I want to ask you to go to the Book of Mark, the Gospel according to Mark and I want to start by encouraging us all to come to church with our Bibles and you know to embarrass ourselves on the train and show our Bibles and be part of that witnessing crowd that speaks to the world about the people who are founded on the word of God.
There’s a passage there on Mark, chapter 6, verse 30, that I’d like to share with you tonight. Mark 6:30. I’ll start reading it and I can just hear it and maybe sometime we’ll also be able to project in the background so that you can have it there as well.
It says: “ the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them: ‘come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place but many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day so the disciples came to Him ‘this is a remote place,’ they said ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat’. But He answered ‘you give them something to eat’. They said to Him ‘that would take 8 months of a man’s wages, are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’. ‘How many loaves do you have?’, he asked ‘go and see’. When they found out they said ‘five and two fish’. Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the 5 loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves and He them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples picked up 12 baskets full of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was 5000”. Praise the Lord for His word.
It’s a wonderful passage. It’s brought a lot of joy to me as I meditated on it many times and tonight I purposely determined not to bring any notes with me, just so that I’ll let the Lord speak to me and speak to us through this passage and let His fresh revelation come to our lives and come to our hearts.
And I do have a sense of the direction that I want to follow. We’ve been talking in the past few weeks, just two or three weeks, in our Spanish services about what are the elements of a successful life. What are the elements of a full abundant life. What are the things that we need to practice and incorporate into our lives in order to lead to a successful, fulfilling, powerful life and we’ve been just beginning to annunciate some of the elements that make up that fruitful life.
You know, this passage in a way, provides a kind of a vignette, small insight into a fulfilled life, a life of ministry, a life of impact, a life where things are happening, where learning is taking place, where the presence of Jesus is very real. What we see is a moment in the life of the disciples, the Lord is near them, the Lord is ministering to them, His full presence is among them, His power, His teaching, fruitfulness, His fullness as a teaching entity is with them. And He is sending them…. He has just sent them off to a journey of learning and He has endowed them with power and authority and they have gone to the surrounding villages and He has said to them ‘anoint people in my name and cast out demons and heal people and proclaim the peace of the Lord upon any house that you enter into.’ And indeed, that’s what took place. They came back and they were astounded to see that demons submitted to their command and that people were healed and that powerful things happened in their midst. And they were learning, they were acquiring experience as ministers.
They come back and this is where this passage begins, when they come back from that wonderful experience, it says that they returned to Jesus. It says here that ‘the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they have done and taught’. And then we see, you know, a scene of great vitality. Jesus asks them to go to a certain place and relax a bit, but ministry is too demanding and people are so attracted to this ministry that they flocked to them and they don’t give them any time to rest. And Jesus ministers to them abundantly with the word and the hours passed by, and I’ve always been encouraged as a pastor who likes to preach long, at the fact that some of the great preachers that we see in the Bible they took their time to preach.
But that’s not and intimation of what’s going to happen tonight, so you can relax. But you know, Jesus took His time and the day went by and it was night all of a sudden and you know there’s a huge need, and a miracle takes place and people are blessed and on, and on. So you can see this great vitality, this great fruitfulness, this energy, this life that surrounds this text.
You know, as a minister I always ask myself ‘Lord, how can I, and how can my church, how can my life embody that kind of fruitfulness, that kind of energy, that kind of power, that kind of effectiveness?’ I want to lead a successful life, I want to lead a life that has meaning, that has impact, and I’m sure you too, as well. And certainly this ministry that is just beginning, wants to embody that fullness of power that Jesus says that is going to follow those who believe in Him.
I don’t think that a congregation or life or a family can authoritatively and legitimately announce the Kingdom unless we can express that joy, that vitality, that fullness of life that Jesus says. How can we do that? And so we need to find the sources of power in our lives, we need to find the sources of energy.
And this passage gives us a little bit of an inkling about some of those elements that as a ministry that is beginning, that as individuals who want to live fulfilling lives, many of you are in college, some of you are in high school, others are already in a more advanced stage of life, I want to be very diplomatic here. You know, you also want to grab on to those secrets of fruitfulness.
The first thing I see is precisely this point, that after they have done all that stuff, you know, of going out and ministering, they came back and they gathered around Jesus. Jesus was the center. Jesus had instructed them, had given them an assignment, had empowered them. They had, in a sense, emanated from Jesus to go into the life of challenge and ministry and when they had sort of extended all of their gifting and energy, then, what did they do? They came back to Him and they gathered around Him again.
