Who among us does not enjoy a lively conversation with a group of likeminded people with an occasional ‘we’ll agree to disagree‘ but still look forward to the next meeting of the minds? But who among us does not also enjoy time with that one special person in your life? There’s no comparison with group chat and intimate fellowship with one, just the two of you. You know each other so well that sometimes there’s no need for words, just solitude enjoying each other’s company. That’s worth more than all the riches in the world. Do you have such a friend in the group chat department?
Jesus enjoyed group chats, as a matter of fact, everywhere He went He attracted a crowd. He also had zoom meetings before it was ever a thing. We get excited when we connect with someone far away through technology, but Jesus demonstrated this when He told a puzzled Nathanael of the character traits evident in him. Nathanael asked, “how do you know me?” Jesus said through zoom. I saw you sitting under a tree before Philip approached you. Pretty cool isn’t it? John 1:48 Jesus of course was only doing what He saw His Father do. Jeremiah 1:5; John 5:19-20
Even after Jesus chose the twelve who would make up His inner circle, He often went away by Himself to be alone with His Father. This is the example He has set for us. Group chats are great and may serve a purpose, but never ignore alone time with your special Friend. Group chats do not allow for intimacy and vulnerability. Alone time allows us to be ourselves, this is a judgment free zone. This was the one place where Jesus was able to escape being pulled on, criticized and sometimes lied about. This was where He was refreshed and reconnected with Home. Whenever He returned from those moments the supernatural happened.
“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”
Matthew 14:22-27, 34-36 ESV
He had just finished ministering to thousands and feeding them miraculously. After sending them away, He went to be alone with the Father in prayer. If Jesus felt the need to be alone with God to pray, why aren’t we doing the same thing? This wasn’t a five second looking at His watch kind of prayer. We can’t accomplish the things He did with a microwave prayer life. By the time He finished communing with the Father it was early morning. That’s when the wind whipped up the waves, which is very common on the Lake of Galilee. The translators call it a sea, but it’s actually a large freshwater lake. Fresh off His time in prayer, Jesus didn’t need a boat. What’s interesting is that He could just as easily have met them on the other side, He chose instead to walk on the water-Demonstrating that everything is subject to Him. When we pray, when we get off group chats and make time to be alone with Jesus, we too can do what we see Him do. Do you know why Peter is the only person to walk on water? The other eleven and us are too chicken to try. We have already sunk in our minds so it will never happen.
Disillusionment, anxiety, stress, burnout, fear, loss of direction especially in ministry, is rooted in group chat mentality. Too many boards, too many chiefs, too many meetings, too many opinions. When do pastors get time to be alone with Jesus? Studying for a sermon is not alone time. I admire those who take sabbatical. I believe it’s important for their mental health. Jesus led by example. And we should all follow it. You cannot be refreshed on the run. Let the others go on ahead. You stay back, spend time alone with the One who called you to His service. Stay as long as is necessary. When you emerge, you’ll walk on water. Maybe not literally, even though it’s not impossible for us, but you will be so refreshed that miracles will begin to happen. Not only did they get to the other side, many people were healed.
The apostle Paul was one who followed that example. After his supernatural conversion, he departed to a desert place in Arabia for three years. Why don’t we let him tell us in his own words?
“Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.”
Galatians 1:1-5, 10-18 ESV
He stayed away from group chats for three years until he received what he needed to carry out his assignment. You who have read his writings, must admit that Paul’s encounter with Jesus exceeded through revelation, what those walking physically with Him did not. His spiritual influence came from being alone with Jesus in Arabia. Even when he joined the group chat, he limited his time with them. He even called out Peter in a chat room because he was being hypocritical. Galatians 2:11. Time spent in fellowship with Jesus gives us clarity and insight into the Father’s will on earth. That’s all Jesus cared about and that's all we should be about. If you need direction for your life, Get off the group chats, and get alone with Jesus. Jesus didn’t mind the chat rooms, but He was always looking for that one. The woman at the well, the man with the legion of demons, the widow of Nain, Zacchaeus, the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, the man born blind.(you may look up the scripture references) Faith moved Him but He never found it in a crowd. The crowds were followers, they weren’t touchers. That’s why He always brought attention to the touchers, remarking about their faith. Luke 8:43-48; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 8:9; Luke 17:11-19; Luke 18:35-43
Will your faith be evident in the chat room? Will He be able to sense virtue being pulled from Him to you? If your faith isn’t working in the crowd, then you need some alone time with Jesus. If you’re not making an impact, if you’ve lost your influence, your joy in service to the Lord. Leave the group chat, go be refreshed. Let the Word and His presence recharge your spiritual battery. Jesus did, Paul did and we must. All these messages are birthed in my quiet moments. The time set apart exclusively for Him. Moments that aren’t rushed. We don’t hear or listen well in a crowd. There’s too much going on. Too many things vying for our attention. I’ll close with words from my quiet moments with Him.
My presence makes you think differently and act differently, and even changes your physical appearance. My glory transforms you from the inside out. Like the beautifying oils given to Esther, the oil of My Spirit seeps into your spirit, soul and body-much deeper and more life-changing than anything money can buy. When your heart is yielded to Me, you release the fragrance of heaven effortlessly. Many will see the result of My working in your life and know that you have been transformed by the glory of My presence. This is never experienced in a group chat room. And never hurriedly. Jesus taught us by example. It’s your turn…
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
November 19, 2021