Sunday, 26 April 2020

Resting in Him



In my previous message, “Waiting for Him”, I stated that, in this time of lockdown Jesus wants to come to us as Resurrected and Ascended Lord to bring us Rest, Restoration and Revelation.


How do we enter into these three things? Let us look at the first of these, Rest.

Hebrews 4 is all about us entering His rest and we are admonished not to fall short of this (Hebrews 4:1). Entering His rest is synonymous with living in His peace (shalom).

According to Vine’s Concise Dictionary, “The Hebrew word for rest is “nuach” meaning to rest or to be quiet. Sometimes, it is synonymous to “shabat”- sabbath, to cease or to rest. The Greek word for rest is “anapausis” meaning cessation or refreshment. Christ's rest is not a rest from work, but in work, not the rest of activity, but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections, of will, heart, imagination, conscience- because each has found in God the ideal sphere of its satisfaction and development.”

Hence, we need to learn how to live in His rest. This is not doing nothing or being passive, but it is having deep spiritual rest (the peace of God) even in busyness.

Three hindrances to rest are:

1.     Unbelief (in God & His Word)
“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19.

Unbelief in God’s goodness and promises leads us into anxiety and worries that drain faith and lead us into stress and a restless spirit.

2.     Unrighteousness (sin)
“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” Isaiah 48:22

Living an unrighteous lifestyle with undealt with sinful thoughts, words and deeds leads to a lack of rest in our spirits.

3.     Pride (arrogant & self-centred)
“Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:1-2

A proud and arrogant heart can never be at rest!

Therefore, we need to still and calm our hearts (Psalm 131:2) by coming to the Lord (Matthew 11:28). But how do we do this? The following 4 R’s are the key to entering His rest, even in our busyness.

1.     Rejoicing
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! …. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:4,7)

Paul urges his readers to rejoice in the Lord twice (emphasising its importance) in order to enter this rest. Practice living a lifestyle of rejoicing from the moment you get up to the moment you fall asleep. Choose to rejoice in Him in all things and His peace will start to flood your soul.

2.     Righteousness
“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” Isaiah 32:17

Living a righteous life leads to peace and rest. This is not self-righteousness but the righteousness of Christ He imputes into us by faith through His grace as we repent and claim that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21) through His shed blood! Every day at the Prayer Altar take time to confess your sins and claim his cleansing and righteousness and live in great peace and rest.

3.     Requesting
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Laying all your needs and requests before the Lord and trusting Him to hear and answer you will still your heart and mind and bring you into true rest and peace. As you daily pour out your prayers, petitions and intercessions before the Lord at the Prayer Altar you will find more of His peace will flood your soul.

4.     Reflecting
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

Reflecting on the Lord and on His Word through praise, worship and biblical meditation will still and quiet our hearts and lead us into deeper rest in Him. Every day take time at the Prayer Altar to meditate on His goodness and on passages of His Word that you read in your daily reading.

In this time of lockdown let us learn to enter His rest by practising these four things and cultivating a lifestyle of His shalom in our lives. 




Sunday, 19 April 2020

Chasing Away the Viruses


2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 recount the same story about a plague coming on all Israel and killing 70,000 men (a lot more including children and women). This viral epidemic came about because of a virus in David's heart that was probably also in the hearts of most of his subjects! God allowed Satan to move King David to number his impressive army, appealing to the pride in his heart and the desire to impress the nations surrounding Israel.

This virus in David's heart would lead to a virus, commanded by an angel with a sword,  that ravaged all of Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba (from North to South) stopping before hitting Jerusalem. At this juncture David had to take decisive steps or the plague would destroy Jerusalem, the heart of Israel.

Today, this sounds all too familiar to us. A viral pandemic is ravaging the world due to the pride and sin of man threatening to destroy the very heart of civilisations. In our own lives we have viruses buried deep down that threaten to destroy a victorious life. We may be ignorant of these viruses or even deny that they are there, but it is a reality that must be dealt with. David's viral pride would have destroyed him had he not taken action.

The answer came in the form of David's prophet Gad.
“And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 2 Samuel 24:18

1. Go Up!

David was to ascend a mountain to where there was a threshing floor owned by Araunah. A threshing floor was a place to separate the essential grain from the chaff by exposing it to the wind. This mountain was actually Moriah, the same mountain Abraham ascended to offer his son Isaac. A place of testing and purifying. 

