Archive for October, 2013

ENTER INTO HIS REST (Pt. 4)

“He said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:12 NIV)

A friend shared with me the story of a man Whom God rescued from spiritual and ministry burnout. Someone recognized the signs of defeat and discouragement. Giving them the care and encouragement needed, they went on to become quite a useful vessel in the LORD.

SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION

In Isaiah 28, God diagnosed Israel’s spiritual declension as a condition brought about by ignoring His rhythm of rest. Later on, they would be sent into 70 years of captivity due to ignoring God’s Sabbath rest for themselves and the Land (Selah). Pushing past the season the Lord provides for intended rest can lead to spiritual depression and even destroy our usefulness in the kingdom of God. ELIJAH The scripture tells the story of Elijah following the great duel with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19). He haven been hidden for three years after daring to come before wicked king Ahab & confronting him with his wickedness. After this he meets 450 prophets of Baal to settle the issue for Israel as to whom they would serve, the idol Baal? Or the LORD God of Israel? We know that Elijah won the battle, God answered by fire from heaven. Seizing the spiritual momentum he dispatched the 450 prophets of Baal. The wicked queen Jezebel hears of what he has done and threatens to kill Elijah!

HIDDEN IN THE ROCK

Feeling all alone in the battle; physically and emotionally depleted, he heads for the hills (Actually the hill of God). Wise man. Like David, he finds his rest refuge in God. “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2 NIV) On his way to meet with the LORD God, he being exhausted and depressed leaves his servant behind. Perhaps, this was not the best decision in his spiritual crisis. Even our Lord Jesus desired spiritual companionship in the garden of Gethsemane. He also understood the strength and encouragement a spiritual partner can be in ministry. “If one can chase a thousand, two can put ten thousand to flight”(Deuteronomy?). Elijah goes on alone, feeling friendless and dejected.

HEAVEN’S VISITATION

The LORD is near to the broken hearted and to those who are discouraged. He sent His angels on the way to meet Elijah, while he rested; feeding Him with angel food cake. In time of physical and spiritual depletion, let us not neglect the promises of God. They are the words and food of heaven, which sustains the weary spirit and will lift the soul. Elijah was allowed to rest and be physically replenished on his journey to God. There he would gain his equilibrium and be prepared to pass his mantle to the next generation.

A SEASON OF REST

Our Lord Jesus knows our frame and understands the load we carry for Him. Mark records: “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32 NIV)

We have entered into a time of many great battles. Pay attention to the rhythm and season of rest needed in your life and ministry calling. As someone once observed, “A bow always strung will lose its elasticity”.

 

(c) Copyright 2013, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared provided it is not altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.

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ENTER INTO HIS REST(Pt. 3)

Sometimes finding a place of rest can be quite challenging. If we are honest about the fast paced lifestyles that the culture helps us buy into, the notion of rest can seem paradoxical. We fight to find the time to rest! In the natural things of life this is certainly true. But it is equally true in the spiritual side of things as well. It requires the effort of faith to enter into a place of rest. But where do we start?

THE LORD OUR SHEPHERD

Let’s start where David started. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:1,2 NIV). Finding our rest in the Lord as our Shepherd means that we recognize, like sheep, how vulnerable we are without Him. He is our peace and our place of rest in the stress and chaos of life. As we learn to stay close to our Shepherd, the nearness of His presence brings the calm we need in the midst of our enemies. He will guide and He will provide a place of repose for us. How tragic it can be if we do not turn to the LORD to take advantage of His provision, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it”(Isaiah 30:15 NIV).

MISSING OUR REST

We can miss our rest in God by misunderstanding His ways in our life. Recall how Israel after having been delivered from Pharaoh & Egyptian under Moses’ leadership failed to enter their Land. This was due to 3 events in their wilderness history. (1st)Marah(Exodus 14). Israel encountered “bitter waters”, which reflected their own heart condition. They no doubt carried the bitter effects of the harsh treatment while slaves in Egypt. God brought them to the waters of Marah to deal with all that was inside of them in order that they could move forward. Bitterness and unforgiveness will keep you from your promised rest. (2nd) Meribah (Psalm 95:8a). Israel quarreled with Moses because they did not like the way God was leading them. Ultimately, they were to discover that the shortest route was the longest way round! Never pick a fight with the Lord…Especially, when it seems that your way of doing things seems better! It will only make the journey to your rest a longer journey. (3rdly) Massah(Psalm 95b). This was the place of unbelief (See Hebrews 3:12,18-19). They failed to “mix God’s promises with faith”. They put their limitations onto a limitless God. The Lord is not limited by our limitations.

HEAVEN’S CURRENCY

Faith is the only currency used in heaven. When we let doubt, fear, worry and unbelief control our movements we get stuck in the past. And we discover that we neither are able to move in the present nor enter into God’s land of rest for our future.

THE REST OF CONQUEST

Joshua (In type) brought the children of Israel into the land of rest. With the help of the LORD God, 31 kings were defeated along the way to their inheritance. The good news is that our Joshua(Yeshua) wants to give us victory over all that opposes our entering into our inherited land of rest. He waits to do so IN us, THROUGH us and WITH us (See Philippians 1:6). Like Joshua, He leads us into battle. “The LORD gave them rest on every side…Not one of all the promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled”(Joshua 21:43-45).

