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A Sabbath Life

June 10th, 2016

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious.

“God ended His work . . and He rested.” Genesis 2:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a Sabbath life.”

Work is an unavoidable, important piece of everyday life; yet it is just not meant to be the only piece. God gave the first work assignment to Adam. See Genesis 2:8-15 NLT. God placed Adam in the midst of a bountiful garden, “to tend and watch over it,” instructing Adam to partner in all God had created. Partnering with God in His will and purpose is your life’s work. You do so in your daily circle of influence and opportunity He has given you.

Your work is your assignment of ministry and your ministry assignment certainly includes your daily work. When your work is different from your Godly assignment, you are neither happy nor fulfilled. Without a sense of assignment, you lack the understanding of what you are doing, the clarity of why, and the conviction that you serve the Lord God. Labor was meant to be fruitful and productive in what God entrusts to your hands. If you read Genesis carefully, you will note that labor, as did most of life’s responsibilities, became hard “work.” I find it interesting that because disobedience, God told the woman that her act of birthing would be with pain and man’s work would be with sweat and struggle. Both of which we now call “labor.” Read Genesis 3:16-19 NLT.

At creation, God established a Sabbath principle by His own example and later established the Sabbath principle in His Law, the Ten Commandments, “six days you shall work, and on the seventh, rest.” Read Exodus 20:8-11 NIV. Life is designed for a natural, complementary rhythm of both work and rest. Life is better lived when you are diligent in your work and provide ample room in your schedule for the principle of Sabbath. “We urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you . . we encourage you to do so more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 NLT.

Sabbath is the attitude in which you live your life before God and others. Here is Jesus’ simple, straightforward invitation: “Come to Me, all of you are who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest . . you will find rest for your souls.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. Rest is more than inactivity. Jesus could say, “The One who sent Me is with me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. A Sabbath life is found in doing only what “pleases Him.” Rest for the soul comes from knowing what you should be doing and doing so as unto the Lord.

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious. When your work becomes unsatisfying, wearying, or worrisome to you, you have lost perspective or misplaced priorities. If your goals are not being achieved however hard you work, your goals are not the same as His goals for you. When your life feels out of order, prayerfully check your priorities and activities and adjust accordingly.

Today, I pray for you to enjoy your work and rest as equally satisfying.

EDL Sabbath

 

Christian Communications 2016

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Spiritual Practices

October 9th, 2015

“The Father has blessed us . . with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual practices.”

Days can be busy and noisy, leaving you over-stimulated and weary. Everything seems rushed and everyone hurried. All too often, the urgent displaces the important. The pace of our lives and the noise of our surroundings diminish things vital to our well-being. More tragically, you can lose something of yourself somewhere in the noise and busyness. Unrelenting activity produces a confused identity. A conviction of spiritual identity provides: certainty about purpose, clarity of direction, and sufficiency of your God-given gifts and abilities. So much depends upon a true sense of your God-given identity.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude. We are so much like the disciples – often busy and tired. Jesus invited His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV. Time alone with God is where you rediscover your identity in Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV. In his epistles, Paul wrote prolifically about your life, “in Christ.” Read Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV.

Let me suggest Biblical disciplines that strengthen your spiritual identity. Begin with this. Practice Sabbath rest. The Sabbath principle incorporates the whole of one’s life before the Lord. All other spiritual disciplines begin and extend from a heart that practices the principle of Sabbath. More than a day set aside from usual and necessary activity, Sabbath is a deliberate time – without worry or hurry – to reorient your body, soul, and spirit with the Biblical practices that encourage and celebrate your faith. In Jesus, true Sabbath is found. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.