Just the same as when we use our cell phones and, you know at the end of the day and after really giving them a lot of use, those little lines are kind of…. You’ve got one little line left only. What do you do? You plug it into the charger and you leave it there for a few hours to recharge. That charger, that cell phone leaves from the charger and comes back to the charger. And in a sense I think that’s what the disciples were doing here.
Ministry wears us out, life wears you out. You come back from a day of studying or working and running around the artery and you’re tired and maybe you had a bad day and you had a fight with your boss or somebody and you need recharging. Life is like that. It wears you out. You need a source to come back to and gather strength again.
And you will have to do that, we will have to do that until the day we die. We cannot depend on the anointing of a year ago. We cannot depend on the mountain top experience of three months ago. We cannot depend on the beneficial effects of that day of fasting that we carried out a month ago. Just as we cannot depend of having taken a bath a week or two weeks ago, unless we want to lose many of our good friends very quickly, we need to do it continually. I mean, that is the nature of life. Life is energy that deteriorates and needs to be recharged again. That’s one of the laws of physics, I think it’s the law of entropy. Everything tends to disintegrate and go towards a disorderly state and need to be brought back together. The only thing that can do that by the way, is the power of God.
If grace were not present in the universe, the universe would have already irrevocably disintegrated completely. What keeps the universe unified, unified, is the grace of God. Somewhere out of time and space, but it is there. And so it’s with us, we need to always be centered around the person of Christ.
If we want to have a fruitful life we need to leave from Him and come back to Him. That’s why it is so important to be aware of that and always use the word of God to recharge yourself. Use those moments of intimacy with Christ, that devotional time in your life. You know, times of fasting, and prayer.
You need to be hungry for energy. You need to be like an athlete that knows that unless you daily practice certain disciplines, you will not be able to perform when the time comes. And that you need to know that you’re going to have to do that the rest of your life, so if we want live lives that are charged with the power of God, that have impact on the world, that can be immensely attractive and winsome, we need to always be yoked and centered upon and having intimacy with that dynamo, that source of power that is Jesus Christ.
He said it in John, chapter 15, I believe it is, where He said that if you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. It doesn’t get any more basic than that, people. We need to understand that are the people of the spirit, that if we do not remain close to the spirit, to the source of life, that is Jesus Christ, that is the spirit of God, that is the resource that God has provided, we will weaken and become dysfunctional.
I know that in a couple of days, if I don’t have time with the Lord I become my true self, a hopeless neurotic, full of anxiety and distorted force. And I need to go back and cleanse myself like a diabetic getting his medicine, or somebody with a kidney problem getting dialysis. We need to refresh ourselves, to renew ourselves.
And this is what these men did. They came back to Jesus and they told Him everything that they had done and that they had taught. And that is so important, that we be thorough with the Lord. When you have your time of intimacy with God, you know, just report everything, the good and the bad. I mean, He knows it anyway, but He wants to hear it from you and there is such release and such purity when you just let it all hang out and let the Lord hear the deep thoughts, the sins, the brokenness, the failures, the missed opportunities, the omissions and the commissions.
Just revel. I love to tell the Lord, I love to, sort of, just let the Lord know exactly what has taken place in my life. I love to do that, even if sometimes it’s not very positive because I know that He receives it and He extends his grace and He says ‘it’s ok. I knew it anyway, but thanks for telling me’. And He touches me with his grace and He heals me and He cleanses me, and I know it’s ok. I can go back and have that same deep sense of communion with Him. It’s so liberating to do that.
So it’s good to report to Him as a matter of course, every day of our lives. Let’s take time to recharge us and let’s be a God’s centered people. Let’s be a people centered on the word of God. Let’s be a people hungry for the spirit of God. That’s the pentecostal way. We should all be pentecostals, because pentecostals are hungry for the anointing of the holy spirit in their lives that purifies them, that energies them, that cleanses them, that transforms their perspective, that gives them new hope, that gives them a magnetic power to attract others to the Kingdom of God and we need to be hungry for that all the time. We need to be always having that hygienic proximity to the Lord Jesus Christ, because in Him there is life and there is joy and there is renewal, there is hope. So let’s always be close to the Lord. Let’s never be too far. In the car you can always come back to Jesus and gather yourselves around Him and report to Him the events of the last few minutes or hours.
Another thing that I see here is very important, you know, and that’s related to that Jesus says ‘come with Me, after all the hustle and bustle of the ministry,’ he says, ‘come and we’ll go to a place for some rest. Let’s just relax a little bit’.
