Promises, Promises

1 Kings 8:56

Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.

Not one word of God’s promise has failed. Those are important words. Do you remember last Tuesday’s Word of the Day? It was titled Promised Health. Truly, every verse since we began this series is a promise from God. Of course that is important because we arrive at this verse which says that not one word of His promises has ever failed. See also that His promises are of good. Our God is a good God and makes good promises to His kids. There is another element, though, that I don’t want us to miss.

Look at the beginning. Yahweh, our Lord, God and Father, gives rest to His people. We are not to be a restless people emotionally or physically. Do you hear that in here? He gives us peace and comfort in our hearts and minds so that we are not in despair. Emotionally we can, and should, be peaceful and calm. Our God gives us peace of mind. This is an element of our health and of critical importance. You cannot be healthy, physically, if you are not at peace. Anxiety, anger, and angst create stress in the body which causes malady. We cannot live in distress and be physically healthy. It just does not work that way. So, this emotional rest the Lord gives us creates physical wellbeing.

Second, He gives us physical rest. If you are not resting well, then you need to speak with Father about it because you have an absolute promise and not one word of His good promise has failed. Expect to sleep and rest. Pray this verse over yourself when you go to bed. Rest well and enjoy all the promises of the Lord.

It’s Midnight

Psalm 119: 62             (NLV)

At midnight I rise to thank you.

My Bible doesn’t record who wrote this psalm, but I have to guess it was David and for the purpose of this discussion, let us presume it was. The question that came to me is how and why David was awake at midnight. He didn’t set a clock. The rooster wasn’t crowing. So, did he just awaken and then because he was awake his mind turned to God?

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? Well, take some guidance from this psalm. When you awaken, pray. Literally take time to thank God. Perhaps you awaken several times in the night? Imagine if you only prayed a few minutes each time. Would it have an effect on your life? I think it would make an excellent experiment. Try it and let me know how it impacts your life and even your sleep.

Peaceful Ease

Proverb 3: 23 – 24

Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

This is a picture of what Christian life should be. It is a life of peace, tranquility and security. The fully realized Christian is able to lie down and sleep in peace because there is no fear or worry. They enjoy sweet sleep. Good sleep alone is a reason this verse is attractive, but I really like the picture it paints of a whole life lived in peace.

One cannot help but think of the Hebrew word Shalom. It is perfect peace. Shalom is not the same as tranquility. We use peace to mean calmness, quiet and serenity. In the Hebrew mindset those are the result of Shalom. When you have God’s kind of peace, serenity and those other things are the byproducts.

The image this verse conjures for me is one of quiet confidence. The person in this verse walks with the Lord from the moment she awakens and continues through the day. Of course she can place her foot securely as she walks her daily path. She is walking hand in hand with God, led by Him.

This verse is about embracing wisdom and understanding. Peace, ultimate, unfathomable peace is the result. Embracing wisdom and understanding means we don’t walk in the light of our own brilliance but in the glory of God’s insights and wisdom. This does have its challenge because it means we must pause to check in with Him. We must begin first thing in the morning getting our hearts and minds aligned in and with Him and then continue in that flow all day. It is the absolute best and most enjoyable way to live but it does not come automatically. We have to dedicate the time and invest the discipline to check in with our Father at the start of the day. This can be a challenge but that is the challenge I hope to encourage you to accept.

Walking in perfect peace, knowing that where you are about to place your foot is good solid ground is a joy. It comes with the Father’s perfect peace, Shalom. All things are as they should be, everything in its proper place. Your steps are divinely ordered, and your heart resides in ease. When you lie down, your sleep is sweet and your dreams, divine. This is the inheritance of the saints.

Good Sleep

Psalm 4: 8

I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down because you alone O Lord, enable me to live securely.

This psalm is titled, “Evening Prayer of Trust in God.” That is a sermon unto itself. This is a good way to end the day, but it also makes me think of bookending my day with a companion prayer in the morning.

I hear two promises in today’s verse. First, there are the obvious trust expressions. David rested in the security that he had in the Lord. He was so convinced of the Father’s protection that he could lie down and sleep without fear. Of course this is from a man who was hunted so it is a loud representation of trust he enjoyed in the Lord.

The second promise is one of sleep. This passage is literally about the trust David had in the Lord’s protection. None the less, I pull this first phase about sleep out separately because I believe it is a promise from my Father to me. I have had trouble going to sleep all my life. As a child, I used to play music at night to help me fall asleep. I even tried singing myself to sleep once. Now, I have a promise from my father that I lie down in peace and fall asleep the moment I lie down.

Theologically, you have to deal with the context of David’s message. His message is that he can fall asleep easily and quickly because he knows the Father protects him. When I saw this passage, though, the Father quickened in my heart that I can have this and use this as a sleep passage, apart from trust issues. If I have any qualms about that at all, I can take it to Him in prayer. I can also journal it.

