We started Journey Church six years ago to help you discover the real Jesus. Because we say that when you discover the real Jesus you will find him irresistible. You will want to follow him. Because he is simply the most intelligent, wisest, most loving and compassionate person that ever existed.
What ever you do – Jesus knows everything about it. Are you an engineer? He created the universe, so he knows a thing about engineering. Are you in the health care field? Yeah, he created the body – so he knows how to make it healthy. Are you a teacher? Well… do you fix airplanes for a living? Jesus knows how to fly. He created the birds, you know.
He is amazing and intelligent and he has given you and I an invitation to live our life under his management. The smartest man who ever lived says, I will manage your life. You need not worry about a thing. Surrender, follow, and trust that He knows what he is doing.
So when we started this church there was one group of people we specifically had in mind that we wanted to reach out to. We wanted to be a church for people who… don’t like church. And I’ve heard some great compliments about Journey since we started. Recently I heard from a mom who told me her son is coming to Journey – and it’s a minor miracle she told me. And then she said, I asked him why he likes Journey and he said, Because he doesn’t like Church! So that’s great. And there are a few of you right now wondering if it was YOUR momma who communicated with me.
We know that there are people in here who haven’t quite bought into this Jesus thing yet, and some are outright skeptical and maybe a few who are adamant that God is a figment of our imagination – and we say – we understand. You have good reason to believe what you do. You will be treated with respect, and we will every week try to convince you that Jesus is worth giving up everything to follow.
And there are a bunch of you who have made that decision. You have crossed that line of faith. You believe Jesus really is the son of God who took away the sins of all who by grace place their faith in Him. And you are here – NOT because you don’t like church. You are here because you love and respect people who don’t like church. And so you love being part of a church that treats your unconvinced friends and family members with the simple dignity they deserve.
So – wherever you might be on your own Journey – we are truly glad you are worshipping here today.
Since January we have been talking about the goal of following Jesus. The goal of following Jesus ISN”T to get into heaven. “Ohhh, I discovered the secret answer, the golden ticket – I discovered how to get to heaven.” The real goal of following Jesus is – transformation! We follow Jesus and we work in conjunction with the activity of the holy Spirit, and the goal is to be changed on the inside. The real us – transformed. Today we are continuing our study of Psalm 23 – and we are going to be talking about the joy of having a soul that is restored.
When we place our faith in Jesus – He begins a process of restoring our souls to original condition. Meaning – he is restoring our souls to the condition they were in when they were ORIGINALLY created – all the way back to Adam.
It’s no secret that sin has wrecked us. And now we are born with souls that are dis-integrated. Not working together with integrity. So when we place our faith in Jesus He begins the restoration process.
Can I take a few minutes to describe what a restored soul looks like? Let me describe a soul that is being put back together after coming to faith in Christ. This is the vision of what someone who has been transformed on the inside looks like?
A follower of Jesus will have a transformed thought life.
Simply stated, a follower of Jesus thinks about God. They love to think about Him. He comes to mind regularly. When they look at the beauty of a sunset – they think of God. They do not dwell upon evil. They have learned how to deal appropriately with evil thoughts. Because their minds dwell on God and his goodness – their mind naturally receives all other good things. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and of good repute. Their mind ponders things that are excellent and praiseworthy. They are realistic and positive because their mind knows that since the Lord is their shepherd, they lack no good thing.
People with restored souls have their feelings transformed.
The defining feeling of their life is love. They love people. They love their life. They love how they have been created.
They are deeply thankful for their life – even though it may be filled with difficult circumstances, even when suffering unjustly. Joy and peace follow them everywhere they go. Because they know that wherever God leads them, he needs them. Whether it be beside quiet waters, or through the valley of the shadow of death.
Followers of Jesus know that he will never leave them, so they live confident lives. Hopeful lives. They know better than to embrace feelings of rejection and failure – or Anxiety and worry – because they know enough about God. They know the price Jesus paid to save them. And that HE is the most loving and compassionate of all.
When it comes to their will?
Those who have been transformed by Jesus are devoted to doing good. What is right is always obvious to them. And they don’t hesitate to do it. They are kind and helpful – not begrudgingly, but joyfully. A transformed will never grits it’s teeth and does the right thing because they have to! They want to!
They care very little about getting their own way because they are unselfish. They are attentive to opportunities to serve and care for others. They don’t think of themselves first. God’s will be done is the prayer of their will.
When it comes to their body?
The body carries out the will to do good. It is appropriately rested and is always poised to do what is right without thinking. It is no longer true that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” They understand that those words spoken by Jesus were a diagnosis of a problem that needed to be corrected.
A transformed body avoids the paths of temptation. Sometimes it runs from temptation if need be!
