Rest

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Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT), “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

My spirit is confident in the finished work of Jesus. Yet, I still find myself feeling overwhelmed at times. Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like a hamster on a exercise wheel going round and round and not getting anywhere? Or maybe you thought you had finished your “to do” list only to find a million other things that need to be added? Maybe you are burdened with a big mortgage and not sure how you can make the payments. Sometimes it feel like you are a beast of burden that has an iron yoke around your neck. Possibly you are weary of work, any work, all work, work, work, work…

There is rest.

We aren’t under the Law any more, but there still remains a “Sabbath” rest for God’s people. The good news is that it isn’t a one day a week rest, it’s a full time, all the time rest.

Hebrews 4:9-11 (AMP), “So there remains a [full and complete] Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has once entered His rest has also rested from [the weariness and pain of] his [human] labors, just as God rested from [those labors uniquely] His own. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience [as those who died in the wilderness].”

More good news, the work that we do is to enter into His rest.

What? I know it doesn’t make sense, but seriously a lot of what God asks us or tells us to do doesn’t. Work to rest? A paradox. Just like a Lion is a Lamb, the Sinless One became sin, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How about this one, we surrender to get victory. We give up to get it all. I could keep going but you get the picture. Our minds are limited to our five senses. What we can see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Our body is bound by time, and laws of nature. That’s why we can’t use our minds to figure God out. We walk in and by Faith.

When we understand, a heart understanding, who God is, who we are, and what our place is in His plans, we can be confident that no matter how bad things look, how bad we mess up, how many bad choices we make, His plan doesn’t change. It takes off all of the pressure. We do go to work. We apply ourselves at our jobs, but they aren’t our source, God is, heaven is. It’s not us that has to change the world. We just do what God says, and He changes hearts. The pressure isn’t on our great witnessing, or lack of it. It all hinges on just getting in a right relationship with the Father and letting Him use us however He sees fit.

Just like peace isn’t the absence of war, rest isn’t the absence of work!

Both are conditions of the heart.

We can be at peace and rest in confidence that He loves us.

So, on those days that I feel harassed or overworked it’s because I forgot the most important “work”, fellowship with Him. Not lip service, not fast-food ordering up blessings, not praying for my four and no more, but taking time to share and to listen.

Honestly, starting your day with acknowledging Him as Lord and master, telling Him how much you love Him, and allowing Him to reciprocate, will make your day go so much smoother. Not perfect or stress free, just 99.9 percent better.

Try it.

Rest… In Daddy’s arms.

Today’s Prayer of Thanksgiving

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Lord, I love you. I thank you for loving me first. For seeing something in me that I couldn’t see. For creating me as the pearl of great price. Thank you for buying me back from your enemy and my enemy, from the one who hurt me, and used me cruelly. You brought me to Your Kingdom and clothed me, fed me and bound up my wounds. By your love you healed my heart and by your word you healed my mind. You placed mighty warrior angels around me for my protection and ministering spirits to help and sustain me. You gave me your Spirit as a constant companion to lead and guide me, and ever present help in times of confusion and trouble. You have taken away my nightmares and given me sweet sleep. My heart is at peace and my spirit is at rest. You have accepted me into the family of your loved ones. Given me a seat of honor at your banqueting table, in the presence of our enemies. Proving my worth and your love for me. I lake nothing that I need. You hold nothing back from me. There is not an enemies weapon that can touch me, no harm no illness, no evil thing. You have shut the mouths of the lions and you walk with me through the fire- not allowing it to burn, or even touch me. You raise your banner of love over me as a sign that I belong to you. You have given me a new name. Your name. I am yours and you are mine. Lord, I love you.

What Does God Want?