Prioritize quiet and solitude. Practice to be quiet and content in God’s presence. “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother.” Psalm 131:1-2 NIV. Prioritize time in God’s Word. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Regular attention to the reading and meditation of Scripture is critically important. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV. Prioritize prayer with thanksgiving. Communicating your heart and gratitude to God results in communion with God. “In everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Prioritize Praise and Worship. Grow comfortable expressing your heart in joyful adoration. Psalm 100 NIV. Prioritize edifying Fellowship. You were made for community. Acts 2:46-47 NKJV. That is where you grow and serve best. “Let us not neglect our meeting together . . but encourage and warn one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT. Spiritual practices develop a life that abides in Christ, trusts His finished work on the cross, and celebrates your identity in Christ.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is rooted and built up in Christ Jesus.

Christian Communications

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Weariness

June 2nd, 2015

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened.” Matthew 11:28 NIV.

To be holy and healthy, you need safe places, still times, and special friends.

My thoughts and comments today are about “weariness.”

Too frequently our lives could be described in the terms of, “hurry, worry, and weariness.” Busyness and noisiness produce weariness of body, soul, and spirit. The relentless pace of daily lives and the incessant noise of crowded surroundings become exhausting – physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as relationally destructive. The result? Marriages struggle; families suffer; relationships are strained. Too often people are busy but ineffective. As efficiency and effectiveness diminish, multiplying your efforts is rarely the best solution.

Mark’s Gospel reports a productive, but equally draining time, for Jesus’ disciples. They preached; people repented; demons were cast out; sick people were healed. The disciples were busy about matters important to the Kingdom, doing exactly what Jesus commissioned them to do, and with remarkable success. The more the disciples accomplished, the more there was yet to do. Jesus wisely foresaw that they would experience the “law of diminishing returns,” growing efforts producing waning results.

“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” Mark 6:30-32 NIV. There have to be moments when you draw aside from the rush and routines. Read Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV.

The venerable King James translation reads, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Come apart . . and rest a while.” There are occasions when you need to be wise enough, “to come apart,” before you literally come apart – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Whatever your activities, maybe today you feel life unraveling – weary of soul, depleted of energy, empty of resolve, dissatisfied with success, or a tiredness that is never rested.

If experiencing one of those times, Jesus’ invitation is the best advice I could give you, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Read Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV.

Gordon MacDonald, a favorite author of mine, wrote, “Restoring Your Spiritual Passion.” Thomas Nelson Publishers. He gave three essentials things for spiritual passion: (1) Safe Places. You need a map of your life marking where you find Sanctuary, free from disruptions and misdirection. (2) Still Times. You need a calendar showing when you will observe Sabbath, apart from the demands of depleting schedules. (3) Special Friends. You need a life-restoring Fellowship, people who inspire, encourage, correct, challenge, and affirm you.

Today, I pray for you that draw strength and hope from a source that never fails.

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Fatigue

February 27th, 2015

“Come to Me . . and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:29 NIV.

Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fatigue.”

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” No one can do their best or be their best when tired. Fatigue negatively impacts everything. Fatigue has been described as, “a shortness of breath in one’s soul.” That kind of describes it for me. When I grow tired, I am more negative, less prone to see solutions than problems. At such times, motivation is difficult to muster. I am less patient with myself and others. Fatigue adversely affects your emotions, attitudes, behavior, decisions, and relationships.

The busyness and unrelenting pace of daily life are exhausting. Everybody knows what it means to just feel tired of being tired. When fatigued, you are affected physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. There is that which exhausts the soul as well as wearies the body. Everything grows more difficult; even things you would otherwise find enjoyable or easy are more taxing when tired. Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

The worst fatigue is beyond physical; it is a deep weariness of soul that only God can heal. Daniel prophesied of a future time which would, “wear out the saints of the Most High.” Daniel 7:25 KJV. Does that sound a bit like this generation? Keep your objectives clear; remember that reward and satisfaction follows obedience. God’s Word gives clear direction. Isaiah discovered, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest. This is the refreshing . . Those who wait upon God get fresh strength; they run and don’t get tired; they walk and don’t lag behind.” Isaiah 28:12/40:28-31 MSG. Time in God’s presence rejuvenates the soul. The practical exercises of prayer, Bible meditation, worship, singing, thanksgiving, confession, and personal reflection elevate and refresh the spirit of man. Practice those frequently and faithfully.

