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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Receive Rest

Welcome to Q2 2016, sis. It is simply amazing for me how quickly we have gotten here. The reality of this hit me more when my husby began to ask questions around what our plans were for the summer. Summer? Already? Hmm! But that is our reality, sis. If we got to April in the blink of an eye, then I can promise you that summer is truly practically already upon us.

Speaking of summer, my first son called to say he planned to stay back and work over the holidays. He has set an audacious financial target for himself and decided to take active steps towards actualizing this. And God has been faithful to honor his desire, as himself - and his younger brother, both got jobs last week. So sis, bless the Lord with me for mature and responsible children. Bless Him with me for His faithfulness and provision. And then bless God with me for hugging me in this season of excitement and gratitude on one hand, and a deep sadness on the other hand that I won’t have my precious seed close to me over those summer weeks as planned.

Growing up is hard to do, sis. It is! At every stage we have to mature into something new and but for the grace of God, our reactions and choices could alter the trajectory of our lives in a significant way. For me, the last few years have been an emptying-of-the nest season. For each child that has ‘left’ home, it has been an emotional and psychological adjustment. Just when it became almost ‘normal’ to have just the two of my four children at home, I am also now faced with the reality of my daughter leaving at the end of this summer. So sis, my countdown on how far the year has gone is also partly because I am bracing myself for another emotional adjustment ahead. Hmm!

As I typed that last sentence, God just ministered something to me. He said He was the One orchestrating my boys’ decisions to stay back and work, because the transition from all children at home for summer to only my last one home in September would be a heavy one for me. He says He will ease me into the next season and help me to carry through. Wow! Thank You Lord. Forever and always You are God! I see it clearly Father, and I am grateful.

Speaking about seasons, I actually started to blog about something God had shared with me concerning the ‘many waters’ we struggle with in our lives, but somehow I find myself drawn to a message I shared at our last Sista Power gathering which was themed ‘Rest & Renewal’. I sense in my spirit that it is a word that will bless someone who needs to be reading it exactly here and now, for a particular season that they currently find themselves in.

I had spoken based on an anchor Scripture in Matthew 11 v 28-30, ‘Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  I had said though that the Message Bible version spoke more to my heart, and it says, ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Earlier this month - specifically on the 9th of March, God spoke to me during my quiet time and He said to me:  ‘REST & RESILIENCE ARE TWIN SIDES OF YOUR ASSIGNMENT. Don’t forget this! There are challenges ahead that will call for you to be resilient, and yet to constantly and consistently enter into and remain in My REST!’  I thought about this deeply and continue to. God said to me at the beginning of the year that He has ‘graced me to deliver specifics in my latter years’ so I understand that I am on assignment, and I understand that God has something new on hand for me in this season of my life. It is clarity that for me is then key as I move forward in this space, and I needed to understand the ‘rest’ part.

My meditations were kept largely to myself until my sister Bidemi Mark-Mordi informed me that of the theme for our next Sista Power gathering was ‘Rest & Renewal’. Clearly God was and is up to something. God is an intentional God, and He does not waste words. When He speaks it is powerful and it is purposeful. He takes His time to confirm His word, and His word is always fresh manna that feeds us in our different seasons if we choose to avail ourselves of it. I believe this is a Word He needs you to hear in this season, sis. I truly do!

So anyway sis, I had started my session by looking at some definitions of the word ‘Rest’ that made sense to me. Rest was defined as:
-        Peace of mind or spirit (made me think of the peace of God which surpasses all understanding)
-        Something used for support (made me think of God saying He is our stay; the solid rock on which we stand)
-        Free of anxieties (made me think of God’s call for us to cast all our cares on Him)
-        relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs  (made me think of God as our burden bearer)
-        Mental or spiritual calm; tranquility  

As I looked over these definitions, I kept remembering Matthew 11 v 28-30:  ‘I’ll show you how to take a real rest. You’ll recover your life.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  You’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ Sis, does the expression ‘unforced rhythms of life’ not just give you a sense of the peace that can be? Amazing!

Remember I had said in one of my earlier posts that I had started this year on a hard course as God had me do a study of Revelation? At the end, He said to me that He didn't ask me to do this so that I would be scared, but rather for me to understand the weight of what is coming and the fact that there is much work to be done; and that He has chosen and equipped me for a portion of the work which I must necessarily deliver on. You can imagine sis, that I was very happy when He then asked me to follow this with a study of the Psalms. The Psalms used to be and I guess still is my favorite book in the Bible. Indeed I’d hung out there for many years until God told me I had drunk enough spiritual milk and needed to start eating meat. So, I was glad to go back to the Psalms. I was! 