You know, sometimes it is possible to be so holy that you make yourself a bundle of guilt and anxiety and you can turn spirituality into stereo-religion and wears you out and that kills the joy of the Lord, that kills your capacity to rest and to just be one more of the guys, or of the girls, to just be normal, to be yourself.
I think it is important even as we seek to be spiritual people, also to be a normal people, to be fun to be around with, to recognize our humanity and to take time to go out to a movie, hopefully a G or a PG or you know, not much more than that, and to relax, to hear a jazz piece or a classical piece of music and to do something different and to acknowledge the fact that I’m a human being and that God has called me to enjoy this life.
You know, it’s good to have a good time also, and to live a normal life, to enjoy friendship, to enjoy the Christian life. The Christian life is good and it’s fun let me tell you. It’s and adventure and we should be people of joy. We should be people of rest. We should be people of contemptment but sometimes we have turned Christianity into a stereo-religious repetitive thing and we can not be fun to others. We need to recharge ourselves. We need to have times of great exertion and work. I do believe in that philosophy of work hard and play hard. I do believe in giving your all to whatever you’re doing, living a life of excellence and commitment. Working hard. If you’re a student, I mean, dig into those books with gusto and commitment and make sure you do things with great excellence. Try to get the best grades you can, but then every once in a while take time to rest as well. And take time to pray and to just release your anxieties and let the Lord heal you. Be close to the Lord.
We need to ask the Lord to give us rest. You know, I ask the Lord that more than ever in my life, as the burdens of ministry increase, and the seriousness of challenges increase and demands on my life increase as a pastor and as an administrator and as a person in the community and all the things that are happening in my ministerial life, I realize how important also it is to just take time and find the rest of the Lord.
God has been speaking to about rest and He’s spoke to me earlier, from Isaiah, chapter 30, verse 15 where he says….. I always forget the exact words, but I think it’s become like a verse, a theme of my life these days, and I try to practice it actively even if it sounds like a paradox. But it says here “in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”.
You know, that rest, that quietness, that trust, that’s where our salvation and our strength lies and you know, there’s something eminently powerful and spiritual, almost very solid about that kind of rest. It’s not a passive thing. You really enter into it by an acknowledgement and this is important, and that the Lord is calling you to that.
When you learn to rest militantly in the Lord and to give, put aside your own striving, your own strength, your own talents, your own cunning that you think is going to get you through life, and you say ‘ Father, I realize that all of that is puny, that cannot get me successfully through life. I’m going to just rest in you and I’m going to use that rest as a stone that I’m going to hurl as the giant of anxiety and of fear and of uncertainty about the future. And I choose to rest in You and to believe that your plans for my life are good, that your presence in my life is continuous, that your power in my life is irresistible. That the same power that inhabited Jesus Christ when He was raised from the dead is now mine, as the apostle says in Ephesians. And I believe, Lord, that all I need to do is to find the way to become a channel of your power in whatever area of my life I am seeking to confront; whatever it is my studies, my professional life, my future, a particular transition that I’m making in my life, my marriage, my relationship with my children or my social relationships, or a particular neurosis that I’m confronting or a wound from the past or a deficiency in my character, whatever it is, as we learn to rest in the Lord and to depend on Him and to put aside, mere physical human striving, and we rest in the Lord, His power can then be channeled so much more effectively through our lives.
I have learned these days that I can do so much more when I relax in the Lord. When I just say ‘Father, thank you, because You have already blessed me. I don’t have to ask you to bless me. You have empowered me with all kinds of riches in the heavenly places.’ All the treasures of heaven are mine and all I need to do is to actualize them by being a channel so they can flow through me.
God wants to bless you. The purpose of God in your life is for good. You can find rest in Him. Let’s today, why don’t we take a moment even now, even now to claim that rest.
Father, in the name of Jesus I claim that rest for myself and my congregation right now, for each one of us who is here tonight. Lord, if there’s anxiety in our lives, there’s fear in our lives, if there is striving that wears us out and exhausts us. Father, if we have fears about the future, if the future looks uncertain, Lord, right now we claim your blessing on our lives. We thank You because your goodness will carry us through to the other side. We thank You because You have blessed us already with all kinds of spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. And Lord, thank you for this joy ride that we call life. We embrace this adventure, Father. Forgive us for being afraid of it at times. Forgive for doubting, like the disciples in the boat as the storm raged around them. They doubted the fact that You were there, that that boat could not sink. And Father, sometimes we doubt in our lives, but tonight we claim your rest. Thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Doesn’t it feel good? Amen. Why don’t you give the Lord a big round of applause around. Come on. Just emphasize that in your spirit. It’s the rest. That rest of the Lord is so important. We need to practice is. We need to claim it. I spoke to the congregation this New Year’s eve, about these two elements that God has been putting in my heart to transmit to the congregation, joy and anointing.
