A Special Rest

Hebrews 4:6-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”[a]

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest[b] still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Rest.

It’s almost become a cuss word in the American culture.

“Take a day off? Are you kidding me? ! I have WAY too much to do! There’s so much work and so little time!”

From the beginning of creation, God made a way for His people to rest from their labor. As a good Father does, He led by example. God didn’t need to rest on the 7th day, (He’s all sufficient in Himself!) but He knew that we would need rest for our body and soul.

Earthly rest.

Before the foundations of the earth God also made another type of rest. Scripture refers to it as a “special rest.” When our earthly bodies cease to exist and we move into our heavenly home, we will enter eternal rest as we worship God all day and all night, forever and ever.

Eternal rest.

But what about today? Why does this earthly rest elude us? The writers of Hebrews give us the clue, which unlocks the mystery: the word of God exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Failure to rest on the 7th day exposes our disobedience. Our actions speak what our heart believes:

“I’m more than able than you, the Creator of the universe, to work 7 days straight.”

“I don’t trust that you will provide all my needs (and my wants), so I have to get my hours in to pay the bills.”

“I don’t love you with all my heart. I love others more, so I refuse to say “no” to what what they ask or expect of me.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, exhausted, or over worked, I encourage you to be still. Know God. Ask the Lord to cut between your soul & spirit to expose your innermost thoughts and desires. Then confess, repent, be forgiven and enter in to His perfect rest. IMG_2397 copy

Matthew 11:28-30 New Living Translation (NLT)

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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.

 

 

 

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Thorns, Cares & Riches

Matthew 13:22 (KJV)

 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Every summer, when I was a little girl, my mother would require my older sister and I to weed “the hill.”

Begrudgingly, we’d wake up in the wee morning hours to avoid the heat of the Southern California sun at midday, put on our garden gloves and start digging & pulling thorns out from the MASSIVE hill. (I may over-exaggerate a bit….but when you’re a kid, everything seems MASSIVE doesn’t it?!)

After several days of digging & pulling, “the hill” would be restored to its original beautiful landscape.

But you know what? By the next summer, we’d be out there digging & pulling MORE stinkin’ thorns!

Ugh.

Such is the case with children of God. We get saved and God gives us a glimpse of the beautiful landscape that He has planned for our lives. We soon discover, however, that as we seek His Kingdom, He begins to reveal hidden thorns that the enemy has planted on our hill! Yet, by His grace, we can believe His promise to deliver us and we can wake up in the wee morning hours, put on our garden gloves, and ask Him to start digging & pulling the cares & riches out!

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for cares as merimna: “to draw in different direction, distract…that which causes a care, especially an anxious care.” Cares of the world can be any thorn the enemy plants in our mind that convinces us to believe a lie, instead of God’s truth. We can be distracted and anxious over our marriage, our children, our friends, our position at work, our position in the church- all of which choke out the Word, as people & position become more important to us than our Lord and Savior. Cares believe the lie that without the relationship or position, we won’t be loved or accepted. In short, we’ll be abandoned and alone.

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for riches as pluotos: “wealth, money, possessions, abundance…used evilly.” Basically, it’s any tangible thing that we own which was obtained with a greedy heart. Riches believe the lie that God will not provide everything we need. It justifies “wants” as “needs.”

Our church just finished a sermon series on The Parables of the Four Soils in Matthew 13. Although it isn’t yet summer here in North Carolina (even though some days it feels like it!), the seed that I received from those teachings encouraged me to wake up in the wee morning hours, put on my garden gloves, and dig into the rich soil of God’s Word. I’ve come to realize that the enemy’s thorns will continue trying to choke out Truth to keep His Spirit from producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in my life. BUT, I don’t need to worry, because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. His Spirit will lead me into all Truth. When I seek Him, I will find Him. When I ask Him, He will reveal any cares of this world & deceitfulness of riches that have taken root in my soul. When I confess my sin to Him, He will forgive me. And if that weren’t enough, He’ll even restore my hill to its intended beauty.