In a very short time however, I began to see why the Lord would have me in a study of Psalms in this season. It became very clear to me very quickly that one of the central messages of the Psalms is for us to learn the secrets and benefits of resting in God. Almost from the very beginning of the Psalms we see David speaking about enemies, about persecution, about those plotting against him, about difficult situations. Somehow though, we also see that he keeps coming back to the place of making such bold statements as in Psalm 3 where he says in verses 5-6: ‘I will sleep. The Lord sustains me so I will not fear those who have set themselves round about me.’    

In Psalm 4, he acknowledged that he was hemmed in, but that God freed him; that he was in distress, but God enlarged him. He ended by saying that he would not only lie down in peace, but that he would also sleep in peace because the Lord makes him dwell in safety and in confident trust. You and I know that lying down is no guarantee of sleep, and that sleeping is no guarantee of rest, right sis?
In Psalm 5 he started by speaking about crying, groaning and sighing, talking about wickedness and enemies; but ended with declaring that those who trust God sing and shout for joy because He is their covering and defense; because He surrounds them with favor as with a shield.

In Psalm 6, he started with a cry for mercy, because he was weak by his own admission. His body and spirit were exceedingly disturbed and troubled. He was weary with groaning and tears soaking his pillows at night and soaking his couch by day. But he ended in an affirmation that the Lord had heard his cries and had received his prayer. We are not told the problems went away into thin air, no. Rather, what is clear is that he entered into the rest of God despite the problems.

And this goes on and on. Even where the word rest is not specifically mentioned, the Psalms show us that among the best of us there are afflictions we deal with. We have seasons of praise and then the tide turns. But we have so many assurances from the Lord Himself that if we would just enter into His presence, we fight the battle from a different vantage position. Sis, rest is about understanding that God is truly Lord above all, and that in Him we already have every victory. 

In Psalm 16, David acknowledges that the Lord is his Refuge, the One in whom he put all his trust. He is at rest in the confidence of a goodly heritage. He speaks with confidence of a God Who gives him counsel, such that his heart instructs him in the night seasons. He speaks to there being fullness of joy in the presence of God…. Not an absence of problems, a fullness of joy (rest).

As I read this, I was struck by the expression ‘Night seasons’. I thought about the fact that with the goings on in the global Oil & Gas industry and the impacts on various economies, many businesses have been in what looks like a night season for a while. Sis, in some of our homes, personal relationships, health, finances, etc., many of us are in what look like night seasons. And night seasons can be confusing can’t they, sis? They can block visibility, clarity, creativity. In our night seasons, it can be difficult to focus on God’s face. Usually, we start looking for His hand – the short terms fixes, instead of His face (His presence). Yet God is constantly saying and trying to show us that our difficulties do not invalidate His sovereignty! That He is always God and that He is always with us. He is constantly trying to get us to see that it is never pitch dark even in those night seasons. There is always a glimmer of light somewhere, and this glimmer is God saying ‘Be at Rest, I am with you even in and through this’.  

Sis, so many of us are going through diverse difficulties. We are just about midway through the month of April, but many of us already feel like we have lived two lifetimes in 2016. Many of us have found ourselves contending afresh with things we thought were laid to rest, travailing in battles we thought we had already won. Many of us are dealing with hydra-headed demons….a combination of husband, work, business, children and health issues. We are dealing with multi-faceted challenges that make us wonder where to start fighting back. Many of us are already bowed down, cowed, afraid. It’s looking like we can’t handle this – and Q1 just barely ended. Any excitement we entered the New Year with has fast diminished and is now being replaced with anxiety as to what the rest of the year might hold.

Sis, many of us are busy, busy, busy….near overwhelmed actually; and our response has been to pull away from the one thing that we need to overcome in these situations – THE REST THAT GOD FREELY OFFERS! But it ends today, sis! God says, ‘Enough! My offer still stands. ENTER into and ABIDE in MY REST today!’

Do you remember Moses encounter with his father-in-law Jethro in Exodus 18? Well sis, the Lord ministered to me that what was playing out was a type and shadow of God’s principle of REST in the first place. Remember that Moses had sent his wife Ziporah back to her father along with her two sons. Jethro had heard all that God had done for Moses and his people, and how He had brought them out of Egypt. So Jethro took Ziporah and their two sons Gershon and Eliezer back to meet with Moses. Time and length-of-post won’t allow me do justice to this scripture, but please read it for yourself from verses 14 to 24, sis. Let God minister life to you through that Scripture.

Sis, even as Jethro asked Moses, God is asking you, ‘What is this that you are doing?’ He is saying, v18 ‘The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out both yourself and this people with you, for the thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it all by yourself’. God is saying to you as in v19, ‘Listen now to Me; I will counsel you and be with you’.