We haven’t been able to transmit that as well as I’d like to do these two things here, but you know, the wine of the Lord and the oil of the Lord, we need to claim those things. These days when I’m in a situation of great stress and things seem like they’re going to break up into a thousands pieces before me, and that I’m going to make a fool of myself, I say ‘joy and anointing’. I just use that as a mantra these days. Forgive the mixed metaphor there. I use it like a theme in my life.
Father, I want to be in your joy and I want to be in your anointing. Because if I have those two things then I’m full, I’m ready for whatever comes. There’s such a power in that. There’s such a power in praising the Lord and rejoicing in the Lord. Rejoicing in the Lord is a powerful weapon for many, many powerful resorts in our life. Practice it and ask the Lord to reveal to you the meaning of that joy, that active full joy of the Lord.
So it says, they went away and I not going to take the hole passage, so relax, I just want to put a few elements there as the Lord gives to me. They went away themselves in a boat. They were going to enjoy that rest. They were going to take time to hang out, and talk and relax and get themselves recharged and re-energized.
But what happened? You see, when you live a life of fullness in the Lord, when a Christ centered life, when you are perpetually charging yourself and gaining new energy from the Lord and from the word of God, you become immensely attractive to others. You become magnetic. You become as dynamic and as influential and as attractive as the Lord Jesus Christ to us, because you become an extension of Him. So friends start coming to you and bothering you about a word of advice. And they want you to pray for them, and they just want to hang around you because there’s something good in you. They don’t know what it is but there’s some…… you know, death always gravitates towards life. Nature abhors a vacuum and so when people are empty and deficient, they will go like electrons in the old models of physics and chemistry looking for an orbit that they can kind of find rest in, and that’s you. And so they try to complement their deficiencies by coming to you. They won’t know why, but you’re magnetic. They’re just responding to a spiritual law that has been inscribed into their spirits. So you will not have time to minister to people, because they’ll be around you, that’s why we need to make ourselves magnetic.
All the Madison Avenue techniques and all the stuff of the church has to do in order to make itself attractive. It’s simply a symptom of the fact that we don’t have that supernaturally flowing, magnetic power that the Lord had. When you have that, then people come, they flow, things happen. As Greg was saying there is some inner dynamic that takes place that life just starts popping out and doing weird disorderly kinds of things, because that’s the way life is in the spirit.
And so people came to them and they found out that He was going to go to this vacation resort and they went there, they walked, they ran from all kinds of places and when the guys got there, thinking ‘ok, now we’re going to relax’, there was this bunch of smiling people: ‘hello’. They wanted to be ministered too. They wanted to be blessed by the Lord.
You will have that, as you make yourself attractive by being in the presence of the Lord, His wisdom, and His grace, His power, His joy, His fruitfulness, His authority will transmit itself to you and you will have all those things that you’re seeking. Now what happens? You know, if it would have been me I would have acted very …. I would have been annoyed at this people who are cutting into my time of rest. I mean, I want this, I work hard for this break down, and I’m going to have it, no matter what, and here are these people coming to steal it away from me.
Now what did Jesus do? He had compassion for them. He kind of smiled at them and you know, probably hung his head down, had a moment there of an internal crisis, and then said ‘hey, after all that’s what I am, I am a servant, I’ve been called to minister. These people are weary, they need my ministry, they need my word, they need my compassion.’ And so He had compassion, He reacted compassionately, lovingly towards them and He ministered to them.
It’s so important, my brothers and my sisters, that we be people of compassion, that we cultivate compassion, that we cultivate love and grace. If you want to have a powerful life, if you want to be emotionally healthy, forget about yourself. Stop gazing at your belly button and look around you. Stop being so concerned about what people did to you and the wounds that were perpetrated upon you. Stop savoring the wound of the past and your victim status that you wear around your collar like a big medal that you won somewhere in a struggle of some sort. And forget for a moment about that and minister to others, love others, be gracious to others, be generous to others, give away, divest yourself for the things that you have the right to keep. Die, sacrifice, stop being ego driven and ego oriented and be oriented to others, and give graciously, forgive generously, forget generously, cancel debts generously, whether they’ve been material or otherwise, offences, blacks, omissions. Live a life that exudes grace and generosity to others.