That is a big lesson about understanding of scripture and its use. We must begin with the passage in its context. We can’t just rip sentences out of context and retain the meaning. We can, however, rely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit quickens something to your spirit you can see and appreciate nuances from the original text and assumptions. It is okay to follow where the Holy Spirit leads. In this case, there is an implication that David has no trouble sleeping apart from the potential of enemies disturbing his sleep. That is the issue he answers in his faith statement.

Also, the Spirit will always confirm the Word to you and if you are unsure, you can always ask him to confirm it. He is the Spirit of revelation. The Father wants to reveal Himself to you. There is life and joy in the Word and much richness. Dive into it and enjoy His feasts.

Arise and Live

Proverb 6: 6 – 11

Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest” – and your poverty will come in like a vagabond, and your need like an armed man.

When it is time to rest, rest but when it is time to work, do your work heartily as to the Lord. I am preaching to myself today. I, like many of you, must manage my own time. As you know, having discretion can create a challenge. It is easy to decide I am tired and roll over instead of rolling out. I usually regret such a choice. If I had only read Proverbs, right? Well, of course, I have read all of the proverbs, many times but that does not mean that these lessons are not new each day.

One of the many lessons I have learned is that God did not make us to be lazy. We are not fully satisfied or even happy when we adopt the sluggard’s life. If we no longer feel the guilt of our bad choices, it only means we have conditioned ourselves so as to anesthetize those feelings. If we persist in the unfavored behaviors, we will eventually become immune to the Holy Spirit’s voice within us. At that point, we even convince ourselves that we are not doing anything wrong. I have heard people justify adultery as easily as I justify sleeping in. Simply and honestly stated, we are both just wrong. Father wants better for us than those behaviors and the lies we tell ourselves.

I believe it is important for us to realize that God has made us to be heat-seeking missiles. By that I mean that we are designed as goal oriented, success seeking organisms. Our souls are engineered to pursue excellence. Our design is not as sleepy, lazy, lay abouts. No matter how much we may try to convince ourselves, the truth is that we are not fulfilled and are not happy when we are not in pursuit of some goal or hobby. In today’s proverb, God warns us away from apathetic, passive lives. He wants us to live with the throttle open. With him, there is success and in that success not merely accomplishment but joy and service to others. There is so much to do in the earth, so much which needs doing. We really don’t have time to sleep in. We’ve things to do, things to see, words to speak.

It only takes a little folding of our hands for our lives to begin to leak out. Life is for living. At the end of our days on earth, what do you wish your resume to look like? Do you want to say, I watched television or I took my grandkids to the park. Do you want sleep to fill the largest time block or is there something else you would rather be known for? Arise O sluggard. Seek new heights, new goals and pursue new ambitions. Read another book, paint a painting. Make your life worth the living every single day and while you’re at it, call me and make sure I am awake. I want to run with you!

Reboot Your Mainframe

Mark 6: 31

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.”
I am sure you have noticed that every once in a while your computer needs to be rebooted. Sometimes I use my laptop for several days without turning it off. I just put it to sleep and wake it up when it is time for it to work again. I am not letting it really shut down. Eventually it will complain and start failing in its tasks. So, I have to reboot it. I have to let it completely reset itself.

We need the same thing, a complete reboot. Many of us allow ourselves a little sleep but few hours of deep rest. We are like our laptops. We close our eyes like we close the laptop and sleep but we never really turn all of the machinery off and allow ourselves a deep rest. Jesus knew this was neither healthy nor ultimately productive.

One would think that if you worked with Jesus that there would be a great impetus to work day and night. Wouldn’t that have become even more pressing as the apostles learned that their time with Jesus was limited. More importantly, wouldn’t you expect Jesus to work day and night knowing that his time was short? There was so much to be done and such a short amount of time to accomplish it all. Why stop to rest? People are going to hell in a hand basket. Surely, of all the jobs any of us have Jesus’ was the most important ever. With all that weighing on their shoulders Jesus took himself and his apostles away to a quiet and lonely place to get some deep rest. They didn’t just go somewhere and take a power nap and then go right back to work, they actually “went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves” (v. 32).

We need to do the same thing. None of us has a job that is so important that we shouldn’t take some time away. We need that away time to reset and refresh. It is so hard to hear God even speaking to us when we are busy and harried. When you slow down a bit you find music and poetry and God’s thoughts rising up out of your spirit. There has to be time when you “shut down” everything and just commune with God in your spirit. God actually does want you to take a vacation but He does not want you to turn it into another busyness ritual. Slow down and be still. Just sit in the lounge chair and listen to the birds. You are going to be surprised how much Dad has to say to you and you will get the refreshing you need. Shut down your own system. Reboot your hardware and your software. You are going to feel better and even work much better.