In their social relations, they don’t try to manipulate people. And they have no need to manage their image. Because what you see is what you get with them. They are honest. They live with integrity. Since they don’t live for the approval of people, they are never preoccupied wondering what others think of them.
Above all – followers of Jesus are not condemning. Though they will never participate in evil, they do not reject or distance themselves from people who may be involved in sinful activity unless it becomes absolutely necessary.
The life of a transformed person – it just flows. It’s natural. You might get to know then and say, they are the real deal. They are not performing – they are simply living. It flows with love and joy and peace and it comes from the inside out. Now maybe you are encouraged and maybe you are discourage – because you think – how am I ever going to live THAT life! It’s impossible! But I want to give you a vision for what your life can and could be. Who wouldn’t want to live such a confident and peaceful and purposed life?
And it might be true that a follower of Jesus you aren’t clicking on all of these cylinders right now – I get that – but you are in a process – the theological term for this process is sanctification. God is sanctifying you – changing you to live this kind of life. Because this is the kind of life Jesus lived. He was all these things – and he desires that we be the kind of people willing to enter into this kind of life.
So as children of God we are in the process of becoming more like Jesus. And our life ought to be progressing. If there is no change in the condition of our soul then we need to ask ourselves what needs to change.
How can I engage the spiritual process differently in order to becoming different on the inside?
Far too many followers of Jesus wish they were different – growing, changing, but that is as far as they go in the process. They are either uninformed, or unmotivated, or unwilling to engage with the Holy Spirit in the process of transformation.
This is why last week I’ve asked you to memorize and pray Psalm 23 to yourself. Memorizing pieces of scripture is one thing you can do to arm yourself to be able to withstand the pressures of life.
So let’s read Psalm 23 – and I suggested memorizing it in King James Version… So let’s read it and if you have memorized it – close your eyes and let’s see how you do.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Last week we worked our way through verse one. And we said that sometimes our soul will be unsettled. And it needs to be reminded that the Lord is our shepherd and He knows what he is doing with our lives. God is in control of our lives. He is our shepherd and we can live with confidence that he is managing our lives according to His plans and purposes. We need not fear. The Lord is my shepherd.
And then we said sometimes our heart gets needy – it is searching for something it thinks it really needs to be whole or happy – and when those times come we are going to arm our brain with Psalm 23 so that it can step in and say to the heart – No No No – Since the Lord is our shepherd – we lack nothing. I shall not want. I DON”t need that in order to be happy. I can be content in any circumstance – The Lord is my shepherd – I lack nothing.
Today we are going to look at the next three sentences. He 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul:
As I mentioned earlier – The goal of faith in Jesus isn’t just to get into heaven. If that’s what you think then you will be bored stiff. Your faith will be paltry, anemic, feeble. You’ll be nothing more than a chew toy in the mouth of this dog eat dog world.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross in order to deliver us into an empty and powerless life. You really can be more loving, less angry, patient, joyful in the midst of trying circumstances. You can be transformed – And I want to talk to you today about one tool that God has given us that will greatly enhance your personal transformation.
It is one of the oldest tools at our disposal. It is one of the most important biblical principles – so important that God actually commanded us to obey it. It is one of the most ignored commands ever. But I will say that true transformation is not possible if you don’t figure out a way to regularly introduce this powerful spiritual tool into your life.
And that is this: God wants you to embrace the Sabbath rest.
Did you know you were created to need a Sabbath? As a car needs an oil change every 5,000 miles or so, you need a day off one day a week.
What does it mean to observe a Sabbath? It’s very simple. One day a week, we stop working. We stop doing what it is we make a living doing.
And I think I should say that we have to be careful when we talk about a Sabbath that we don’t fall into legalism. I remember a friend who had parents that were legalistic about making Sunday a Sabbath and so they couldn’t play basketball with us on Sunday’s – and I remember talking to a friend who said their pastor told him he couldn’t mow his lawn on a Sunday – I’m not talking about that. Jesus had some harsh criticism of that kind of thinking.
I’m simply saying – stop working one day a week. If we are going to be able to come to a place where we can lie down in green pastures, and be led me besides still waters: If we are going to have our souls restored – we are going to have to make room for him.
I expect to hear chuckles at this point. To some of you, the idea of being able to take a day off a week is a hilarious joke. And there might be some who think that you don’t need a day off. You are above average in your work ethic – (You probably are) and besides – the work you do is important -(And it probably is) or you yourself are a VIP to your company and the wheels would fall off of the company were you not immediatey available at all times. (It probably won’t)
And to you I’d simply say – Jesus seemed to have a pretty important job – you know – saving the world and what not. He took a day off. Not a single one of us have jobs more important and more demanding than Jesus. And Jesus took time off regularly.
