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Aug 15, 2011

Entering Into Rest

 If you’ve ever had to deal with a restless child, you already know once the little one learns to walk, naptime becomes more difficult to enforce every day. That little person would rather look for excitement or a thrill around every corner, than take 10 or 15 minutes to rest. The restlessness of childhood is really part of the overall learning experience. Testing and trying new things is a way of gaining knowledge of the world around us. As adult Christians, we can walk through periods of restlessness that teach us more about ourselves than anything else. I’m not referring to the episodes of physical restlessness that come from too much adrenaline or too little sleep. No, restlessness of spirit, is what I’d like to focus on.
When we have been serving the Lord for some time, caught up in the activities of life, including church and ministry, we can sometimes become weary of the “routine”. That weariness, if not brought to the Lord, can turn into restlessness; and, that restlessness can have us looking over the fence of our less-than-exciting lives to what seems like greener grass in other meadows. That can translate into disaster if it leads to distraction or sin. If we were to choose to follow that internal pulling, and possibly give over our energies to sin, the enemy would have succeeded in derailing our God-ordained life’s purpose:
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:8)
The Apostle Paul was encouraging some church folks about their godly habit of bearing one another’s burdens and giving financially to the work of the ministry. What he had to say relates well to all we do for God:
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9, NKJV)
Growing weary may not only come from physical and mental fatigue, but from emotional fatigue. When doing godly things becomes a chore, we may have grown restless in spirit, we may need to repent of sin, or we may need to come back to Him for some Holy Ghost recharging. When we turn from this world’s distractions and come before the Lord, asking for a clean slate, the result is always rest, refreshing and joy:

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” (Psalm 126: 1-3)

    I encourage you to do a little spiritual inventory. If there is a bit of restlessness creeping into your spirit, and you find yourself backing away from heartily doing His work, just run to Him and throw yourself back into His arms. You may have some repenting to do—but you’ll be so glad you found Him, the Only Source of the rest you desperately seek.

The Blessing Follows Obedience

There is no getting around the fact — our God takes delight in blessing His people. As I study the promises of the Word of God, there is blessing for every day of our lives and each aspect of our being. Look at these verses from Deuteronomy 28:
“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you...Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading trough. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out...The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse, and in all that you undertake; and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you...” (vv. 2a-8 NKJV).

This is just a portion of the blessing plan our Father has in store for us — family, business, home, nation — He intended for every aspect of our lives to be under the blessing. God intended for our children to be successful, and for the blessing of our households to spill over to all the nations of the earth.

Why then are so many of the household of God living under the curse? I lay the responsibility, in part, at the feet of the preachers. We have been so anxious to preach the blessing, we have not emphasized the key to unlocking the blessing in our lives. What is the key?

None other than obedience. Look at some of the other verses in the same chapter of Deuteronomy:

“If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day...If you heed the voice of the Lord your God...If you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways...If you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and are watchful to do them. And you shall not go aside from any of the words which I command this day, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them” (vv. 1a, 2b, 9b, 13b, 14 Amplified).

IF...so much rides on that little word. The blessing of the Lord is real, but it is commanded by our obedience to God and His Word.

Many people miss this truth because they feel “we live in the age of grace now and do not have to follow the rules of the Old Testament.”

Now this is very important. Salvation and deliverance from sin do not come by obeying the laws of God. If we had to depend on keeping the law, none of us could be saved. That is why Jesus died — He became the supreme sacrifice for our sins — delivering us from sin with that one great act of grace.” (see Ephesians 2:8,9)

However, in accepting Christ as Savior, we do not throw away the commandments of Scripture. To accept Jesus as Savior and Lord is to accept the Father and the ways of His kingdom. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

This is the truth that can be found throughout Scripture. In fact, in the unparalleled “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 5-7, Jesus took the core elements of the Old Testament law and expounded on them. Jesus demanded more than outward obedience, He demanded obedience of the heart:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart...It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery...you have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:27-28, 31-32, 43-45a NIV).

At the end of this message in Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus said that those of us who hear His words and do them would live as those who have their houses built on solid rock in the midst of the storm.

So many in our churches today are living in turmoil and shipwreck — battered about by all the elements that assail the family and ministries — because they heard the words of Jesus without taking them to heart. If we want to get our lives back on course, build a shelter for our families and live within the blessing plan of God — we must heed the words of our Savior.

It is time to obey.

A New Beginning Can Bring A Life Of Success

And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good; for the Lord again will rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers; If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 30:8-10).
How gracious is our God; how perfect is his love toward us! God is a God of new beginnings. God is the only One who can give us a fresh start and also transform our lives. This is what true “new beginnings” are about — bringing us from living under the curse to a life of blessing.

Some look for new beginnings in the wrong places.

Women who feel trapped in their marriages look for new beginnings in divorce; men who feel disappointed in their lack of achievement in life look for new beginnings in a job change or sometimes in an affair; young people who don’t like listening to their parents look for new beginnings by finding new friends in the world or running into marriage.

The truth is, change — apart from God’s way of life — cannot bring a new beginning. Without repentance from sin, we just bring old sinners into new circumstances, and then the cycle of sin and the curse just start all over in new ways.

Real change begins by humbling ourselves in the sight of God:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

If you are looking for a fresh start in life, a new way of doing things, this is the place to start. God wants you to live a life of blessing, but you must have the desire after Him. Desire for Him and His ways begins by being in His presence. The closer you draw to Him — the closer He draws to you.

This is your day for a new life of blessing, if you will listen to His voice with all your heart and give heed to His instruction.