As Jethro asked Moses to share the burden of judgements with others, God is asking us to let Him share our burdens. He is asking that we assign them to Him because He is more than able to bear our loads. In V23 Jethro said, ‘If you will do this, and God so commands you, you will be able to endure the strain, and all these people also will go to their tents in peace’. Sis, God is calling you to enter into His rest… to do what He is telling you so that the strain of your life will not be too much for you to endure; and indeed, so that those around you also dwell in peace.

God has given us several assurances in His word concerning rest. I love Isaiah 30 v15  ‘For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” It however ends with ‘But you were unwilling’. Sis, don’t be unwilling! God said in Exodus 33 v14, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Can you come back to that place of absolute trust, sis?

When you are in a rested state, then no matter what is going on around you, you have inner peace & clarity of thought; you have the ability to hear the voice of God; a higher level of discernment – to see what isn't visible & hear what isn't said. When you are rested, you more easily live a truly spirit-led life. When you are at rest, people are drawn to you.  There is a constant calmness around you that draws people to you; you become a silent message in yourself. There are of course physical benefits to being in a state of rest – lower blood pressure; less headaches, diabetes, cancers, etc - and quite frankly, even if you are being ravaged by some illness or the other, you are able to elevate your spiritual health over and above that of your physical health when you are in the rest of God. 

Sis, rest positions you to fulfill your assignment! A rested spirit is more useful to God. Simply put therefore, you have to contend for your rest, sis. Your flesh would rather wallow because in the midst of storms, rest is not logical! That is why we can only rest by keeping our eyes on God and His word, in faith and confident trust that He cannot lie. Rest is not casual, sis. It is hard fought for, but well worth it! It involves a continuous choice to renew your mind and keep it renewed – constantly casting down every thought and imagination that tries to exalt itself against the word of God that you are holding on to. 

Sis, God says you must enter rest because He wants to use you to do great things, but He can’t use you maximally where you are now.  He had given me a few questions to ask and a few things to say at Sista Power, and I will again share them on this platform because I believe they could also be for you.
-        God said to ask, ‘Where are your previous testimonies? Have I not done this for you time and again? Why are you fretting?’ 

-        God said I should tell you 'I have given you the gift of tears'. Cry it out! Stop bottling things up. Stop trying to be strong in your own strength! You can’t do this thing by yourself. I am the power that is at work in you. I am the power that avails for you. Cry it out on My Alter. I collect your tears. Cry it out, but when you are done, don't collect your tears back! Leave your burdens at My mercy seat and enter into My rest. If you let me, I will fight your battles for you and you will hold your peace’. 

-        God says to tell you, ‘Rest is of the Spirit, and it is in the heart. You can rest if you stop trying to help Me think things through. Stop trying to figure it out for Me. The time you spend fretting is the time you should spend worshiping, and in My presence so that I can speak to you and give you direction’. He says there is nothing new under the sun. He has fought your battles before and He will yet fight them again. That thing that you think is peculiar to you, is not new to Him. 

Sis, rest is about our faith. You either believe God knows the end from the beginning or you don't. And do you recall that He said that in this life we will have trouble? Don't you know that His word is true? We will have trouble! But we are to rest in the assurance that He will be with us through the fire and through the flood. He said His thoughts towards us are of good and not of evil remember? He said that ALL things (the troubles and all) work together for our good, didn’t He? Come back to the place of the fullness of your faith in Him, sis. Once you and I purpose to maintain that position and conviction, we will find it in ourselves – by the power of the Holy Spirit, to declare to the enemy that no matter how many times he has or will come against us with his darts of doubt; our confession is that IT IS FINISHED!

And as we confess this sis, we will not only lie down in peace, but like David…we will sleep in peace.

Receive rest today, sis! The Holy Spirit will help you, as surely as He has been helping me.

Be blessed sis… for you surely are!


2 comments:

  1. Thank you. But my questions these past few days remain. God I don't get it! What is your criteria? What am I doing wrong? What am I not doing? What should I do and how? I know God is Sovereign, All Powerful, Totally Awesome but the questions abound.....

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  2. Thank you, I am reminded of God's assurances that He will carry my burdens and to seek Him to do just that. Moses and his father-in-laws engagement to trust God was just apt. Thank you, once again, sis.

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About Me

Entrepreneur, Mentor, Wife, Mother, Sister, Friend. A firm believer in God. Walking in faith everyday that by His grace, I will achieve harmony in all areas of my life, and make measurable impact in the lives of other women of the world

WORD FOR THE WEEK

LUKE 1:

34“-How can this be, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God

JEREMIAH 2:

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth. 7 But the Lord said to me, Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8 Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have this day appointed you to the oversight of the nations and of the kingdoms to root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

1st CORINTHIANS 1:

25 [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men. 26 For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. 27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. 28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

Colossians 1:

28 Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ (the Anointed One).

29 For this I labor [[z]unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.