Restful Labor

Hebrews 4: 10 – 11

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His, Let us therefore be diligent to enter than rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.

Okay, so what is going on here? The writer of Hebrews is saying that the person who has entered into God’s rest has rested from his works just like God who has also rested from His works. Then verse 11 says that we should be diligent to enter into this rest lest we fall into disobedience. There is an epiphany. If we do not enter into rest we are in disobedience? Not only that, but the effort expended is not in doing the works but in entering the rest.

That is so counter-cultural that it barely even makes sense. Many years ago I heard Kenneth Hagin speak on living a fasted life. It was an impactful message, but then weren’t all of Hagin’s messages? Anyway, his point was that every day is the Sabbath and every day is the day of the fast. He was teaching that we don’t live to God on certain special days but rather every day. We must learn how to live in God and let the Lord Jesus live through us on a daily rather than on a Sunday basis. Everyday can be, and should be, a day of rest wherein we allow God to do the works.

From Matthew 19: 26 we learn that with God all things are possible. The key words there are “with God.” Why, then, do we still labor with the works rather than to enter His rest. There is a revelation in here to be found. We are to be diligent in laboring to enter into His rest. That sounds silly. Labor to rest? But the author knew that we would have to work to wrap our heads around this one. So, I have begun my day with my “To Do” list and plotted out my time from the time of arising until 5:00 pm. Then I will figure out what I can accomplish in the evening hours, shall I run errands or do I need to sit and read a piece of fiction or maybe even play a game? Really?? As it turns out, I forgot to schedule in any bathroom breaks.

What am I saying? I certainly am not against having a good schedule to work from. I absolutely think it necessary that I have a work plan otherwise I will not get done what I wish and I will end up spending time on things that I shouldn’t. However, I am the fool spoken of in the Psalms if I do not begin my day with my Father asking Him to be Lord over my day. It would be foolish for me to plow ahead in the power of my strength. I have done that before. It doesn’t work. No, this time I am going to labor to enter into His rest and let Him be the power and the strength in my day. That is what Jesus prayed afterall, “Thine is the…power” (Matthew 6: 13). Jesus even told us that the works that he is renowned for were not even his own work product. He said that it was the Father who lives within him that does the works (John 14: 10).  Query: if Jesus didn’t try to walk in his own power, if he didn’t attempt to accomplish his To Do list in his strength, what in the world makes me think I can do mine?

We are a nation of “doers” but God has called us to be believers rather than doers. There is the rub. We have mighty things to do in the name of the Almighty but it is only with His almighty strength working through us that we attain the prize. Our father is not impressed with how hard we work for Him but rather how diligent we are at resting in the power of His might. He doesn’t want us to burn out. He has already provided the power and the wisdom. Our job is simply to direct His power. We allow Him to flow out of us. Then all things become possible to us.

Endeavor to enter into His rest.

Divine Power

1 Corinthians 13: 2        Amplified Bible

And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).

Here is Paul’s understanding of the love commandment. Now I would have thought that operating in the prophetic gifts, having faith that moves mountains, and having all knowledge would be pretty good evidence that one is a foremost disciple of Christ. Many people have pursued the power and the gifts of God but God would rather we pursue His heart. He says, pursue Me and the power will come. So we each have to set our hearts to seek God with all that we are. When we seek God we will find love because He is love. Paul says that without love we are useless nobodies. Wow! That is strong language Paul! But then again, what would you say that we are without love. Again, God is love so if we are without love then we are without God. The measure of cooperation we have with God is revealed in the measure of love we exhibit. So people can know the condition of our hearts and if those hearts really are right with God by the love we express externally.

God’s love has a purpose in the earth. It is to call all people unto Himself. He does this by extending grace and mercy and by meeting the needs of His children. And He uses us, His disciples (?) to accomplish both of these. God blesses me abundantly and then I get to be his hands in the earth to meet the needs of others. He uses us to dispense grace, to show mercy. In truth, love is the real power of God. You’ve heard it said, “Love is the most powerful force in the universe.” It is true. It was love that conquered hell and the grave. It was love that gained the keys and set every captive free. Without love, Jesus would have stayed in the ground. Do you see that? There is nothing more powerful so if we really want to have the power of God flowing through our lives then we need to get a potent revelation of love. 