There were times Jesus was surrounded by throngs of people who were sick and hurting, they needed healing, they needed to hear from him – and Jesus would say to the disciples – it’s time to get away – and he would retreat into the mountains for some Sabbath time. Rest. Time off of work.
There are others who are thinking – listen I’m self-employed. I own the business. If I don’t work – I don’t eat. And to you I’d say – well, that’s actually kind of the point.
See in Israel- the Law instructed the Israelites that every seven years there should be no planting in the fields. And the Israelite’s were like – how are we going to survive if we don’t plant crops? And God said, trust me and I will take care of you.
There’s a third group in here who are thinking that you’d love to take a day off but the electronic world has made it almost impossible, right? I mean you get texts and emails all day and night. My guess is there are people in here who have rsponded to work texts or emails even since I’ve started this sermon.
I feel for you. I understand. It’s a unique challenge we face to carve out for us time to stop working. It’s a challenge. Not many have jobs anymore where you punch out and stop thinking about work until the next morning when you punch back in…
But here’s what’s at stake: The idea of a Sabbath rest – It is NOT some arbitrary pointless hoop that God makes us jump through. Jesus tells us that the sabbath is God’s gift to us. It is important and necessary for our soul. We were created by Jesus to need a day off from working.
Without a day off – your life cannot be what it should be. You will never be who you want to be without incorporating the Sabbath rest into your life. How important is a day off for us? God put it in the ten commandments! Don’t murder anyone, and take a day off for goodness sake – stop working one day a week! It’s interesting if you look at the ten commandments – the first three speak about how we interact with God. Look at the ten commandments – the first three are how we interact with God. No other God’s before him. 2. No idols. 3. Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain. Look at 5-10 all deal with how we interact with other. 5. Honor your father and mother. 6. Do not kill. 7. Do not commit adultery 8. Do not steal. 9. Don’t bear false witness against your neighbor. 10. Do not covet.
What is different about the 4th? Remember the Sabbath – Why? Because the Sabbath is God’s way of relating to our soul. When we take time off and find some silence and solitude in our life we give God the chance to restore us, refresh us – we can lie down in green pastures – we can drink from still waters. He restores us.
It’s God’s gift to us, and it is his way of restoring our soul. And he knows the nature of human beings – we won’t do it. So he commands it. This is important to God! Take a day off!
Observing a day off is the practical outworking of Peter’s exhortation to “Cast your cares upon the Lord.” (I Peter 5:7)
It is our opportunity to “Be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Observing one day a week to tend to our souls to remind it that, rather than living under the thumb of our employer, we live under the gentle leadership of the good shepherd.
And so let me encourage you to find one day a week to power down from your work. It doesn’t have to be Sunday. Jewish people observed Saturdays. The early church began to meet on Sunday’s. It is the principle not the day. I take Tuesday’s off. Find time for you to stop working.
And when you do Let me give you some suggestions.
Can I suggest that you power down the electronics in your world?
In the Old days the television was the biggest distractor of the soul. But nowadays it’s the phone. I mean – you are carrying your work around in your pocket. You gotta work while you’re driving. You gotta answer this email while you are in the bathroom! You can’t even take a bathroom break without working anymore.
We got apps competeing for our attention. Like attention starved children, screaming – Look at me! Look at me! No look at me! See if there is a way to create distance from yourself and the electronic world.
Secondly – and it goes hand in hand with the first – plan some time in your day off of silence and solitude.
God often speaks in a still small voice. He doesn’t like to compete with all the noise of the world. When we find a quiet place – we are laying down in green pastures, we are resting beside still waters. We are positioning our souls to be restored and refreshed. Find a quiet place to just be. Stop talking for a bit. Don’t put any earbuds in your ear. if you go for a walk around the lake? Don’t bring your music. At least for a time be quiet.
Just make space for God. Accept the grace of doing nothing. Find a place to be quiet and stay there until you stop squirming.
Now some will need some help to pull this off. Maybe you are a young mom and you are home all day with the kids. And you are on call 24/7, you have heard of this thing called ‘rest’ but it’s kind of like bigfoot – you don’t know if it really exists.
So you might need some help. And if you are married – maybe your spouse can help carve out time for you to be alone with God for a time. So Dad’s help out. Ask grandma and Grandpa for some help along the way.
Solitude, silence, will break the power of busyness, hurry, lonliness. Practicing a sabbath will help you see that the world is not on your shoulders after all. You will find yourself and God will find you in new ways. Joy and peace will begin to bubble from your soul. Praise and prayer will come to you from within.
You can do it. You need to do it. Believe Jesus. He knows what he is talking about. You have a good shepherd – you lack nothing, and it is His desire to lead us to green grass and it is His desire to lead us beside calm waters – it is His desire to restore your soul.