Do Your Best to Rest

Posted October 27th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

“…There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest ….” (Hebrews 4:8b-11 NIV)

Most of us think of the Sabbath as a day of rest, originating from the day of rest God took after he created the universe, as recorded in Genesis. And that view is correct; that is the basis for us taking a Sabbath, a day of rest, within our own week.

Yet there is a larger sense of God’s Sabbath: an invitation to rest in God’s healing grace, trusting in his power and his purpose for your life. We rest in our Father’s arms, knowing he goes before and he goes behind, knowing that his plans for us are good and not evil (Jeremiah 29:11).

We enter this “let go and let God” rest through faith, where we cease to work and live independent of God (“… anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work …”). Instead, we’re to focus our efforts toward entering this Sabbath-trust in God, a restful certainty that God’s got a handle on it all, and that he’s got our best interests in mind.

If I recall correctly, Ian Thomas illustrates this point by telling the story of a man walking down a dusty rural road on a hot, humid day. The man is loaded down with a heavy backpack and carries a duffle bag in each hand. A pick-up truck comes along, and the driver offers the walking man a ride, telling him to hop in the back.

The driver heads down the road, but when he looks in the rear-view mirror he sees that his new passenger is standing in the bed of the truck – still holding both duffle bags, still wearing the over-packed backpack on his back.

The thing is: We stand in the truck of faith, still carrying our burdens, thinking they are independent of the ride we’re taking. Perhaps we think God can carry us, but not our burdens, that we have to keep bearing them ourselves.

What now?

· Rest in God – Rest in God’s power and grace, and work toward confidence (faith) that he is looking out for your best interests. “I believe; Lord, help my unbelief.”

· Rest requires dependence – If you’re working independently of God, then you’re not at rest in God. Possible signs that you’re working independently: worry, a need to control, a crammed-full schedule.

· Our Father’s heart encourages rest – Next time you feel overwhelmed by life, settle in a chair and “be still and know that he is God.” Give him your burdens – your backpack and your duffels.

· Faith leads to rest – Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29 NIV)

by Jon Walker

The Holy Nudge

Posted October 20th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)

It’s a book I’d been searching to find, so when I located it on the library shelf, I was jazzed. But as I approached the front desk, I felt the Holy Spirit check me.

You know what I mean? That “holy nudge” the Newsboys sing about: “It’s like a circuit judge in the brain … a Spirit thing … There to guard my heart but hard to explain ….”

We know the Spirit of Christ is working within us, teaching us to think and act like Jesus, and so this Counselor nudges, prompts, rebukes, and protects us as God writes the law on our hearts instead of stone tablets.

Responding to the Spirit’s nudge, I looked at the book in my hand. The cover didn’t give a clue as to why the Spirit was prompting me. In fact, my motive for reading the book was a very good one, related to ministry.

Yet I was certain the Spirit thing meant I wasn’t supposed to read the book. I admit I thought for a few seconds about ignoring the Spirit’s direction. I mean, I couldn’t see anything wrong with it.

Then, like a child who has weighed the pros and cons of disobedience, I turned around and put the book back on the shelf. My hesitant obedience emerged, not so much from an attempt to be pious, but from my memory of standing too many times on the wrong side of God’s direction. This child has burned his fingers enough that it seems futile to argue with God over how hot the stove really is.

Isn’t that what faith must be? Trusting God when he tells us the burner is hot enough to hurt us – even if we don’t agree. Trusting God when he tells us that reading what appears to be a harmless book will take us somewhere he doesn’t want us to go.

Becoming like Jesus means we develop discernment in spiritual matters: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)

Spirit warning – A Spirit nudge may be a warning against impending danger, a Holy Ghost flare to guard your heart. Once, a friend of mine was driving toward a green traffic light, but he sensed an extraordinarily strong prompting from the Spirit to hit his brakes. My friend did, just as a semi-truck ran a red light into the intersection. Had it not been for his instant obedience, my friend probably would have been killed.

Spirit stop sign – A Spirit nudge may be a red flag from God telling you, “Don’t go there.” A dog I owned years ago helped me understand this: He was used to being on a leash, and when I would take him to a neighbor’s field to run, I would simply say “No” when he approached a place he shouldn’t go. The dog had done nothing wrong, and my warning wasn’t a rebuke – it was a caution for his own protection.

Spirit “shush” – My experience is that, if we listen, God will give similar warnings when we’re in conversations. He may prompt us when were stepping too close to a sinful topic, an unfair comment, or gossip.

Spirit timing – Sometimes the Holy Spirit may be telling you the timing isn’t right. When I was in graduate school, I planned to buy a computer through an educational discount offered by the university. When I turned in my paperwork, however, they told me the program had been discontinued for a few months. I was very angry at God.

About two months later, the university re-opened the discount program and the computers available for purchase that time were upgraded models bundled with software that cost extra two months earlier – and the whole package was priced cheaper than the previous one.

Can you say, “Spiritual egg on my face?” Turns out God does know what he’s doing!

We have this Spirit inside us, and God wants us to listen to him. When we ignore him, there’s little difference between us and non-believers who live their lives disconnected and independent from God: “But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT)

What now?

· Be sensitive to the Spirit – Ask God to teach you to hear his still, small voice and to be sensitive to promptings from the Spirit. Then believe he will guide you through the many decisions and details of your life.

· Start an obedience list – For the next few weeks, keep a list of all the times you sense the Spirit prompting you. This will help you learn to be sensitive to the Spirit, but it also will strengthen your resolve to obey God’s guidance.