All we need to do is open our hearts to our beloved Father. When we open our hearts we experience the two way flow that really is our calling in the earth. God fills our hearts with himself and then out from us flows the living river of His grace. We will naturally want to bless others and show kindness of God. I understand that many of us are afraid to open our hearts for fear of getting hurt but we must learn to trust Him, even with our hearts. He has power that He wants to fill you with but He fills the heart. If you will let Him fill you there will be plenty of expression of His power flowing from you. Look at the life of Peter, John or Paul and see what love can do.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Acts 4: 29 – 31

“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

I am very much encouraged by the number of pastors who are breaking out of restrictive molds and are preaching the Word of God with boldness. I have been meditating on this scripture for a couple of months now and I am convinced this is a word for today. It is not for pastors only and we err gravely if we think so. This prayer came out of a gathering of believers where they were all in one accord with a hunger for God and passion for His power to be made manifest in their lives, but not only in their lives but through them too. That is big. Shall we yield ourselves to speak with confidence? Note that the first thing said was the acknowledgment that they were under threat. As a matter of fact, this episode occurred when Peter and John were released from jail so the threat was real. Their response to being jailed was to pray for confidence and boldness to do more. 

Lord let your power be seen! The next thing the believers asked of God was for His hand to accompany their bold speech. So they had a picture in their minds. They envisioned speaking the Word of God with confidence while God complemented their speech with miracles of healing and signs and wonders. Can you see the image that was in their minds of what their meetings should look like? These guys were ready to take the world.

Then the best part of all. God answered and He answered in a big way. Because of their boldness in prayer, because they were passionate enough to ask God for big meetings and powerful moves, He answered them loudly. His presence came in that building and touched every person there and the whole building shook from the power and presence. Was the building just not designed to hold that much anointing, that much power or was the building rejoicing? I don’t know but what I get out of this is that God got excited! He answered them immediately. He gave them what they asked for and He did it with such personal zeal that everything shook. Man, I want to be in that meeting.

Does your heart leap at this idea? Does your spirit crave Holy Spirit encounters? Are you desperate for God to get loud in your meetings? Brother I am. Today’s passage shows us what we need, what Peter and John did that made God want to be in their meetings. Let’s do it too. Let’s get up off of that pew. Shake the building. Why not?

I Have The Power

2 Chronicles 15: 2

“Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”

You are in charge of your relationship with God. Did you realize that? You can be as close as you want or as distant. It is your call. In fact, did you know that God cannot breakup with you? What power that is. If you decide you do not wish to have a relationship with God then that is your call but He cannot make the same election. He has given all power over your union with Him to you.

In the verse for today we see Asa, King of Judah, being given this same message. The Lord is with you when you choose to be with Him and have Him with you. He is found when you Seek Him and His face will only be hidden from you when your turn away. God has given us power and a free will. He will even let you go to hell if you choose to. In fact, He cannot prevent it if you so choose. He has given us ultimate power in choosing how to live our lives because He wanted children, not robots. He wants to have a meaningful relationship with beings He could actually even call “friend.”

But as Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” That is the part which some of us struggle with because if we do not have the relationship with God that we want the responsibility lies with us. Now, that is not what I wanted to hear; still don’t sometimes, but there is something very empowering in that statement because it also means that I can affect the relationship. I can choose whether God will be found by me or not. All I have to do is seek. He has no choice but to be found. I like that. If I choose to be with God, or if you choose to be with Him, then He has no choice but to be with us. You see, God is omnipotent but that does not actually mean He can do all things. He has hemmed Himself in by His own rules. He actually hasn’t the power in some things because He has given that power away. It was His choice. We certainly didn’t make Him do anything He didn’t want to do but once He makes a rule it binds Him as much as it does anyone else. He will not violate His laws. So, if you want to kick Him out of your life, then you are fully able. On the other hand, if you seek Him He cannot help but be found by you.

From my personal experience I can also testify that this is true. I did blame God for our relationship not being all that I wanted and I put Him on notice that I was going to hunt Him down. And hunt Him I did. After years and years of living in the desert I found that there was an oasis right over the near dune and that it was He. He was calling to me, “Come; come to the cool water and drink. I am here. I am awaiting you. He was there all along, right in front of my face but the noise in my head was too loud for me to hear. My heart was anesthetized and unable to hear. But brother when I opened my eyes and ears and went searching for Him He exploded on the scene. He was waiting for me and met me with such vibrancy that my body, soul and spirit have been pulsating ever since. And I know that I will never live in the desert again. I think about all those wasted years roaming around in the desert lost when He was right there all along trying to be seen by me.