I have found that that is the most powerful element towards joy, emotional health and abundance, material or otherwise. It’s the essential paradox of the Kingdom. If the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, what does it do? It bears much fruit. While if it’s stays hole and untouched, unbroken; it stays alone. The Kingdom of God is always based on paradoxes and that is one of the most beautiful ones of all, and it is one that you find in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. As you give on to others, as you forget about your needs and yourself. I found many times that when I’m least able in my flesh and in my being to give to others, and I simply out of a heroic recognition that this is what God wants me to do, I’m able to go beyond my need and yield and give to others in the name of the Lord. You know, those are the moments of greatest effectiveness in my life and then afterwards I’m blessed, I’m rejuvenated, I’m re-energized.
And I’ve learned that by now and I have the courage to practice that, I’m always blessed. I want to encourage you to do that in your life. Be generous to others. Be compassionate. Be able to just overlook imperfections in others and to forget when people step on your to toes and just be a giver. Just distribute the grace of God left and right, and you will be blessed. You will be able to rejoice and to have the joy of the spirit in your life.
You know, there are so many things, so many wonderful things in this passage. I will leave it there, but I want to challenge us tonight to live a life that is centered in Jesus, because that is the only way in which we can practice God’s love, the agape love, that heroic love that First Corinthians 13 speaks about, that’s the only way that we can bear fruit despite of our limitations. To make the Christian life that is not a source of compulsion, anxiety, guilt, to enjoy the life of the believer, to practice good, emotional hygiene and time to practice joy and relaxation, to practice the rest of the Lord as a weapon for success and fruitfulness, to depend on Him, to trust His promises, to trust His faithfulness, to trust His love for you, His commitment to you, and then lastly to transmit grace to others. To ask the Lord to make a person of compassion, of grace, of love, of generosity, as you do that you will begin to live that fulfilled life that we see so clearly expressed here in this passage.
Why don’t we stand for a moment, I don’t know if …… is still around or Steven and just come up for a moment, and the team, if you would be so kind and just come forward briefly. Let’s take a moment to, just relax in the spirit right now and then just let that word sing into our spirits. Come on. Put your spirit into a moment of, just energize your spirit here. Receive what the word has given to you. Interact with the word. Be like the soil that is now moving and allowing the seed to go deep into it.
Say, “Father, I receive your word. I receive your teaching. Come on, just practice it. I would love not to see one single vacant look in this audience right now. I want to encourage you to interact with the word, even it it’s the first time that you’ve come into a church. Just interact with it.
Just say “Father, I receive your word. I receive your teaching. I want to be centered upon Jesus Christ. I want to receive the Lord Jesus in my life and I want to make of Him the source of my energy and I want to find that ability to rest in the Lord, to trust in Him and to use that rest as a mighty weapon that I hurl against anxiety, against some belief, against striving and Father, I want to make sure that then I become a transmitter of your grace, of your love, and that I forget about myself, and that I live a life of joyful giving of myself to others. We receive that word Lord, we welcome it into our spirits tonight. And I thank you Father, thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, that you Father. I don’t know if we have a song that we can just use to bring that home into our spirits. Thank you, Father.
What we have heard, a message that causes to action and we’ve also heard the truths of God and God has spoken a word to us tonight, and so in this next song we’re just going to respond in gratitude, but also …….. to think about the challenge that it …… to us. And let’s not leave tonight, forgetting that, but to meditate on it and even as we…… But, let us continue our worship service for just a gratitude and praising God for who He is. And we’re going to sing a …… to the Lord and there, just as we heard, we’re going to sing these words, that there’s no one like our God and He is amazing and He is greater than all that we have.
Can everybody hear me? I don’t mean to keep this long but while pastor Roberto was speaking I feel like finding rest has to do with confessing certain things that pulled us. There’s power when you bring to life what is holding you down, so I don’t know, take some time, either write it down on a piece of paper, or you can say that out loud, and say that I’m free from this thing’. It could be time at work, or it could be time at home, or it could be your car that’s driving you crazy, or it could be your kid driving you crazy, but you know it could be your stomach, your belly, you know, you’re fooled yourself by that, whatever it is there are things that still are I rejoice from us, they still are a rest from us. You know once you confess that God can free you up, so I do believe that this word was from God so let's just go for it.