Learning to Rest is Work.

I’m writing a devotional about learning to rest. God calls us to rest in Him, but what does that mean and how do we do it?

I have learned that learning to rest in God takes work. It doesn’t happen naturally .

I’m giving you a sneak peek at the devotional today.

Day 1 Rest in a Prayer for Renewal

Colossians 1:9-14

“We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Pray through these verses everyday this month.

These verses teach us to know, not feel. We need to learn to rest because of our feelings. God created feelings for a purpose. They help us interact with the world around us. They help us to love deeply. They alert us to danger. Feelings are a thermometer not a solution. They give us the temperature; that’s it. When we learn to rest in God, He clothes us, not our feelings, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that we may walk worthy of the Lord.

Today, we may not feel strong. Learning to rest in truth, leads us to wait for the Lord to strengthen us with His power. He will give us endurance and patience with joy, but we can only live one day at a time. If we carry yesterday’s hurts and tomorrow’s worries, we will be exhausted. God gives us strength for today.

If we find that we are carrying yesterday’s hurts, we need to expose them to the Light. Hurts do not heal with time. When we stuff hurts to the basement of our hearts, we subconsciously respond to the world around us out of that hurt. We may not feel rescued from these hurts, but in Christ Jesus we are.

Because of Jesus, we have been transferred to the kingdom of the Son, who the Father loves! We have redemption in Christ! We have forgiveness in Christ! Praise the Lord, we are “In Christ”!

renewal

 

You can read the whole chapter on Bible Gateway in any version you want!

The Importance of Rest

Encouragement comes from so many places. My sister-in-law, Amber Browning, started a Facebook page, where she shares health tips. Everything from exercise to healthy recipes to supplements are included. But mostly, she shares encouragement! Amber is a fierce friend, awesome homeschooling momma, and a loving wife, who loves Jesus even more than all of these. Today, she shared about the importance of rest. She says,

Rest “So often people start off strong, then life happens, there is a bump in the road, they get discouraged, and they end up quitting. It’s a cycle I’ve seen over and over again (I can also speak from personal experience on this one). What if I told you, “It’s okay to rest, to slow down, to take a break every once in awhile?” I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings, “life is a marathon” or “slow and steady wins the race.” By all means, sprint when you can, but know there is time to rest and refresh too. Pacing yourself is key! If you can find balance and consistency day to day with bits of sprinting and rest in whatever goals you’re trying to achieve, you’re going to do well. You WILL get there! Don’t give up when you feel like quitting. Take a breather, regroup, remember

Amber Browning

Amber Browning, momma to 4 boys, homeschooler, encourager!

your WHY, and focus on doing better tomorrow than you did today. You’ve got this!!!” #consistencyiskey #encouragingwords #youcandoit #thehealthyvibrantlife #nrf2activated

Follow this beautiful friend here…The Healthy Vibrant Life Facebook page.

From Powerful to Powerless??!??

Power is intoxicating. Always has been. Eve wanted to be like God knowing good and evil. Taking on a role that did not belong to her, she ate the forbidden fruit to find wisdom. Isn’t that what we want? We want to be in control of our lives in every way. forbidden fruitShe wanted exactly what we want, “to be like God.”

We are in control.  If I keep a tight control over my house, I can control my children. If I love my husband, then he must love me back. I am in control of my life, knowing what is right and wrong. I have a strict code of do’s and don’ts. If I follow them, God is obligated to reward me with the desires of my heart. I’ve got my routine. I’ve got my goals.

Then life throws me a curve ball. That old hurt of a broken self-image roars to life.

That’s ok. I’ve got this. I just need to lose weight. I will try harder!  I’ll come up with a better routine! I just need to focus more. It’s all the toxic people around me.  I need a new job, house… husband.  I need to get more involved in church, more prayer, more bible study, more responsibility!!!!!!

Exhausted!!!!

Many of us are in denial about our lust for power to control our lives and the people around us.

altogether

See. I got it altogether! No messes!

We find euphemisms to hide behind as we disable our feelings to keep up the image. We build walls around us, so that people can’t see the hurt. We are constantly drained of energy. We isolate ourselves to keep others from hurting us.  We’ve been in pain for so long, relying on ourselves and our abilities.

