Rest Comes with Love

Rest Comes with Love

Daily Reading: (Psalm 127:1-2):

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those He loves.”

“How can I rest with what is happening in my life” is a common question that I get asked from time to time. The answer is the reason you can rest (no matter what is happening in your life) is because you have received His love for you (Psalm 127:2).

Did you know this is the only Psalm that is ascribed as being written by Solomon? What is incredible here is we have the Lord building the house- this is in no doubt referencing Solomon finishing building the Temple. David had the desire to do this for the Lord, but ultimately God determined it would be Solomon to get the job done. In verse 2 when it says that “God grants sleep to those He loves”, this monumental task that was left to Solomon by his father David could have caused him sleepless nights, but instead, God gives Solomon rest. Such a great task would take such great wisdom and this is what God gave Solomon while he slept so that the work would be done. As Solomon wrote, it was the Lord who build the house.

What is it that keeps you up at night? Is it all the things you need to get done the next day? Maybe you are worried about all the crazy things that are currently happening in your life or just generally what is happening in the world today. Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest” (Luke 12:25-26)? Worrying does not help you, it makes things worse for you.

Resting is not inactivity. Rest is what leads to great activity. Rest in Jesus will always result in Holy Spirit-directed activity. How we live a life of rest, as opposed to a life of stress, happens when we become conscious of God’s supply to us. When you don’t see the supply, and the One who is supplying you for what He is calling you to, you will worry and will not enter into rest.

Who are those whom God loves? I ask this question because Solomon says, God “gives His beloved sleep.” Who is His beloved? Every believer in Jesus. Because we are in Christ, we are His beloved (Ephesians 1:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Let God be the one who builds it for you. Let God be the one to guard your health, your career, and your marriage. Don’t worry about your needs, instead, give your cares to God because you are His beloved child, and receive rest. Know that He is working on your situation.

The Bible teaches us what we can do when we find ourselves in a puzzling or troubling situation and when the thoughts of defeat start to creep in and threaten our rest. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den at night. What did he do?

“Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:23).

When there was nothing he could do, Daniel “believed in God,” and he came out of the lion’s den in the morning “and no injury whatever was found on him.” When you don’t understand your situation, believe in the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He loves you and He is your good father. 

Solomon received wisdom, not when he was awake, but when he was sleeping at night. Our night seasons can be the best time to receive teaching and instruction from the Lord. What this looks like practically is when the devil wants to keep you awake at night, use that time to dive into God’s Word.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).

Success is found in Jesus. Jesus is our success. See Jesus as your good success, know you have God’s favor and love, and believe that He is working all things together for your good, making your path prosperous.

Many times, God changes your spirit before He changes your circumstances. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. As those things prosper it translates into good health.

Did you know that when you sleep God gives you more than just rest? “He gives His beloved sleep” has also been interpreted by scholars to mean “God gives to His beloved as he sleeps.” Be established in the Lord’s deep love for you and as you do you will find rest and peace in your soul.

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It’s Your Turn

Your Turn

Daily Reading: (Psalm 34:14):

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

From the moment you were first able to walk, you probably heard a list of things to avoid doing. “Don’t touch that, don’t eat that, don’t go over there”.

What the Psalmist is saying in the Old Testament to God’s people living under the Law was to turn from evil. The Hebrew word that is used in Psalm 34:14 means to depart. In the Old Testament days when evil was present or the opportunity to do evil appeared, the instruction was to depart from it. This way you won’t be tempted by it. But we are living in a different time, “in the last days”. Jesus said in Matthew 24:37, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” What this means is the days will be filled with more and more evil. It seems departing from evil would become more difficult to do.

2 Timothy 3:1 says, “Remember this! There will be many troubles in the last days.”

In the Old Testament, the instruction was to depart from evil and to do good.  But now, when you depart from evil one way, there is evil another way. There are many troubles everywhere. The good news is we have been equipped not to depart from evil but to fight back against evil (Ephesians 6:10-13). Thank God for this truth because you can only run for so long and you can only turn so much.

Consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in multiple places:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Living in the Old Testament, saints didn’t have the Holy Spirit within them. The New Covenant had not yet been initiated because Christ still needed to die. Christ had to defeat sin and death and give us His victorious righteous life. Without Christ’s life, we were not clothed in His robes of righteousness, nor did we have the spiritual armor and weapons to fight against the spiritual forces of darkness. The Old Testament saints only strategy against evil was turn, depart, run away from it. But now we don’t run, we stand our ground. We are equipped for victory over evil.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

We all have weapons against the war on evil. We have swords, but we have to hold them, we have to use them to sharpen them. How do we do this? Ephesians 6:17 says, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” As we get into God’s Word, we are taking out our swords (Ephesians 6:17), we are ready not only to defend ourselves against the attacks from the enemy (the lies he tells us), but to fight back too. The armor of God in Ephesians 6:10–20 shows us that right believing in all that Jesus has done will always lead us to victory. It is your turn to stand your ground with God’s Word, and to actually move forward on the attack where you start to demolish strongholds the enemy has put in place in the lives of the people that you love.