Really, what does He want? You could ask dozens of people and get dozens of different answers. Those answers would range from- obedience, praise and worship, money (tithes and offerings), time, energy, loyalty, attention, commitment, and the list could go on. All of those things are true, but doesn’t that make God sound like some ego-maniacal, dictator who lounges on a throne demanding attention and glory? Who wants that for a Father?
Simply put, God wants you. I know cliché. But He wants your heart. He asks all of those other things from you because those things benefit us. Let’s break this down a little. God doesn’t need your money, but He asks us to give 10% (tithe for the running of the Church and the support of the staff) and offerings (to help others), because He knows that “if we give, it will be given back to us”. (Luke 6:38). Also when we give to God, He promises to “Open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing” (Mal 3:10). God wants us to praise Him because praise “stills the enemy and the avenger” (Ps 8:2), it makes Satan shut up and stops his actions against us. He asks us to work because He works with us (I Cor. 3:9). He doesn’t sit while we work, in fact “He works while we wait.” We work because the Church toilets need cleaning, those little noses in nursery need wiped. Those things bring us together as a family.
God is love! He doesn’t just possess, show, or talk about love, He is love. It is the very nature of God (I John 4:7). That’s why He loves everyone. He loves the drug addict, the prostitute, the serial killer, the child molester, everyone! But don’t be deceived they are not His children, or part of His family. His children are the ones who have surrendered their lives to Him. Those are the ones he promises to take care of. Because He is love and He wants all to be His children, He asks us to work together with Him to build His family. He doesn’t want this love to remain one sided. What does it benefit them if He loves them, but they never experience love for Him? Those others who have Satan as their father (and they don’t even know it), they need to be reached. They need to know God’s love. How can they be reached if we aren’t co-laboring with Christ.
Our ‘work’ for God, those things all mentioned in the first paragraph, and any other thing God may have asked of us, should come out of our love for God. If they are coming out a sense of obligation, duty or fear, the motivation is wrong. Even worse if they are coming out of self-righteousness and pride, it’s going to be harmful to you instead of helpful. What motivates your work? It’s easy to “grow weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) if we have the wrong attitude. I know I’ve been there. I’ve screamed in my head, “What do you want from me!” on more than one occasion. I had allowed the thoughts to take root in my heart that I was doing so much for him already, but that somehow that wasn’t enough, that He was demanding more. That I was lacking. Those are just a bunch of ugly lies, God doesn’t demand, we have a choice. At my worst moments of fear, illness, weakness and depression, God patiently reminded me that He loved me, that He wasn’t asking for a slave (being forced), but that He wanted a daughter who served from a heart of thankfulness and love. I had gone back to Egypt (slavery) when He wanted me in the Promised Land (a place of rest, provision and peace).
God showed His love for us through the ugliness and the shame on the cross. Jesus not only poured out His life’s blood on that tree, but also His great love and longing for us. When we know Him, (not know about Him with our reasoning mind, but know Him intimately in our hearts), we understand what He wants. He wants a relationship with Him, two way conversations, and fellowship. He wants us to spend time with Him, not in work or service but in relationship. Get these pictures in your head. First think about how you feel when your child obediently cleans their room, to the best of their ability. Now think of your little one sitting on your lap, with each of their little hands on either side of your face, looking into your eyes, and saying “I love you”. Which one touches you more?
Sure their room needs cleaned and we have to teach them responsibility, it’s for their own good after all (sounding familiar?), but first we want their love. The Church needs cleaned, bills need paid, and the lost need reached. But first and most importantly we need to accept God’s love for us, and love Him back, build a better relationship with Him. We don’t do that by work, but by sitting in His lap. All of those other things will get done and with the right motivation. Sounds easier, freer, and way more fun!
“Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3

Sitters and Chasers

I went to a graduation at a small Christian school last night. I used to teach there and the single high school graduate had been one of my students for five years. I see her every Sunday and Wednesday at Church and the couple of days a week I volunteer, at the school in the office and the kitchen. But all of a sudden, last night, in her cap and gown, up on stage, giving her speech, she looked different. She was grown up. She wasn’t sitting in the class room waiting to graduate. She was done-she’s gone from a sitter to a chaser. Off to college in a big city in the fall, chasing her dreams. My prayer for her is that she doesn’t randomly run after whatever sparkles and looks enticing, but that she sits and listens to that still small voice as well. Time spent chasing rainbows is wasted time. Time spent chasing out destiny, is time well used.

 

After the ceremony, the little ones sang and did hand bells, super cute, 3, 4, and 5 year olds. After wards, mothers and fathers were chasing little ones down, trying to get pictures. Grandmas and Grandpas were sitting, and watching, proud of their families. Two mothers sat their three year olds next to each other on chairs for a picture. A little blonde princess in an orange dress the dark little gentleman in his vest and tie, everyone stared and smiled. She leaned in and put her head on his shoulder, he put his tongue in his cheek and got that ‘deer in the headlights’ look. The princess’s father laughed! The mothers, grandmothers, well pretty much any woman who stood there smiled at the cuteness of it all. Latter, I was thinking of the difference in boys and girls. Boys are chasers, because they love to be chased. Girls are sitters, because they love to be caught. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well that way. The boys run by and practically beg to be chased (they really don’t want to be caught, just chased) and the girls sit and look at them, longing to be captured (and they hate running in their princess dresses and glass slippers).

Sitters and Chasers. Some of us sit and watch the world pass us by. Some of us chase it down and demand all we can get out of it, only to find that it wasn’t what we really wanted, the fun was in the chase, not the capture. We look at what we caught, what we hold in our hand with a death grip, refusing to give up what we worked so hard for, only to see that it is fool’s gold. Can’t we be both? Do we only have to choose to either sit, or chase? I say yes! Sit first; hear what God has planned for you. Then when he shows you the path, run! Don’t look back to see who’s running with you, don’t look to the left or the right to see what other paths are being taken, just go for it. Sometimes, we get to sit for a spell, rest up, recalculate (like Lola-the voice of my garmen), but we always have to get back up. I guess we even slow down at times, when the road gets scary, and the path gets hairy, but still…move ahead.