· Align with God’s Word – As you learn to walk in the Spirit, God will never ask you to do anything that violates his Word. His promptings will always line up with the Bible, but they may not square with your traditions.

· Blow it? Remember grace – If you miss the prompting or disobey it, confess it to God and he will be faithful to forgive. Fall upon his grace and remember that you are in the school of Christ. He knows you’re learning, and he wants to teach you.

by Jon Walker

An Unearthly Love

Posted October 13th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Your goodness can’t win God’s love. Nor can your badness lose it. But you can resist it. We tend to do so honestly. Having been rejected so often, we fear God may reject us as well. Rejections have left us skittish and jumpy. Like my dog Salty. He sleeps next to me on the couch as I write. He’s a cranky cuss, but I like him. We’ve aged together over the last fifteen years, and he seems worse for the wear. He’s a wiry canine by nature; shave his salt-and-pepper mop, and he’d pass for a bulimic Chihuahua. He didn’t have much to start with; now the seasons have taken his energy, teeth, hearing, and all but eighteen inches’ worth of eyesight.

Toss him a dog treat, and he just stares at the floor through cloudy cataracts. (Or, in his case, dogaracts?) He’s nervous and edgy, quick to growl and slow to trust. As I reach out to pet him, he yanks back. Still, I pet the old coot. I know he can’t see, and I can only wonder how dark his world has become.

We are a lot like Salty. I have a feeling that most people who defy and deny God do so more out of fear than conviction. For all our chest pumping and braggadocio, we are anxious folk—can’t see a step into the future, can’t hear the one who owns us. No wonder we try to gum the hand that feeds us.

But God reaches and touches. He speaks through the immensity of the Russian plain and the density of the Amazon rain forest. Through a physician’s touch in Africa, a bowl of rice in India. Through a Japanese bow or a South American abraço. He’s even been known to touch people through paragraphs like the ones you are reading. If he is touching you, let him.

Mark it down: God loves you with an unearthly love. You can’t win it by being winsome. You can’t lose it by being a loser. But you can be blind enough to resist it.

Don’t. For heaven’s sake, don’t. For your sake, don’t.

“Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18–19 MSG).

by Max Lucado

Let God Arise

Posted October 3rd, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who
hate Him flee before Him.
Psalm 68:1

Hall of fame wrestler, Andre the Giant, was a mountain of a man. He stood 7′ 4” and weighed a whopping 500 pounds! Thankfully, Andre was a gentle giant. He did not like to stir up trouble.

One day, when Andre was in a pub minding his own business, some inebriated tough guys recognized him (it is hard to hide when you are 7′ 4″) and attempted to find out just how big and bad Andre really was. As they taunted the gentle giant, Andre’s patience finally gave way. He rose up against those men…and they scattered. He chased them out of the pub, and proceeded to take their car (the men were hiding in it with the doors locked) and turn it over on its side. Without question, it is unwise to provoke a giant.

THE TRUE GIANT

God is the true giant of the universe. The highest heavens cannot even contain God (2 Chron. 2:6). He lives inside every genuine Christian…and He wants to ARISE. We do not have to somehow try to make Him arise; we just have to let Him arise. To do that, you and I have to move out from behind the driver’s seat of our lives and yield all control to Him.

My friend, when you encounter problems, pressures, fears, and the taunts of the enemy, simply do what the Scripture says. Turn all your troubles over to Him. Cast your burdens on Him. You are not able to handle what you are facing today… but God is able. And He longs to show Himself mighty and strong in your life.

Are you facing enemies today? Are the hounds of hell nipping at your heels and causing you to fear? Those enemies will flee like a scalded dog if you simply let go and LET GOD ARISE in you.

PRAYER

Dear God, I need you! I am facing problems and pressures… and I feel as if I am about to go under. I am not able…but You are able to do all things, Lord Jesus. Arise in my trouble as I yield myself to You. Say to my storm, “Hush, be still!” I choose this day to trust You, Lord. And I will look with expectation, thanksgiving and joy at what You are going to do. You are the God who knows me…loves me…and promises to answer when I call. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name…Amen.
Love,

Jeff Schreve
Pastor
www.fromhisheart.org
jeff@fromhisheart.org
1-800-985-1530

On His Way Rejoicing

Posted October 2nd, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
—Acts 8:35

The Bible tells the story in Acts 8 of a very empty man who met a very satisfied one. The former, an Ethiopian official, had everything this world could offer: power, wealth, influence, and fame. Yet there was a gnawing emptiness deep inside that sent him on a search for God.

The latter, Philip, had already found what the Ethiopian was searching for. He did not have earthly power, wealth, or fame, but he did have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And when these two men met, it became the happiest day in the Ethiopian’s life. He went on his way rejoicing (see Acts 8:39).

I don’t know why God uses people to reach people. It is amazing to me. I don’t understand it. I don’t know why verbally communicating these truths is the primary way God chooses to save men and women. But this is the method He has chosen. It seems to me that it would be a lot easier if God were to just call us at home or perhaps raise up an army of angels, wings and all, to go out and proclaim the gospel. Instead, He has chosen to use flawed people like you and me.

Have you ever led anyone to Christ? I am sure most of us have shared our faith in some capacity. But have you ever said to someone, “Would you like to give your life to Jesus Christ right now?”

Sometimes you may think you are not getting through to people, but God is speaking to their hearts. They just may surprise you and want to believe. And then they, too, will go on their way rejoicing.

by Pastor Greg Laurie