I wanted to share another verse about the days we live in being evil and what is said for us living in those days:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

When you are led by His wisdom, the Lord can protect you from making unwise decisions. How do we live wise? The answer comes with the very next verse: “Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). You live wise (15) by making the most of every opportunity (16). “Make the Most” (exagorazō) was a metaphor of Christ freeing the elect from the dominion of the Mosaic Law at the price of his vicarious death. Paul is simply saying to be careful to not fall into the trap of living under the bondage of the Law. Live free in the grace you have been given through the death of Jesus Christ. That is wise living. That is what it means to make the most of every opportunity. This is how you live a victorious life where you don’t have to run from evil, but you fight back against it equipped with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. This is what it means to put on the full armor of God, this is what it means to set captives free with the message of the Gospel, this is wise living. The key to reigning in life is to actively receive the abundant life.  

We know the days are evil but we can make the most of this opportunity. There are many battles to be won. With God on our side how can we lose? Spend time in God’s Word, fill your mind with right believing as see yourself as you truly are, more than a conqueror in Christ.

Firm in the Faith

Daily Reading: 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, 13-14:

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”

So, Corinthians about the collection (special offering) taken up to support struggling Christians in other places- don’t become weary in doing good. There is an opportunity right now, we are called to do good to all people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 16:1, Galatians 6:9-10).

As they view their possessions properly, they will recognize the divine opportunity before them to give freely to help those in need (1 Corinthians 16:3).

The paradox of law is that it provides the strongest possible incentive for you to work (God will punish you if you don’t), yet little gets done (widows died). And the wonder of grace is that there are no sticks and carrots (God loves you regardless of what you do), yet much gets done (widows provided for) and the world is changed.

Now, to the intriguing portion of text that stands out from the rest that is written. You could drop this almost into any text and would fit.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”

The more I studied these instructions that just seem to be dropped almost out of nowhere, the better I understood these instructions tie into helping those in need.

5 Spiritual Ways to be Prepared to Give

#1 Be on Your Guard… of what? One thing would be the failure of love of the brethren.

#2 Be persistent in trusting God. God gave you what you have so continue to trust Him as you give.

#3 Be Courageous. Use spiritual maturity in a physical drought to be brave. Another way to look at this, is the famine provides the opportunity to display courage in the Lord. How? By giving to help other believers.

#4 Be Strong or to increase in strength. In the midst of a famine it is possible in the Lord to increase in your strength, increase in your health, and I believe it is a byproduct of giving.

#5 Do Everything in Love

The practical physical way to be prepared to give:- “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” The spiritual way to be prepared to give, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”

 

Everything is Possible

Daily Reading: Mark 9:23:

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

When they looked up from the mess they were in, they were amazed to find the answer to their problems, not in themselves, but in the Lord (Mark 9:15).

In order to properly understand the story in Mark 9, imagine you are one of the nine disciples who did not make the journey up the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. A father brings his son to you, the boy has a seizure right in front of you, demonic forces at work in this instance, and you can’t heal him. How would you react? Would you;

  1. a) conclude that it’s not God’s will to heal all the sick?
    (b) tell the father that God can heal but He is not going to heal your son right at this moment – maybe in eternity?
    (c) speculate that the son has some unconfessed sin in his life?
    (d) declare that the boy is healed even though he is still writhing on the ground?
    (e) be puzzled

Matthew’s Gospel gives us the answer to the disciples response: “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matthew 17:19).

Jesus’ answer to their question of why they could not drive out the demon and heal the boy may surprise you. It may also answer questions you have about why more people aren’t healed today. So why did the disciples fail to heal this boy? Contrary to what you may have heard, the answer is not their faith but their unbelief.

Note that some translations interpret “unbelief” as “little faith.” So Jesus’ answer in verse 20 begins, “Because of your little faith.” But this is a poor translation that makes Jesus sound like He’s contradicting Himself. The Greek word for unbelief (apistia) in the passage above is the same word used by the boy’s father when he says, “help my unbelief.”

Some translators equate unbelief with little faith, but Jesus clearly says right after this “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Little faith is not the issue. If little faith can move a mountain, it can surely heal one small boy. It’s not about the size of your faith but whether your faith is handicapped by doubt and unbelief.

With the seizing boy, the father, like many of us, wanted God to take responsibility for the healing. “Lord, help us!” Yet Jesus said, “If you have faith, you can heal him.” We think healing the sick is God’s job, but He wants us to do it in Jesus’ name (Mark 16:18).

Why was unbelief a problem for the disciples in this case?

In his book You’ve Already Got It, Wommack identifies three different kinds of unbelief.

1)There’s unbelief that arises from ignorance

(“I didn’t know God heals the sick”)

2) unbelief that arises from bad theology

(“I don’t believe God heals the sick any more”)

3) and unbelief that arises from our natural senses

(“look at the size of that tumor!”).

How do we deal with unbelief? Starve it!

And He replied to them, “This kind (of unbelief) cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)

Unbelief that arises from ignorance and bad theology can be corrected by showing people the truth (Mark 6:6), but overcoming natural unbelief may require prayer and fasting. If the Internet is fueling your doubts, then stay off the Internet! If your “faith sense” is dull because of your natural appetites, then curb your appetites.

“Your prayer and fasting doesn’t move God. Neither does it move the devil. Fasting and prayer moves you. It affects you… You don’t have a faith problem. What you have is an unbelief problem. Instead of trying to build bigger and bigger faith, we need to stop feeding unbelief (God Wants You Well, p.121,124).