You were created to be productive, but God wisely built into your emotional and spiritual DNA the requirement for seasons of rest. “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in the plowing season and in harvest you must rest.” Exodus 34:21 NIV. The busy, demanding times of planting, as well as harvest, would seem unlikely times for rest. Wouldn’t immediacy and importance of task dictate that you persevere? But God cautions that despite the urgency of preparing the soil for planting or when reaping the harvest, you need to follow the Sabbath principle of timely rest. The Sabbath principle is not a suggestion. God commanded, ”Remember the Sabbath, by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8 NIV. You ignore God’s instruction to your own harm.

Many things will deplete your inner resources, until you embrace God’s invitation, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . And you will find rest for your soul.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Rest for your soul is the only cure for weariness of soul, and that rest is found through unhurried time with God. St. Augustine, Christian theologian (354-430 AD), is reported to have written, “My soul is not at peace until it finds its rest in Thee.” Maybe you have been looking in all the wrong places for what can only be found in God.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are confident where to find inner rest for your soul.

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Stress and Stillness

July 15th, 2014

“Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14 NKJV.

The pace of schedules and noise of surroundings generate stress.

My thoughts and comments today are about “stress and stillness.”

Stress is your body’s reaction to challenges, the impulse of “fight or flight.” Hurry, worry and weariness will leave you vulnerable to stress. Its negative and debilitating effects are cumulative, diminishing your joy and optimism and even damaging health. Stress can result from concerns about health, relationships, pressures, finances, past mistakes, or future fears.

In daily life, stress is heightened by the frantic pace of our schedules and the deafening noise of our surroundings. Prolonged, those are wearying to body, soul, and spirit. The effects manifest interpersonally in relationships, marriages, or families, as well as intrapersonally, affecting yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and most importantly, spiritually. Your spiritual life and personal relationship with God is diminished and less satisfying.

Isaiah discovered, “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength . . they will run and not get tired; they will walk and not became weary.” Read Isaiah 40:28-31 NAS. There is so much that you miss when you fail to take the necessary time to be quiet before God. Job, in the midst of the whirlwind of experiences and the confusion he felt, received wise counsel, “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14 NKJV. Life makes better sense when you place God at the center of it all.

There are two concerns that I have. First, the pace of your schedule compromises the priority of God’s voice. See Exodus 3:1-10 NKJV. You will not hear the voice of God in your heart without quieting your spirit to wait and listen. Secondly, the noise of your surroundings competes with the clarity of God’s voice. See 1 Samuel 3:1-11 NKJV. Any time but especially when life is unclear and uncertain, spend time with God’s Word, quietly in His presence.

The Psalmist David was deliberate, I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2 NLT. At all times, you need to learn this truth, “Be still and know that I am God.” Read Psalm 46. Be intentional; it is important.

Some years ago, a book, Restoring Your Spiritual Passion (Gordon MacDonald, author) influenced my spiritual disciplines. MacDonald named three things essential to recovering passion when experiencing lost purpose, clouded vision, or confused direction: an address book with the names of “special friends who encourage you to obey God,” a map indicating the location of “safe places where you rediscover who God is,” and a calendar marking “still times when you hear what God says.” Respectively, each corresponds to three vital, Biblical principles of Fellowship, Sanctuary, and Sabbath.

For your personal study, I suggest consideration of events in the lives of Elijah, Jehoshaphat, and Moses. (1) “Be still when you need to hear a word from God.” Read 1 Kings 19:7-16 KJV. (2) “Be still when you need to know the plans of God.” Read 2 Chronicles 20:10-22 NKJV. (3) “Be still when you need to see the power of God.” Exodus 14:10-16/30-31 NKJV.

Today, my prayer for you is to truly know God in a deep and personal way.

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