He was to go up the mountain of the Lord.
The first step in expelling viruses in us is to go up into God's Throne Room. This starts by going up in our thinking. Thinking upon what is heavenly and good. In faith we are to set our minds on things above and not things below. 

During the Circuit Breaker time let us break every low thinking and start meditating on Who He is and who we are in Him! This high thinking is particularly revealed in the Word of God and it is His Word, His light and His truth that leads up up the holy hill (Psalm 43:3). We need to soak in large portions of the Word of God every day.

2. Build Up!

Next, David was to build up an altar to the Lord over the threshing floor. 
He was to take many rocks and pile them in order upon each other to form a altar where he could cry out in repentant worship to God for the Plague to end, both in the land and in his heart.

In the same way, let us use this time to rebuild the Altar of the Lord in our lives. Let us strengthen our Prayer Altars with the rocks of reading the Word, Praising and Worshipping Him, Repenting of our sins and receiving cleansing in flesh and spirit, being filled with the Spirit and interceding the the Spirit  with identificational repentance for the land, declaring His calling and destiny over lives and lands!

“And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 
So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.” 2 Samuel 24:25

3. Offer Up!

As David offered up sacrifices on the Altar his prayer were heeded and the virus was defeated in the land and in his heart! David had refused to offer up sacrifices that cost him nothing. He paid the full price for the site that would later become the place for Solomon's Temple.

Are you willing to pay the price of offering up Your body as a living sacrifice? Are you willing to sacrifice time and tears to ascend the hill of the Lord and build a strong and effective Prayer Altar that will cause the plague in the land and in your heart to cease?

Let's go and chase away some viruses!






Monday, 13 April 2020

Waiting For Him


We know that from the Resurrection to the Ascension of Jesus there was 40 days and then a further 10 days of waiting in the upper room for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.



Let us focus in on the 40 days. During these 40 days they had to hide from the authorities and wherever they went, like us, they were in a kind of quarantine. The word "quarantine" comes from the Latin meaning 40. In the Bible 40 days is a period of testing and change (Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness, Moses' 40 days up Mount Sinai).

After the resurrection of Jesus the disciples waited for Him in several stages during these 40 days. Jesus appeared to many disciples during this time but I want to focus on three appearances that give us a glimpse into what He appeared in His resurrection state to accomplish. This can be applied to us as we Wait For Him (WFH) in this time of Quarantine.

Firstly, He appeared to give REST to them.

"Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”" John 20:19

The disciples were fearful and shut in so Jesus appeared to impart Shalom (the holistic peace of God) into their lives. He speaks a blessing over them that fills their hearts with calm in the midst of the storm. That's what Jesus wants to do for us during this fearful time. Lift up Your hands and let Him impart His Shalom into your life right now!

Secondly, He appeared to RESTORE them.


"So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” John 21:15
Peter had denied Jesus three times and, even though Jesus had appeared briefly to him earlier, he would have still felt some shame and guilt. After the disciples returned to Galilee they went back to a kind of muted reality. Peter and his gang went back to fishing where they encountered the risen Christ again on the shore of the sea of Galilee. 
It was here Jesus restored Peter by asking him three times , "Do you love me?" (one for each time he denied Jesus). He was loving Peter so in return Peter could be free to love again. Jesus wants to do that to you during this time of lockdown. Allow Him to speak words of restoration into your soul.
Thirdly, He appeared to bring REVELATION to them.
"He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3
From the city to the sea to the mountain. The Resurrected Jesus, on a mountain in Galilee first and then on the Mount of Olives before His Ascension, revealed the things concerning His Kingdom to the disciples. After giving them rest (calming their hearts) and restoring their hearts He prepared them for the next phase by imparting heaven's revelation into their hearts. 
In like manner, during this time of lockdown, allow Him to bring revelation concerning His Kingdom and He, the King, reveals more of Himself to you. That means soaking in His Word and His Presence.
Once the Resurrected Christ had given them REST, RESTORATION and REVELATION during these 40 days they were ready to wait for His promise, the outpouring of His Holy Spirit, in the final 10 days up to Pentecost.
This period we are in is one of waiting for Him. Let us wait in faith and allow Him to come to us to give us REST, RESTORE us and then pour Kingdom REVELATION into us in preparation for what is to come!
Amen!

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Don't Look For The Living Among The Dead.



"Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”And they remembered His words."  Luke 24:1-8
Today is Resurrection Sunday where those with childlike faith seek and find the risen saviour afresh. 
He is not to be found in the darkness and confinement of the tomb. Indeed, He sends His angels to ask us why we seek the living among the dead. Why do we seek the living Word among dead words of fear, judgement, hatred and condemnation?
Today, let us hear the angel's question again and repent for seeking life in dead tomb thinking, speaking and actions. Let us realise that the living word fell as a seed to the ground, died and rose again in supernatural fruitfulness. 
He is alive! Let us remember. Remember His sacrifice. Remember. In verse 8 it says "And they remembered His words"
Don't seek the living among the dead but delve deeper into the living word, for it is there You will find the risen Lord!
Amen!

Friday, 10 April 2020

A Victorious Rest


On that first Holy Saturday Sabbath, after the Crucifixion,  Jesus' body lay at rest in the tomb. His body locked down but His Spirit in Paradise with the Father.

Today we remember the time Jesus' body remained in the tomb before the resurrection. Some traditions have Jesus struggling with demon's in hell or preaching to the righteous saints in some lower chambers of the earth. However, the Bible categorically states His Spirit went straight to the Father where His victory would be proclaimed.

Jesus said to the repentant thief next to Him on the Cross, "Today You will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43), in the New Garden of Eden, in His Throne Room, in Heaven. Jesus also cried out after that, "Father, into You hands I commit my Spirit" (Luke 23:46). His Spirit was in Heaven with the Father declaring victory over Sin and Death! His body was in the tomb resting in anticipation of resurrection.

Our bodies may be restricted in lockdown and our homes may feel like a "tomb" at this time, but in the Spirit we are free and we can have a victorious rest in His presence awaiting our resurrection. Let us come boldly into His Throne Room at this time as we build our strong and effective  Prayer Altars for His glory.

There is hope! Light will come flooding into the tomb once more and those seeking will see the light!

Amen!




Thank God it's Good Friday


What's good about this Friday? Most of us are stuck at home due to various levels of lock down imposed on us due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Today is different though. Today we remember. We remember the One who was locked down on a wooden cross of torture and death. We remember how He, being fully God and fully man, chose to enter that lock down so we can be free.

His blood, that of the sacrificial pascal lamb, can now be applied over the doorposts of our house so we are saved. We remember how he was forsaken that we can be loved. He was torn apart that we can be made whole.

"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:4-5


Today is a good, good Friday as we have a good,good God who gave Himself for us. Though we are locked down in our houses physically we are spiritually free because of what He did two thousand years ago.

Indeed, today truly is GOOD Friday.

Amen



Thursday, 9 April 2020

God's Embroideries





In the hustle and bustle of modern day living we often forget the following scene that exists either in faded memories, distant fiction, or now in tranquil corners of this globe: Sitting at his mother’s feet is a little boy looking up from the floor and asking what she is doing. She informs him that she is embroidering. He tells her that it looks like a mess from where he is.

From the underside he watches her work within the boundaries of the little round hoop that she holds in her hand. She smiles at him, looks down and gently says, "My son, you go about your playing for a while and, when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my knee and let you see it from my side."

 The little boy wonders why she uses some dark threads along with the bright ones and why they seem so jumbled from his view. A few minutes pass and then he hears Mother's voice say, "Son, come and sit on my knee." This he does only to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful sunset.

He cannot believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy. Then his Mother says to him, "My son, from underneath it did look messy and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a pre-drawn plan on the top. It was a design. I was only following it. Now look at it from my side and you will see what I was doing."

 In the same way, we can gaze up in despair and ask God why our lives and circumstances seem so messy, with dark and bright threads of existence seemingly tangled together with no rhyme or reason. But God our Father would have us sit on His broad lap and gaze upon the big picture sewed into the embroidery of His purposes from eternity past.

 Yes, we read in His Word that there is a pre-drawn plan, His design that all mankind is meant to follow. Indeed, all of us will have a unique path to tread that is a strategic part of this divine design. In Ephesians 2:10 the Greek word used for ‘workmanship’ is ‘poiema’ which means ‘something that is made, particularly out of fabric’.

The Greek word for ‘created’ is ‘ktizo’ which means ‘to fabricate’ that is ‘to sew or knit together fabric into a predetermined design’. Therefore, this verse could justifiably be re-written as: “..we are His embroideries, embroidered in Christ Jesus for good use , according to God’s pre-drawn design and pattern from the beginning of time that we should follow after.”

Extract taken from Tim's book "Picture Perfect" - read it at http://www.revtimothygibson.com/pictureperfect.pdf

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