In so much popular women’s ministry today, there is a voice that initially will sound right. I’ve been to a lot women’s conferences, where I was told I am worthy. I am beautiful. I am powerful. I’ve heard things like this,

“The arm of the Lord is not too short to deliver you, to provide for you, to vindicate you, to promote you. You’re about to see God take you where you couldn’t go on your own.”

“God’s not trying to take something from you; He’s trying to get something better to you. If you’ll trust Him and do what you know you need to do, you’ll come into a new level of your destiny.”

Who doesn’t want to be beautiful and worthy? Who doesn’t want a new level of destiny to be achieved by our good works? I want to be healed by the Presence of God without confession or repentance. A quick miracle, and my relationships are healed. I don’t have to admit that I was wrong. Forgiveness doesn’t cost me anything. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul warns us that there will be people who hold to a form religion but deny its power. If I alone am beautiful, worthy, and powerful. What do I do with Revelation 4:11?

“Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.”

What do I do with Romans 7?

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I do not do the good I want to do…

We have to admit that we are powerless to control ourselves and our world. The first step into God’s presence is submission and repentance. No one gets to skip this step. We have to uncover ourselves by confessing we’ve been living for ourselves. We are weak. We are filled with all kinds unrighteousness. When Paul writes a list of possible sins, adultery, envy, and murder are listed right next to disputes, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, and disobedient to parents

God will not override our normal operating system.

He is compassionate, not wanting to humiliate us.  Look at the story of Adam and Eve.  After they sinned, they heard God walking in the garden, and hid themselves.  God did not expose them. His presence alone didn’t heal them. He didn’t overwhelm them with his power.  He gently called them to come out.  Adam and Eve had to choose to come out from behind the bush of denial and admit they were powerless to resist evil.  They chose to humble themselves. God loves us so much that he doesn’t want us to exhaust ourselves being powerful.  He confronts us, so that we can stop hiding from Him and enjoy His presence. 

Are we enjoying God’s presence? Or, are we still trying to be powerful, trying to control our world and the people in our world?  Are we disabling our feelings? Then there is a stronghold there. Some of us blend Animism with our Christianity. If we say or do certain things, then God will respond in certain ways.  If we tithe, God will bless us.  If we pray, God will do what we ask.  My flat tire this morning happened because I yelled at my child before school.  I know a lady with a drawer full of fortunes from Chinese fortune cookies that thinks God is using them to speak directly to her. She leads a women’s ministry at a church. We ascribe spiritual significance to the material world.  Essentially, we as Christians believe that we are powerful enough to control God and the world around us by human means.  We’ve used Christian language to dress up our quest for power over our world.  

Everything in us will resist admitting that we are powerless, especially, if we’ve been made to feel powerless.

We try, but we cannot draw a straight line from our good deeds to blessings or bad deeds to suffering. Sometimes bad things happen.  Sometimes really good things happen.

Jeremiah cries out to us,

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.

                                                ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

God’s truth is that in Christ we are acceptable and chosen, and He has the power to heal us! What are we in denial about today? What are we trying to control or manipulate?  Are we still struggling to admit we are powerless to save ourselves?  Are still trying to be good enough to be accepted? Are we more focused on our self-worth than God? Is there a stronghold we need to face?

Meditation: A Lamp And A Light

Today, we start a new series at McElwain Baptist Church, RESTORED. Sadly, I’m missing the first sermon because I’m home with “stomach” cramps. I can give testimony to His restoration! I am being restored! I am so thankful that Jesus redeemed me and is continually using His word to restore my life. This is my meditation for today. I need to be reminded that the Word of God is sweet and pure because sometimes it cuts deep, exposing my depravity. I must not fear the truth because as God cuts away my selfish desires I more clearly see His love for me.Restored

Meditation: A Lamp And A Light from the hymnal

Isaiah 40:8,2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; Psalms 19, 119

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever!

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the hear.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

Teach me knowledge and good judgement for I believe in your commands.

I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees with my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth. I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.

I meditate on Your precepts

I consider Your ways.

I delight in Your decrees.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. It is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Does God love me?

When Kai died, the trauma of loss and grief overwhelmed me in torrents of pain and mom n childsadness. At times the pain grew so intense, it left me gasping for breath. I was drowning in sorrow.  How could a God who says He loves me, let me go through this?  Isn’t He all powerful?  Isn’t He good?  There’s no darkness in Him, right? My pain exposed my broken places.  My conclusion was that God didn’t love me.  I wasn’t one of the “chosen” because surely His “chosen” would be protected from such evil.

