the fields, God will show you incredible things! You will begin to see people set free, lives transformed, homes restored, communities revived. The reason you cannot see any of that is because you are unwilling to get into the game or go work in the fields.

What is Jesus’s reply? 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” WOW!

Now listen to the prayer of Jesus – 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes…” Meaning: I’m happy to see them share with me in ministry!

Listen to the final words of Jesus to His disciples – 23 Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; 24 for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” Meaning: Ministry is not a burden or a chore or a load. It’s a privilege to join hands with the Living God.

Question: What’s keeping you from joining in the harvest? Are you praying for more hands? Are you saved

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