Is your life producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any hidden thorns that are choking out His Word. Confess, repent and forgive for believing the lies associated with cares & riches. Choose to trust God in all things- and watch as He restores the landscape of your life into His intended beauty.

When you see Me

John 12:44-46

44 Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. 45 For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.

As a child, did you ever awaken in the middle of the night after a bad dream and cry out “daddy…daddy I NEED you!?”

Why do we choose to remain alone in the dark when we become adults? Why do we stop crying out to our Father for help?

We refuse to humble ourselves and pray.

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

Despite the fact that I realize prayer can eclipse the darkness around- and in me, it’s still not always my first weapon of choice. Instead, I often rely on my superior intellect and abilities to light my candle so that I can find the fastest, easiest way out of the dark.

Case in point:

IMG_0218As our family boarded an Airbus A321 during the wee morning hours last Saturday to travel to our vacation destination, I was once again consumed with worry. “What if there’s another terrorist attack? What if the pilot has mental illness and crashes the plane? What if we hit unexpected turbulence and fall from the sky? What will I do? How will I comfort our children?”

As I tried to rationalize these fears with statistics (you know the one about being more likely to die in a car accident that on an airplane?) I heard the Holy Spirit whisper “I am with you….”

Would I trust Him, or myself?

Thankfully, I chose Him.

But just to make sure that He was on that plane, this daughter cried out “daddy, daddy…I NEED you- please show me where you are!” When I looked towards the center aisle I saw Him (not physically, but in the Spirit) sitting on the floor, with the biggest grin, shouting “this is gonna be FuuuuUN!” I chuckled after I noticed the fighter pilot glasses He was wearing and control yoke He was holding to fly the plane (He looked a bit like Snoopy, aboard his red doghouse!!!).

IMG_0226As we flew south like birds for winter, the light of the sun began to rise and penetrate the darkness inside the aircraft. Simultaneously, the light of the Son began to rise and penetrate the darkness inside my soul. And once again, I was able to know that HE is God, that HE is in control, that HE holds the keys to death and the grave…. and when its time for me to die physically, HE will be with me- and then, then I will spend all of eternity praising the One who sent Him!

Today’s Trouble

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

IMG_5157This morning, as I walked through our unfinished kitchen to make myself a cup of strong coffee I laughed as I looked out the window and saw large snowflakes cascading down from heaven. “20% chance, huh?” I said to myself. “Well, GREAT- I suppose this means the contractor and cabinet installer won’t be coming to finish the job today!!!”

As the text messages and emails began coming in, confirming my assumptions that everything was cancelled, I continued to try to laugh off the worry creeping into my mind. “Will this renovation ever end? When and how am I going to reschedule all this stuff….I’m already over booked as it is!!!”

Pause.

Retreat to my secret place to read His Word and talk to Him.

Ok. All better.

Really?

No.

I then picked up the book my mom recently loaned me and began reading another chapter of Kay Warren’s “Choose Joy Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.” I even stopped to type, print, and post the following quote on our dry erase board to convince myself to stop worrying:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

Ok. All better.

Really?

No.

I went back to the kitchen (did I mention, its still not finished, after nearly 6 weeks?!?) for a snack and to gaze out the window at the beauty of His creation, covered in a blanket of white. With a full tummy, I returned to my secret place to watch the little birds hopping around the backyard, pecking through the snow for their snack. Then it hit me:

LOOK AT THE BIRDS!!!! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (emphasis mine)

Why do I worry? It’s because I don’t trust God. Instead, I rebel against Him by allowing my fear (fear of losing valuable time, fear of not being able to get everything done, fear of disappointing others, fear of losing control of….everything!!!) to dominate my mind, will and emotions. But yet, even though I continue to sin against My Father, He takes the time out of His VERY busy schedule to show me, through the majesty of His creation, that I am far more valuable to Him than the little birds.

As the revelation of His truth began melting into my soul, like the snowflakes that will soon disappear when the temperature begins to rise, I realized that tomorrow will bring enough worries of its own. So, today I choose to sit right here in my secret place and stare out the window at the millions of tiny snowflakes lying all over our yard and praise the One who continues to remind me to trust Him…..in everything.