Tag Archive | God’s leading

Exploring Rest: How Work and Rest Fit Together

As I learn about what it truly is to rest in the Lord, my goal is to do a short weekly blog post exploring what it is to REST IN THE LORD. This week, we are looking at how work and rest are not opposites but rather two sides of the same coin.

To rest, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, can mean “freedom from activity or labor.” When we are speaking of spiritual rest or resting in the Lord, this is not what we are referring to. Another definition given by this dictionary comes much closer to the biblical meaning of rest: “peace of mind or spirit.” When I am resting in the Lord, I am at peace within, regardless of what is going on around me.

My normal morning routine includes a time of being quiet before the Lord and listening to His voice. I also spend time in God’s Word, since this is what He often uses to speak truth to my heart. And this morning, through a verse that popped up as the Verse of the Day on one of my Bible apps and another on Scripture passage on my regularly scheduled reading, I heard one message loud and clear: REST IS NOT CEASING FROM WORK. IT IS COMMITTING THE WORK I NEED TO DO TO THE LORD.

If you are like me, most days you have work that needs to be done. So this is an essential principle to understand about walking in rest. I am writing this on Tuesday, which is a day that will be filled with laundry, writing two needed posts for God Living Girls with Chronic Illness, and doing some bookkeeping for our business. Not what I would normally think of as a day of rest! Yet this is what God was speaking to my heart this morning. So how can we rest in the Lord and still accomplish the tasks that need to be done?

  • This begins by committing to the Lord whatever is on your schedule for the day. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭NIV)‬‬
  • To commit our plans to the Lord, in the original Hebrew language, means to roll the weight of them onto the Lord. What a wise way to begin the day! By rolling the burden of our responsibilities on Jesus’ shoulders, we stop trying to carry the heavy weight ourselves and acknowledge our need for His help. We still need to fulfill our responsibility, but this enables us to enter God’s rest even while we are working.
  • So what are to commit to the Lord? Whatever project or undertaking is scheduled for this day, whether it is routine or especially difficult and complex.
  • This verse promises, when we take these steps, the Lord will establish our plans. To establish something is to make it firm and stable. But the Hebrew word translated “establish” in this verse can also mean “to direct, as an arrow” on it’s way to the target. If we have committed our plans for the day to the Lord, rolling the weight of it onto the Lord, He will direct our steps throughout the day. And while inwardly at rest, we will accomplish what God desires for our day.

Wow! When I sat down to study this verse, I had no idea all of the meat in these few words. I know this is my desire for my day. How about you? And to accomplish God’s purposes and be at rest as I’m doing it! A double blessing. Lord, I commit the tasks before me today to You, and I choose to work at them as You instruct me to in Colossians 3:23-24, with all my heart, working for You and not just to please those I am serving. Because in reality, it is the Lord Jesus Christ I am serving.

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I Am Doing A New Thing

For the last two years, God has clearly put a specific word on my heart for a Word of the Year. In 2016 it was JOY. I learned that JOY is found in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And I began forming a new habit of CHOOSING JOY when I didn’t always feel it in my emotions.

In December 2016, I again received clear direction from God for a Word of the Year for 2017. HOPE was the word I heard repeatedly in prayer, as 2016 came to an end. Again, it proved to be a very appropriate choice, during a year that turned out to be one of the most difficult we’ve recently been through. I shared some of the things God has taught me this year about hope in my recent blog post: https://readywriterbr.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/exploring-our-theme-part-2-still-anchored-in-hope/

As December 2017 began, I again began asking God what word He wanted me to focus on for 2018. For the whole month I prayed, but no one particular word stood out to me. Then as I was reading my Bible and praying this final morning of 2017, I sensed God speaking not a word but a phrase to my heart: A NEW THING. I did a search using one of my Bible apps, and Isaiah 43:19 jumped out at me as a clear word from the Lord.

I’m not sure what lies ahead of us in 2018, but there are definitely some signs that God is at work. My husband has an appointment on New Year’s Day that has the potential of being a major breakthrough in his dream of producing Christian movies – or possibly a total detour from God’s plan. We are moving forward with expectancy that the Lord will make His will clear.

Some of the major issues we have dealt with in 2017 are now behind us, others should be behind us in the next few weeks, and still others present longterm issues that are unlikely to be resolved any time soon. 2017 has definitely been a year of walking through the wilderness, but at no time have we been alone. God has clearly led us through this year, bringing us into a place of increased obedience to the precepts of His Word and a deeper knowledge of His nature. As 2017 comes to an end and 2018 is on the horizon, I’m taking hold of this promise that the Lord is making a way in the wilderness and will provide streams in the wasteland.