Don’t be a fool like I was. Open your ears and eyes right now. Let God know that you intend to find Him and when you open your eyes you will find Him standing right in front of you. The power is yours. Determine what kind of relationship you want with God and make it so.

The Power of Surrender

Job 42: 2

I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.

Do we really know that He, God, can do all things? Have we really grasped in our depths that no purpose of His can be thwarted? I very much doubt that we have really grasped the truth of those two statements. If we had, no purpose of His to which He has called us would be impossible to us. We would have no fear in the things that He has asked. I am not sure that this is just a matter of faith. This passage is found in the last of Job. These statements represent some of Job’s last utterances in the long discussion which is the book of Job. I think these passages reflect a heart which, rather than demonstrating faith, shows surrender. Job finally surrenders to God’s omnipotence. He finally accepts that he, Job, cannot make everything make sense but if He will surrender to God, He can make it right. Job’s next words are of repentance. Then God restores Job. Job had to come to a place of surrender and repentance in order to receive all that God had for him and all that God wanted to do for him. Job had to get himself out of God’s way. He had to surrender his thoughts and his ways and acknowledge that God, Jehovah, is the way and that God, not Job, can do all things. Job, through surrender, let go of his arguments and his wisdom and acknowledged that God knows all things. These statements, so seemingly full of faith are actually full of surrender and repentance. It is the letting go of ourselves that allows us to flow in deep faith.

From Sling to King

1 Samuel 17: 45

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.”

Imagine being on the sidelines the day that David entered the battlefield against the giant, Goliath. As you look upon the mammoth Goliath not only would you be impressed by his towering physique but also his armor and weaponry which must have been quite impressive. He was armed with a sword, a spear and a javelin. I strongly suspect that all three were exquisite as far as weapons go. As if that was not enough, Goliath also had someone trailing him who carried his shield.

You turn your attention to the other end of the field where enters a youth, just a boy, who is clothed in shepherd’s garb. He has neither fancy armor nor fine weapons. Suspended from the cord tied around his waist you see a pouch and a sling; in his hand, a stick. In vain you continue to search for a viable opponent who will separate himself to fight Goliath. No, the only one moving forward is the boy.

The giant is insulted that Israel would send a runt armed with a stick to face the mighty Philistine warrior and so he hurls insults and taunts at the young defender of Israel’s pride. It is surprising, is it not, that King Saul and the strong, brave commanders of the Israelite army would even allow a young boy to face the champion of Philistia but no one other than the youth seems to respond to the insults of the Philistine. David boldly answered Goliath saying, “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you” (v. 46). Goliath must have been amused and perhaps even the soldiers of Israel thought David’s statements ludicrous because no one was taking into account David’s real weapon. He declared it from the beginning mocking Goliath as he did so. “You,” he said, “come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. ” 

More powerful than any weapon ever forged is the name of the Lord. More devastating even than modern armament is the glorious name of our Lord. David knew this. He wasn’t just hoping. His was not just an empty boast. He knew that our God is awesome and a mighty force who is always on our side and able to overcome any adversity. So convinced was this diminutive warrior that when Goliath drew up to the battle line he actually ran quickly to meet his adversary (v. 48). David was not afraid. Wow! He was bold, courageous and convinced of God’s potent assistance. So, I ask you, who really was the giant that day? I suggest that the little Israelite shepherd boy was a great giant of faith.

What are the giants in your life? Of what are you afraid? Are there things in your life that threaten to overcome you, even annihilate you? You need to take a page out of David’s book. There is a reason he would later write so many psalms about the Lord being a refuge and a strong tower and about trusting the Lord. He witnessed time and time again the saving power of our God. He proclaimed in the face of his adversary the outcome declaring boldly that God will win the day. His confession preceded his victory because he steadfastly believed in our God. 

I, therefore, encourage you today. The same God is standing beside you. You have as much right to the name of the Lord as did David. As a matter of fact, your covenant with the Almighty is actually better than David’s but he understood his and he relied on it. He became the greatest king of Israel, his throne enduring throughout eternity because he knew how to trust God. It wasn’t the rock that killed Goliath. It was faith in the name of our Lord. It was the mighty hand of the Lord that delivered Goliath into the David’s hands and God will do the same to your giants too. David was not focused on his might and his ability with a sling. Instead he relied on his God and he prevailed against overwhelming odds. You can too.