A friend was trying to encourage me. She said to pick something to remind me that God loves me.  I did.  I appropriated God’s rainbow of promise that He would never flood the world again to show His love for me.  Now, I see my arrogance.  The animists believe that they can manipulate their circumstances with the physical world.  My world became more about a rainbow than faith in Jesus.  Faith is believing without seeing.  I’ve blogged about my devastation over my husband getting to see a rainbow, while I was in a meeting that Rainbow Selfieemotionally I could barely sit through.  The problem with “pick your thing” is the LORD created the rainbow for His purposes.  The pink skies belong to Him and declare His glory, not His love for me.  “Pick your thing” is man-centric.  What happens to me when I desperately need reassurance of God’s love, and it’s storming? There’s no pink sky, no rainbows, and no prancing deer. Nature is what nature is.

Another friend encouraged me to “push through.”  She kept saying, “Let go, let God.”  “God’s got this!”  I looked at her and said, “This is what you say to someone who can’t breathe?”  She simply said yes and kept talking, saying how everyone needed me to push through because they needed me to be O.K.  Even she needed me to be O.K. Although, she was trying to help, what she did was deny my pain.  Frustrated and overwhelmed, I finally asked her to stop talking because she was hurting me.  The next morning her husband told me to apologize to her for being harsh with her.  Again, denying my pain in my time of need. Later, this couple condemned me for not grieving with them.  Desperately, I tried to point out the duplicity of expecting me to start acting like the “old Matthea”, while exposing them to my grief.  They just sat there saying “No. No. No.” Unfortunately, we were unable to resolve the break in relationship.

I cried out to the Lord in my anguish, believing in His power to heal, even if He didn’t love me.  What I now know is that my grief journey followed a similar path of most.  In the beginning, I was almost numb.  I went through the motions of the funeral and trying to get back to my old life, but I couldn’t sleep.  My lack of sleep alone could account for some of my anguish.  Grieving is exhausting!

About a year before Kai died my spiritual mom passed away from cancer leaving dad infant lossand a bunch of new sisters to grieve together.  Dad encouraged me to read Finding God by Dr. Larry Crabb.  My dad met me in my devastation, my overwhelming loss.  The closest I can come to describing the pain of losing my child is to picture the removal of every bone in your body. Now be your old self walking.  You can’t! 

Dr. Crabb met me too.  Throughout the pages of his book he described my pain.  He understood my fear that God didn’t love me.  He identified with me in my anger and anguish. He asked me to grapple with whether or not God is good? He even helped me to understand my two friends.  He writes in his book,

“Modern Christians are presented with two options for dealing with our lives: Either we can understand how our souls have been wounded and how to receive God’s healing nourishment, or we can obey God as a stern uninvolved father, and never tell him how bad we hurt. Either our hurt is the point, or it is no point at all. Either our needs matter more than anything else, or it is wrong even to mention them.

We need a third way of handling our lives- a way that combines a passionate sensitivity to our deepest struggles with a tender insistence that something matters more than how we feel.  It is healthy to face the pain in our souls, to feel bad when others violate our dignity, to admit to ourselves how desperately we long to feel loved and valued and accepted as we are.  But, in the middle of all this, we need to remember that the point of Christianity is not us, but God who cares for us.”

SO, I can’t quote the whole book, but I hope it intrigues you enough to read it.

giving babyGod met me in my grief.  As I trusted Him with my grief, He showed me that the reason why my friends hurt me so deeply was my expectations.  I expected my friends to love me more than they loved themselves.  We can’t expect that out of others; we are all broken people. They loved me the way they made sense of their hurts, and that didn’t work for me.  I needed God. In my world there wasn’t a rainbow, and I couldn’t just push through the pain. Ignoring the pain felt like I was dishonoring Kai’s memory.  He was a real person, who needed to be grieved, not forgotten.

God truly cares about our hurts, but the physical world that is broken by sin does not display His love for us.  God knew that nothing in all of creation would be good enough to show His love.  God sent himself to bring us back to himself. As I cried out to God to rescue me, He gently said, “I have. I gave you myself. I paid the price, so that you can enjoy my presence.” I realized I wanted God to protect me from everything that everyone else must endure because we still live in a world broken by sin.  Our bodies fail. Our minds fail. Our emotions lie to us. Our friends fail.  Parents fail. Children die. People hurt us. This world is broken that’s why Jesus reminds us that His kingdom is not of this world. I wanted His kingdom NOW. I’ve learned that there are some problems that will not be solved until heaven. When my friend looked at me and quoted the verse, “He gives beauty for ashes.” I no longer tried to be heard. I silently said in my heart, “Yes, He will, but right now, I literally have the ashes of my son in an urn. He hasn’t taken my ashes.” One day, I will stand with my son and worship the Risen Savior.