And as the new year draws closer, God is continuing to speak to my heart. REST. My new Word of the Year. This is a year to learn to REST in the Lord and in His work in my life. To REST in His promises and His character.

Jesus Christ is the Word

Have you even had your plan all mapped out, and suddenly God spoke to your heart and brought a change of direction. That’s what happened to me, as I was finishing a Christian novel I have been reading and a verse of Scripture jumped out at me from the closing pages. The quote that caught my attention said, “The true Light who enlightens every man was coming into the world.”

This probably caught my eye because in addition to writing these daily Advent devotions during December, I have been doing The Light Bible Reading Challenge by Rachel Wojo, reading verses every day about Jesus being The Light. But I didn’t remember ever seeing Jesus referred to as “the true Light that enlightens every man” so I decided to look up the verse. I learned that this unique wording was from the Berean Literal Bible translation of John 1:9, part of a well known passage that speaks of Jesus as the Word. And I realized that I had failed to include one very important name of Jesus in my plan: The Word.

John 1:1-5, the prologue of John’s gospel, establishes some important truths about Jesus.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

These words that begin the Gospel of John give one of the clearest statements in Scripture of who Jesus is. They clearly say that Jesus (the Word) was present in the beginning, before the creation described in detail in Genesis 1. They say He was with God and He also was God, truly God and yet distinct from the Father. In other words, they identify Jesus as a part of the Godhead. They also identify Him as Creator. They tell us life is found in Him. And finally, they remind us that He is the light that overcomes darkness. This true Light who enlightens every man had now come into the world in human flesh.

When John 1:1 speaks of Jesus as The Word, the Greek word used is Logos. Logos specifically means an utterance or a statement, a spoken word.

The Gospel of John was written to prove that Jesus is the Son of God and that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. It’s original readers were new believers in Jesus Christ and non-Christians who were seeking to know God, both Jews and Greeks.

By using the word logos, John was pointing his Jewish readers back to the Old Testament where the “Word of God” is associated with God’s revelation. And for his Greek readers, he was using a familiar word they associated with being a bridge between the infinite and eternal God and the material universe.

I am very grateful that God has given us His written Word, the holy Scriptures that reveal to us God’s existence, nature and character and that are a guidebook on how to live the Christian life. But I am even more grateful that God has given us the Living Word, His Son Jesus Christ, who came into the world to not only be a bridge between fallen mankind and Almighty God, but to also be the true light that enlightens every man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday at Ten: Choose Wisely

We make hundreds of choices every day.  Some are of little consequence, such as which coffee mug I chose for my morning cup of coffee. Others may be life-changing, including the person we choose to marry. But no choice we ever make will be more important that the choice to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of our lives. If you aren’t sure that you’ve made this choice, find someone you look up to as a mature Christian and talk this over with them. Without this assurance that you truly are a part of God’s family because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, none of the below steps will make sense to you.

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The question of salvation was settled in my life many years ago. Yet I’m currently facing another major decision, one concerning my health, and my husband and I are in agreement that we need to hear from God before moving forward. After seven months of greatly increased pain, dizziness, and other symptoms, the spinal and neurosurgeon I was referred to has told me that the vertebrae in my neck and back are in such bad shape that surgery is my only option left for getting relief. Back surgery is risky, therefore my husband and I want to hear from God before we make a decision. So what I’m sharing today is not theoretical. The principles I’m sharing are practical steps to confirming the will of God in a situation such as this.