May we stand in faith, hope and persistence until we find our rest in Him. “Since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it”(Hebrews 4:1 NIV).

 

© Copyright 2013, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared provided that it is not sold or altered in anyway from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.

ENTER INTO HIS REST(Pt.2)

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it'”(Genesis 28:16 NIV).

Jacob tricked his bother Esau out of his birthright and the blessing of his father, Isaac. As a result, his brother swore he’d kill him for his treachery. So Jacob, who valued and obtained what Esau had despised, runs for his life! Finding himself, as it were, in “No man’s land” and weary from his journey, he takes a stone for a pillow and lays down to rest. He slept and had a dream that would change his destiny. He encounters God.

THE IN BETWEEN PLACE

Like, Jacob’s journey, we discover our true purpose while in the “in between place” of life. Determined to leave where we’ve been (with all the risks), not having arrived at our desired destiny, we need to take a break and rest. The key to where we want to be and where we are at in the circumstances of life begins when we “Cease striving and know that He is God”(Psalm 46:10). Or as Corrie Ten Boon wrote, “Don’t wrestle…nestle!”

THE VALUE OF REST

Whether the need in our life is for physical rest or spiritual rest there is great benefit. Jacob discovers the God of His father, Isaac, and makes certain commitments he would not otherwise have made. “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. And he was afraid and said, How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel…Then Jacob made a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my fathers house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be Gods house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You” (Genesis 28:16-22 NKJV). He thought was all-alone. He realized he was not alone. God was with him on the journey. He also discovered that he had “open heavens”. He understood that the angels of God were doing heaven’s bidding in the unseen realm in the earth. In other words, the business of heaven was being carried out even while he slept.

REST IN FAITH

We too must rest in faith with the knowledge that God is on His throne and never sleeps nor slumbers. He watches over His own. We must stop being “the great pretenders” as if God’s universe will fall apart with out help. We can roll over and sleep in His faithful, loving arms.

BETHEL

One more thing Jacob discovered was “Bethel”. Bethel means “House of God”. His grandfather, Abraham, had met God at Bethel and returned there when he had lost his way (See Genesis 13:3-4). Bethel is the meeting place with God. Like Abraham, we need to return to the house of God. And like Jacob, we must encounter “El-Bethel”, the God of the House. Ultimately, when we have found our resting place in God, then He can find His dwelling place in us. “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation, And her saints shall shout aloud for joy” (Psalm 132:13-16 NKJV).

(c) Copyright 2013, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.

ENTER INTO GOD’S REST

“There remains a rest for the people of God”(Hebrews 4:9 NJKV).

Adam was created on the sixth day of creation (Genesis 1:26-28,31) in order to enjoy God’s seventh day of creation. The number six in the Bible is indicative of that which is incomplete. Seven is a number which indicates that which is complete or finished.  Seven was God’s day of rest. “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:2, 3 NKJV).
GOD’S CREATION ORDER
God’s created mankind so that they would fully enter into a joyful labor with their LORD.  One of the consequences of their disobedience (The fall) was that the rhythm of His rest was broken in their lives.  As a result, they would not merely labor but “toil” in their labor.  In other words, what was intended to cause them to receive the produce from the ground would be achieved by “the sweat” of their brow.  It  would be gained with difficulty and  human struggle(See Genesis 3:17,19).

There has never been a day like the day in which we live. We are witnesses to the reality of Adam’s choice to rebel against his Creator.  The more determined we are to run our own lives our own way, apart from God, the more frustrated and restless we have become.  Good enough is just “not good enough”.  We are conditioned by media hype that has convinced us in to believing that yesterday’s purchase cannot possibly make us content when “a newer, faster” gadget is available.  So the faster we run after “things” and “labor saving devices” the further behind we get!   Solomon in his wisdom expressed it well, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.(Ecclesiastes 2:11 NKJV).  Labor apart from God may for the moment seem pleasant but in the end we come up empty,weary and spent.
GOD’S RESTORATION
God has a solution for life’s “chronic fatigue” syndrome.  “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His”(Hebrews 4:9, 10 NKJV).
God calls us from our fallen “self-effort”;our daily carnal struggle to make life(Or ministry) work. God sent Yeshua (Jesus) into a fallen world to complete God’s righteous requirements. He cancelled our human effort to achieve (succeed in life) or win God’s approval.  We simply need to STOP! …Get off the never ending  religious “treadmill” to lose one more pound for Jesus.  Our human effort does not impress God.
The Good News is “the work” was completed by Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.  He declared, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)  His invitation to enter His rest remains an act of turning from our self effort and put our trust completely in Yeshua (Jesus):  “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”(Matthew 11:27-29 NKJV).

Cease striving and know that He alone is God.  He alone gives true rest.  In his rest is the restoration and peace we long for.

 

(c) Copyright 2013, Walter Fletcher,Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.