I have learned that I do not have to submit myself to the “fundamentalist who crushes the soul under proud obedience, and I don’t have to give into the illusion of life that honors the deadly virus of selfishness by calling it a different name. The first approach seems to imply that we pick ourselves up from where we have fallen by a mere act of will.  The second defines our helpless condition as morally excusable and therefore values God’s help above his mercy.”

Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  What I missed is that I may have to face death.  I may be in trouble. I will face hardship and persecution and famine and nakedness and danger and sword. I may be delivered up as sheep to be slaughtered. Not because doesn’t love me, but because this world is broken. My Jesus has demonstrated his love for me that while I was still a sinner He died for me. I am an heir, co-heir with Christ, but I will indeed share in his sufferings in order that I may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17

Bitten… but not devoured.

Moon

“I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

I have been pondering the darkness. We use this term in so many ways, but as I have sat in my darkness, the Lord opened my eyes to a few things. He created the darkness too. Genesis records that “God made two great lights- the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night- as well as the stars.” God has authority over the darkness. I read somewhere once that there is nothing that can overtake you that God has not allowed.

Think of the night and the moon. Close your eyes and see God’s created time for rest. Every day, He has ordained a time for us to lie down, release the cares of the day, and sleep, unafraid of the night. What if the very darkness we face is an ordained time for us to learn to rest in God? Would knowing that God still has authority over darkness, change how we Trust Him and experience His gift of peace? The Moon for me has become the physical reminder that God has dominion over the darkness.Eve Crushing

Peace. As I was waking up one morning, I heard this, “Bitten, but not devoured.” I’m fixin’ to get a little crazy because maybe the Spirit was speaking to me. Never have I felt such peace fall on me. In my last post, I gave you a glimpse into the depth of my darkness, that’s where I went to sleep, but that is not where I woke up.

I felt like God was saying, “Yes, Satan bit you. I can see the teeth marks on your leg. But YOU.. ARE.. NOT..devoured. I still have you in the palm of my hand.” God is Light and there is no darkness in Him. We have to believe this to experience victory in this life. None. Zilch. There is no darkness in Him. He rules over the darkness, and “In Christ Jesus” you have victory over whatever you are facing. It’s not a feeling, it’s a truth you must believe.

NO LOSS

Christy Nockels’, “Healing Is in Your Hands” has ministered to me because she leaves nothing out. Our victory is found only in the Lord Jesus. God never denies that we need healing. He doesn’t tell is to figure it out. Or the worst, “I’m holding it all together.” He designed us to walk with Him in the garden in the coolness of the evening. He never wanted us to be alone.

In Genesis, God said to the Serpent, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed. You will crush his heel, but He will crush your head.” Matthew records for us the ultimate scene of darkness, the Cross. At noon until three darkness covered the whole land. Then Jesus cries out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Then some men offered Jesus some sour wine. Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.

Darkness. But what amazing things was God, the Father, accomplishing in that darkness through Jesus, His Son. It looked like Satan might triumph.  Jesus buried in a tomb!

But Resurrection Sunday came, right on time! And with it, Jesus crushed Satan’s head, secured our forgiveness, and released our healing.

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

O Death, where is your victory?

O Death, where is your sting?

Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my dear brothers (and sisters), be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1Corinthians 15:54b-58

So I reiterate my questions at the beginning, What if the very darkness we face is an ordained time for us to learn to rest in God? Would knowing that God still has authority over darkness, change how we Trust Him and experience His gift of peace? Honestly, I don’t know everything that God is doing in my darkness, maybe a thousand things, but I can claim that He is teaching me to BELIEVE… even when it looks like evil might triumph. There are sicknesses that end in the death, but death has lost it’s victory over the Believer. Some Believers are holding chains and keeping secrets, but the truth is that these chains and secrets have no power over them. The power of sin is broken.

My dear friend, we are more than conquerors in Him. Know that today you are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ; for He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to he holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6.