Proverbs 3:5-6, in the New Living Translation says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” But what is our part in the process of finding God’s will. These verses give the steps.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart. The Hebrew word translated trust means “to be confident and secure in someone,” in this case in the Lord. It includes the idea of picking up all my cares and concerns and throwing them on Him. And I am to do this wholeheartedly. James 1:5-8 promises: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
  • Do not depend on your own understanding. To depend on (lean on, in KJV), is to rest upon or put our confidence in something. We are not to rest in our limited understanding, intelligence, or discernment. Instead, we’re to rest in the Lord as we wait for His answer. “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” (Psalm‬ ‭62:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • Seek his will in all you do. KJV words this “acknowledge Him in all your ways.”  The word for acknowledge means to know or be acquainted with someone. Another meaning is to turn the mind on someone or something. God seldom works in our timing, so to me this is instruction in what we are to do while we wait for His answer. We are to turn our focus on Him, not the subject for which we’re seeking an answer. And we are to seek to please God in all we do, not just to get Him to answer us but as a way of life. This is also a good time to become better acquainted with God, by studying His attributes or names that give us deeper revelation of who He really is.
  • He will show you which path to take. Unlike the first three points which are instructions, this final one is a promise. If we do the three steps listed above, God will smooth the path before us, will show us the best decision to make.  There are numerous verses that promise God will be faithful in showing us what choice to make in situations such as the one I’m currently facing, but one of my favorites is Hebrews 10:23,  “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

We all make innumerable choices every day, most of little lasting importance.  But sometimes we need to make decisions that may have a major influence on our future. I’m currently facing such a choice, and some of you may be also. I hope you will join me in the decision to choose wisely, by doing it God’s way. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” Isaiah 46:10 tells us He knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, we can be confident He knows which path will take us where His perfect will is found. So let’s ask for wisdom, wait for His answer, then boldly and bravely start down that path.

The Most Important Decision

In May of 1970, I graduated from college with a degree in Early Childhood Education. My best friend from college, Beverly, and I got teaching jobs in the same school, so we decided to share an apartment. Three months after our graduation, we moved from the homes where each of us grew up to began our new adventure.

From the time I was a small child, I had always been a part of a United Methodist church, so once Bev and I got unpacked and settled in our apartment, one of the first things I did was look for a Methodist church close to where I was living. I found a church nearby, and started attending the next Sunday. I enjoyed the preaching, and I began attending regularly. Over time, my new pastor and his family became dear friends.

Right after Labor Day, Bev and I began our first year as teachers, her teaching second grade and me kindergarten. I quickly decided that I loved teaching and enjoyed the precious children who had been entrusted to my care. Life was good, and the future looked promising.

Beverly and I both completed our first year of teaching, and we renewed our contracts for another year. We enjoyed summer vacation – three months of receiving paychecks and being free to do whatever we wanted with our time – and then it was time to meet our new students and start again. Between my job and my church, I was content.

I had no idea at the time, but things were about to change. Early in 1972, my pastor preached a sermon based on the novel In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon, which follows the lives of several people who decide to walk as Jesus walked. And he challenged anyone willing to join him in a commitment to ask “What would Jesus do?” whenever a decision needed to be made. My heart was really touched by the sermon, and I decided to take the challenge our pastor had given.

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The very next evening, I had a chance to apply what I had learned. I had made plans with my roommate to go to a play, and we had already bought our tickets. Then my pastor called about a special meeting in a church about thirty miles away, and invited me to join his family for the service. I was facing a crossroads and needed to make a decision. I hated to disappoint my roommate, but I also wanted to honor the commitment I had made the day before. The more I prayed, the stronger I believed that I was to go with my pastor and his family to the service. So I apologized to Bev and agreed to accompany my pastor and his family to the special meeting. Looking back over four decades later, I know for certain that I made the right decision, for that night forever changed my life.

Two major milestones in my life began that evening. First, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. While I’d attended church from infancy, I had never made that decision, and don’t even remember being told that I needed to make that decision. So that important evening, I began my life-long walk under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The guest speaker that evening, Dale Chapman, had recently started a Bible college in Oklahoma City. After he preached, he shared about the school. Almost immediately, I began feeling that God was calling me to attend this Bible college. This first major decision as a born-again Christian wasn’t easy, but the more I prayed, the more convinced I became that this was God’s will. So at the end of the school year, I submitted my resignation to the school board and started making plans to move to Oklahoma City.

That fall, I started Bible college, and soon afterwards met my future husband on an outreach that both of us were a part of. Within a few weeks, we began dating. And at the end of the year of Bible college, we were married in Oklahoma City. After our honeymoon, we moved to Houston and began our life as a married couple. The years since then have included many other defining moments, some joyful and some sorrowful, but none were more life-changing than this first one.

Thus, what started as a simple decision to attend a church service instead of a play turned out to be the biggest defining moment of my life. Mitch and I have now been married for almost forty-two years, and that time has been spent following God’s calling in our individual lives and for us as a couple. I can honestly say that I have no regrets for surrendering my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and doing what He was leading me to do on that l Monday night long ago.

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