Summary: God is in the restoring, renewing, reviving business.

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“Go in Peace: Strength for the Way”

Psalm 23:2-3a

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

Why would God be in the restoring, renewing, reviving business? Perhaps it’s because we are so often weak and tired. Americans are notorious for sleep deprivation. Americans can’t sleep; we have great trouble resting. We are too busy, too success driven, too desirous of material things, too competitive, too insecure, too full of fear. Our minds, our bodies, and our souls are worn out, tired, and weary.

Yet this shouldn’t surprise us. Remember, we are sheep. Sheep cannot sleep well. In fact, everything must be perfect for sheep to sleep soundly. Only when a good shepherd has cleaned them, disinfected them, led them to good pasture and clear water, and found them appropriate places of safety can sheep lie down and sleep well. Like sheep, for sound sleep and healthy rest, we need a good shepherd. Thankfully, God is in the restoring, renewing, reviving business.

The truth is, WE OFTEN FALL. What does falling look like? There are times we burn out, become apathetic and immobilized by exhaustion. We cry out, like the old TV ad, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” But why does it happen? Once again we get our cue from sheep. Sheep sometimes go belly up. They end up lying on their backs and cannot then get up. It’s called being “cast.” There they lie, their feet flailing in the air, lashing about. If no help comes soon, they will die from either suffocation or from an enemy attack.

Sheep become cast in, basically, three ways. First, they BECOME TOO COMFORTABLE. Sheep sometimes look for a soft hallow spot in the ground - a sort of natural resting place. Because it’s hallowed out, when they lie down it is all too easy for them to roll over onto their backs - and once on their backs, they are stuck – and all because they sought comfort.

It is so easy for us to want no demands, to crave only comfort. Perhaps that’s why Paul wrote (I Cor. 10:12): “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” Think of the rich young ruler who approached Jesus. He liked life the way it was, even though he wasn’t sure about eternal life. He just wasn’t willing to meet Jesus’ demands; they made him uncomfortable. In Rev. 3, we hear Jesus speaking to the church in Laodicea. Verse 17: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” Like them, it’s easy for us to have little enthusiasm, sense no urgency, and have no compassion for those who are broken or lost. It is so easy to be a mild Christian while facing little hardship, living an easy life, blocking out all demands, with no sense of surrender. We become so comfortable that we seek accommodation with the world’s mindset, give in, and compromise so as to avoid conflict and pressure. Then when a real challenge comes, when we are face to face with Jesus’ demands, we have no strength or desire to respond and we go belly up.

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